Football: Keegan: `Decision may be imminent'

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The Independent Online
KEVIN KEEGAN last night hinted for the first time that he will cut all links with Fulham when he is confirmed as full-time England manager.

And the former Liverpool, Southampton and England striker suggested that there could be firm developments on the England situation over the weekend.

Keegan, speaking on ITV's The Sports Show, said: "I know there are developments going on which I am not privy to, and within the next 48 hours either something will come to fruition or not."

And, giving the clearest indication yet that he will be putting Craven Cottage behind him, Keegan added: "The way it is going it possibly will be a clean break. That's because if there is no role there for me to fulfil and... someone says to me `there's a certain amount of money, just come and be a figurehead' I won't do that - if I had wanted that I'd be at Newcastle United."

Keegan, who originally suggested he might be prepared to take a consultative role at Craven Cottage, said that doing two jobs would not be fair on Fulham. "I have thought about it long and hard," he said. "If I had gone straight away and taken the England job with 12 games left for Fulham and the club hadn't got promoted that would have been the biggest disservice that I could have done to the people who work there, the players and the fans. I stuck with it, I said I wouldn't go, I wanted to take it [the England job] part-time - having had it for two games, my heart tells me to take it and if the Fulham fans do not understand that then I have to say I'm sorry, but that is the way I feel. I can't be more honest than that. If I said nothing... and just disappeared on Monday you would say: that's not right either."

Meanwhile, Gianfranco Zola yesterday faced up to his advancing years by contemplating retirement after one more campaign in the blue of Chelsea.

"Next season might be my last as a player," the Italian striker, who will be 33 in July, said. "We will see because from now on I have to consider my condition and my strength. Unfortunately it is getting harder and harder. At the end of next season I am going to make a decision because it is very important to give my best and if I can't give something to the team, then it might be the right moment to give up."

Chelsea are set to make a pounds 3.5m bid for Sheffield United's 19-year-old midfielder Curtis Woodhouse.

David Ginola did the double yesterday when he was named footballer of the year. The award by the Football Writers' Association comes less than a fortnight after Tottenham's Frenchman was voted player of the year by the Professional Footballers' Association. He beat the Manchester United pair Dwight Yorke and David Beckham into second and third place respectively. This is the fifth year running that the award - voted for by the football press - has gone to a foreign player.

Bill Kenwright has turned to other banks to try to fund his pounds 50m Everton takeover. The theatre impresario suffered a setback when HSBC, who own the Midland Bank, announced that they were not going to back what is intended to be the biggest takeover in Premiership history.

The Aston Villa manager, John Gregory, who has had a number of problems with his top players, yesterday hit out at football's "prima donnas". He is particularly upset at goalkeeper Mark Bosnich's protracted move under the Bosman ruling.

"I've tried for the last 16 months to persuade Mark to sign for Villa as have the board," Gregory said. "Even the players have attempted to persuade him to stay. I do not think that he knows in his own mind what he is going to do next season."