Football: Kendall in the dark over Everton future

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The Independent Online
THE EVERTON chairman, Peter Johnson, risked turning the club into a laughing stock yesterday by leaving Howard Kendall in the dark about his managerial future.

Johnson was supposed to telephone Kendall or fly in on his private jet to tell him face to face that his third reign was over, but instead, Kendall was left angry and embarrassed to have to field questions about his future at Goodison on his own.

Kendall has refused to resign, despite widespread reports that he is to be fired and yesterday he insisted he would be in charge at the start of the season, while adding: "Naturally, I want the situation to be clarified one way or another."

Johnson made up his mind to dismiss Kendall on Friday, a decision backed unanimously by his board. Plans have already been drawn up for a successor, believed to be the Leicester manager, Martin O'Neill.

To add to the confusion, O'Neill has already gone to France on World Cup duty with the BBC - without telling Leicester of his future plans. If he delays as long as Johnson, Everton will switch to an alternative target.

Kendall's backroom staff at Everton are also facing the sack, but his assistant, Adrian Heath, and coach, Viv Busby, were also in the dark yesterday.

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, yesterday said he wanted to buy a versatile fullback and also a young striker. He also confirmed he was discussing a new contract which could keep him at Highbury until 2002, but said that if he were to leave before then, he might return to Japan ahead of the 2002 World Cup, which Japan will co-host with South Korea.

The contract talks do not centre on the issue of money, whether for Wenger, or for buying players. "It's not money. That's not the most important thing," he said. "It's a question of stability and of the plans for the extension of the club."

Wenger is looking for players, but insisted that nobody - particularly Ian Wright - will leave Highbury this summer. "We need a full-back who can play on both sides because we have so many competitions next season. And maybe a young striker."

Chelsea last night signed the Spanish international Albert Ferrer from Barcelona for pounds 2.2m. The right-back becomes the third significant signing by Gianluca Vialli, the player-manager at Stamford Bridge, since May. The 28-year-old follows Brian Laudrup and Pierluigi Casiraghi to west London.

Capped 35 times, Ferrer has medals from five Spanish championships, two Cup-Winners' Cups, the European Cup and a gold from the 1992 Olympics.