Following Rio Ferdinand’s withdrawal from the England squad, the same tiresome journalists have trotted out their usual anti-United bile.

Martin Samuel from The Daily Mail even went as far as suggesting that United actively worked against the national team, and that is the reason why so many people in this country hate us.

Ferguson and Manchester United are the winners here, some have concluded. But is that true? Not if the sense of hurt that followed United’s exit from the Champions League this season is recalled. Many around the club could not understand the glee expressed by rival supporters at their demise.

They seemed almost wounded that many delighted in Nani’s sending-off, even though an unjust decision skewed the result in favour of Real Madrid.

Ferguson has commented in the past that the majority do not want Manchester United to win the Champions League final.

Yet Barcelona are not charged with working actively against Spain’s interests at major tournaments, and Bayern Munich seem to have a healthy relationship with the German national team.

It is easy to join the dots on these occasions. If Ferdinand’s withdrawal is a victory for his club and manager, it comes at a reputational cost.

United will trot out the Millwall line — no-one likes us, we don’t care — but they seemed to care very much in the aftermath of the Nani decision, as what they term the ABUs (Anyone But United) mocked their misfortune and celebrated unfairness.

So really, in this saga, there are no winners. Not Ferdinand, certainly not England, not even United.

Chris Smalling, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney all start for England tonight in their World Cup qualifying game against Montenegro. Terrible the way our club actively works against England, isn’t it.