Clough set for axe as Posh talk to Ferguson

There was mixed news for the scion of two famous managers yesterday. Darren Ferguson was discussing his reappointment at Peterborough United, but Nigel Clough was on the brink of being fired at Derby County.

The Independent has learned that Clough is expected to pay the price for a bad run of results culminating in Monday night's FA Cup third-round defeat to non-League Crawley Town. That was Derby's sixth defeat in eight games, including a 5-2 loss to rivals Nottingham Forest last month. Having been challenging for promotion in November, Derby have slid into the bottom half of the Championship.

Clough, 44, took over at Derby two years ago this month, following 10 years at Burton Albion. His father, Brian, led County to the league championship in 1972 before being fired in a showdown with the board. Clough Snr went on to even greater success at Forest.

The only official comment from the club yesterday was an interview with Clough on their website in which he apologised to fans for Monday's result. "I acknowledge that it has embarrassed our supporters and for that we are very sorry," said Clough. "This apology isn't just for the fantastic travelling support who made the journey yesterday to see us lose, but also the thousands of Derby County supporters who care passionately about this great club. Our focus now is on bouncing back against Watford on Saturday in the Championship."

Ferguson is a shock choice to take over at London Road given he left in acrimonious circumstances just 14 months ago. Having initially been appointed in January 2007, Ferguson steered Peterborough to successive promotions. He was subsequently linked with the then-vacant post at West Bromwich, but was refused permission to talk to the Baggies. He remained at London Road only to depart two months into the season with Peterborough bottom of the Championship. Ferguson, 38, was then appointed manager of Preston North End but was sacked earlier this month after a year in charge.

He will replace Gary Johnson who left Peterborough this week because, according to a club statement, he and chairman Darragh MacAnthony "could not see eye to eye on policy". Johnson was Posh's third manager since Ferguson left, Mark Cooper having been fired and Jim Gannon resigned as Peterborough dropped back into League One. They are fifth after last night's home victory over Brentford.

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