Ravanelli says Boro move was mistake

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The Independent Online
Fabrizio Ravanelli has admitted for the first time he may have made a mistake in joining Middlesbrough, and his remarks to the Italian media are bound to anger the Premiership's bottom club.

Bryan Robson, the Boro manager, last week ordered the outspoken former Juventus player to stop making critical public comments about the club. But Ravanelli continued his tirade against Middlesbrough when he joined the Italian squad in Palermo, preparing for the match with Northern Ireland tonight.

Gianluca Vialli yesterday committed himself to Chelsea but his former team-mate in Turin is still at odds with his club. Ravanelli said: "The difference between me and Vialli was that he was heading towards the end of his contract at Juventus and had time to think about what he was doing. I only had a few days and my transfer to Middlesbrough arrived suddenly. Perhaps if I had seen certain things beforehand I would have chosen differently."

Ravanelli, who was sent off at the weekend, also criticised Middlesbrough's lack of man-power when the squad was decimated over Christmas by illness and injury.

He said: "We had so few players we had to field our coach Bryan Robson, who is 40. Can you imagine what would have happened in Italy, for example, if Carlo Ancelotti had come on the field for Parma?"

Ravanelli has confirmed he will stay at Middlesbrough until the end of the season and he has already been linked to a number of Italian clubs. The chairman, Steve Gibson, is adamant the Italian will see out his contract until 2000, but the relationship between club and player is clearly breaking down.

Ravanelli said: "I am an honest person and it would not be good to go away right now. I still have not chosen a new side. I am happy at the moment with my scoring record of 19 goals in League and cup matches. In England as in Italy work pays off. But in Italy it would be impossible to have three days off after losing a match."

The Manchester City manager, Frank Clark, made a double bid for Dalian Atkinson and the Czech international Vaclav Nemecek last night. Atkinson is in a pay dispute with the Turkish champions, Fenerbahce, and hopes he can move for nothing. The former Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday striker joined City for training yesterday while Fifa, football's world governing body, tried to settle the dispute. He has been on trial recently with PSV Eindhoven.

Clark has also flown in the versatile Nemecek, who is 30 this week and made two appearances in Euro 96. Nemecek, capped more than 60 times, has been playing with Servette Geneva after making his name with Sparta Prague. City can sign him for a nominal fee, with Clark earmarking the experienced player as a centre-half in a revamped defence.

Manchester United have been struck by another injury blow, with Ronny Johnsen ruled out for three weeks with a hamstring strain. Alex Ferguson could be forced to step up his efforts to sign a new defender as the manager finds himself without two of his three first-choice centre-backs. Johnsen limped out of Saturday's win at Coventry on the day David May had an hernia operation which sidelines him for the next five weeks.