Kenny Dalglish has declared that clubs must be allowed to conduct their business in confidence, 48 hours after the leaking of details of Liverpool's exploratory telephone call to Manchester City in which the notion of swapping Andy Carroll for Carlos Tevez was broached.
Dalglish refused to discuss whether the swap deal had been floated in a call from Anfield to City's football administrator Brian Marwood last Thursday, and his observation that inter-club conversations demand privacy was not specific to the story of a no-cash Tevez/ Carroll swap.
But the manager, who did not deny the story, was speaking about the issue following the exploratory call from someone at Anfield with the authority to propose the straight swap.
"We're not talking about any specific incident, but if you are going to do business in any way, shape or form, you don't need to disclose it until it's done," said Dalglish, who may have had no prior knowledge of the call. "We're not going to get involved in justifying what people are saying. Get them to justify it, not us."
City manager Roberto Mancini, speaking two hours before Dalglish, said that he admired Carroll as a player but declared that Marwood had not discussed the Liverpool idea with him. It is unclear whether the Italian would have appreciated the chance to discuss such an extraordinary swap.
"Carroll is a good player, but it would be difficult and I don't think (it is going to happen)," Mancini said. "There was no phone call to me. I don't know if Brian Marwood was involved. I just read it in the newspaper. I didn't speak to Marwood about this."
Both managers said they expected no business to be concluded by their clubs on transfer deadline day.
"No one in, no one out. Nothing is happening at all," Dalglish said.
Liverpool's approach to City may initially have been an inquiry as to Tevez's availability on a loan basis which, given that Dalglish's side have scored fewer goals than any other side in the Premier League top 10, is not as far-fetched as it might sound.
Though the Argentinian is probably three weeks away from match fitness, he has been undergoing work with a fitness coach in his native country. Mancini might also have welcomed such a swap, given his frustration at the increasing likelihood that City will fail to get Tevez off their books this winter and the problems to which his return to the club this week might lead.
It seemed likely last night that Tevez would appeal to the Premier League against City's disciplinary action that has cost him £9.3m in salary, bonuses and fines after he refused to warm up at Bayern Munich in September.
The disclosure of City's conversation with Liverpool will do no harm to the Premier League leaders' attempts to sell the player today.
There is a feeling at the Etihad Stadium that AC Milan may head back to the table in the hope that they can secure a deal at the death.
Dalglish, who has Jay Spearing available for tonight's visit to Wolves, declined the chance to heap praise on 23-year-old Carroll for his display in Saturday's defeat of Manchester United, but said that the latest talk of him leaving would not dent his confidence.
"We were satisfied on Saturday with everybody's performance. But for some reason the focus always seems to be on the big fella," said Dalglish, who is bringing in Wrexham's Wales U-19 goalkeeper Danny Ward for £100,000.
Mancini, whose side face a difficult challenge at Everton tonight, said he was baffled at Tevez's suggestions that the manager was accountable for the breakdown in their relationship.
"I have always had a good relationship with him -- even after Munich," he said. "I think it is very strange (that he is now saying he has a problem with me)." (© Independent News Service)