Football: That was the weekend that was

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Graham becomes butt of Leeds abuse

FOR SUCH an outwardly personable and charming man, George Graham seems unable to leave one club for another without putting a vast number of noses seriously out of joint.

After what happened at Arsenal, it is hardly surprising that he is not the most popular of Highbury's former employees. You might have thought, however, that Leeds could have expressed their feelings with a little more dignity and diplomacy.

Apparently, it is not their wish to do so, as those supporters armed with the latest issue of the club's official magazine for half-time reading on Saturday soon found out.

"Leeds, Leeds, Leeds" - edited by James Brown, who made his name with loaded magazine - announced on behalf of its contributors that "most of us think George is an arse" and then revealed details of a specially commissioned addition to the club's stock of Leeds-related merchandise.

Readers could obtain an exclusive "George Graham toilet sticker" and explained in graphic terms how it might be used.

After placing the sticker strategically in the bowl, the owner could "chortle as George takes your excrement full on the chin" and "relax" in the knowledge that while George only managed to do the dirty "on us once, you'll be returning the favour at least five times a week for the rest of your life."

Elsewhere, the magazine also accuses Graham of insisting that Leeds did not adopt the trend towards long shorts so that he could show off his legs on the training field.

Given that they appear in an official publication - supported by sponsors Puma and Packard Bell - is it reasonable to assume that these views are endorsed by the club?

SOME CURIOUS tales lie behind Motherwell's 5-0 thrashing at the hands of St Johnstone on Saturday, a match that marked an inauspicious debut for the club's new manager, Billy Davies.

Davies was put in charge after Harri Kampman, the Finnish former manager, walked out last week following a turbulent few weeks.

Motherwell were bought for pounds 2.5m in the summer by the entrepreneur John Boyle, who elevated the club to headline news when he persuaded the former Scottish internationals Pat Nevin and Brian McClair to join the club. The former joined in the unique role of player-chief executive, the latter as captain. Boyle also sanctioned Kampman to assemble a team of international pedigree but all has not gone well. Motherwell have won only two of their first 10 matches and occupy bottom place, a situation that presumably influenced Kampman's shock departure in midweek.

The Finn apparently does not see it that way, having told journalists in Helsinki that interference in team matters by Nevin had undermined his authority. Curiously, the day after making remarks to that effect, Kampman withdrew them.

The reason, it was suggested in the Scottish press, was that in return for a pounds 90,000 pay-off, Kampman had agreed to say nothing about what went on behind the scenes at Firs Park. Now Boyle, it is said, is wondering whether he can seek legal redress for the breaking of their pact.

Motherwell dire in Finn's wake

KEY NUMBERS

5

The number of games Darlington's veteran striker Marco Gabbiadini has been waiting to score his 150th League goal.

22

The number of journeys made by Hull City between their only away League win of last season and their first of this, at Scarborough.

31

The number of seconds it took Port Vale's Paul Beesley to score Saturday's fastest goal

450

The number of Premiership minutes Everton fans have had to endure without a goal from their team at Goodison this season.

I TOLD YOU SO

"They've got too many good players to be struggling where they are."

Arsenal's Steve Bould, who clearly knew more than all the pundits who predicted a thumping home win for the champions on Saturday.

Missing... making it... and mistaken

Ian Woan

Nottm Forest

Cash-strapped Nottingham Forest might have brighter prospects with their existing staff fully fit. Woan, once valued at pounds 4m, remains one of Dave Bassett's most naturally gifted players yet still faces more weeks on the sidelines after undergoing knee surgery last summer.

Wesley Brown

Manchester United

Evidence that United's youth policy is anything but a one-crop wonder, the 19-year-old defender looked so assured against Wimbledon on Saturday that it was hard to believe he was making his Old Trafford debut. And he almost capped his display with a goal, forcing Wimbledon's Scottish international goalkeeper Neil Sullivan to make a fine save to keep out his 15-yard strike.

Paolo di Canio's lawyers may want video evidence of events at Hillsborough last month when their client appears before the FA. If push comes to shove, how about Bernard Cribbins to play Paul Alcock?

Premiership Team Of The Week

STEVE STONE

Nottingham Forest

ANDY COLE

Manchester United

WESLEY BROWN

Manchester United

NIGEL MARTYN

Leeds United

GARETH SOUTHGATE

Aston Villa

DAVID BECKHAM

Manchester United

HAMILTON RICARD

Middlesbrough

ROB LEE

Newcastle United

LUCAS RADEBE

Leeds United

DEAN GORDON

Middlesbrough

STEPHEN HUGHES

Arsenal

Manager of the weekend: David O'Leary, battling on in the face of uncertainty and unlucky not to be celebrating a win.

Performance of the weekend: Manchester United, back to Championship class.

RUMOURS

Gullit `on trail of Zidane and Ziege'

AFTER THE sale of Steve Watson to Aston Villa, the Express reports that Newcastle manager Ruud Gullit is on the trail of Milan wing-back Christian Ziege, rated at pounds 5m. The Mirror reckons Gullit wants Ziege and also has plans to tempt Juventus to part with World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane for pounds 7m, provided he can raise more cash.

Echoed by the People and the News of the World, the Mirror says Liverpool have been stunned by wage demands amounting to pounds 52,000 a week from England star Steve McManaman to sign a new deal at Anfield with Real Madrid keen to lure him to Spain.

Glenn Hoddle continued to be the subject of speculation right across the Sunday paper spectrum but the People had a different angle, suggesting that the Football Association has "secretly" sounded out the Middlesbrough manager and former England coach Bryan Robson as a possible successor should Hoddle go.

The News of the World says Tottenham are eyeing up Wolverhampton Wanderers' Robbie Keane, the Republic of Ireland international who is valued at pounds 6m, while the People reckons Sheffield Wednesday are still chasing Peruvian striker Flavio Maestri despite having a pounds 3.5m offer turned down by Universidad of Chile.

Liverpool, the People says, are checking out the Internazionale defender Salvatore Fresi and, according to the Express, want the Norwegian 19-year- old John Carew, who Barnsley hope to tempt with the promise of regular first-team football.

The People claims Leeds the chairman, Peter Ridsdale, will look elsewhere for a new manager if he has not heard from Martin O'Neill by the time he returns from Rome on Wednesday.

The News of the World reckons Vinnie Jones, worried about his future at QPR now that Gerry Francis has returned, has been talking to Graham Taylor about a move to Watford.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Today: George Graham takes charge of Tottenham for the first time in Premiership action at Leicester, who may be playing their last game under Martin O'Neill, if he goes to Leeds...

Tomorrow: ...in which case David O'Leary could be picking his last Leeds team as they meet Roma in the Uefa Cup, in which Liverpool face Valencia, Aston Villa go to Celta Vigo and Celtic meet FC Zurich in second round ties. Meanwhile, Birmingham (against Swindon), Bolton (v Watford) and Ipswich (v Norwich) have the chance to use home advantage to bolster their leadership challenges in the First Division of the Nationwide League.

Wednesday: Manchester United bid to reproduce Saturday's Premiership form away to Brondby in the Champions' League, in which Arsenal look forward to a Wembley sell-out for their match against Dynamo Kiev. In the First Division, the leaders Huddersfield have a crunch clash against promotion favourites Sunderland while the second coming of Gerry Francis begins with QPR's visit to West Brom.

Thursday: Chelsea face a tricky away leg against Copenhagen in their defence of the Cup-Winners' Cup.

Saturday: The Premiership leaders Aston Villa are at home to Leicester knowing that any slip could allow Manchester United (visiting Derby) to turn up the pressure.

Sunday: Chelsea look to improve their away record at Leeds, while the champions Arsenal seek to recapture their best form at Blackburn.

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