FOOTBALL: McDermott's social call

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The Independent Online
JOHN BARNES is clearly going to be a coach unafraid to eschew orthodoxy, and yesterday he confirmed that Terry McDermott is to be Celtic's "social manager".

It is unclear what this will mean in practice, or even when McDermott will arrive at Parkhead. He has been out of the game since leaving Newcastle following the dismissal of Kenny Dalglish.

"Terry McDermott will be coming and his job will be to assist me on the training ground," Barnes said. "Terry is a coach, a social manager."

Various parties were still discussing at the weekend the fall-out from Manchester United's decision to miss next season's FA Cup in order to take part in the World Club Championship.

Manchester United's manager, Alex Ferguson, repeated that his club had bowed to government pressure, while the Sports Minister, Tony Banks, insisted that United had been happy to make the change.

"In the last week we have been under considerable pressure from both the FA and the Government to find a solution," Ferguson said, while Banks responded: "This is something Manchester United were happy to do and the idea that I personally forced them to do so is a rather interesting story."

Alec McGivan, the head of England 2006 World Cup bid, is convinced the campaign would have been in ruins had United decided against taking part in the World Club Championship.

"Three or four of the Fifa executive members in recent days have commented on the importance of our decision. One said that it augurs well for England's bid, while the others have congratulated United on their decision to come.

"There is no question that this tournament is very important to Fifa [world football's governing body] and for us to have not attended it and walked away from it would have gone down very badly. For us to have ignored it would have sent all the wrong signals to the key decision makers who believe this tournament is an important new venture for world football."

Nicolas Anelka has no intention of returning to Arsenal. The French forward, in France waiting for his prospective transfer to Lazio to go through, told an Italian newspaper yesterday that he already plays in Italy.

"I already feel myself to be a Lazio player," he said. "It's impossible for me to stay in England. With Arsenal, I've finished for ever."

And with the fans, too, it seems. "English people don't like me," he said. "In the end, that's only a natural reaction - I'm beginning to go off English people myself."

Manchester United are to open merchandising outlets in the Middle East. A first store is to open in March 2000 in Dubai, followed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.