Chelsea striker issues apology to Keane

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The Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has apologised to Roy Keane over the tackle which sparked the Irishman's fury in the Charity Shield on Sunday.

The Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has apologised to Roy Keane over the tackle which sparked the Irishman's fury in the Charity Shield on Sunday.

Hasselbaink caught Keane on the ankle in the second half at Wembley, prompting a seething outburst from the Manchester United captain. The referee, Mike Riley, took no action against the £15m striker but, moments later, when Keane sought retribution with an ugly challenge on Gustavo Poyet, he brought out his red card.

"I definitely was wrong and I would say sorry to him," said Hasselbaink after helping Chelsea to victory with his first senior goal for the club.

Peter Willis, the president of the Referees' Association, has stepped into the row, claiming the Premiership will turn into a bloodbath if performances by officials continue to come under such intense scrutiny. Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, blamed the referee for not taking sterner action earlier, but Willis is concerned that managers and players must stop trying to do their job for them.

"All of us accept that football is an emotional game, we can make errors of judgement in challenges but there was no misinterpretation of what happened yesterday and I don't think Sir Alex Ferguson can argue against that," said Willis.

The Chelsea chairman, Ken Bates, has revealed the words on the joke medal he tried to give to the Manchester United manager after the game.

After being called Chairman Mao by Ferguson in the run-up to the the Wembley showpiece, Bates promised Ferguson he would have a surprise in store. And, as Ferguson went up to collect his loser's medal from the dignitaries in the Royal Box, Bates attempted to hang his own creation around Ferguson's neck which the United manager was seen to react angrily to. The medal was inscribed "Lord Fergie, the best thing since sliced bread" and Bates said yesterday: "I was trying to give him the medal as a peace offering. I wanted to try to calm things down but he wouldn't take it and that says more about him than me."

Liverpool's manager, Gérard Houllier, has finally won his £5.5m battle for the German left-back Christian Ziege, who snubbed the chance to move to Spain.

Ziege's advisers were finalising a switch to Anfield yesterday with the Middlesbrough defender due to go through a medical on Thursday. Ziege has chosen Liverpool rather than talk to Valencia, who also showed an interest. Now the German international will pick up around £35,000-a-week in a five-year deal, making him Houllier's sixth close-season capture.

The Boro manager Bryan Robson's attempt to persuade the £8m-rated Aston Villa defender Ugo Ehiogu to move to Teesside appears to have collapsed.

Middlesbrough, like Sunderland and Manchester City, have been keeping a close eye on the saga surrounding the 27-year-old throughout the summer and it looked inevitable that he would leave the Midlands. But Ehiogu appears to have pulled the plug on a move just days after Villa agreed a compromise with West Bromwich Albion over a sell-on clause in his contract.

Now, despite his differences with the Villa manager, John Gregory, Ehiogu's agent, Stuart Kutner, said the player is ready to stay at Villa Park for the next two years before moving on a free transfer under the Bosman ruling.

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