Keegan, the manager at St James' Park, had gone as far as to forecast the England Under- 21 attacker would be 'a Newcastle player by lunchtime - I don't see any problems.' In reality, the problems proved so great that Newcastle's chief executive, Freddie Fletcher, called the deal 'dead and buried'.
The complete breakdown of talks brought a curious conclusion to a curious episode. Derby's chairman, Lionel Pickering, at first refused to sanction the sale because he valued the 23-year-old Durham-born Kitson, signed from Leicester City two years ago for pounds 1.3m, at between pounds 3m and pounds 4m. He relented after being outvoted 4-1 by the Derby board.
The Stoke City board were unanimous in their choice of Lou Macari to succeed Joe Jordan as manager and yesterday the Scot announced his readiness to return once his claim for compensation after his sacking by Celtic is resolved.
There is not likely to be any such concord between the Football League and Manchester United over the club's attitude to the Coca-Cola Cup. United will have to explain to the League why they dropped nine regulars and played seven reserves - five of them aged 19 - in the side that beat Port Vale 2-1 away in the first leg of their second-round tie.
Rule 18 of the competition says: 'Each club shall play to its full strength in all matches. . . unless some satisfactory reason is given.'
Alex Ferguson, United's manager, is unrepentant about resting the players he will need fit for the club's Champions' League matches and will continue to call on his youngsters for the knock-out competition. 'They will be in all the League Cup games,' he said. 'We still have a job to do in the second leg but if we qualify, they'll play in the next round too. We're just doing what's right for Manchester United.'
The League's sanctions on United range from fines, increasing match by match, to throwing United out of the cup. That ultimate punishment would suit United as they wanted to withdraw from it in the first place.
Graham Taylor, the Wolves manager, has confirmed that he will ask Liverpool to extend the loan of Paul Stewart, who is now injured, as a prelude to negotiating the transfer of the pounds 1m-rated utility player. Andy Booth, Huddersfield's top scorer, has also been watched by Wolves as they search for a partner for Steve Bull.
Uefa, European football's governing body, has decided to demand three more places for the continent in the 1998 World Cup finals, where the number of teams involved will be increased to 32 from 24.Reuse content