The Joe Royle Column

NEVER underestimate The Fox. Alex Ferguson is a clever man and won't allow all the furore about a possible take-over at Manchester United concern him too much.

NEVER underestimate The Fox. Alex Ferguson is a clever man and won't allow all the furore about a possible take-over at Manchester United concern him too much.

We have seen the two Irishmen John Magnier and JP McManus flex their muscles with their share buying and now this American Malcolm Glazer apparently wants to take over the whole thing kit and kaboodle.

The players will be looking and scratching their heads at all the talk of a take-over but it won't really bother them at all.

Quire honestly, as long as the funding is there for him to buy players as he does then that should be all the management need to worry about.

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His big buying record is second to none and you don't readily replace arguably the most successful manager in British history. Even if you are having a bad season by being just second in the league and still in the Champions' League and FA Cup.

I would be very surprised if the so-called Coolmore Mafia or Glazer are looking at Alex's job too closely. There has been posturing on both sides but I'm sure the football will be kept separate.

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The BBC invited me over to do the commentary on last night's game between Portugal and England and I really enjoyed it. It's a chance to do some scouting should we ever be in the market for some Portuguese players.

It is always good to see football and you never know what you might hear or see on these trips but there is no chance I would let it interfere with what I'm doing here at Ipswich. I checked with the chairman first and Wednesday is the players' day off so there shouldn't be any problem.

We have seen some Portuguese players like Hugo Viana come over here and we have not seen the best of him but at international Under-21 level he has been brilliant.

As much as I love watching England play and support them we have to be realistic and say we are not a world force. We would not have too many players in a European XI never mind a World XI so let's be real.

But when those lads pull on that white shirt with the Three Lions on the pride should make them even better players.

I would quite like to see Kieron Dyer playing in the attacking role that he enjoys right up there with the strikers.

Kieron did outstandingly well in that role at Portman Road for England. Well, enough to say to Sven give me a chance up front. He has got the energy and pace to do it. I would personally play him.

All this talk about contracts and all the rest of it with Sven should not affect England players, they are internationals and are secure in their ability and financially.

Whatever the critics say about Sven, his managerial record is good. It is good in big games and we must respect that. I'm told Sven is a calming influence on the players and they like him.

You have to remember he came into a strange situation when Kevin Keegan left and it will always be on his CV that he got us to the World Cup, which let's face it looked unlikely when we lost to Germany at home.

I HAVE just finished reading big Stan Ternent's autobiography and I have not stopped laughing.

Stan is a complete one-off, he is a popular manager with everyone, well, except for Neil Warnock, and I like him a lot.

Neil and Stan don't belong on the same planet. They really don't get on.

We meet Stan and his Burnley side again on Saturday and I don't really need to remind him that his sides have never fared well against any of my teams down the years. His record has not been great so I'm sure he will be firing Burnley up for this game.

But we are the best of mates and we always have a giggle after the game. Stan will be rushing to his room to get out the Scotch and his fags and we will have a natter.

I loved his book and if anyone wants to read a soccer book, warts and all, as opposed to the more flowery books that tend to come out then they should get hold of 'Stan The Man: A Hard Life in Football'.

WE brought the Army in recently to freshen up training and it has worked.

Any sort of rest or recreation or carrying logs, with 52-year-old Willie Donachie leading the way on Monday, can help.

The lads will look at it in different ways. I know Scott Mitchell said after the reserves' win over Arsenal how much he felt it had helped and that is good.

Others may not know quite what it did but will have enjoyed it.

We are willing to try anything if it helps a player even one per cent of one per cent.

We will be taking the first team to play a couple of days' golf, go clay-pigeon shooting and we have one or two other ideas.

The players are fit enough at this stage of the season so it is more about keeping their minds fresh.

I can remember Brian Clough, who was every bit, although possibly in a different way, as successful as Sir Alex, had lots of ways of keeping his players on their toes.

They would win on Saturday and be in for training on Sunday, or lose on Saturday and be off until Thursday, so they never knew what was next.

I can remember trying something at Oldham to be different and that was to have the whole squad out running every day in a week between games and by the end of the week they were all moaning, but they were all moaning together.

It is rare I resort to that sort of old-fashioned thinking but it worked and that is what counts.

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