Arsenal made to wait for Wenger

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The Independent Online
Arsenal yesterday refused to officially confirm that 46-year-old Arsene Wenger is to become their latest manager. An announcement was expected from Highbury but the north London club have had their plans put on hold by the Frenchman's current club, Grampus Eight, with the Japanese seemingly unwilling to play ball over the long-term future of their coach.

Wenger admitted: "It will be very soon, but I cannot say exactly when. Perhaps early next week. We have agreed, but they [Grampus Eight] want more time."

The former Monaco manager is under contract at Grampus until November and the Gunners may be forced to extend the reign of caretaker- manager Stewart Houston if Wenger is unable to secure his release.

Houston undertook a similar role when George Graham was sacked in February 1995 and took the club to the European Cup-Winners' Cup final. Wenger, though, may already be pulling the strings behind the scenes at Arsenal and is reported to have submitted a list of top-class players that he wants to challenge the likes of Manchester United, Newcastle and Liverpool for the game's honours.

His compatriot David Ginola has been linked with a move to the capital following reports that he has been increasingly unsettled at St James' Park after the summer speculation linking him to Barcelona.

Wenger said: "He is a very good player for Newcastle, but the balance of the team is the most important thing. It is not only the quality of a player which matters, but whether he would fit in with the team."

The Arsenal striker Ian Wright revealed yesterday that Houston and his coaching staff did not speak to him for "three or four days" after the player spoke his mind on Rioch's controversial sacking.

Houston and other club stalwarts like Tony Adams, Paul Merson and Martin Keown have publicly voiced their disapproval of Rioch's removal last Monday, only five days before the start of the new season.

But Wright, who stunned Arsenal fans by putting in a transfer request after a series of spats with Rioch last season, indicated in a national newspaper article last week he was not unhappy to see the back of the former Bolton boss. He also staunchly defended the club vice-chairman David Dein, the man seen by many as the prime mover in Rioch's dismissal.

Wright said: "I spoke my mind when Bruce Rioch got the sack and some people didn't like it. The players were happy, and what has been said about the boys having a go at me is crap.

"But the coaching staff blanked me. They didn't talk to me for three or four days, but I've always said what I mean and if people can't take it they can kiss my ass. I just wanted the fans to know the situation as I saw it. Everyone knows Bruce Rioch and I didn't see eye to eye, but in the end I respected him as a manager and wish him well in the future."

Manchester City, who hope to sign another Arsenal striker, Paul Dickov, for pounds 750,000 are ready to cut their losses on Scottish striker Gerry Creaney and sell him to Oldham for pounds 300,000.

The Everton defender Matt Jackson's stop-start loan move to Queen's Park Rangers has finally been completed and he will make his debut in Friday's televised match at Portsmouth.

Mark McGhee, the manager of Wolverhampton, plans to make further enquiries before deciding whether to sign goalkeeper Hans Segers, who is available on a free transfer after being released by Wimbledon earlier this summer. The Dutchman is currently facing match fixing charges along with John Fashanu and Bruce Grobbelaar.