Keane in reports of Fergie bust-up

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The Independent Football

Just as with McCarthy, the dispute with Ferguson was over the arrangements at a training camp. This time the scene was Portugal where United began their Premiership preparations before heading to the Far East to continue tuning up. Keane did not make the trip, citing a hamstring strain.

The story seeping out of the camp, though, is that Keane was unhappy with the arrangements at the camp for his family, with whom he had been holidaying. The dispute is said to have escalated, with reports suggesting that Keane and Ferguson are not on speaking terms. Just as Keane eventually returned to the Ireland fold, post-McCarthy, and no doubt peace will break out at United, too.

A former United striker became a source of rare recent pleasure for Manchester City yesterday when Andy Cole scored in a 1-1 draw with Everton in Bangkok. After watching City claim third place in the Premier League Asia Trophy by winning a penalty shoot-out 4-2, City, manager, Stuart Pearce, described Cole as potentially the bargain of the summer. Cole's first-half strike from Trevor Sinclair's pass, at least for a while, took attention away from Joey Barton, whose involvement in a confrontation with fans at the team hotel in the early hours of Friday morning led to the midfielder being sent home.

Pearce, who lost Shaun Wright-Phillips to Chelsea after the England midfielder changed his mind about staying, cooed about Cole, his capture from Fulham. "He could turn out to be one of the best free transfers of the summer. He's got an eye for goal. He's a poacher. He's an intelligent player and I've told our young players to keep an eye on what he does and the goals will come."

Everton equalised in the 51st minute when Sylvain Distin handled and James Beattie converted the penalty. Thereafter substitutions left the match disjointed.

Barton was already back in Manchester, where he apologised for his part in the spat involving his team-mate Richard Dunne and a group of fans. Barton said yesterday: "I was struck by a supporter, which I reacted badly to, but I didn't throw a punch at the supporter or Richard. I apologise to everyone I have offended, especially to my team-mates, my manager, the staff and all the supporters. I have let everyone down. I regret the incident but it was not the mass brawl that some people have made it out to be."

Barton will hope that by being contrite and arriving first for training tomorrow he can avoid any risk of City deciding they have had enough of him.

It was too hot and humid for anyone to consider anything as energetic as a brawl during the final even if they had wanted to. Bolton lifted the trophy when they overcame Thailand's Under-23 side 1-0, courtesy of El Hadji Diouf's penalty 11 minutes from time. The 24-year-old put away his penalty after Keatprawut Saiwaew handled.

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