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Len Capeling: Duncan Disorderly always drawn to the danger.

Byline: Len Capeling

LIFE'S never dull when there's a Duncan Ferguson in the house. While not being the man Sir Alex Ferguson accused of starting a fight in an empty room, the Big Yin never seems to shy away from the wild side of life.

Getting sent off at Leicester -the sixth dismissal of a storm-tossed Everton career -would normally have been regarded as just another ragged tear in the rich tapestry of a col ourful life.

It was what happened next that lifted it on to the smelling salts shelf and caused sports editors to bay for the close-up of Dunc demonstrating an SAS stranglehold on a stunned Steffen Freund. Andy McNab,of SAS and best-seller fame, would have been proud.

The picture might even find its way into McNab's next survival- in enemy -territory opus -opposite an off-duty snap of a delighted Dunc, leafing through his millionaire's property portfolio and puffing on a large Cuban cigar.

Send the latter photograph to the FA. They may see the joke,although I doubt it. A rap sheet as long as your outstretched arm plus video evidence and a wordy report from the officious Barry Knight threaten to send the Scot on his second spot of gardening leave this season.

His earlier banishment came when he fell out with David Moyes. Saturday's shenanigans prove Duncan doesn't play favourites when it comes to confrontations.

On this occasion, Moyes defended his fire-breathing centreforward, believing that the two yellows and the inevitable red (for persistent foul play) were a case of an iffy referee getting even for previous insults.

So far as the bookings are concerned, they were nothing that would have registered before the game lost its common sense. Players getting tangled up and swinging their handbags.

That's Duncan and many another. He's a head-on collision of a player who rejoices in the rough and tumble,an opponent that any hard-case centre-half would delight in sorting.

Where he went wrong at the Walkers Stadium was in trying to take Freund's neck measurements in such an unorthodox fashion. Read his lips and you can just imagine him saying: ``Suit you, sir! Suit you,Sir!''

Or,perhaps not,as a jury might say,handing down a guilty verdict and a spell in chokey.

Sadly,Everton didn't help matters by accusing officials of having a vendetta against the club and the players.

It's nonsense,of course. Knight may lack the wit to be a top-class referee -a Paul Durkin might well have steered the hot-headed Ferguson away from the pit he was digging for himself.

But please,let's forget this rubbish about vendettas. The fact that a referee knows about a player's past misdeeds is what you'd expect. It's as significant as managers knowing the strengths an weaknesses of the opposition. No more, no less.

It doesn't mean that Knight,Jeff Winter, Graham Poll or whoever -spend their days plotting to get even with some uppity player, or manager.

Ferguson plays a high-risk game, where blows are given and taken. Occasionally, you have to take your punishment and get on with it.

Dunc is in trouble. We've seen the pictures. But even with that textbook SAS throttle,nobody died.

IT'S a pity Duncangate overshadowed another significant performance from Wayne Rooney.

Earlier in the season an Evertonian of little faith informed me that Wayne was already deteriorating as a player and ought to be sold.

The ought-to-be-sold tag may yet come back to haunt Blues fans, who don't trust the Everton board to do the right thing with debts mounting by the day.

Rooney's season is very much like Michael Owen's. Neither has done as well as excepted; both suffer because of underpowered, underperforming midfields. Difficult to see that changing,although Rooney does possess that priceless gift of creating for himself.

And so on to Middlesbrough, the meanest of defences before last Saturday's shambles. Does that foreshadow a Goodison goalfest?

CAPTION(S):

Duncan Ferguson gets to grips with Leicester City's Steffan Freund on Saturday
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 24, 2004
Words:667
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