Date:Friday July 18 2008
Daniel Levy broke Tottenham's silence over the future of Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane who are heavily linked with Manchester United and Liverpool, respectively.
The Spurs chairman issued an angry statement, condemning both clubs' behaviour and accusing United of hypocrisy in the light of our complaint to FIFA about Real Madrid's behaviour in their pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo.
'Today's public comments by Manchester United's manager, announcing that he has made an offer for Dimitar and is confident that the deal will go through with time working in their favour, is a blatant example of sheer arrogance and interference with one of our players. It is also probably one of the worst offences by any manager in the Premier League to date and is unbelievably hypocritical given his recent comments in respect of Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid.
'This comes after a series of events, dating back to last summer, which have shown Manchester United to be in breach of Premier League (PL) rules. As a result, we have today made an official complaint to the PL about the conduct of Manchester United. Benitez made similar comments in respect of Robbie recently and we made an official complaint to the PL about the conduct of Liverpool earlier this week.'
While I have no inside information about what United have done before, it was surely unwise from Sir Alex to speak about his confidence of a deal being done quickly and indeed, it resembled Real Madrid's usual sickening overconfidence. However, I'd like to point out a few differences to Mr. Levy.
This is the very first time that any member of Manchester United spoke about Berbatov in public while in Real Madrid's case there were comments from Calderon and Schuster in Marca practically every other day.
Even more important is that United made official bids for the player whereas Real made clear that they would not make offers until Ronaldo declares his wish to leave.
Levy says United have made contact with Berbatov and his agent without permission which, if true, is indeed illegal - but I'd like to hear some evidence about it. In Ronaldo's case, his agent, Pedro Mendes confirmed that he had held talks with Real Madrid so that's another difference. Emil Dantchev merely said that he knew of United's interest in signing Berbatov.
So, basically, while I agree that Fergie was quite tactless with his comments, which were surely designed with the aim of persuading Berbatov... but comparing it to Real's pursuit of Ronaldo is quite ridiculous - the two stories could not be more different.
The constant speculation - which was, may I remind you, only media talk, for nobody at United ever said we wanted to sign Berbatov - turned the players' head, according to Levy.
'However, when a player's head is turned and their commitment is absent, particularly when they occupy key positions such as that of striker, they become a negative influence in a team dressing room in which they were once a positive addition and influence. This is the situation we now have on our hands, with both Dimitar and Robbie having made it clear that they wish to leave for Manchester Utd and Liverpool respectively.'
If FIFA did not find Real Madrid guilty then Liverpool and United should both escape without punishment as Spurs do not seem to have more evidence against the two clubs than United had against Real Madrid. And I just can't see any other outcome than Berbatov and Keane being granted their wish.
The ever-increasing nature of player power is a sad thing, whatever Blatter says, as we can see now in Ronaldo's case. But it will surely secure the desired moves for Spurs' two top strikers.
Date:Friday July 18 2008
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