Football: Megson takes over at Stoke

THE SUMMER'S longest-running managerial saga reached its conclusion yesterday when Stoke City unveiled Gary Megson as the successor to Brian Little, who resigned five weeks ago.

Megson, sacked by Stockport last month, became Stoke's fifth manager in two years - the seventh including "caretakers" - and promptly admitted there were no funds to strengthen a side which fell away to eighth in the Second Division under Little.

"It's going to be extremely tough, but passion, enthusiasm and desire don't cost anything," Megson said. "The biggest thing this club has going for it is the support. They can play an active part in getting us up."

Megson played under Jack Charlton, Howard Wilkinson and Brian Clough before managing Norwich and Blackpool. He was at the top of a shortlist comprising John Rudge, Steve McMahon and Kevin Ratcliffe after Tony Pulis opted for Bristol City rather than Stoke on leaving Gillingham.

Workmen had told reporters seeking the Waddington Suite that it had "Circus" written over the door. The ringmaster, Stoke's chief executive Jez Moxey, listed intelligence, character, commitment and the ability to coach, motivate and work with "very little money" among the requisite attributes.

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