Football: That was the weekend that was

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Chettle finds loyalty

to Forest is fruitless

STEVE CHETTLE joined Barnsley's growing enclave of former Nottingham Forest players when he began a loan spell with Dave Bassett's side on Saturday still feeling bemused at his sudden departure from the City Ground.

Two weeks after pleading with the new Forest manager David Platt for a new contract, one-club man Chettle found himself renewing acquaintance with ex-colleagues Neil Shipperley and Geoff Thomas at Oakwell. The plan is for a permanent move to follow.

Last week, Bassett earned credit for his loyalty when he turned down the chance of a fortune at Blackburn so as not to let down Barnsley but such honourable behaviour is rare these days. Chettle found that his loyalty to Forest counted for little. Taken on by Brian Clough, the former England under-21 international and club captain made more than 500 appearances for Forest.

"It was really sad to leave but everything does have to come to an end," Chettle said. "Being 31 I could not really wait until the end of the season to make a decision about my future."

His attempts to change Platt's mind were not helped by a dreadful performance against Huddersfield, when Forest lost 3-1 and Chettle was blamed for two of the goals, the second after a mishap involving keeper Mark Crossley. It was unfortunate that Clough, commenting for Sky, did not spare his feelings.

Despite all that, Chettle leaves behind many friends, not least the owner of an apparently drowning dog the Forest player is reported to have rescued from the Trent during his last week at the club. Chettle was walking along the river bank to Forest training when alerted to the animal's plight and leapt in, boots and all, to pull it from the water.

Blackpool set store by new fan can plan

WHEN NEEDS must, a struggling football club will resort to almost any measure to attract fans - and revenue - through the turnstiles - but the latest idea to woo supporters back to Blackpool may be unique.

Chairman Karl Oyston, faced with dwindling attendances at Bloomfield Road, promised to give away tickets to children if they came forward with canned food for needy local families. Oyston's scheme gained publicity but there is a long way to go if the club is to reverse the slump. Average attendances are down by 1,000 on last year's 5,119 and if, at 4,040, the gate for Saturday's match against Cambridge United was some way short of that, at least it was an improvement.

The Tangerines beat non-League Hendon in front of 2,975 fans, their smallest FA Cup crowd since the First World War, and lost their last home League match in front of 2,819. "If we keep on with crowds of 2,800 it will finish the club," Oyston said. "Otherwise, costs will have to be cut again which will have a knock-on effect on our chances of staying in this division." Even the prospect of a glamour tie in the FA Cup is failing to shake public indifference. Blackpool go to Arsenal in the third round but face the possibility of returning one third of their ticket allocation unsold.

KEY NUMBERS

100

Kevin Phillips' career goals tally following Saturday's double strike at Watford.

100

Julian Joachim's League appearances for Aston Villa.

100

Gianluca Vialli's total matches as Chelsea manager.

400

Lee Dixon's League appearances for Arsenal.

WHINGE OF THE WEEK

"We deserved to be beaten. Wimbledon out-played and outfought us. We were slack, poor on the ball, and the passing was terrible."

- Otherwise OK? The Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, gives a no-holds-barred assessment of his side's performance on Saturday.

Forgotten man... Face of the future

Mario Melchiot

Chelsea

Curtis Woodhouse

Sheffield United

SIGNED IN June, the 6ft 2in midfielder or central defender was greeted as the first component in Gianluca Vialli's restocking of his Chelsea squad and given that he has 13 Dutch Under-21 appearances and more than 100 starts for Ajax, his arrival on a free transfer looked like good business. However, a foot injury prevented Melchiot's selection and when he attempted a comeback in a reserve match three weeks ago he suffered a twisted ankle. Chelsea fans have yet to witness his senior debut.

AFTER MAKING his debut as a 17-year-old two seasons ago, United's talented young midfielder has established his place in the Bramall Lane line-up with some excellent performances, attracting regular Premiership scouts. Linked with Rangers last summer, Woodhouse now numbers the Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, among his admirers and there has been speculation that the cash-strapped Yorkshire club are ready to sell for around pounds 2m.

RUMOURS

United's mass exodus?

THE PEOPLE and Sunday Mirror agree that another of Manchester United's biggest names is considering a future beyond Old Trafford but disagree over which one. According to the former, the man who Sir Alex Ferguson needs to persuade to stay is Ryan Giggs, who has apparently said he will go when his contract expires in two years' time. The Mirror, however, reckon the player is David Beckham, who they say has refused to commit beyond 2002.

Despite the Mail on Sunday's assertion that chairman Doug Ellis has "lost his appetite" for sacking managers, the Express claims the Aston Villa chairman's "patience is rapidly running out with John Gregory" and he has lined up Graeme Souness as a replacement. The People suggest that Joe Kinnear could be a target for Fulham if Paul Bracewell fails to win promotion and that Rovers have singled out Charlton's Alan Curbishley as a target. The News of the World, meanwhile, links Kinnear with the vacancy at Sheffield United.

On the transfer front, three Italian clubs are named. The News of the World says Internazionale want Arsenal's Marc Overmars for pounds 10m, the People reckons Fiorentina are keen on Newcastle's Niko Dabizas and the Mirror believes Lazio are prepared to spend pounds 35m to lure Michael Owen from Liverpool.

CARD CHECK

WATFORD'S XAVIER GRAVELAINE joined the company of Alan Shearer, David Burrows, Frank Sinclair, David Thompson, Steve Harper and Shaka Hislop with his stoppage-time dismissal against Sunderland. These are the seven Premiership players sent off so far this season by Sheffield referee Uriah Rennie, who leads Birmingham's Mike Reed by one in the red card chart.

While he was about it, Rennie also booked three Sunderland players, giving Peter Reid's side the unwanted distinction of being the first Premiership team to reach 50 yellow cards for the season. Oddly, according to official Premiership statistics, although Leeds and Sunderland have amassed an almost identical foul count, Leeds have collected 40 per cent fewer bookings.

Aston Villa's Ian Taylor became the most cautioned Premiership player so far with his seventh yellow card at Everton. Don Hutchison increased his tally to six in the same match. Against Leicester, Carlton Palmer collected his fourth booking in nine games since joining Coventry on loan from Nottingham Forest.

NET MINDER

"A manager shall not make public any unfair criticism of any match official or any other manager or any player, official or employee of his or another club."

One of a number of apparently less-than-rigorously enforced rules in the League Managers' Association code of conduct, available for perusal on the new LMA website.

www.leaguemanagers.com

Team Of The Weekend

TREVOR SINCLAIR

West Ham United

NOLBERTO SOLANO

Newcastle United

THIERRY HENRY

Arsenal

DAVID BATTY

Leeds United

HELDER CRISTOVAO

Newcastle United

MATT CLARKE

Bradford City

GARETH BARRY

Aston Villa

DIDIER DESCHAMPS

Chelsea

KEVIN PHILLIPS

Sunderland

DAVID THOMPSON

Liverpool

ALAN KIMBLE

Wimbledon

Manager of the week: Bobby Robson, set to become the oldest manager in the world, showed again that there is no substitute for experience.

Performance of the week: West Ham, whose slick display interrupted Liverpool's resurgence.

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