Cantona linked with a return to Marseilles

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Eric Cantona, the former Manchester United and Leeds striker, may return to football in a back-room role with Marseilles, according reports in French newspapers.

Eric Cantona, the former Manchester United and Leeds striker, may return to football in a back-room role with Marseilles, according reports in French newspapers.

The reports said that the majority shareholder, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, had asked Cantona, a former Marseilles player, to consider becoming general manager of his former club, who are in danger of relegation from the French First Division.

The Marseilles-born Cantona, 34, is reportedly being considered as a replacement for the general manager, Eric di Meco. The Brazilian Abel Braga would remain as coach.

Le Parisien newspaper said Louis-Dreyfus met Cantona on Monday to discuss the proposal. However, the club's president, Yves Marchand, denied that Cantona was being seriously considered for the job.

"There has been no contact, neither with Cantona or anyone else," Marchand said. "People are making assumptions."

George "Geordie" Armstrong, one of the key members of Arsenal's Double-winning side of 1971, died yesterday at the age of 56. The former Gunners winger collapsed at the club's training ground in Hertfordshire on Tuesday while taking a training session as reserve team-manager.

He was taken to nearby Hemel Hempstead hospital and put on a life-support machine, but died early yesterday. According to the club, he had suffered a brain haemorrhage.

Armstrong joined Arsenal straight from school and made his first-team debut at the age of 17 before going on to compile 621 appearances, a club record, before it was passed by David O'Leary (722) and then Tony Adams (624).

After a 15-year playing career at Highbury he joined Leicester City and then Stockport County before taking coaching jobs with Aston Villa, Fulham, Middlesbrough and in Norway and Kuwait. He was brought back to Highbury in 1990 by the then Arsenal manager, George Graham, who is now the manager at Tottenham. Graham said yesterday that he was "devastated" by the news.

The American international goalkeeper Brad Friedel, whose only senior appearances in the last year have been in the Olympic Games, is set to move from Liverpool to Blackburn Rovers. Friedel, 29, who has not played for Liverpool since October 1999, is now the third-choice keeper at Anfield behind Sander Westerveld and Pegguy Arphexad.

Friedel has also been denied a work permit to keep playing in Britain, but Rovers have launched an appeal that should be heard by a tribunal later this week. If successful, Friedel could make his debut for Rovers against Stockport County at Ewood Park on Saturday.

David Kemp has left his coaching job at Portsmouth to take over as manager of Oxford United. He will be assisted by the former Millwall manager, Alan McLeary. The former Wimbledon manager Joe Kinnear has also joined the Second Division club as director of football until the end of the season.

The First Division strugglers Huddersfield Town have named the former Scottish internationals Lou Macari and Joe Jordan as their new management team. Macari has been in caretaker charge at the McAlpine stadium since the departure of Steve Bruce. The veteran striker Tony Cottee has completed his departure from Norwich City to take over as player-manager at Barnet.

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