David Beckham takes leave at Manchester United showing true colours

• Former United player wears scarf of anti-Glazer campaign
• 'I'm a United fan and I support the club. I always will'

David Beckham attempted to distance himself from the campaign to oust the Glazer family from Manchester United despite leaving the pitch wearing one of the green and gold scarves that have come to symbolise the fans' protests against the club's owners.

Beckham, afforded a stirring reception on his return to Old Trafford, picked up the scarf after it was thrown from the Stretford End on a night when Malcolm Glazer's sons, Joel and Avram, were inside the stadium to witness the scale of antipathy towards their ownership of the club.

For someone of Beckham's standing to endorse the green and gold movement would be regarded as a major victory for the protestors but, as the former United player reflected on Milan's 4-0 defeat, the heaviest inflicted on them since the Champions League's conception, he said he did not want to be regarded as a figurehead for the campaign. "I'm a Manchester United fan and when I saw the scarf I wanted to put it round my neck," Beckham explained. "It's the old colours of United but, to be honest, it's not my business. I'm a United fan and I support the club. I always will, but it's got nothing to do with me how it's run. That's all to do with other people. I just support the team. I will always support the team."

That may disappoint those supporters who regarded Beckham's final act before disappearing down the tunnel as a sign of public sympathy and solidarity. Beckham reflected on an "unbelievable" reaction from an Old Trafford crowd buoyed by a commanding performance from their team and two more goals from Wayne Rooney that left Sir Alex Ferguson wondering whether his leading scorer could emulate Cristiano Ronaldo's total of 42 last season.

"It's a challenge," Ferguson said. "I was just happy for Wayne to reach 30, but he keeps on improving and he was sensational again tonight. It was just a continuation of the last two or three months – his form is just sensational. He's improved his movement in the box but he has also been practising a lot more this season than ever before, putting in extra work after training and I think he is getting the rewards of that."

The most prolific season in Rooney's career now incorporates 21 goals in his last 21 games but Ferguson also enthused about the contribution of some of United's less celebrated players, most notably praising Park Ji-sung for the "discipline and intelligence that won us the game" as well as pinpointing Gary Neville's handling of Ronaldinho.

Neville had been brought into the side to spare Rafael da Silva a repeat of his ordeal against Ronaldinho in the first leg and the former England international not only helped quell the threat of Milan's most inventive player but also set up Rooney for the first goal. "He's a remarkable man," Ferguson said. "When you've been out of the game [with injury] for a year and half it's not easy to come back and play every week at the age of 34 and now 35. He succeeded because of his will to succeed and that's really what Gary Neville is all about."

As for Beckham, Ferguson was not surprised by the crowd's affection for the former England captain. "We expected that and he deserved that," the United manager said. "Most of our former players get that type of reception. Paul Ince unfortunately went to play for Liverpool so they weren't exactly throwing garlands at him when he came back but normally they always appreciate the players who have had great careers at this club."

The only downside on the night for United was the news that Owen Hargreaves' planned comeback for the reserves against Manchester City tonight has been postponed.


Daniel Taylor at Old Trafford

The GuardianTramp

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