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Fergie sorts out his little local difficulty.

Byline: ROB OWEN

SIR Alex Ferguson might be struggling with his basic arithmetic as he enters his twighlight years, but he's still sharp as a tack when it comes to nipping potential trouble in the bud.

This week he's bombed Jaap Stam out of mould Trafford, no matter how many times the Red drivel PR factory tells us it was a simple football decision.

Why don't they try pulling the one with bells on it?

A week prior to the Champions League transfer deadline, United opt to flog easily the best centre-half on their books to another major European player.

What sort of a half-wit dingbat football decision is that then?

It's got nothing to do with football, but plenty to do with balancing the books.

But not in the way you'd think.

Stam had a book written for him in which he chooses to slag off his team-mates.

Now Fergie might have a pretty jaundiced view of referees who dare not to add on as much time as he'd like for his team to snatch a spawny result from the jaws of defeat, but he's spot-on and clear-cut over players who put pen to paper.

Stam was clearly after a short-cut to a transfer.

That's the only conclusion you can draw from his decision to cash in with a spurious book.

His timing was impeccable.

Fergie's out to lord it this season as he savours one last hurrah.

But Stam delights in sticking a bloody big spanner in the works.

He opens a bag of dirty laundry. The net result is Stam's hung out to dry.

I'm guessing the Dutch baldie who bears a passing resemblance to Lurch has got what he wanted.

He's applied a crowbar to his contract, but the bottom line is Ferguson should be applauded for his decisive action over Stam.

Too many club managers would have put the player before the club in this circumstance and fretted about a replacement.

Okay, United have been caught with their pants at half mast for once, and it does give the rest of us something to snigger over.

But in the long run, or even the medium run however far that might be, there is no doubt Fergie will be vindicated.

I just hope Laurent Blanc doesn't further undermine the masculinity of football by making planting a smacker on Fabien Barthez's snooker ball-smooth bonce a habit.

CAPTION(S):

MAKING HIS POINT Alex Ferguson.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Words:406
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