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Can anyone control Stan the man?

Frank Clark still comes out in a cold sweat remembering his two seasons as Stan Collymore's manager.

The constant strain of trying to contain Collymore's stubborn streak at Nottingham Forest brought him to breaking point.

Collymore was sold to Liverpool for a British record pounds 8.5 million, insisting he needed a bigger stage to perform on.

Now, less than 18 months later, Clark can afford a smile as Liverpool also find Stan the Man too hot to handle.

Clark, 53, normally the most patient of men, said: "Don't ask me to explain what was in Collymore's mind. I'm not sure I will live long enough to understand exactly how the boy's brain works.

"Some people might accuse me of treating Stan with kid gloves on most occasions.

"My answer would be: `You try and cope with the lad, because it's not easy'.

"Stan didn't really get close to his teammates. There was often a certain cool in the air.

"I remember him decking Alf Inge Haaland with a left hook during training. I described it as a Henry Cooper special."

Collymore was fined by Forest. They also fined him for missing training several times.

Striker Stan, capped twice by England, is blessed with rich ability. But there is also a strong suspicion he received short measure when the grey matter was being handed out.

It left Clark walking a mental tightrope, balancing Collymore's goals against the ever-present threat of dressing-room disruption.

Clark eventually cracked when Collymore fired Forest into Europe but refused to commit his future to the club.

He said: "It was all on offer for Stan. We put Forest's biggest wage deal in front of him, plus the chance to appear in the UEFA Cup.

"But the bloke simply wouldn't say yes to the idea of staying at Forest. If I asked him once, I asked him thirty times. We couldn't go on like that.

"There was a very real danger of morale being badly affected among the rest of our players.

"I'm not attempting to heap all the blame on to Stan's shoulders.

"He did a brilliant job for Forest. We bought him from Southend for pounds 2million, and he scored 49 goals in those two seasons.

"Stan won promotion for us, then helped us finish third in the Premiership to qualify for Europe.

"He complained that he was happier at Southend because their style suited him better. But it was Forest who brought out the best in Stan.

"Stan is definitely not a bad character. In some ways, you find yourself actually liking the guy.

"They don't come much more talented than Stan, but we eventually reached the end of the road."

THE BOSSES HE HAS BATTLED AND BAFFLED

STEVE COPPELL

BOUGHT: Dec 90

SOLD: Nov 92

Signed Stan for Crystal Palace from non-League Stafford Rangers for pounds 150,000 and flogged him off to Southend for the same price two years later.

Stan had already been shown the door by Wolves as a kid and it didn't take him long to rub Coppell up the wrong way with his sulking.

"Steve just didn't have the patience to live with Stan," said Coppell's assistant, Alan Smith. "We had a lot of London high flyers who dubbed him a Midlands thickie and he just couldn't handle it."

BARRY FRY

BOUGHT: Nov 92

SOLD: July 93

The only boss not to clash with Stan the Man. Fry inherited Collymore from previous boss Colin Murphy and claims he was the best player he's worked with.

Collymore scored 18 goals in 33 games for the Shrimpers and saved them from relegation before Forest came in with a pounds 2million bid the following summer.

"I accept that he is different," says Fry. "For a start he is intelligent and he doesn't suffer stupid people gladly. The only down side I came across was that he was never the best of trainers. But I could live with that because he did the business on the field."

FRANK CLARK

BOUGHT: Jul 93

SOLD: Jun 95

Paid pounds 2million for Stan and the powerhouse striker blasted Forest straight back to the Premiership.

But a training ground punch-up with Alf Inge Haaland led to him being snubbed by his team-mates, who were further upset by Stan's claims that the team should be changed to suit his style.

The final bust-up came when Stan demanded a pounds 425,000 slice of his Liverpool deal, claiming he had not asked for a move.

ROY EVANS

BOUGHT: Jun 95

SOLD: ?????

The Liverpool boss smashed the British transfer record to sign Collymore for pounds 8.5million.

Collymore angrily denied rumours that he had butted a team-mate during a pre-season trip to Ireland.

But now his latest disappearing act looks to have pushed even the mild- mannered Evans too far.

COPYRIGHT - Mirror

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