Manninger poised to sign for Fiorentina

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The Independent Online

Alex Manninger is on the verge of leaving Arsenal to join the Italian side Fiorentina.

The 24-year-old Austrian, who has dropped to third choice at Highbury behind David Seaman and the £6m signing Richard Wright, will fly to Florence today for a medical with the Serie A side.

Manninger deputised for the injured Seaman on 13 occasions last season but has had limited first-team opportunities, playing only 63 times since signing from Casino Graz, in June 1997.

Chelsea were humbled 3-1 by the Second Division club Queen's Park Rangers on Saturday, in a friendly that ended with both sets of supporters invading the pitch afterwards. Understandably, QPR's fans were overjoyed at the result, and showed it in no uncertain fashion when some dropped their trousers in front of the away supporters.

A stuttering performance embarrassed the Premiership side, and was a stark reminder of their difficulties in away matches, which proved to be their downfall last season. Watched by a crowd of 11,988, Chelsea took the lead through Jesper Gronkjaer in the 10th minute, before the home side gained control.

The Manchester City defender Steve Howey livened up a run-of-the-mill friendly against Tranmere Rovers by accidentally knocking out the referee. Howey was in the middle of a tussle with the Tranmere striker Seyni N'Diaye when he caught the referee, Mick Jones, with a flailing arm. Jones was knocked out cold by the strike and had to be treated for concussion and a swollen eye. Otherwise, the game proved to be largely uneventful with Stuart Barlow's goal after 48 minutes sealing a 1-0 win for Tranmere.

The strikers Alan Smith and Robbie Keane both scored twice as Leeds registered their second successive 6-0 victory on their pre-season tour of Sweden. Despite dominating for much of the first half against Kungsbacka, David O'Leary's side had only one goal to show for their efforts – a Smith penalty after a foul on Harry Kewell. The Australian midfielder doubled the lead just after half-time before Jason Wilcox added a third. Keane then scored his brace either side of Smith's second goal.

The Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, has switched his striker search to Marseilles' powerful and controversial Cyrille Pouget. Allardyce has flown in Pouget, a free agent, for a short trial and he will play against Halifax tomorrow night as the Wanderers manager looks to recruit new faces.

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