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Published: 27 August 2001

'Tangled up in sky blue'
by "Red Kelly"

Bloody hell, look what happens - I go away for a few days and come back to chaos. Life has never been dull as a United supporter - there's always something going on, and this time it was the Jaapster's book.

It baffles me why footballers should want to release an autobiography before they have finished playing the game anyway. I understand they may be offered lucrative advances by publishers, but haven't they got enough money as it is? I mean - how much money do they need? And for someone like Stam to be encouraged to reveal his innermost opinions on fellow professionals who each depend on the other for their livelihoods was rash to say the least! To have talked about a pre transfer meeting with the Wizard without the knowledge of PSV, and thus depositing it in the public domain where anyone could then do what the hell they wanted with it, was slightly more than rash - it was bloody stupid!

The Old Trafford inner sanctum is sacrosanct while the team are together. Success is built on team spirit and interaction. It is a quality that exists at Manchester United in abundance and has been instilled in the players by the Wizard and it is paramount. Anyone who oversteps the line and betrays this trust must face the consequences. And in this case it seems it proved fatal.

The Jaapster has played his last game in the red shirt and is destined to play out the rest of his career in sky blue - got his just desserts then. No-one is bigger than the club and no-one can be allowed to get away with criticising specific team members however trivial the criticism is perceived to be. It disrupts that all important togetherness. Players are naturally entitled to their opinions, and there are always going to be disagreements, incompatabilities and dislikes, but they should not be made public. Team spirit cannot be compromised by anyone or results would be bound to suffer.

Veron and van Nistelrooy have both commented on the spirit within the club in the short time they have been with us - now they know that we are (and should be seen as) one big family. It's the Ferguson way - the United way - our way.

So, we mourn Stam's passing.

We'll never sing his song again.

But, 'We've got Wesley Brown.'

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