Houllier to return 'only' as manager

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The Independent Online

Gérard Houllier has confirmed he will return as Liverpool manager, rebutting claims that he would come back in a different role.

Gérard Houllier has confirmed he will return as Liverpool manager, rebutting claims that he would come back in a different role.

The Frenchman, who has been recovering from cardiac surgery since October, has been the centre of constant speculation that he is finished as manager of the Anfield club. But at a local awards ceremony on Monday night, he said: "There are those who say maybe I should forget about football. Maybe I should forget about breathing! It is just a matter of weeks before I get the all-clear. As Arnold Schwarzenegger said: 'I'll be back'."

Crystal Palace yesterday completed the signing of the Leicester striker Ade Akinbiyi for £2.2m. Akinbiyi will cost the First Division club another £150,000 should they win promotion to the Premiership within the next three years.

The Palace manager Trevor Francis tried to buy the striker while he was in charge at Birmingham, following Akinbiyi's 19 goals for Bristol City during the 1998-99 season and another 16 for Wolves in 1999-2000.

Sunderland yesterday announced the resignation of their chief executive and plc director Hugh Roberts for family reasons. Roberts is to step down from his post at the end of the current financial year after 18 months on Wearside.

Sheffield Wednesday have boosted their bid to avoid relegation by signing the striker David Johnson on a one-month loan from Nottingham Forest. Leyton Orient's highly-rated defender Matt Lockwood is in training with Wednesday with a view to a permanent move. The 25-year-old, a target for Millwall and Crystal Palace earlier this season, was told to find another club last week after talks over a new contract broke down.

Torquay have taken the Charlton striker Charlie MacDonald on a week's trial. The 20 year old scored for Charlton in December's 1-1 draw with Newcastle and last year spent an eight-match loan spell at Cheltenham, scoring twice.

Hibernian have completed the signing of the defender Lilian Martin from Marseilles. The 30-year-old left the French club on good terms despite being out of favour with successive coaches this season. Martin has signed a two-year deal and the Frenchman was expected to have his first training session with Franck Sauzée's side yesterday.

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