Football: CESSPIT OF LIES AND TREACHERY; McManaman walking into a nightmare at Real Madrid, warn his new team-mates.
And the grim warning of dressing-room bust-ups, warring egos and that the club has become one of of fallen giants came from one of his new team-mates.
Madrid's top scorer, Spanish international striker Raul, believes born-again England star McManaman will get the shock of his life when he leaves Anfield for his so-called dream move to the Bernabeu.
Raul warned: "If McManaman thinks he is coming to one of the world's biggest clubs then he is mistaken."
McManaman, 27, has been given a fresh international chance by England boss Kevin Keegan and hopes that moving to the Continent will further his career. But the clouds of doom and gloom are gathering above the Bernabeu.
Madrid were crowned European champions last year but their fall from grace gets worse by the day.
It even left coach John Toshack calling his players "cabrones" - loosely translated it means "w*****s" - this week after they slipped to an unthinkable fifth in the Spanish championship. Toshack said: "No-one is bigger than this club - I don't care how big they think they are.
"I only want players who want to play for this club. Their attitude has to be right. If it's not, then I want them out straight away.
"I don't care what anyone is saying. There will be a lot of new players at the club next season and I'm looking forward to the change. It can't come soon enough.
"We must have changes in the dressing-room to get the team spirit going again to revive the club.
"All I ask that they play with some pride until they leave the club.
"The name Real Madrid is still one of the best in football and will be enough to bring in new players. They will have nothing to worry about if they are committed."
Toshack, now in his second spell at Madrid, is the club's 11th coach in eight years after former Dutch World Cup boss Guus Hiddink was axed earlier this season because he could not control the warring egos.
This summer will see the departure of up to 12 big names - including Clarence Seedorf, Davor Suker, Roberto Carlos, and World Cup winner Christian Karembeu - but club president Lorenzo Sanz is struggling to attract any new faces because of the turmoil in the Bernabeu.
That is hardly surprising when one of Madrid's biggest stars is warning off McManaman and other new faces.
Raul said: "The rumours surrounding the club are very dangerous and mostly, sadly, true.
"The dressing-room is a cesspit of lies, treachery and whispers.
"I feel sorry for new players like Steve McManaman coming into the club .
"If McManaman thinks he is coming to one of the world's top clubs then he has made a big mistake.
"We are not a team anymore. We have an illusion that we are still a great team - but we are not.
"The manager is good but he is not good enough for this club. We need things to change otherwise we will lose players and not attract any more.
"I would love to play for a coach for three years. We need stability at this club.
"It is not even a great stadium any more. It is not that full very often and it is not intimidating.
"There's not even a special atmosphere when we play Barcelona.
"The Bernabeu must be reinvented. It is no longer one of the world's great stadiums.
"Barcelona will be worthy champions this year and that will put even more pressure on us. It's like a cauldron."
McManaman signed a pounds 53,000-a-week contract to join Madrid on a Bosman-style free transfer this summer.
He said at the time: "I am the right age to move, and this is a fantastic prospect for me. Real Madrid are the European and world champions. They are a magnificent club.
"The package they have offered me is a fabulous one, and I feel very honoured that they want me so much. I have given everything to Liverpool over the 12 years that I have been there.
"But I have always stated that I wanted to play in Europe at some stage. There has been some criticism of me for looking abroad, but I hope the fans can see that I am only looking to improve myself."
But his dream move will become a nightmare if Raul's warnings prove to be true.
It is already putting off new players as their publicly declared targets Zinedine Zidane, Lillian Thuram, Michel Zalgado and Gabriel Batistuta look set to turn them down.
And Real president Lorenzo Sanz must now be worried about his only new investment after watching McManaman's last two England performances.
Even McManaman's dream link-up with Liverpool legend Toshack could turn sour as the Welshman struggles to contain his stars' egos.
Toshack, under contract for another season, is facing a player revolt after his "cabrones" comment. But Toshack is having none of it and is determined to crack down on the warring egos which have destroyed the European champions this season.
Toshack added: "I told them all that if they don't like it then they should pick up their mobile phones and tell the chairman they want to leave.
"It's the toughest job I've come across and this time it's much harder than the last.
"There's a dressing-room with nine different languages and huge egos.
"Things must change otherwise we will not go forward.
"This is my biggest challenge. I knew it would be tough, but when Real Madrid came calling I couldn't say no.
"At least on my CV I will be able to say that I've been sacked by Real Madrid twice."REAL'S MOST
1990-91 Raddy Antic
91-92 Leo Beenhakker
92-94 Benito Floro
1994 Vicente del Bosque
94-96 Jorge Valdano
1996 Arsenio Iglesias
96-97 Fabio Capello
97-98 Jupp Heynckes
1998 Jose Camacho
98-99 Guus Hiddink
1999 John Toshack
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||May 1, 1999|
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