Football: Wolves to approach Rangers' Francis

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The Independent Online
WOLVERHAMPTON Wanderers are expected to decide by early next week whether to invite the deposed England chief, Graham Taylor, to resume his career as a club manager or to appoint one of two former England captains to the job vacated by Graham Turner.

Having cleared the way on Thursday to interview Bryan Robson, Wolves were given permission yesterday to sound out Gerry Francis, the manager of Queen's Park Rangers, whose future at Loftus Road has been in doubt during speculation that the London club might be sold.

Rangers' chairman Richard Thompson confirmed that his counterpart at Molineux, Jonathan Hayward, had made a formal approach. 'I have given them permission to speak to Gerry if he wants to talk to them,' Thompson said. Hayward travelled south yesterday to meet Francis, who has been seeking to negotiate a new contract before his current agreement expires this summer.

Plans to interview Robson yesterday were shelved, the player instead travelling with his Manchester United team-mates to prepare for today's match at Swindon. But Robson confirmed his interest and talks will now go ahead tomorrow.

Robson, 37, had indicated that he would prefer to wait until the end of United's treble-seeking season before pursuing his desire to take a player-manager's job but has now adopted 'an open mind'.

'I'm interested to hear their plans. Wolves are a big club trying to go places,' Robson said.

The truth of that statement is reflected in an investment of more than pounds 20m in Wolves by Sir Jack Hayward - Jonathan's father - of which pounds 15m has created a magnificent new stadium. It is Sir Jack's burning ambition to see Premiership football played in the stadium.

Taylor, whose home is 20 miles from Molineux, has a strong interest. 'I am ready to get back into football after a rest and I'm willing to talk to anyone interested in me,' Taylor has said. His success with Watford and Aston Villa may give him the edge, but public opinion in Wolverhampton has been against Taylor.

However, Jonathan Hayward indicated yesterday that Wolves might be prepared to ride out any criticism. 'It is a balancing act,' he said. 'On the one hand we do not want to rush in. On the other, we need to appoint someone as soon as possible because we still have hopes of reaching the play-offs. My father has always maintained that the club belongs to the people of Wolverhampton and the fans' opinions will be taken into account. But we have to be big enough to make the right appointment.'

Turner, who had been in charge for seven and a half years, resigned after his team were beaten 3-0 away to Portsmouth on Tuesday.

Taylor's successor in the England job, Terry Venables, has given his captain, David Platt, permission to miss next month's friendly against Germany in Berlin and play for Sampdoria in the Italian Cup final.