Football: The Sweeper

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The Independent Online

in away games

MANCHESTER UNITED really do want to have their cake and eat it, don't they? They want to be a part of the Super League but they don't want to leave the Premiership, even though that European gravy train is liable to ride roughshod over domestic leagues. Similarly, they want to make a tidy fortune from their new television station at the expense of other clubs but they don't want to pay for it.

Filling six hours a day, seven days a week of television time is proving more difficult than they imagined when the only subject matter is Manchester United, Manchester United and Manchester United. So to add a bit of variety to MUTV's content they will also cover Manchester United Reserves. The idea is that they will broadcast live all the reserves' Pontin's League Premier Division matches - including away games. The only thing is that they want to do it for free.

Naturally, the other clubs think that this is a bit of a cheek given the amount of money United propose to make from the venture (subscription is pounds 4.99 a month) and have got together to discuss the matter. Not that United know it yet, but before their outside broadcast unit will be allowed to come calling they will first have to cough up a pounds 5,000 facility fee.

IF KENNY Dalglish thinks he was hard done by to be sacked, pushed or whatever, after just two games, he should consider the fate of Dragan Okika, the coach of the Yugoslav champions, Obilic Belgrade. Okika has been dismissed after just one game - and that was only three months after delivering the club the league title, not a season of under-achievement, as in the case of Dalglish. Okika was dismissed because he disobeyed the instructions of the club's chairman Zeljko Raznatovic, alias "Arkan", a former war chief in Bosnia, to field a reserve team in the opening game, against a side with a reputation for kicking, just three days before the club's Champions' League qualifier against Bayern Munich. In the event it was Okika who got the boot. As for Arkan, he didn't attend the match in Munich either - for fear of being arrested for war crimes.

ONE WOULD have thought that Dalglish's old mate Graeme Souness has caused Liverpool fans enough grief, one way and another, in recent years, and yet the former Reds' captain continues to offend his old club. His latest offering was in a magazine interview in which he was quoted as saying: "I happen to believe Everton are a bigger club than Liverpool, I really mean that." Needless to say, he has since insisted he didn't really mean it. Rest assured the Benfica coach will be made to feel welcome by the Blues should he ever drop in on Merseyside. After all, Everton manager Walter Smith was his assistant in the good old days at Ibrox. I don't suppose that coloured his judgement.

EVERTON FANS, however, will not have been chuckling quite so much had they picked up a copy of the Sports Argus on their return journey home from the Midlands last weekend. Confirmation of the defeat at Leicester right there in print will have been upsetting enough, while another line in the paper will have sent a positive shudder down their backs. In the weekend fixtures it had Everton v Tranmere instead of the early season six-pointer between the Blues and Spurs. Relegation? Perish the thought. Then again, at least they'd still have a Merseyside derby.

NO SELF-RESPECTING footballer these days is seen without a mobile phone glued to his ear. Soon they'll be taking them on to the pitch with them, more a case of one-to-one than one-on-one. West Bromwich Albion, however, have drawn the line, banning their use once players board the coach for away games. Anyone caught giving it a bit of the old Bob Hoskins faces an on-the-spot fine of pounds 20. Footballers being footballers, though, James Quinn, the Northern Ireland striker, could not resist giving team-mate Matty Carbon a bell while en route to Brentford last week. Hence Carbon suddenly found himself pounds 20 lighter. As for Quinn, he got off scot-free, but then manager Denis Smith had put him up to it.

WEST BROMWICH Albion's First Division match against Bristol City at Ashton Gate which was due to be played next Saturday has been switched to the Sunday on the advice of Avon and Somerset police Apparently a boat by the name of "Matthew" is expected to draw large crowds, causing traffic congestion in the city, when it docks on Saturday following a transatlantic journey. Surely there must be easier ways for Le Tissier to get away from Southampton.

PORTSMOUTH FANS can rest assured that 52-year-old Alan Ball's recent cartilage operation was not preparation for a comeback. "I had the knee done because I've split both cartilages through training and messing about," said Ball, who still plays five-a-side. "I had a good night's sleep in the hospital and woke up the next day feeling fantastic." That's OK then. Phew.

As You Were

IN AUGUST 1966, the young Joseph Kinnear (above ) had been a professional at Tottenham for a year and a half, having joined the club as an apprentice from St Albans City in 1963. While at White Hart Lane, the Dublin-born full-back played 252 games for Spurs and scored seven goals. He also picked up an FA Cup winners medal for playing in the 1967 final defeat of Chelsea, and later, Uefa Cup and League Cup winners' medals. After hanging up his boots in 1975, he coached in the United Arab Emirates and had a spell in charge of the Malaysian national side, before progressing, via Doncaster, to Wimbledon, where he became the coach in September 1989 and the manager in 1992. At the moment, Kinnear (above) is the second longest-serving manager in the Premiership after Manchester United's Alex Ferguson, a record to be proud of in these merry-go-round days. Could he go full circle to Spurs? Stranger things have happened.

The price is right

A RUUD awakening could be in store for Newcastle's new manager in his first game in charge against Liverpool, but backing an away side to win on the day a new Messiah comes to town is just not on. Hence, the Magpies - favoured due to Gullit fervour - are fancied to edge the game 2-1. Old Hand Shearer could use today's stage to show Wonder Kid Owen he hasn't lost it by scoring first.

Arsenal will face a stiff task against the rampant table-toppers, Charlton, but are fancied to shade the game 3-0, with Anelka finding the net first. A Mendonca hat-trick was an option considered, but rejected as too risky - he might score four, after all.

Kevin Davies must be starting to feel the pressure after failing to get off the mark this season. The Sweeper knows how he feels, but keeps faith that he'll come up with the goods today.



(Game expected to end 2-2)

Sheff Wednesday v Aston Villa

(pounds 1 at 14-1, generally available)


Arsenal v Charlton

(Correct score tip: 3-0 (pounds 1 at 9-1 with the Tote); First goal-scorer: Anelka (pounds 1 at 9-2, Tote)


Newcastle v Liverpool

(Correct score tip: 2-1 (pounds 1 at 10-1, Ladbrokes and Tote); First goal- scorer: Shearer (pounds 1 at 5-1, William Hill and Stanley)


Kevin Davies could break his Blackburn duck against Leicester today by scoring the first goal (pounds 1 at 6-1, Tote and Stanley). The Wimbledon against Leeds game has 0-0 written all over it, but `shrewd move' is not in Sweeper's vocabulary and a 2-0 win for Leeds with Jimmy Hasselbaink scoring first is where the mad money is going (25p at 45-1, Corals, William Hill and Stanley).

ORIGINAL BANK: pounds 100.

CURRENT KITTY: pounds 87.19.

TOTAL WAGERED TODAY: pounds 6.81 (including 56p tax paid on).


Name: Nigel Wray.

Position: Majority shareholder of Nottingham Forest plc.

Form: Owns Saracens rugby club; chairman of Burford Holdings plc (property) and non-executive director of Chorion (which used to be Trocadero, the company which owns the London entertainments' centre and Enid Blyton's back catalogue.)

Big Ideas: Cutting costs - telling Pierre van Hooijdonk what he can do with his pounds 1m salary demands - and stemming losses, pounds 4.5m last year. Making Forest one of the big and famous five again?


Seen But Not Bought

SURELY THE bargain of the season is the Charlton Athletic Nationwide badge. Now the Addicks are in the Premier League, this lovely item can be yours at the knock-down price of 50p, a saving of pounds 3.49. "A good investment for next season," one fan said this week. Given the amount saved on the badge, some supporters will be tempted to invest in a Charlton Whisky Flask (pounds 11.99), to help celebrate 5-0 wins and the like. The flask may also come in handy for some sorrow-drowning.

They're Not all Dennis Bergkamp

Unsung foreign

legionnaires No 3


MARTINEZ: The 25-year old Spanish midfielder who moved to Wigan for nothing in 1995. He came from the Spanish Second Division side, CF Balaguer, and prior to that, had spent five years with Real Zaragoza. Known as "Bob" to his team-mates, he was Wigan's top scorer with 13 goals in his first season in England. He has twice been named in the PFA Third Division team of the season, helped the Latics to promotion two years ago, and was the first Spanish player to score in the FA Cup, against Runcorn in 1995. Worth around pounds 200,000, his pre-season form is said to have been excellent, with "spectacular" goals to boot.


Found on the Web: Imaginary letters from the archive of Maggie, the agony aunt at Rushden &Diamonds FC.

Dear Maggie: I am currently in a rather interesting and highly passionate argument with Carl Alford over who is the fattest player in the Football Conference. I am sure I am the fatter. I am always eating at Burger King, and always scoop out the salad in my Big King. My huge weight means a lot to me as I am a sumo wrestler during the football close season, so please tell me who is the fattest. Laurence Batty, Woking.

Maggie replies: Sorry mate, Carl is on an intensive eating diet to make sure he remains the fattest person in the Conference. What's more, with his wages he can afford the very largest meat pies.

cardinal basil hume

newcastle united

The Archbishop of Westminster

"I began supporting Newcastle as a small boy living near St James's Park. The first matches I attended were in the 1932-33 season when we beat Arsenal in the Cup final. When I first went, the cost of entry was sixpence (if you were under 16) and one shilling for the Stands. Watching the crowds was sometimes more entertaining than the game. I've supported Newcastle ever since, and one of my proudest achievements is to have got Jackie Milburn's autograph when, many years after he retired from playing, he was made a freeman of the City of Newcastle."

Who Ate All The pies?

WALSALL'S CHICKEN balti pies proved so legendary that Aston Villa, Leicester and Wolves now sell them too. The chicken pie, made by Shire Foods, ousted a mutton variation at Walsall earlier this year, and now looks set to conquer the Midlands' footy pie market. Arthur Callaghan, the head chef at Walsall, said: "I've been here since March, and made the change from mutton to chicken. The chicken balti pie is a meaty product." Can there be higher praise?