Football: Kidd targets McClair as No 2

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BRIAN KIDD wants his former Manchester United colleague, Brian McClair, to be his assistant at Blackburn Rovers. Kidd spoke to McClair yesterday and will ask Motherwell for permission to take their club captain as his No 2.

While McClair has indicated that he is not ready for a first-team coaching job at Old Trafford, he may be prepared to take on the role where the spotlight is less bright. McClair has already proved popular with other players - at United at he used to negotiate contracts for the younger players with the manager, Alex Ferguson.

As Kidd, who will be introduced to the Blackburn fans before today's home game against Charlton, looked to strengthen his new playing staff, United's England defender, Phil Neville, appeared to occupy the top of his shopping list.

Neville has lost his place for club and country recently and Rovers' owner, Jack Walker, is willing to pay out around pounds 7m.

Kidd will also use his overseas contacts to find players and is interested in the Italian market, where he is well connected. Internazionale's right- winger Francesco Moriero, linked with Middlesbrough, is one player he could have in mind.

McClair's principal rival for the Rovers post appears to be a close friend of Kidd, Willie Donachie. However, the Manchester City manager, Joe Royle, is determined to ensure that Donachie stays at Maine Road. Royle said: "Willie is Manchester City through and through. He is one of the main reasons I came to the club and I sincerely hope he won't leave."

Ferguson yesterday criticised the timing of Kidd's departure before two crucial games against Aston Villa and Bayern Munich.

"We are in the middle of a really important programme for the club," he said. "I would have preferred it to be in the summer. I worked hard to keep him here and we are all disappointed that he has left."

"The relationship has been there for seven years. It's never easy to think it's going to break up and it's very difficult to think it has broken up".

The United reserve-team coach, Jim Ryan, has temporarily stepped into the void left by Kidd's exit.