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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
Stam's cautionary tale
Jaap Stam and Roy Keane have had autobiographies serialised in newspapers
Stam was quickly off to Rome after his revelations

Roy Keane may have dominated the weekend's sports pages with revelations from his forthcoming book, but he is one of the few characters in the game who is 'untouchable'.

The Manchester United skipper has been scathing both about his team-mates and himself, but is not likely to share the same fate as the last man to lift the lid on Old Trafford.

Just days after excerpts from Jaap Stam's autobiography appeared in The Mirror last August, he was on his way to Lazio.

Jaap's book was construed as an attack on the manager
Jeremy Butler,
Author of 'Jaap Stam'
Stam may have had a few less than complimentary words to say about the likes of Gary Neville and David Beckham, but his transfer still came as a major shock.

And the decisive factor could well have been the Dutchman's views on Sir Alex Ferguson, according to Jeremy Butler who wrote 'Jaap Stam'.

"Andy Cole's book was more personal and revealed more dressing room secrets than Jaap's, but he steered clear of criticising the manager," Butler told BBC Sport Online.

"I think The Mirror had an agenda with Jaap and made it an attack on Ferguson."

The United manager is not a man shy of airing his opinions.

His own autobiography managed to ensure he will never get a Christmas card from Gordon Strachan, Jim Leighton or Brian Kidd.

Jaap Stam and Roy Keane in the 2000 Charity Shield
Stam and Keane aired their views on United
Ferguson is certainly in a position to say almost anything he wishes, but there have been plenty of people in football who have found that loose words cost jobs.

Glenn Hoddle's time as England coach came to an inglorious end after comments about reincarnation.

And David O'Leary might have found it easier to hold on to his job at Elland Road a little longer had it not been for the ill-judged 'Leeds United on Trial'.

Certainly Stam had reason to feel the world could have waited for his thoughts on Manchester United.

"At the time I think he regretted it," said Butler.

"I know his wife wanted to buy the rights and pulp it because of the pain and distress it was causing the family.

"But Jaap felt he had done nothing wrong and he doesn't bear any grudges."

Dressing room revelations are nothing new in football, but they are becoming an increasingly common feature of the back pages.

And they can come from the most unlikely sources, as proved when the thoughts of mild-mannered Stam were greeted with a storm of controversy.

"I was astonished," said Butler.

"People had been asking me about the book and I was saying I don't think there's much in it, as I'd wanted to write something a bit different.

David O'Leary
O'Leary was under pressure following his book
"No-one could believe it when it was all over the front of The Mirror for two days, and then the back pages for another two days."

Books from Keane or Ferguson attract plenty of attention long before they reach print as newspapers bid for serialisation rights.

But Butler believes United thought Stam would not attract much interest.

"As far as I know Jaap was never asked about the content of the book by United," he said.

"In fact, when the book was published the club said they knew nothing about it, which I find hard to believe when the media was well aware it was coming out.

"When the book went into the paper I was in contact with Jaap at least twice a day, every day.

"We would discuss what was going in the next day and who he should ring in advance to say 'don't worry'."

The one man who was not going to accept an apology was Ferguson, and Stam paid the price.

And Butler knows that however good a player Stam might be, the old saying 'no player is bigger than the club' is true - almost.

"Keane is an integral part of the team and Ferguson needs him," said Butler.

"And the one difference with his book is that Jaap's was construed as an attack on the manager, whereas Ferguson is probably quite pleased with what Keane has had to say.

"He's the manager's voice on the pitch."

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