United decision 'in Ince's interest'

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Alex Ferguson yesterday revealed that the about-turn over Paul Ince's proposed pounds 8m transfer from Manchester United to Internazionale had little to do with the fee.

"There were certain aspects of the deal I wasn't happy about, the main worry was the involvement in the negotiations with Inter of agent Dennis Roach," the United manager said. "Once I had eliminated his involvement I was happy to let Inter talk to the board and reach an agreement."

Ince, who last week pledged his allegiance to United, does not want to leave the club but he feels that he may have to. However, his agent, Steve Kutner, insists that it is not a foregone conclusion that he will agree to a move when he discusses personal terms with Inter next week.

"Paul was every bit as surprised as the fans when they heard that United had agreed on a fee," Kutner said. "He has certainly never asked United for a transfer and never would have."

Ferguson insists that the decision was taken in the best long-term interests of the club and the player. "One of the main reasons why I decided we can afford to let Ince go was because of the emergence of Nicky Butt and other young players. I believe a midfield combination of Roy Keane and Butt will be as good as anything you will find. A move to Inter Milan at this stage of his career makes sense not just from our point of view but also from his."

Liverpool were in the mood to gamble yesterday, parting with pounds 700,000 as a down-payment for Francis Tierney, a 19-year-old former England schoolboy winger with Second Division Crewe Alexandra. The fee could rise to pounds 1.5m depending on the Liverpool-born player's appearances. Jason McAteer, the Bolton midfielder, is also still a target.

Darren Patterson, the Crystal Palace defender, has been fined pounds 300 and warned about his future conduct by the FA for his part in the FA Cup semi- final replay fracas involving Roy Keane.

Les Ferdinand, Newcastle's pounds 6m signing, will make his first appearance in a testimonial at Hartlepool on 22 July.

Celtic's captain, Paul McStay, has signed a new two-year contract, while the striker Darren Jackson has signed on for another four years with Hibernian.

Pele has ended attempts to bring Diego Maradona to Santos after a fax from the Argentinian arrived at the Brazilian club demanding pounds 9.6m for a 28-month playing contract.

England's game with Brazil at Wembley on Sunday has been made all-ticket. There will be no tickets available on the day.