Embattled Fashanu ends playing career

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The Independent Online
GUY HODGSON

John Fashanu, charged by the police with match fixing last week, made any potential punishment by the football authorities irrelevant yesterday, when his retirement was announced.

The 31-year-old striker's controversial career came to an end with a short statement by his club, Aston Villa. "John Fashanu," it read, "has been forced to retire from the game through a knee injury sustained at Manchester United on 4th February 1995."

It concluded a sorry time for Fashanu since his pounds 1m transfer from Wimbledon, one of the last deals by Ron Atkinson before his dismissal as Villa manager. He rarely played, scored just once, was sidelined through injury for much of the campaign and was then implicated - and subsequently charged - in the football bribes allegations.

With supporters at Old Trafford restive for reinforcements to replace Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis, the Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, yesterday said he would not be rushed into purchasing anyone. Indeed, no new player could be bought before the start of the Premiership season on 19 August.

Ferguson, who is in Europe to find a replacement for Kanchelskis's right- flank role, said: "I will not make a signing just for the sake of it but we are looking at certain options and possibilities all the time."

Kanchelskis was sold for pounds 5m to Everton while Ince went to Internazionale for pounds 7m and Hughes to Chelsea for pounds 1.5m. The United manager has the money, it is just the personnel who are not available. "We are looking at possible replacements for players who have left the club this summer but at present there's nothing to report."

Ferguson was thwarted in an attempt to sign Tottenham's England international, Darren Anderton, and he has since been linked with Ajax's Marc Overmars, IFK Gothenburg's Jesper Blomqvist and the Brazilians, Edmilson and Juninho.

Bolton Wanderers, newly promoted to the Premiership, are showing no reluctance to spend. After signing Gerry Taggart from Barnsley for pounds 1.5m on Tuesday, they are also interested in Oldham's Paul Bernard, who will cost around pounds 1m. This will fuel speculation that Jason McAteer, wanted by Liverpool and Blackburn, will be allowed to leave Burnden Park.

Heart of Midlothian have strongly denied accusations that they made an unauthorised approach to lure their new manager, Jim Jefferies, from Falkirk. George Fulston, the Falkirk chairman, has threatened legal action after Jefferies walked out on the club on Tuesday.

Hereford United have appointed the former Wolves manager, Graham Turner, 47, as their new director of football.

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