FOOTBALL: HORTON'S DAY OF DECISION AT CITY

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The Independent Online
BY GUY HODGSON

Brian Horton has taken to repeating a phrase at pre-match press conferences. "Two matches," he says, to underline the time limit that newspapers have often put on his career as Manchester City manager. Today he will discover whether that span has run out.

Horton, in charge at Maine Road for 19 months, sees his chairman, Francis Lee, today and he is expected to be dismissed. Yesterday Horton was still defiant, insisting he would not resign, but the two-match trial he mocked is likely to have reached its conclusion with the 2-0 defeat at Wimbledon on Monday.

"I have never walked away from a fight, either as a player or a manager," he said, "so I'm not going to start now. The pressure I am supposed to be under has been created by other people, not by me. There's still a big job to do at Maine Road and I will carry on doing it to the best of my ability until I'm told otherwise."

Horton's refusal to talk to reporters after the Wimbledon match was taken as a signal that his tenure was insecure, although he says that had nothing to do with his position. "I knew that the London journalists who were at the match already had their headlines in mind after our display," he said. "I felt I would be wasting my time and theirs by talking to them."

"Our performance at Selhurst Park was unacceptable and the players have been told so... Any manager is as good as the materials he has to work with and I think it's obvious that changes are needed in certain areas if this club is going to be a major force in English soccer again."

Nevertheless the rumours emanating from the capital continued to flow yesterday, the strongest of which was that Horton's successor will be Mick McCarthy, the Millwall manager, who played 163 times for City in the mid-Eighties.

Sunderland have agreed a fee of £500,000 for the 26-year-old Everton striker, Brett Angell.

Jason Cundy, the Tottenham central defender, will not be joining Ipswich in a £500,000 deal after the player failed to agree personal terms. Cundy has not played a first-team match for more than two years, partly because of a long-term back problem. He cost Spurs £750,000 from Chelsea in July 1992.

The Wolves and former England midfielder Geoff Thomas will miss the rest of the season after learning that he must undergo surgery on his right knee for the third time in 18 months.

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