Football: That was the weekend that was

Bassett beset by Dutch debate
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Bassett beset by Dutch debate

If Alex Ferguson has a problem over Dutchmen with attitude, he might like to compare notes with another manager who seems increasingly to fit into that category - Nottingham Forest's Dave Bassett.

At least the Manchester United chief's difficulties with Ruud Gullit are of the kind that will come and go with the fixture list. Bassett, however, appears to be facing a potentially long-running war of words with Gullit's compatriot, Pierre van Hooijdonk.

Reports of disputes between the two had been played down, but matters came to a head before Saturday's match with Stoke when the former Celtic striker, as opinionated as Gullit on how he feels football should be played, admitted to his differences with the former long-ball guru.

"I have had some problems with the manager about the way I and the team play and they are not over as I still have different opinions on certain things," Van Hooijdonk said.

It is a situation that outsiders did not find hard to predict after observing the bitter wrangle that preceded the player's departure from Scotland and hearing his Gullit-style comments about the selection policy of the Dutch coach, Guus Hiddink.

Bassett, who paid pounds 4.5m to Celtic in March to make the 27-year-old his first and biggest signing, wants Van Hooijdonk to use his physical assets as a target man. The player himself wants to influence play from deeper positions.

Presumably, Bassett will have disapproved when the 6ft 4in star picked up the ball in his own half at Walsall last week and hit the crossbar from 50 yards.

And, one supposes, he will have been less than pleased to see Van Hooijdonk provide the cross from which Kevin Campbell headed Forest's winner on Saturday, keeping his side on top of the First Division.



Given that he hails from a family of eight children, perhaps it was inevitable that at least one other in the brood should share some of Roberto Baggio's footballing talents.

While the 30-year-old Italian, now playing for Bologna, attempts to revive his inter-national career in time for France '98, the youngest of Roberto's three brothers is beginning to make an impact of his own - albeit at a somewhat less conspicuous level.

Eddy Baggio, seven years' his sibling's junior, plies his trade in Serie C2, a regionalised league equivalent to the Nationwide Third Division. Like Roberto, Eddy is a natural attacker, although physically they have little in common. Where the former Juventus icon is a fairly small, slight figure, Eddy stands more than 6ft tall and is powerfully built.

The brothers grew up in Caldogno, a village near the northern Italian city of Vicenza, where their father, Fiorindo, ran a small grocery store. Fiorindo's great sporting passion was not football but cycling and Eddy was named after the Belgian two-wheeled legend, Eddy Merckx.

None the less, Eddy has proved more successful with his feet on the ground rather than pedals and is currently top scorer for his club, Giorgione, based in Castelfranco, between Vicenza and Venice.

`Monster' mashed by Hale storm

Here's a heartening tale for those who regard players' agents as parasites on the back of football.

Paul Peschisolido, the Canadian-Italian striker whose other claim to fame is that he married Birmingham managing director Karren Brady, has dropped agent Eric Hall from his contract negotiations at West Bromwich Albion.

Hall angered the Hawthorns club by describing their offer to Peschisolido, who has been in and out of talks since the summer, as an "insult". The Albion chairman, Tony Hale, refused to take part in any more discussions unless Hall was removed.

Last week Peschisolido, the former Toronto Blizzards player bought from Birmingham for pounds 600,000 in July 1996, complied with Hale's request and asked his "monster" associate to wait outside during the next round of negotiations - then promptly secured the perfect bargaining platform by scoring five goals in two games, including a hat-trick in Saturday's 3- 1 win at Bury. Now the parties are close to a deal, even though Peschisolido may have to forget the pounds 20,000 signing-on fee and pounds 600-a-week rise Hall was reportedly seeking.

All of which puts a new spin on the line of advice by which strikers used to be guided before agents reared their acquisitive heads - to let their feet do the talking.

The episode caps a sobering month all round for the Canadian international, who is only just getting over the bizarre theft of his luggage on a trip to El Salvador with the national team.

Staggering under the weight of his suitcases as he left the team's hotel to board the coach to the airport, the 5ft 4in player was hugely relieved when a "porter" stepped forward to take them off his hands... only to watch in disbelief as the helpful soul tossed the bags into the back of a battered van and roared off into the distance.




Chris Sutton 9


Dennis Bergkamp 8


Ian Wright 8


Kevin Gallacher 7


Faustino Asprilla 6


. . . and BAD BOYS



Crystal Palace

Leeds United





Jason Dozzell


Signed for pounds 1.75m by Osvaldo Ardiles four years ago, the 29-year-old midfielder finds himself in limbo after being released by Tottenham at the start of this term, despite finishing last season as a first-team regular, taking his number of League appearances for the London club to 84. Eligible for a free transfer under the Bosman ruling, the former England under-21 international was close to joining Standard Liege in August but did not complete the move. Also linked with Birmingham and Norwich, he was recently spotted training with his old club, Ipswich, who are reportedly interested in taking him back.

Michael Ball


One of two 17-year-olds on target for Everton against Arsenal, Liverpool- born Ball (no relation to Alan) is clearly not a young man to be fazed by the big occasion. The England youth international defender impressed his club so much after replacing the injured Craig Short 23 minutes into last April's Merseyside derby - only his second first-team appearance - he was quickly upgraded from YTS terms to a five-year contract.

Did Sky's king of the video clips really turn down Everton because he couldn't bring in his own backroom staff?

Or was it that he knew his double life posing as a Leeds defender would have to be exposed?

Andy Gray


Fact and ction from the Sunday papers

Despite their relief at the end of the Fabrizio Ravanelli affair, Middlesbrough's fascination with temperamental foreign stars is far from over, according to the People. Indeed, that paper says, it is because he has Marseilles' pounds 5m at his disposal that manager Bryan Robson has his sights on Fiorentina's volatile former Manchester United and Everton winger, Andrei Kanchelskis, whom he could have for pounds 4m... Meanwhile, his prospective team-mate Paul Merson, the News of the World reports, has turned down Robson's offer of a London-based personal trainer because he would rather make the six-hour round trip to Teesside to train "with the lads" rather than be dubbed a "big-time Charlie". However, he has not said "no" to Ravanelli's now-vacant luxury house... the Mail on Sunday reckons that Kevin Keegan turned down Benfica in favour of Fulham, while the People claims he was sounded out by Sheffield Wednesday, whom the News of the World says have their sights on Joe Royle should they decide to ditch David Pleat... In a bid to preserve his job, presumably, Pleat is trying to sign Atletico Madrid centre-back Daniel Prodan for pounds 2m, according to the People, while the Sunday Mirror says Atletico are confident of signing Aston Villa's Dwight Yorke for pounds 8m in December ... Newcastle reportedly have their eyes on two targets in Eastern Europe, lining up a move for pounds 2m the playmaker Robert Prosinecki from Croatia Zagreb (Mirror) or the prolific Dynamo Kiev forward Andrei Shevchenko (News of the World), due to line up against the Magpies in the Champions' League on Wednesday... the News of the World reckons that Renato Buso could be the next Italian heading for the Premiership, with Bolton Wanderers willing to pay pounds 1.5m for the Lazio striker.

The 1st Eleven

Fulham's 11 most famous players

Tony Macedo Johnny Haynes Rodney Marsh Bobby Moore George Best Bobby Robson Tosh Chamberlain Jimmy H1ll Allan Clarke George Cohen Alan Mullery