Football: Ball thinks over future following dismissal by Pompey

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ALAN BALL may take himself away, but not exactly in a huff, after his second spell as Portsmouth's manager ended in his dismissal yesterday. At 54, club management is a game he thinks he no longer wants to play.

"It is a big wonderful world out there. It is nice that I am close to my family again, and I think I will probably retire now," Ball said after the Hampshire club's board decided that two points from eight games and 21st place in the First Division was not sufficient return on a pounds 4m investment in players.

Ball, a World Cup winner with England in 1966 who returned to Fratton Park for his second spell in charge in January 1998, added: "I am proud to have played a part in the history of this fabulous football club, but it is over now and never to be resurrected. I hope the supporters will say that I did the best for them and I was there when they needed me."

Bob McNab, Ball's former Arsenal team-mate, is to take charge for the time being, with Pompey away to Sunderland in the FA Cup third round tomorrow. Kevin Bond, Ball's assistant coach, stays at Fratton Park, at least for the time being.

In his first spell in charge, Ball took Portsmouth into the top flight in 1987, and he later went on to manage Stoke, Exeter, Southampton and Manchester City.

Milan Mandaric, the Serbian multi-millionaire who bought the club for pounds 4.5m in March, said: "This is not the most pleasant job I have had to do here in Portsmouth, but as they say a man has got to do what a man has got to do. I did not want to play a part of taking this club down to the Second Division. I have tremendous respect for Alan Ball, but things don't always happen the way you want them to."

Alan McLoughlin, the 32-year-old former Republic of Ireland midfielder, moved from Portsmouth to Wigan Athletic for pounds 260,000 yesterday.