Chairman defends Royle after Weah slur

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The Independent Football

The Manchester City chairman, David Bernstein, has launched a fierce counterattack on the former World Footballer of the Year George Weah.

The Manchester City chairman, David Bernstein, has launched a fierce counterattack on the former World Footballer of the Year George Weah.

The 34-year-old Liberian international left the club on Monday just over two months into a two-year contract. He was said to be annoyed by his role at Maine Road, where he was increasingly left kicking his heels on the bench. Marseilles, who tried to sign Weah during the summer before he moved to Maine Road, are reported to be interested in the striker but he is thought to prefer a move to the United States, where he has family.

Joe Royle and Weah met on Monday afternoon but the City manager failed in a bid to persuade him to stay, agreeing a mutual parting of ways. After the announcement of the Weah's departure, the player claimed that Royle made him look stupid in front of the other players and swore at him in the dressing room.

"I have been treated like a child," he said. "The reason I am leaving Manchester City is not because I am not playing. It is because of the lack of respect and communication shown to me by Mr Royle. I will not stay for somebody to insult me, insult my integrity, to make me look small in front of younger players."

Bernstein, for his part, leapt to the defence of his manager. "I am disappointed that, following the release of an agreed statement, George Weah should find it necessary to immediately put out contradictory and negative messages through the popular press. We propose to deal with this matter in a proper and dignified manner.

"Joe Royle is a manager with great experience and many strengths. These include a continuing passion for the game and the ability to build, hold together and motivate a squad of players. He has shown this at the club and this has been one of the main reasons for Manchester City's recovery and success over the last two years."

Richard Dunne will officially complete his £3m move from Everton to Manchester City today. The 21-year-old spent yesterday at Maine Road and was due to have a medical last night before signing a five-year contract. The Republic of Ireland defender will be unveiled at lunchtime at City's training ground in Carrington.

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