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Fergie lays down law to Manchester United stars

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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson has warned his Manchester United players “they are dead” if they step out of line and question his authority.

The Manchester United manager also claimed he was the “most important” person at the club as he outlined his style of leadership in a speech to students in Dublin this week.

Ferguson, 68, admitted keeping control of today's highly-paid players is one of the hardest tasks for the modern football manager.

He said: “Control is very, very important because if I lost control of these multi-millionaires in my dressing room, I'm dead. So if anyone steps out of my control, they're dead.”

Ferguson's remarks come as no surprise, even though he has appeared to have mellowed in recent years.

The short-fused Scot has fought and won several battles with key figures during his remarkable 23-year reign at Old Trafford.

His most celebrated row came in February, 2003 when he allegedly struck David Beckham with a football boot in a dressing room row over the player's celebrity lifestyle.

Beckham was sold to Real Madrid that summer for £25m. Other players to feel Fergie's wrath include Paul Ince, Jaap Stam, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Gabriel Heinze.

Ferguson also underlined his own importance to United, having won the league 11 times at the club. “The most important person in Manchester United is the manager,” he said.

Few would dispute Ferguson's assessment, but it does demonstrate how much power he wields at the club and comes after the club's owners the Glazer family admitted last week: “Any successor to our manager may not be as successful as he has been.”

Ferguson will be unable to call on the services of John O’Shea for the rest of the season because of a blood clot in his leg.

O'Shea, 28, has not played since the Republic of Ireland's World Cup play-off defeat to France in November as his nation failed to reach the finals.

Initially it was thought it was nothing more serious than a dead leg, but there have been worrying complications.

Ferguson said: “He has got a terrible injury. The blood clot became all knotted. It's a long process to clear it up and he'll probably miss the season now.

“It's one of those sorts of injuries that are unusual. It's like a dead leg except a dead leg is usually only three or four days.

“It's a bad blow for the boy and for the team because he can play anywhere. When you look at all the problems I've had with the back four this season, he could have played every single one.”

Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans, Wes Brown, Rafael Da Silva, Fabio Da Silva and Gary Neville have all been injured at some time this season.

Prior to suffering the injury to his leg, O'Shea had played 15 times for United this season as well as featuring in three World Cup qualifying games for the Republic of Ireland.

United hope to announce a new sponsorship deal with Turkish Airlines, days after revealing their debts have risen to £716.6m.

The three-year contract will see United adopt Turkish Airlines as their official carrier, replacing Air Asia, and could be confirmed by the Old Trafford club later this week.

Turkish Airlines have already announced a similar contract with Barcelona, which is reportedly worth approximately £2.7m a year to the Catalan giants.

The Glazer family hope to raise £500m through issuing seven-year bonds to pay off bank loans stemming from the 2006 refinancing of the club's purchase.

Belfast Telegraph