Southampton poised to appoint Sturrock

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Southampton are ready to name Paul Sturrock as their new manager after Glenn Hoddle withdrew from the running yesterday.

The Scot tendered his resignation at Plymouth Argyle yesterday in anticipation of a move from the top of the Second Division to the Premiership. Sturrock's ambition to work at the top level has persuaded him to take on the challenge despite signing a long-term contract at Home Park last year.

Sturrock, 47 and a former Scotland team-mate of the man he is replacing, Gordon Strachan, has held talks with Rupert Lowe, the Southampton chairman, and is set to move to St Mary's as soon as Lowe and the Argyle vice-chairman, Peter Jones, agree on compensation.

Sturrock moved to the front of a queue reported to include the sacked the Marseille manager Alain Perrin, Qatar's coach Philippe Troussier and the Leicester manager Micky Adams when Hoddle decided not to pursue his application.

The former England coach, who walked out on the Saints in Match 2001 to take the Tottenham job, was Lowe's preferred choice. But he could not guarantee Hoddle the full support of his seven-man board of directors

"It's clear there was a great deal of support for me on the board - but it wasn't 100 per cent," Hoddle said. "Therefore I've reluctantly withdrawn my name from consideration."

Sturrock signed a new five-year contract at Home Park in the summer but, insisted on a clause which allowed him to speak to any Premiership side who approached him.

"We're talking about compensation and it looks very much that he'll be the next Southampton manager," Jones said. "We're top of our league, have 12 games to go and don't want the last quarter of our season to be polluted by this. I wouldn't be surprised if something is sorted out very soon."

Sturrock, who will assume control from the caretaker manager Steve Wigley, started his managerial career at St Johnstone, where he was in charge from August 1991 to September 1998. In October 1995, aged 38, he was admitted to hospital after collapsing with chest pains, although he was back at work three weeks later.

He moved to Dundee United, where he had won the League and reached the European Cup semi-finals as a player, but he left under a cloud in August 2000. His last match in charge was a 3-0 defeat at Hibernian, a game after which he was again reported to have been taken ill.

Sturrock claimed he did not leave for health reasons, but because he felt uncomfortable in his working environment.

After taking over in Devon, in October 2000, he steered Argyle to mid-table in his first season, and the Third Division championship in 2001-02.

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