Football: Atkinson to tempt Everton with 4m offer for Speed

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The Independent Online
Everton's unsettled captain, Gary Speed, is a pounds 4m target for Ron Atkinson's Sheffield Wednesday. The Welsh international midfielder has been one of Everton's most consistent performers this season, but has grown disillusioned with the club's poor form.

Kendall rejected advances for Speed from Middlesbrough and Newcastle earlier in the season, but Wednesday have big money to spend. Atkinson, their new manager, reportedly has about pounds 10m at his disposal.

Atkinson has paved the way for the Speed move by setting up a swap deal to send Mark Pembridge to Coventry in exchange for the veteran defender, David Burrows.

Atkinson took Burrows to Coventry in the first place and rates him highly. He is willing to sacrifice Pembridge in a straight exchange, with no money changing hands.

Everton's chairman, Peter Johnson, has hit out at his critics in the wake of Wednesday's 2-0 defeat at Chelsea, which left the Toffees at the bottom of the Premiership.

"Evertonians need to get behind the team and they also have to remember I don't want to lose every game," Johnson said after pointing out that pounds 25m has been put into the club by the current shareholders. "We are all in this together. I don't want to travel down to London and watch my team lose, for God's sake."

Yesterday Johnson approved Everton's purchase of the Norwegian Under- 21 goalkeeper, Thomas Myhre, for pounds 800,000 from Viking Stavanger.

Southampton hope to complete the pounds 200,000 signing of the Norwegian midfield player, Bjorn Johansen, from Tromso by the weekend. The 24-year-old impressed during a three-day trial last week.

Liverpool's hopes of giving a debut to Brad Friedel at Arsenal on Sunday are vanishing. The Anfield club are ready to pay the United States Soccer Federation pounds 2m for the US international goalkeeper, but so far have been unable to secure a work permit from the Department of Employment and Education.

Fulham have splashed out on two more players from Premiership clubs as Kevin Keegan and Ray Wilkins continue to transform the Second Division club. The midfielder Paul Trollope has completed a pounds 600,000 move from Derby, while they have also spent pounds 100,000 on Bolton's Scottish defender, Steve McAnespie.

Fulham have now spent almost pounds 5m since the Harrods owner, Mohamed Al Fayed, took over the west London side in the summer.

Sheffield United are hoping to sign Tottenham's Scotland centre-back, Colin Calderwood, on loan as a replacement for Carl Tiler, who has been sold to Everton. Calderwood is also wanted by Aberdeen, while Spurs have denied reports linking them with Lazio's unsettled Italian international striker, Giuseppe Signori.

Bryan Hamilton, the former Northern Ireland manager, has joined Ipswich Town - where he spent the best years of his playing career - as first- team coach.

Scotland's top 10 clubs failed to gain permission yesterday leave the Scottish Football League at the end of the season - but they still intend to press ahead with plans for a breakaway league next term. The Scottish League president, Doug Smith, used his casting vote at a management committee meeting to block the top clubs' proposal to resign.

Johan Cruyff, the former Barcelona coach, was in a stable condition in an Amsterdam hospital yesterday after being admitted with a heart complaint. He had double bypass heart surgery in 1991.

- Alan Nixon and Rupert Metcalf

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