City want Allardyce if Keegan leaves

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The Independent Football

Manchester City have put Sam Allardyce at the top of their wanted list - if or when Kevin Keegan leaves the manager's job. City insiders have discussed what would happen if Keegan walked away or was sacked because of a run of poor results.

Allardyce, Bolton's manager, is the favoured choice because of the successful job he has done on a shoestring at their near neighbours. Allardyce is in the middle of a 10-year contract and it would take an attractive job to tempt him to leave. However, Manchester City have the glamour and potential most managers would be drawn to.

The highly-rated and outspoken Bolton manager is preparing for the Carling Cup final at the end of the month and the possibility of Europe, so any approach would have to come after that. However, City may have to act fast if Keegan's team moves any closer to the relegation zone.

Keegan's position is under threat with, ironically, Bolton their next opponents. There is now only a survival fight to look forward to after their FA Cup exit to Manchester United. City also have games with Manchester United and Chelsea coming up. The repercussions of relegation would be horrendous for a club so deeply in debt.

The volatile Keegan knows that if he resigns it may be his last job in football, but the City board is fearful that the former England manager may take that drastic action.

But the board, although supporting him in public, are split and pressure is growing on the chairman, John Wardle. The relationship between Keegan and Wardle has been one of the warmest in recent City history, with the wealthy chairman giving his manager money to spend more often than not.

But other money men at City are concerned that there has been little return for the free- spending. Keegan knows there are enemies within a club that has always been riddled by internal division and he has to finish the season with a flourish or he will pay the price.