Football: That was the weekend that was

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Tranmere holding on for keeper cash

THOMAS MYHRE'S excellent goalkeeping for Everton against Wimbledon on Saturday will have come as bad news to First Division strugglers Tranmere Rovers. The longer the big Norwegian keeps his place in Walter Smith's side, the longer the Prenton Park club must wait to realise the market value of Steve Simonsen, the England Under-21 keeper Smith signed from them last week.

On the face of it, the reported pounds 3m deal looked a life-saver for Rovers, bottom of the First Division and losing pounds 1.7m a year. But Tranmere's manager, John Aldridge, who admits he has contemplated resigning in the wake of chairman Frank Corfe's decision to quit the club, has been forced to reveal that the sale of Simonsen has not brought the windfall supporters might have assumed.

Everton, whose chairman, Peter Johnson, formerly occupied the same spot at Tranmere, paid only pounds 500,000 up front for the 19-year-old and will not hand over any more until next year, when a second instalment of pounds 500,000 becomes due. Only when Simonsen has made 150 first-team appearances will the bulk of the fee be forthcoming, adding a further pounds 1.5m to his price tag. For the overall cost to reach pounds 3m, the teenager will have to play for the senior England side.

"It is important for the fans to know that," Aldridge said. "I hope that revealing those figures will stop them asking the chairman, the board and myself where the money has gone. We have no money for players but the main thing is to keep Tranmere Rovers afloat and it is obviously in the interests of everyone at Tranmere that Steve gets into Everton's team as quickly as possible."

However, after Myhre's part in Everton's victory at Selhurst Park, it may not be as quickly as they hope.

Return of the Cup romantics

REMEMBER EMLEY, the Yorkshire village club who reinvigorated the romance of the FA Cup last season with their gallant third-round defeat at West Ham?

The trail began again on Saturday and, with the first stage successfully negotiated, the players managed by one-time Celtic midfielder Ronnie Glavin are wondering whether another grand day out is waiting to be booked.

They have already found, however, that the going will be tougher this season. "Last season was absolutely superb, something we'll always remember," Glavin said. "But everyone will be out to get us this time. I experienced the situation myself when I was transferred from Partick Thistle to Celtic. Suddenly, I was part of a team everybody wanted to beat. Of course, Emley aren't Celtic, but the principle is the same."

He was proved right on Saturday, when it took a goal five minutes from time by Simeon Bambrook to eliminate Unibond League rivals Colwyn Bay.

Exempt until Saturday's second qualifying round, Emley have two more hurdles to overcome before reaching the first round proper. Last year's run brought in pounds 180,000 in increased revenue, enabling the refurbishment of the social club at their Welfare Ground among other improvements.

It also helped set up a website that has logged hits from fans as far afield as Australia, Norway and Los Angeles.

RUMOURS

Stage set for the Battle of Bosnich

MARK BOSNICH is ready to turn down Manchester United in favour of an pounds 8m jackpot being offered by Roma, according to the News of the World, who say the Villa goalkeeper is Alex Ferguson's earmarked replacement for Peter Schmeichel. The Italians, however, are said to be willing to pay a pounds 4m signing-on fee when Bosnich's contract ends next summer plus pounds 1m a year for four years.

That story is echoed in the Mirror, although the Mail on Sunday reports that Bosnich might stay with Villa if they win the Championship.

Liverpool want to move in fast for the Leeds defender Lucas Radebe, says the People. Gerard Houllier is reportedly ready to go to pounds 6m to secure the South African centre-back's services before George Graham has a chance to take him to Spurs.

The Mail, however, reckons the Merseyside club is set to spend the same sum on Nigerian international Sunday Oliseh, the 24-year-old Ajax central defender.

Graham is still interested in Newcastle's former Leeds hard man David Batty, according to the News of the World, considering the England international the ideal man to toughen Tottenham's midfield. However, John Gregory, with pounds 25m to spend, wants him for Villa.

The People reports that Newcastle, Arsenal and Benfica are keeping tabs on the 18-year-old Celtic striker Mark Burchill, a player dubbed "Scotland's Michael Owen" and says that Danny Wilson wants to sell Andy Booth to finance a pounds 2.5m move for Barnsley forward Ashley Ward.

The News of the World believes Nottingham Forest could have made pounds 5m last week from the sale of Steve Stone to Everton had Walter Smith not been told he has to sell before he can buy more players. Ruud Gullit, keen to land Ipswich midfielder Kieron Dyer, according to the People, is reported by the News of the World to be wanted by Japan to coach their 2002 World Cup squad.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Friday: After a week empty of senior football, with the exception of Airdrie's Scottish League First Division game against Hamilton on Tuesday, Friday brings the usual crop of European Under-21 championship matches by way of a warm-up for the main events on Saturday. Curiously, Airdrie's ground is required again, to host Scotland against Estonia. England meet the up-and-coming Bulgarians at Upton Park.

On the same evening, the Nationwide First Division leaders, Huddersfield, are away to Swindon Town, Bradford meet Bury and there are matches in the Second and Third Divisions.

Saturday: Denmark's Euro 2000 Group One match against Wales kicks off at 6.15 in Copenhagen. Italy are at home to Switzerland at 7.45pm UK time. In Group Three, Northern Ireland's clash with Finland has a 3pm kick-off at Windsor Park, as does Scotland's meeting with Estonia at Tynecastle in Group Nine and England's match against Bulgaria at Wembley in Group Five, in which Poland face Luxembourg at 7pm. The Republic of Ireland's Group Eight fixture against Yugoslavia in Belgrade, if it goes ahead, is scheduled to begin at 7pm.

Only 13 matches make up a truncated Nationwide League programme, with noon kick-offs at Bristol City, Watford, Gillingham and Macclesfield and Blackpool due to get under way at 12.30pm.

Sunday: Barnsley meet Port Vale (1pm) in the Nationwide First Division, with Barnet playing Chester and Rochdale facing Halifax in the Third.

KEY NUMBERS

0

The number of Englishmen to score against Aston Villa this season. Only Mikkel Beck and Trond Egil Soltvedt have done so in the Premiership.

24

The number of League goals witnessed by spectators in six matches at Swindon's County Ground this season, more than at any other English stadium.

291

The number of Premiership minutes since Nottingham Forest last scored.

343

The number of days between Jordi Cruyff's first goal for Manchester United and his second, on Saturday.

I TOLD YOU SO

"The main ingredient of a title-winning team is the defence. You are never going to win the league by letting in 35 to 40 goals a season."

Paul Merson, before Villa conceded only their second of the season, against Coventry.

Premiership Team Of The Week

GARRY FLITCROFT

Blackburn Rovers

MIKKEL BECK

Middlesbrough

ROBBIE SAVAGE

Leicester City

DUNCAN FERGUSON

Everton

ROY KEANE

Manchester United

GARETH SOUTHGATE

Aston Villa

SASA ILIC

Charlton Athletic

IAN TAYLOR

Aston Villa

SOL CAMPBELL

Tottenham

ALAN NEILSEN

Tottenham

DEAN GORDON

Middlesbrough

Manager of the weekend: David Pleat - rounded off his caretaker duties at White Hart Lane with a win. What odds him staying with Tottenham?

Performance of the weekend: Blackburn Rovers - inspired by their midweek European heroics In France to thump West Ham and pull off only their second Premiership win.

Missing... making it... and mistaken

Des Hamilton

Newcastle

Signed for pounds 1.5m from Bradford City in March 1997, the 22-year- old looks even further away from securing a first-team place since Ruud Gullit took charge at St James' Park after having made limited appearances for Gullit's predecessor, Kenny Dalglish. Last started a Premiership match in April but at least Newcastle now have a reserve team for him to play in.

Trevor Benjamin

Cambridge United

The 19-year-old is being touted as the new Dion Dublin after his two starring performances against Sheffield Wednesday in the Worthington Cup, when his two goals - one in each leg - dumped the Premiership side out of the competition. His goal against Hull on Saturday was his fourth in five matches.

No wonder Martin Edwards is keen to hand over the reins at Manchester United. What with fronting rock band Pulp in his spare time he must be absolutely exhausted.

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