Venables and Graham ruled out for Chelsea vacancy

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The Independent Online

Ken Bates, the Chelsea chairman, said yesterday that neither Terry Venables, the former England coach, nor Tottenham's George Graham will be approached by the club as they seek a successor to Gianluca Vialli, who was sacked as manager on Tuesday.

Ken Bates, the Chelsea chairman, said yesterday that neither Terry Venables, the former England coach, nor Tottenham's George Graham will be approached by the club as they seek a successor to Gianluca Vialli, who was sacked as manager on Tuesday.

Dismissing the two potential candidates as the "inevitable twins", Bates did not detail the full reasons behind Vialli's sacking other than making a predictable attack on the media-created pressure supposedly around the Italian.

And although he described Vialli as the "most successful coach in the history of the club", Bates said that he expected to retain the overwhelming support of the fans following his latest controversial decision.

Graham has underlined his commitment to Tottenham after being widely-tipped as a possible successor to Vialli - though the bookmakers' favourite yesterday was Frank Rijkaard, the former Dutch national team manager.

"I cannot comment on what can only be speculation, but really it is all irrelevant," said Graham who still has to win over at least some sections of the White Hart Lane supporters despite an impressive start to the new season. "I've got a big job to do at Tottenham and I'm determined to see it through. I'm as fully committed to it as ever," he said.

Graham, a Chelsea player in the Sixties, added: "It is always a compliment when you are linked with other big clubs and Vialli has left Chelsea with some great players in the squad. But I have plans to bring success back to Spurs and that is still the case - very much so."

Graham, former manager of Tottenham's London rivals, Arsenal, signed a lucrative four-year deal with Spurs when he left Leeds United two years ago this month. Although Graham has not reintroduced the flowing style which Tottenham die-hards crave, he has forged a firm bond and spirit among his squad - and, seemingly, a single-minded sense of purpose.

He has also, clearly, received the backing of his chairman, Alan Sugar, who appears to be patient in the search for success, unlike his Chelsea counterpart. Vialli's record of five trophies - although not the most-coveted, the Premiership title - was insufficient to keep him in the job.

"Unity and harmony among the players is always something I've looked to build at every club I've managed. I've always tried to make sure we are all speaking with one voice and that the squad is not broken down into little groups like at some clubs I could mention," Graham said in a thinly veiled criticism of Chelsea.

Ruud Gullit, Vialli's predecessor at Chelsea, has said that he has no sympathy for the Italian over his dismissal as Chelsea coach. The Dutchman was also sacked from his position at Stamford Bridge amidst reports of dressing-room unrest and he insists that Vialli has simply learnt "what goes around, comes around".

Gullit said: "People ask me if I have any sympathy for Gianluca Vialli? The blunt answer is 'no'. There were a lot of things going on behind my back at Chelsea during the final weeks before my own split with the club. I can remember just who was ready to whisper in an ear or two for their own ends - and I have not forgiven or forgotten them, either.

"Now Vialli, the man who replaced me at Stamford Bridge, has found out that in this world, what goes around, comes around. I know people might believe I feel some sense of satisfaction at seeing him sacked. A couple of years ago they probably would have been right. Back then I felt differently about the man. But my life has moved on and, when I heard the news, it just brought a wry grin to my face."

LATEST ODDS (William Hill): 2-1 Frank Rijkaard; 5-2 Terry Venables; 7-1 George Graham; 9-1 Glenn Hoddle, Franco Baresi, Johan Cruyff; 10-1 Co Aadrianse (Ajax coach), Jose Antonio Camacho; 14-1 Sven-Goran Ericsson, Aimé Jacquet; 16-1 Cesare Maldini, John Toshack, Dino Zoff; 20-1 Dick Advocaat, David Platt, Jean Tigana.

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