Aldridge in charge at Tranmere

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The Independent Online
Football

PHIL SHAW

John Aldridge was promoted to the boss class yesterday as Tranmere Rovers, hovering just above the First Division relegation zone, ended the reign of the most successful manager in their history, John King.

The 37-year-old Aldridge, a Republic of Ireland striker whose experience ranges from Newport County through Liverpool to Real Sociedad, becomes player-manager. King, who was in his second spell with Tranmere and will be 58 on Monday, is pondering the offer of a move "upstairs".

It was King who brought Aldridge back to Merseyside from Spain in 1991, since when he has scored 136 goals for Tranmere. The signing was his most inspired during a nine-year sojourn in which Tranmere rose from the former Fourth Division to within a whisker of what is now the Premiership. Three times they lost in the play-offs.

This season, however, Tranmere have struggled and go into today's match with Leicester only four points better off than 22nd-placed Oldham. King, who had two years left on his contract, learned about the change when he was summoned to meet the chairman, Frank Corfe, in the morning.

Aldridge, who will work on a two-year contract, said: "Ideally I'd have liked the circumstances in which I've taken over to be better, but that's football. The main objective is retain our status. I'll carry on with the existing backroom staff until the end of the season and then decide what moves to make."

King said: "It hasn't really sunk in yet. It takes a lot of accepting but you have got to be big enough in football. I've been offered a consultancy role, but I can't make a sudden decision over my future."

Arsenal have made a fresh bid for Alan Stubbs, the Bolton defender. Bruce Rioch, under whom Stubbs was captain of the Lancashire club, has offered pounds 2m up front with a further pounds 1m based on appearances and caps. Bolton will not respond until their Premiership fate is resolved, but are expected to want a bigger down payment.

Howard Kendall, the Sheffield United manager, has gone public about his interest in signing Ian Rush when the veteran striker leaves Liverpool next month.

Huddersfield Town yesterday terminated the contract of Craig Whitington, the striker who was this week suspended by the Association until 1 November after two separate drug tests revealed cannabis use. Whitington, 25, tested positive in March last year, and again in January.

Geoff Heady, the Huddersfield chairman, said: "Given the support provided after the first test, the club feel extremely disappointed and badly let down by the player's actions."

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