Ferguson agrees salary that tops any United player's

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Sir Alex Ferguson will earn more money in his final season as the manager of Manchester United than any of the club's players, his agent said yesterday. The reason, according to Alan Baines, who has been Ferguson's sole financial advisor and negotiator for the past 15 years, is that Baines thinks a manager should earn more than any of his staff and insisted on the fact in recent contract talks with the Old Trafford board.

"I am a great believer that a manager can't command respect from the changing-room unless he earns more than the players," Baines, who is a senior partner at BDO Stoy Hayward accountants in Nottingham, said. "So I was pleased at the success of my talks with the club to clinch a deal for this coming season that gives Sir Alex a bigger salary than any first-team star, players such as Keane, Giggs, Beckham and even the new signing, Veron."

Given that the reported salaries of the United's highest earning players is in excess of £50,000 per week , Ferguson will spend his last season as the Old Trafford manager as the highest paid in British club history.

Christian Ziege completed his £4m move from Liverpool to Tottenham yesterday with his new manager, Glenn Hoddle, predicting that he can revive the German defender's international career.

Ziege made only 11 starts for Liverpool last season and was not even named in the Anfield club's squads for the FA Cup final win against Arsenal and the Uefa Cup final victory over Spanish side Alaves. Hoddle said he could help Ziege regain the form that made him one of Europe's best left-backs when he played with Bayern Munich and Milan.

''Three years ago he was probably the best wing-back in the world and he has a lot to prove to the public and, probably, to himself as well,'' Hoddle said. ''The English public have not seen the best of Christian yet. But I know his quality and he has the major incentive of regaining his place in the German team for next year's World Cup.

''We've got him at the right time and I'm sure we'll get the best out of him again because he's at his peak. He's only 29 and has two or three years left at the top.''

Manchester City are in talks with Celtic's transfer-seeking midfielder Eyal Berkovic about a move to Maine Road. Celtic are looking for around £1.5m for Berkovic and would be glad to get him off their payroll, the main snag between City capturing the player also being his high personal terms.

Blackburn are watching Paris St-Germain's £4.5-rated centre-half Sylvain Distin. The Rovers manager, Graeme Souness, will assess the 23-year-old in Paris today when he plays for PSG against Tavria Simferopol in the Intertoto Cup.

West Ham have ended their interest in the Barcelona midfielder Josep Guardiola, who is available on a free transfer. However, the West Ham manager, Glenn Roeder, has confirmed he is still interested in signing the Finnish defender Hannu Tihinen of Viking Stavanger, who was on loan at Upton Park last season.

The Aston Villa manager John Gregory has appointed John Deehan, a former Villa striker, as first team coach. Deehan replaces Steve Harrison, who moved to Middlesbrough to become Steve McClaren's No 2 at the Riverside Stadium.