Football: ...Old boys...

THAT WAS THE WEEKEND THAT WAS
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The Independent Online
Where Kevin Keegan failed, another Premiership manager succeeded yesterday. Joe Kinnear celebrated five years in charge of the same team, a milestone Keegan, appointed by Newcastle a fortnight later, did not quite reach.

Kinnear was elevated from Wimbledon's reserve team coach to succeed Peter Withe, who was sacked after winning one match in 17 during a torrid 105 days in charge.

Initially, Kinnear was given the job on a caretaker basis after Wimbledon had tried without success to re-engage Bobby Gould, then in charge at West Bromwich Albion. But Sam Hammam dropped a strong hint that the appointment might be permanent when he revealed how pleased the players were to have Joe at the helm.

"They adore him," Hammam said. "He is a players' type of guy. He gives them rollickings, but they accept it; they respect him."

The team Kinnear inherited were 17th in the old First Division and worried that the impending launch of the Premiership would happen without them. But Kinnear's side earned a draw at Queen's Park Rangers in his first match in charge, the start of a seven-game unbeaten run that lifted them to 11th.

They finished the season 13th and subsequent placings - 12th, 6th, 9th and 14th - reflect Kinnear's steady hand.

Equally importantly, he has traded players at a pounds 4.5m profit, a good deal of that coming from the sale of four members of his first line-up - John Fashanu (pounds 1.35m, to Aston Villa), Terry Phelan (pounds 2.5m, to Manchester City), John Scales (pounds 3.5m, to Leeds) and Warren Barton (pounds 4.5m, to Newcastle).

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