I was the scapegoat, says Kewell's manager

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The Independent Online

Harry Kewell's personal manager dismissed as "absolute rubbish and a total lie" claims by Gary Lineker that he had manipulated the footballer to gain a £2m fee from his transfer from Leeds United to Liverpool.

Bernie Mandic said he had always acted in the player's best interests and had been made a "scapegoat" when Leeds failed to secure a £7m transfer fee.

Mr Mandic was giving evidence during a libel trial brought by Kewell over a column written by Mr Lineker in The Sunday Telegraph in July 2003.

Mr Kewell's lawyers claim the article, headlined "Kewell move made me feel ashamed of the game", libelled the player because it claimed he circumvented transfer rules, acted "naively" and participated in a "dishonourable" transfer.

Mr Mandic said he had been made a "scapegoat" by the Leeds chairman John McKenzie, who realised he would not be able to secure the £7m fee for Mr Kewell that he had promised the club's board.

Liverpool were not prepared to match Manchester United's offer of £7m, Mr Mandic claimed. With Mr Kewell intent on a move to the Merseyside club, that left Leeds with the £5m offer and meant Professor McKenzie had to explain that to his board, said Mr Mandic. The case continues