Football: Ferguson has cup problem

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

ALEX FERGUSON, the Manchester United manager, yesterday tried to reduce any tension between himself and Paul McGrath, his former player who will appear for Aston Villa against United in the Coca-Cola Cup tonight.

Ferguson is embarrassed that comments about McGrath in his recent book were serialised in a newspaper just before the cup draw. He said: 'In 18 years as a manager I have never criticised a player in public before, but my book set out to describe my six years of management at Old Trafford and unavoidably I had to deal with several controversial issues.

'Paul McGrath was one of them and I had to describe certain events to explain why I let a great player leave Old Trafford and I like to think I did it in a fair and balanced way.'

The Republic of Ireland defender, who is considering legal action, said: 'I don't want to get involved in any sort of slanging match over his criticism of me in his book. But I am hoping . . . that we give United a hiding.'

Arsenal will be without Nigel Winterburn for their game at Derby. The left-back has damaged knee ligaments and will be out for between three and four weeks.

Newcastle have Kevin Sheedy back after missing three games, but are without David Kelly and Barry Venison at Chelsea.