Football: Bristol City sack Smith and promote Osman

IT PROVED to be another Black Thursday yesterday for a First Division manager who followed poor League form with an early FA Cup exit, Denis Smith losing his job at Bristol City a week after Neil Warnock was told he was no longer wanted by Notts County.

Smith, who will be replaced by his assistant, the former Ipswich and England defender Russell Osman, was sacked after less than a year at Ashton Gate. He had laughed off any threat to his position after Tuesday's Cup defeat at Luton.

'I don't expect any trouble, I don't see why I should have any,' he said then. Yesterday, not surprisingly, his mood had changed. 'I'm more angry than anything else and determined to stay in the game and do other things,' said the former Sunderland and York manager, who becomes the third managerial casualty of the new year and 11th of the season.

With City reaching 10 games without a victory at Kenilworth Road, Leslie Kew, their chairman, clearly thought 10 months of Smith was enough. 'We feel Bristol deserves Premier League football and we went into the season with great enthusiasm but unfortunately it has not been sustained,' he said. 'Last season Denis Smith saved us from relegation, but this winter, week after week, things have not been getting better.'

Osman is in charge until the end of the season, yet believes he will not need that long to turn things round. 'We have the players here and it's a question of getting the right attitude and determination from them.'

He might be about to lose his best player, though, with City informing Newcastle that they can have striker Andrew Cole - but for pounds 2.2m. Kevin Keegan, the Newcastle manager, had a pounds 1.3m- plus-player offer turned down this week. Kew says the fact that they must pay Arsenal a third of the profit on the pounds 500,000 they paid for the 21-year-old last summer makes his valuation far higher.

David Platt was back in England yesterday to consult a world- renowned specialist about the troublesome knee which has kept him out of the Juventus team since his cartilage operation eight weeks ago.

Platt's Italian employers insist all is well, and that he will be fit for selection for their match against Cagliari in nine days' time, but the man himself is not so sure, and fears the surgery performed at the end of November was not a complete success. Still in some discomfort, and given no chance of playing against Lazio at the weekend, he was allowed to travel to Cambridge to consult Professor David Dandy, an expert in knee conditions and their treatment. Juventus insist there is no question of a second operation, but Platt has been voicing increasing concern.

Tottenham Hotspur suffered a setback yesterday when the Department of Employment turned down their application for a work permit for the Ukrainian striker, Oleg Salenko, for whom they had agreed a fee of pounds 800,000 with Dynamo Kiev.

Matthew Le Tissier has agreed a new two-and-a-half year contract to stay with Southampton, who have allowed David Speedie to join West Bromwich Albion on a two-month loan. John Sheridan has earned a three-year extension to his contract with Sheffield Wednesday, after demonstrating his recovery from a knee operation and impressing during the club's recent revival.

The West Ham defender, Julian Dicks, who is serving a three- match ban following his third sending-off of the season, has been summoned by the Football Association to a meeting next week to discuss his disciplinary record. With just one half of the campaign completed, he will have missed 11 games in total.

Rotherham's Cup quest, page 30

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