World Cup coach Le Roy to manage Cambridge

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The Independent Football

Cambridge United pulled off the managerial coup of the season yesterday when they named Claude Le Roy, the former coach of Cameroon and Senegal, as the successor to John Taylor, who was sacked last week.

Cambridge United pulled off the managerial coup of the season yesterday when they named Claude Le Roy, the former coach of Cameroon and Senegal, as the successor to John Taylor, who was sacked last week.

Le Roy, 56, a friend and compatriot of Arsène Wenger, will start work at the Abbey Stadium next Monday. His first game in hands-on charge at United, who lie third from bottom of the Third Division and face the prospect of relegation to the Conference, will be away at Mansfield on 3 April. Le Roy's assistant, Hervé Renard, has already arrived in England and has started work with the Cambridge players alongside the club's caretaker manager, Dale Brooks.

Le Roy has an informal deal until the end of this season. A two-year contract that starts in the summer is waiting to be signed, which should be a formality assuming Cambridge's League status is preserved.

Cambridge persuaded Le Roy to fill their vacancy after the intervention of Manchester United's former marketing director, Edward Freeman, who is now a freelance consultant. "He's been advising us, and because he's a personal friend of Claude, he said he'd ask Claude if he was interested," John Howard, a Cambridge director, said yesterday. "I think Claude was surprised by our approach, then he gave it some thought and then I flew out to Marseille to meet him. He loves coaching, he loves football and he liked what we had to say."

It is understood that Le Roy's wages - details of which have not been disclosed - will partly be funded by another Cambridge director, Johnny Hon, a Hong Kong-born doctor known in the medical world for his pioneering research on Alzheimer's disease.

Le Roy spent 15 years as a player in France before turning to management. His international-level jobs have included two spells with Cameroon (who he led to African Nations Cup success in 1988 and to the World Cup finals in 1998), Senegal (who he led to the ANC semi-finals in 1990), the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. At club level, he has worked as the technical director at Milan and he led Paris St-Germain to the French League and Cup double in 1998. After a spell at Strasbourg between 1999 and 2000, he worked as a pundit in France. He has just finished a coaching stint with Shanghai, who he steered to the top of the Chinese League before his departure.

"We have secured the services of one of the most respected managers in Europe, if not the world," Gary Harwood, Cambridge's chairman, said yesterday. "This is possibly the most exciting appointment the club has made in its entire history."

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