Football: Hammam defends Kinnear

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE Wimbledon chairman, Sam Hammam, yesterday dismissed talk of a rift between the Dons' manager, Joe Kinnear, and the club's supporters.

Kinnear argued with some fans after Tuesday night's 1-0 home defeat by Bolton in the Coca-Cola Cup in front of only 1,987 supporters at Selhurst Park.

Wimbledon still went through 3-2 on aggregate but Kinnear was fuming at the abuse his side suffered and called the fans responsible 'moaning bastards'.

But Hammam, who did not see the furious confrontation, said yesterday: 'I don't make anything of it at all; nothing at all. It just seems to me that Joe got a bit frustrated with the low gate and the game and voiced his displeasure at one or two supporters in the stand.

'But Joe's in a unique position here. He is so close and is so loved by the supporters here - they are always singing and chanting his name. He's a super man, a very lovable person and such a genuine lad. The fans love it when he has a go. They know it's not what you say, it's how you mean it.

'When Dave Bassett was here, he used to slaughter the fans in his articles but nobody cared.'

Hammam also put on a brave face about the meagre crowd, the lowest in the competition's 31-year history. 'We are used to it,' he added. 'Wimbledon has traditionally had low gates but the supporters we have are fantastic.

'Of course, we would love to have gates like Manchester United or Barcelona but we don't and we have to live with it.'

And Hammam again defended Wimbledon's departure from Plough Lane to share with Crystal Palace, describing it as 'the best deal I have ever done for this club'.

The Liverpool striker, Ian Rush, yesterday warned Anfield's established players that they must start looking over their shoulders to a new generation who represent the club's future. Rush said: 'The seniors will have to watch out. If the younger lads keep playing so well we might lose our places.'

He refused to name individuals but Mike Marsh (23), Don Hutchison (21) and Jamie Redknapp (19) were the driving forces behind a 4-1 Coca-Cola Cup win at Chesterfield on Tuesday night. 'The younger players are maturing rapidly and they give us a lift with their tireless running,' Rush said. 'It was a big test at Chesterfield and the kids passed it with flying colours.'

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