Sir Alex Ferguson has pleaded with Manchester United supporters to put their dissatisfaction with the club's owners behind them and back his team as they attempt to retain their Premier League title.
Before Saturday's 4-0 victory over Hull, which featured an astonishing four-goal performance from Wayne Rooney, Ferguson used his programme notes to appeal for United's increasingly militant fans to cease their campaign against the Glazer family.
"The family of Manches ter United is under pressure as a result of all the issues and controversies surrounding the ownership and financial situation of our club," wrote Ferguson. "Some of our fans are clearly unhappy with the financial position, but we mustn't allow the situation to become divisive.
"I could see our opponents rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of watching us fall out among ourselves if we don't all think carefully about what we are doing."
During the victory over Hull, which took United to the top of the table for the first time in over three months, supporters sporadically broke into chants against the Glazers, although Ferguson insisted that was no problem for his players. "I don't think it was dissenting against them at all and I don't think it affected the players," he said.
Instead, Ferguson focused upon Rooney's performance, which took his season's tally to 20 goals, three short of his personal best. "Wayne's goals were, without a doubt, the highlight," said Ferguson."It's the first time he has scored four for us and the first time a United player has scored four since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer some years ago.
"He's in great goal scoring form at the moment. I think he'll better 23, I'm sure of that. He'll want to develop himself as a scorer and today there were some terrific finishes."
United now stand top of the Premier League for the first time in three months, the sort of position Ferguson wanted to be in at the start of the year.
Arsenal exit FA Cup
Arsenal became the latest member of the Premier League's elite to suffer an early exit from the FA Cup as Ricardo Fuller's double strike inspired Stoke's 3-1 win over the Gunners in the fourth round yesterday.
Manchester United, humbled by League One Leeds, and Liverpool, shocked by Reading, both perished in the third round and Arsene Wenger's much-changed side were condemned to an equally chastening defeat at the Britannia Stadium.
After claiming Arsenal remain vulnerable to physical opponents, Fuller underlined his pre-match jibe by heading the hosts into the lead after 70 seconds and scoring a second in the 78th minute.
Keep up with the latest business news from the region with the Emirates Business 24|7 daily newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.