Football: Houllier replaces Platini

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THE FRENCH opted for evolution rather than revolution yesterday, promoting Gerard Houllier from deputy to national coach in succession to Michel Platini.

Having helped shape the current team, the 44-year-old former English teacher was the natural choice to follow Platini, who resigned last month. Despite the dismal displays in Sweden, he has no intention of breaking up an established squad. 'There will be a few minor adjustments but I believe in continuity,' he said. 'The squad Michel built is a good one and I've had the fortune to work with them for the past four years.'

The first task for Houllier, a thoughtful and respected tactician who steered Paris St Germain to the French championship in 1986, will be in preparing a disillusioned squad for a friendly against a resurgent Brazil in Paris on 26 August. Two weeks later, France begin their World Cup qualifying campaign with a tough trip to Bulgaria.

Paul McStay, who enjoyed his summer in Sweden far more than Platini, yesterday agreed to stay at Celtic. The stylish Scotland midfielder, whose impressive performances at the European Championship finals were expected to secure him a lucrative transfer abroad, has instead signed a three-year deal at Parkhead.

The Celtic manager, Liam Brady, said that he had received only one offer last season for the club's most prized player, and none since McStay became a free agent on 1 July.

Bobby Gould, the Coventry City manager, yesterday paid Swansea pounds 250,000 for their striker John Williams; Ricky Otto, the Orient winger, is also off to Highfield Road, for pounds 150,000 when personal terms have been sorted out.

A similar sum takes David Smith, the 31-year-old Plymouth Argyle winger, to Notts County. John Colquhoun, the former Scottish international striker, yesterday completed his pounds 220,000 move from Millwall to Sunderland.

Peter Nicholas has returned to Chelsea as youth team coach. The 32-year-old Welsh international midfielder has been released by Watford, who he joined from Stamford Bridge last year.

Watford yesterday replaced a pounds 1m goalkeeper with a free transfer. Perry Suckling, Crystal Palace's former England Under-21 international, comes in for one of his international successors, David James, who has gone to Liverpool.