Football: Reid's position threatened: Maddock promises improvements at Maine Road

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The Independent Online
MANCHESTER CITY, with one point from four matches, may be the first major club to face an upheaval in the first month of the new season. The position of the player-manager, Peter Reid, in the second of a three-year contract, is under threat.

Reid and his chairman, Peter Swales, had a pre-season dispute when the City board refused to raise an offer for Paul Stewart, of Liverpool, to pounds 1.5m. The transfer collapsed, like Reid's other close-season deals (Geoff Thomas, who went from Crystal Palace to Wolves, and Terry Sinclair, Blackpool to Queen's Park Rangers).

There followed the appointment of John Maddock, a former journalist, as City's general manager and after Tuesday's home defeat by Blackburn, Maddock said he was disappointed by City's team spirit.

Far from back-tracking, Maddock amplified this yesterday when he added: 'I am the supremo at Maine Road with a mandate from the board. I have the power to hire and fire and whatever has got to be done to put us back on line will be done. I won't duck making decisions, however unpleasant. You don't have to be a genius to work out that there is something wrong when the team are being booed off the pitch before the end of August.'

Apart from the results, Reid is also vulnerable through his defence of his abrasive assistant manager, Sam Ellis, who some directors wish to see removed. Reid's position was worsened by a pre-season incident when Ellis and some players were fined for delaying a flight. Speculation has grown that Maddock has been introduced by Swales to force a change of team management. Steve Coppell, the former manager of Crystal Palace, is one name that has been mentioned.

Steve Bull, the Wolves striker, has been charged by the FA with misconduct after cameras caught him throwing a punch at Wrexham's Mel Pejic during a pre-season friendly. Pejic suffered a fractured cheekbone, chipped teeth and concussion.

Tony Adams, the Arsenal captain, will miss their return to European action in the Cup-Winners' Cup next month. A one-match suspension incurred two years ago has ruled Adams out of the first round, first leg tie against either Odense, of Denmark, or Publikum Celje, of Slovenia.

Willie Falconer's move from Middlesbrough to Sheffield United will not be settled by a tribunal today after the clubs agreed a pounds 400,000 fee.

Marco van Basten, the Dutch striker who is recovering from two ankle operations, should be fit to play for Milan again before the end of the year, Professor Marc Martens, his surgeon, said yesterday.

Marseille should be able to start the defence of their European Cup despite the current bribery scandal allegations. The French league president, Noel Le Graet, said yesterday: 'They will probably start the European Cup but whether they finish it will depend on how the case evolves.'