Football: Lawyers in action on Cole tackle

Shanghai Shenhua 0 Manchester United 2
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The Independent Online
AS MANCHESTER UNITED were coasting to another easy tour victory yesterday, lawyers were queueing to sue the club over Andy Cole's high tackle on Australia's Simon Colosimo during the match in Sydney on Sunday. United's Champions' League goalscoring pair of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham were on target again against Shenhua to maintain the treble-winners' 100 per cent tour record.

Solskjaer scored the first before setting up Sheringham for the second against the Chinese league leaders. The goals set the seal on a polished performance from United.

For Cole, however, the ramifications of his challenge still linger. The Australian club Carlton have appointed a leading law firm to seek possible compensation from United after the 20-year-old defender suffered damaged knee ligaments following a high challenge by the striker during United's 1-0 win over Australia.

Slater and Gordon, regarded as one of Australia's most aggressive companies, are considering legal action against United and Cole. Colosimo requires a complete knee reconstruction following the incident.

The player's Melbourne-based club claim a string of international lawyers have contacted them, saying they are prepared to represent Colosimo.

Solicitor Peter Gordon explained: "There is no doubt that the law recognises claims like this. At the minimum we will be examining the role of Andy Cole and Manchester United's policy and instructions to their players, and the position of other organisations like Soccer Australia and the tour promoters [Rivkin Entertainment]."

Carlton director Lou Sticca confirmed the club did not take out any independent insurance to cover the player during the United game, believing he was covered by the national league's policy. Colosimo, currently nursing a badly swollen leg, had been reportedly due to begin trials in Europe next month.

United issued a statement yesterday that said: "Andy Cole and Manchester United are extremely upset by comments in the media following our match in Sydney on Sunday, in which Andy was involved in an accidental collision with Simon Colosimo.

"Andy has sent a private message to Simon together with his best wishes for a speedy recovery."

But Colosimo, who will undergo surgery at the weekend, maintained there has been no "private message" from Cole, saying: "All I know is that there was somebody who said there was something on the Internet."

Interest in the game against Shanghai was huge, and tickets for the game were changing hands on the black market for more than four times their face value. Those fans who managed to get in to see the match were treated to a much more open and entertaining game than United's two outings against Australia.

United used the match to give their shadow squad a chance to shine, and one player who caught the eye was Mark Wilson. The 20-year-old midfielder looked lively and tested Shenhua goalkeeper Ou Chuliang early on with a drive.

Shenhua are coached by the former Brazil manager Sabastian Lazaroni and played with some of the South Americans' Samba style, while posing a far bigger goal threat than Australia's toothless attack.

Wes Brown was booked five minutes into the second half for a late challenge on Marcelo. The young England defender was quick to apologise to the striker, who was taken off on a stretcher, perhaps mindful of Cole's troubles.

United were looking menacing, and it came as little surprise when they went ahead on 56 minutes through Solskjaer. The Norwegian international controlled Jesper Blomqvist's flighted pass beautifully on his chest before finishing left- footed inside the far post.

United doubled their advantage in the 69th minute when Solskjaer turned provider. He received Blomqvist's back heel and threaded the ball across the area for Sheringham to score.

Chuliang denied United a third from a Sheringham free-kick before David May fired wide from a second set-piece.

United face South China in Hong Kong on Saturday in their final match of the tour.