Football: Ardiles returns to Tyneside: Tottenham manager begins his season at former club

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The Independent Online
FATE having played its part in the new season's fixtures, Ossie Ardiles will be returning to familiar territory on 14 August when he opens his managerial career with Tottenham by collecting an away-day ticket to St James' Park. 'It's a very special place to go,' Ardiles said yesterday. He was not kidding, Newcastle being the club that sacked him 18 months ago.

Ardiles, though, may not know whether he is coming or going in a start to the Premier League that sees Spurs facing six matches in 18 days. Indeed, hardly have the team returned from the north than they find themselves facing Arsenal at White Hart Lane two days later. Spurs are also home to Manchester City and Chelsea and away to Liverpool and Aston Villa before the month is out.

'It's quite a start - tough but also very, very exciting. We will begin the season with a lot of confidence and optimism and see what happens,' said Ardiles, whose only outstanding contractual problem concerns the centre-back Neil Ruddock.

Steve Perryman, though, has rejected the chance to join Ardiles and decided to stay at Watford. Ardiles has already recruited Chris Hughton as coach and the former Spurs captain could have returned to his former club as assistant manager.

'Following an approach to Steve by Tottenham last weekend, he immediately - and quite correctly - contacted me to discuss the matter,' Watford's chairman, Jack Petchey, said. 'I have not given Tottenham permission to approach Steve and as far as we are concerned there is nothing further to discuss.'

News of the Perryman approach will be a worry to the current Spurs coaching staff of Ray Clemence and Doug Livermore, who are waiting to learn their fate following the sacking of Terry Venables.

As for that opening trip to Newastle, where Kevin Keegan took over as manager after the Argentinian's departure, Ardiles said: 'I don't have any hard feelings. There will be a great atmosphere and it will be a very big test, but we have to be able to cope.' And Ardiles can expect a warm welcome from last season's Football League champions. 'I have a very good relationship with the little fellow,' Keegan said.

It is a Sunday start, meanwhile, for Manchester United on 15 August when they tackle Norwich at Carrow Road. Norwich set the pace last season before United emerged on top of the Premier pack. Like Spurs, Norwich must play twice in three days - an opening that includes a daunting trip to Blackburn on the 17th.

News that Stan Collymore is returning to Southend need not worry Nottingham Forest supporters. Thanks to another fixture quirk, Forest start their Football League campaign at Roots Hall against the very club who this week sold them Collymore for pounds 2m.

Still on the Forest front, Arsenal yesterday stepped up their attempt to sign the pounds 4.5m-rated Roy Keane after being given permission to talk to the midfielder. Blackburn claim to have agreed personal terms with Keane, though the player has indicated he wants to join Manchester United.

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