Football: Wenger's England advice

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The Independent Online
ARSENAL'S double-winning manager, Arsene Wenger, last night ruled himself out of contention for the England job and advised the Football Association to pick a home-grown man to take over the national team from Glenn Hoddle.

His comments were in direct contrast to those of David Sheepshanks, a leading member of the FA committee who will select the new man. Sheepshanks yesterday refused to rule out a foreign coach for the job, saying that England would go for the best person available.

Meanwhile Wenger, the overseas manager with the most successful record in England, said he believes the Football Association's next choice to pick up what many regard as a poisoned chalice, must be experienced, aged over 50 - and an Englishman.

"I personally think England must have an English manager because it is a big country with a big passion for football and people identify better with a guy from their own country. For me it would be difficult to explain to somebody why a country of 50 million people cannot find one in their own right."

Wenger said that Kevin Keegan, Bryan Robson, Terry Venables and, the man currently in charge in caretaker-capacity, Howard Wilkinson would all fit the bill. But he said: "I'm hearing that Keegan and Robson don't want to do it and I would think it would be very hard for Venables to go back. In fact, I read now that you don't want him again."

Meanwhile Sheepshanks, the Ipswich chairman who has been talked about as a future chairman of the FA, has declared that non-English managers should be considered among the candidates.

Sheepshanks, who will be a leading member of the FA international sub- committee charged with drawing up a shortlist, would prefer to appoint an English-born manager but added: "I believe that we should not unnecessarily restrict ourselves from selecting from all of the highest calibre of candidates."

Tim Flowers has shocked Blackburn Rovers by asking for a transfer - to put Aston Villa on red alert for his signature.

Flowers broke the surprise news on the eve of Blackburn's trip to Villa, an ironic and possibly significant piece of timing. Villa will lose Marc Bosnich in the summer when he can walk out for nothing and Flowers is one of the names at the top of their wanted list.

Flowers revealed the reasons behind his request yesterday and said: "I've told the manager I don't want to hang around too long as a number two. That's no disrespect to anyone here. I'm at a stage in my career when I don't want to be sitting on my backside. The boss was fully in agreement with that. We've not had a row and this is nothing financial. It's just a matter of wanting a game."

Rovers would want around pounds 2.5m for a keeper who was once Britain's most expensive when he signed during Kenny Dalglish's reign.

Meanwhile, John Gregory has admitted he is not bothered whether or not Stan Collymore returns to Aston Villa. He added: "If he comes back and gets his head down and gets on with his job and does enough to justify him being in the team, he will play. There is no problem. But I do not want to talk any more about Stan Collymore."

The Croatian international Silvio Maric arrived on Tyneside yesterday to complete his pounds 3.5m move to Newcastle.

Lawrie Sanchez, the former Wimbledon player, was last night named manager of Second Division Wycombe.