It would take a particularly abstract mind for anyone to ever feel sorry for Sir Alex Ferguson, the teak-tough footballing fuhrer who has won more accolades than any manager in Britain.
Owning up to the hurtful truth
It would take a particularly abstract mind for anyone to ever feel sorry for Sir Alex Ferguson, the teak-tough footballing fuhrer who has won more accolades than anyone manager in Britain.
But the overriding feeling emanating from his performance in front of the media yesterday - other than the drama of the fact Wayne Rooney actually really was leaving - was that this was someone experiencing a bitter and hurtful sense of loss.
He had the look of a granddad who has come to the end of his pack of Werther's Originals, and suddenly realised he is not loved half as much as he thought he was by the grandchildren.
For all the many and varied obstacles he put up to avoid addressing the issue, Ferguson is still the only person to have actually given an honest answer to what is going on at Old Trafford.
Rooney's acolytes made the bed for their charge via the usual transfer brinkmanship, being heard in the media but not seen in recent days. Club spokesmen clearly told bare-faced lies when they said the idea of him leaving was "nonsense".
Peculiar, that, given Ferguson admitted he knew of the player's intentions in mid-August. Granted, he took the longest round about route possible - jettisoning press from press conferences and giving answers to only the most banal questions - until all the escape hatches were covered.
Perhaps it was a case of him being his usual, pig-headed, damn-the-lot-of-you self.
But more likely, it seems, he just did not want to own up to it himself, as if saying it out loud meant it really was true.
What next? Can he win everyone back by proving his pension money still stretches to the best sweets in the shop? Or is it the end of the road for Fergie?
He has loved and lost before, and rebuilt. But rarely has the loss been as acute as this time.