Football: 'Furious' Ravanelli advised to keep his counsel

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The Independent Online
Middlesbrough's Italian international Fabrizio Ravanelli intends to "gag himself" from speaking to the English written press after a report that he is "too tired" to play against West Ham in tonight's Premiership relegation battle at West Ham.

Ravanelli, who has decided to delay an operation on his troubled Achilles tendon until the end of the season, is furious over the story in a leading tabloid newspaper which he believes gives the impression that he is not fully committed to Boro's cause. And he has "reluctantly" taken the advice of his agent, Pino Pagliara, to ban all interviews in future apart from on television or radio.

"In fact," said Pagliara, who was also responsible for helping to bring other foreign players like Emerson, Gianluca Festa and Vladimir Kinder to Middlesbrough, "we are also reluctantly considering whether to stop speaking to the Italian newspapers as well.

"They always report faithfully what Fabrizio says to them, but then some journalists read it in this country and interpret things a different way. It means that the supporters of Middlesbrough are continually being given the wrong message and Fabrizio is sick and tired of it happening.

"The truth is that he is fully committed to Middlesbrough, of course he is. Some people insist on suggesting, whenever the opportunity arises, that he will leave at the end of the season because he doesn't like what he has found in England.

"But I can tell you he loves the game here and already I am trying to negotiate an extension of his three-year contract. The same is true of Emerson. He had some early problems but he is very settled now. But I am afraid that some people do not want to write the truth because it does not make a sensational story. Surely a good journalist wants to write only the truth?"

Pagilara, however, does not deny that Ravanelli is doubtful for tonight's match. The agent said: "Of course he is tired after playing 120 minutes in a cup final for his first game back after having a hamstring injury.

"What we have to consider is whether Fabrizio goes out against West Ham at maybe 50 per cent or rests and makes sure he is 100 per cent for the FA Cup semi-final against Chesterfield on Sunday and the Coca-Cola Cup final replay the following Wednesday."

The Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, will speak to his 27-goal striker today before deciding whether the former Juventus player is in the right shape to be included in his line-up at Upton Park.

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