Football: Houston in control at Loftus Road

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The Independent Online
Stewart Houston yesterday spoke of the desire to be the top man that drove him to take charge at Queen's Park Rangers and end a 10-year association with Arsenal.

Houston, who has signed a three-year contract, succeeded Ray Wilkins at the First Division club, three days after leaving his second spell as caretaker manager at Highbury.

"This wasn't an instant decision, but one that was made over many events in the past six weeks," the 47-year-old Houston said. "They have been a fantastic six weeks, and the strength I have gained has been enormous.

"What it told me was that it was time for me to progress to a fresh challenge and have a go at being a No 1."

Houston will make the fullest use of the experience he gained working alongside George Graham at Arsenal. "Anybody who doesn't learn quickly working under George Graham is a fool," he said. "George was a teacher and also a winner." He refused to disclose whether Graham had offered him the chance to team up again at Leeds United.

Houston's war chest for putting Rangers back in the Premiership is less than the pounds 9m that has been rumoured, but the club's multi-millionaire chairman, Chris Wright, insisted that there was no need for the club's 19th manager since the Second World War to sell before buying - a relief for Rangers supporters anxious about Trevor Sinclair's future.

Houston's baptism comes in tomorrow's second round Coca-Cola Cup tie at Swindon Town, but first he has to sort out a ticklish problem with his old mentor, Graham, regarding the extension of Mark Hateley's loan spell at Leeds which could leave the striker cup-tied.

Danny Bergara also got the chance to have his name on the manager's door when Rotherham United filled the vacancy created earlier in the day by the departure of Archie Gemmill and John McGovern after two years in charge. The Uruguay-born Bergara, who was assistant to David Pleat at Sheffield Wednesday, takes over a side who are bottom of the Second Division without a win in nine games.

The managerial changes in Scotland continued with Steve Archibald being sacked by First Division East Fife over "differences of opinion" and Iain Munro accepting the task of making Raith Rovers a "force in the Premier League".

Joe Royle's transfer fund for a striker is to be boosted by pounds 10m from a new Everton share issue, while at the other end of the scale, Preston North End have broken their transfer record to sign the Wimbledon defender Alan Reeves for pounds 350,000.

Derby County have outflanked would-be predators by securing the services of their two outstanding Croatians with new deals. The defender Igor Stimac has had his contract extended by two years, and the midfielder Aljosa Asanovic has agreed to an additional year.

n The Football Association is to introduce random breath tests for professional players in a drive to warn about the dangers of alcohol. The testing, which was was planned before Arsenal's Tony Adams revealed his drink problem, will take place after matches and at training sessions. "The object is to identify those players who do have a problem and bring this to the attention of the club's medical staff," an FA spokesman said yesterday.

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