Football: That was the weekend that was: McFarland in right fix over fixture backlog

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The Independent Online
THE RUMOUR in Nottingham is that Forest supporters might have to stomach a Derby man at the helm now that Ron Atkinson has announced his retirement. But Roy McFarland, tipped along with Brian Little and Stuart Pearce as possible successors to Big Ron, has a job to complete at Cambridge United before he can switch his thoughts elsewhere.

United - unlucky to be beaten (on penalties) by Forest in this season's Worthington Cup - have become strong contenders for promotion to the Second Division under McFarland's stewardship, although they may have to draw deeply on stamina reserves to complete the job with a fixture pile-up looming.

The postponement of last week's match at Swansea left McFarland with two equally unattractive options for the last two, critical weeks of the season. "Swansea have offered us next Thursday, or the Thursday after. They are the only possible dates before the end of the season," McFarland said. If United decide to play the match this week they would face three long-distance away fixtures - at Rochdale, Swansea and Plymouth - within five days. But if they pencil in the Vetch Field on the last Thursday of the season they would have to travel back from Wales overnight, with just one day's rest before a possible championship decider against Brentford at the Abbey.

"Neither date is very good, but the second one looks the only option at this stage, even though it's so close to the Brentford game," McFarland said.