Football: Gascoigne agent goes on attack

PAUL GASCOIGNE's agent yesterday accused Glenn Hoddle of being "brainwashed" into dropping the midfielder from his World Cup squad. Mel Stein believes Gascoigne has been treated like a "Nazi war criminal" and that by leaving him out of his final 22 for France, England coach has ruined his side's chances.

Stein said: "I think we've dropped the pilot and all we are left with is the Marie Celeste. It has become a ghost ship and I don't think we will do well. I wasn't very sure if we were going to win it even with Paul, but I think we had a real chance of getting to the quarter-finals or semi-finals. We will be lucky to get out of the group now."

Stein added: "OK, so he had a bad game in this meaningless tournament. Name me one player who didn't."

The player's agent also refuted allegations that Gascoigne's admission he was drunk on Saturday night had affected his chances.

He added: "I see a lot in the papers about Paul having pressed another self-destruct button. He has not self-destructed, he has been destroyed. I think this was a deliberate campaign by many people in the media and they've got what they wanted. They haven't destroyed him, though, I think they have destroyed England and I think Glenn Hoddle has been brainwashed by what he's seen and heard in the media as much as what he's seen and heard from Paul. If you had interviewed me on Sunday or Monday, I might have used stronger language about what my views are on Glenn Hoddle.

"Paul is devastated but once the World Cup is over, once England are eliminated I think he will have got over it. I think it will live with him as a scar forever because everyone has said this is his last World Cup."

"He's got Middlesbrough in the Premiership to look forward to. I've spoken to Bryan Robson, who's very concerned for him, and everybody who knows and loves Paul just wants to put their arm around him and give him some comfort."

Stein's comments follow Graeme Le Saux's revelations about the anguish he, Gascoigne, and the rest of the players in the frame for selection, felt in the moments when they discovered once and for all whether they would be included at France 98.

Le Saux said: "Glenn called us to his room individually. It was an unnerving feeling walking along that corridor to his room because you couldn't be 100 per cent certain that you were in. You don't know exactly how a manager is thinking. I'd had a calf injury before the European Cup-Winners' Cup final and hadn't trained for three or four weeks, so I felt that was a black mark against me."

Ian Wright has agreed to join ITV's team of analysts.

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