Football: That was the weekend that was

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Flynn's future subject to national scrutiny

LOSING BY a single goal to Brentford these days is hardly a disgrace, but when Wrexham suffered that fate on Saturday they may have hastened the end of one of the longest current managerial reigns.

After Dario Gradi, in charge of Crewe since June 1983, and Sir Alex Ferguson, who took over at Old Trafford in November 1986, Wrexham's Brian Flynn is the third longest-serving manager among the Premiership and Nationwide League clubs.

But after Saturday's slip up, Flynn's grip on the job looks increasingly tenuous. Wrexham have failed to win in eight Second Division matches, slipping from sixth to 15th in the table. The Robins' supporters demonstrated their frustration by calling for Flynn to be dismissed, an unwelcome experience for the former Burnley and Leeds midfielder, widely regarded as one of the nicest men in the game.

To make matters worse for Flynn, capped 66 times by Wales, his future will come under the spotlight of national television when Wrexham go to Kettering Town for an FA Cup replay on Wednesday, with the game due to be shown live.

It was only three seasons ago that Wrexham, promoted under Flynn in 1993, reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, winning a third-round replay at West Ham and going out only after running into Chesterfield's charmed campaign.

But even the recruitment of Darren Ferguson - Sir Alex's son - has failed to arrest their recent slide and it was only through a penalty five minutes from time that they survived the first meeting with Kettering.

Defeat in the replay and a tenure that began 10 years ago this month may reach a sorry conclusion.

Emley scaling dizzy heights under Glavin

RONNIE GLAVIN, another manager for whom an FA Cup tie against West Ham assumed special significance, celebrated five years in charge of non-League Emley on Saturday with a victory that restores his Yorkshire village side to top place in the UniBond League.

Emley made it to the third round two seasons ago, having beaten Lincoln City in a penalty shoot-out, but could not emulate Wrexham's achievement of the season before, giving a good account of themselves but losing 2- 1 at Upton Park to John Hartson's goal eight minutes from time.

But Glavin, the former Barnsley player who won one Scottish cap, has put the proceeds of the Cup run to good use in strengthening the club's position and there are real hopes this season that a place in the Nationwide Conference may be within their grasp.

Saturday's victory at Spennymoor was Emley's seventh League win in eight away matches and another good day for their strike partnership of Danny Day and Jamie Robshaw, both signed in the summer from neighbouring teams.

There will be no Cup run this year, however: Emley went out to Southport at the fourth qualifying hurdle, losing in a replay.

KEY NUMBERS

11

Coventry's sequence of away matches without a win, in all competitions.

14

The number of different goalscorers for Liverpool after 17 matches.

21

The number of consecutive Premiership appearances in which the Sheffield Wednesday forward Andy Booth has failed to score.

23

Manchester United's unbeaten run at home, in all competitions.

WHINGE OF THE WEEK

"Hyypia should have been sent off for the tackle on Eranio and their second goal was five yards offside."

Otherwise no complaints? Derby's manager, Jim Smith, delivers his verdict on referee Uriah Rennie after losing at Liverpool.

Team Of The Weekend

DANNY MURPHY

Liverpool

PHIL NEVILLE

Manchester United

JOHN HARTSON

Wimbledon

ROY KEANE

Manchester United

STEPHANE HENCHOZ

Liverpool

MATT CLARKE

Bradford City

ANDY COLE

Manchester United

GARY McALLISTER

Coventry City

CLAUS LUNDEKVAM

Southampton

TONY DORIGO

Derby County

DANNY HIGGINBOTHAM

Manchester United

Manager of the week: Gerard Houllier - Liverpool still cannot please their fans but after one defeat in eight matches the Frenchman has quietly guided them into fifth place.

Performance of the week: Danny Higginbotham, Manchester United's left- back, who put behind him the trauma of a threatened 12-month ban to shine on his full Premiership debut.

Forgotten man... Face of the future

John Scales

Tottenham Hotspur

INJURIES HAVE blighted much of the 33-year-old central defender's Tottenham career. Indeed he has made only 28 Premiership appearances in three years since his pounds 2.6m move from Liverpool and has not played since August, when he sustained a calf injury. Still highly regarded by manager George Graham but was reportedly part of a cash-plus-players offer made to his former club, Wimbledon, for John Hartson last month, which was rejected. May still have a future at White Hart Lane if he can retain his fitness, especially if Sol Campbell is sold.

Matthew Etherington

Peterborough

THE PETERBOROUGH manager Barry Fry barely sees a day pass without at least one Premiership club enquiring about his 18-year-old midfielder. In the last few days he has turned down an offer in excess of pounds 1m from Sunderland and disclosed interest from Aston Villa and Tottenham. "Peter Reid's offer was not enough and while David Pleat upped his bid it was not to a sum that interested me," Fry said. Etherington has already been capped by England at Under-18 and Under-20 level and Peterborough are determined to hold out for at least pounds 2m before they let him go.

RUMOURS

More grief for Gregory

WHILE THE News of the World predicts that Joe Kinnear will be Blackburn's new manager by the end of the week, the People says the Aston Villa manager, John Gregory, has only two matches left to convince his chairman, Doug Ellis, he should keep his job as Villa's fortunes slide. Meanwhile, John Toshack's position at Real Madrid is on the line, according to the Mail on Sunday, which reports that Ruud Gullit has been lined up to replace the Welshman.

Also in the News of the World is a claim that Martin O'Neill is keen to manage Northern Ireland on a part-time basis. The People says the Scotland manager, Craig Brown, will step down if the Euro 2000 play-off goes England's way, with Everton's Walter Smith favourite to take over.

The People says Paul Gascoigne will leave England next year and restart his career in America's Major League Soccer, which could also be a destination for Coventry's Gary McAllister, said by the Express to be ready to leave Highfield Road next summer.

Also according to the People, Brian Kidd's dismissal at Blackburn came a day after Arsenal offered pounds 4m for Matt Jansen. Elsewhere Derby are chasing Marseilles' Fabrizio Ravanelli (Mirror, News of the World), and Fulham may allow Geoff Horsfield to join Everton in a swap involving Danny Cadamarteri (People).

CARD CHECK

AFTER SEVEN cautions and a sending-off at Middlesbrough, Sunderland jumped to the top of the Premiership's disciplinary League table. Peter Reid's side have collected 44 yellow cards and three reds in 14 matches, overtaking Derby, on 39 yellows and one red. The man dismissed, Chris Makin, received his marching orders after his seventh booking of the season. Stefan Schwarz received his fifth, while Paul Butler, Niall Quinn and Kevin Ball join Alex Rae and Gavin McCann on four.

Derby benefited from a rare quiet day for the oft-criticised referee, Uriah Rennie, who failed to book a single player in a match for the first time since 14 February 1998. By contrast, Paul Durkin, who kept his cards in his pocket during Manchester United's match against Leicester, appears regularly to show leniency: six of the last 13 matches of which he has taken charge have produced no cards of either colour.

NET MINDER

"To build a team I went out to buy; A load of players without knowing why; I gave them their wages and a new club tie; They just thought I was one great guy."

Taken from "Ode to Brian the Kidd", a poetic reflection on the deposed former Blackburn manager posted on the message board at Rovers' unofficial Supporters' Site: www.brfc-supporters.org.uk.

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