Sunderland were last night awaiting Steve Bruce's reply to their offer of a contract at the Stadium of Light. Bruce met Niall Quinn in Dublin on Monday night for the first time since Wigan Athletic granted Sunderland permission to speak to Bruce and the two clubs agreed compensation. The length of the contract offered is unknown.
Bruce is considering the offer. He is expected to accept and may be unveiled today as Sunderland's new manager. But with Bruce bringing assistant Eric Black and goalkeeping coach Nigel Spink with him, there is more than one deal to be finalised. Bruce is handsomely rewarded by Wigan for keeping them in the Premier League but Sunderland are more ambitious than that as of next season and his contract offer may reflect that.
Should he accept there is a growing belief that Bruce will try to take Lee Cattermole with him to Sunderland. Bruce thinks highly of the 21-year-old midfielder and he is the type of feisty player Sunderland lack. Bruce made Cattermole captain of Wigan aged 20.
A product of Middlesbrough's academy, Cattermole was sold by Boro for £3.5m last summer. He had a successful first season at Wigan, though one tarnished by reckless tackles on two Newcastle players, Habib Beye and Joey Barton. But it is thought Cattermole would relish a move back to the North-east.
Salid Moallem leans forward in the armchair of the Paris Intercontinental Opera. "It's all on the record," he snaps. It usually is. The Syrians can be up- front when you least expect it. Syria's Foreign Minister is one of their top negotiators, a man who knows Israel's diplomats almost as well as they know themselves, who understands all the traps of the Middle East.
Tell me who murdered Rafiq Hariri, I ask him. And Mr Moallem grins bleakly and reaches into his jacket pocket. His beefy hand emerges clutching a wad of pale green Syrian hundred-pound notes. "Tell me the answer and you can take all my money," he says. He may see evil among Syria's enemies but he will speak no evil, certainly not of the French. "We are building trust with the French," he says. Syria is ready to co-operate on the prevention of illegal immigration, against "what you in the West call 'terrorism'" and opening a developed economic partnership. And Mr Moallem can be a bit preachy into the bargain."You in the West have a moral duty in Europe to educate the United States more about the Middle East. If they don't listen to you, they will not listen to us. They will continue withcan be a bit preachy into the bargain."You in the West have a moral duty in Europe to educate the United States more about the Middle East. If they don't listen to you, they will not listen to us. They will continue with