Football: Robson declines Pleat job

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Bobby Robson yesterday ruled himself out of the running to replace David Pleat as Sheffield Wednesday's manager. "Although I have said I would like to come back into coaching, I have not been approached and this would not be the right timing for me," the former England manager, now Barcelona's director of football, said.

Ray Harford is still believed to be the front-runner to succeed Pleat, but his chairman at West Bromwich, Ray Hale, said: "I believe Wednesday want a quick appointment and I think if they were interested we would have heard by now."

Bryan Hamilton, sacked just under two weeks ago as Northern Ireland's manager, is keen on the job. "I've got to be interested," he said. "I was very disappointed to see David lose his job. We've been good friends for a long time and I only spoke to him on Sunday morning. He seemed quite upbeat despite the pressure he was under. We talked about Wednesday's problems and the areas of concern and he felt he could put things right."

Joe Royle and the Football Association's technical director, Howard Wilkinson, are also among the favourites to succeed Pleat. Royle had no comment to make yesterday. Neither had the FA spokesman Steve Double when asked about the position of Wilkinson, the former Wednesday manager. Another contender is the Queen's Park Rangers assistant manager Bruce Rioch, who is working without a contract.

Wednesday's caretaker-manager, Peter Shreeves, who has seen his side win two of their first 13 Premiership matches, was none the less in upbeat mood yesterday. "We are bottom of the league, we haven't got a manager - the only way is onwards and upwards," he said.

West Ham are to give their players a lecture following the third drink- related episode at the club this season. The latest allegations regard John Hartson, who was arrested after an incident at an Essex hotel last week. "The manager and I will sit down and discuss this with the players," the managing director Peter Storrie said. "I would think we will be reminding players of their responsibilities, but no more than that."

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