Francis the latest victim

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The Independent Online
TREVOR FRANCIS yesterday became the 13th, and by no means the least expected, managerial casualty of the 1994-95 Premiership season. After four years in charge of Sheffield Wednesday, his contract - which had a year to run - was yesterday terminated by "mutual agreement".

The Wednesday chairman, Dave Richards, issued a statement which read: "The board of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club have today by mutual agreement with their manager Trevor Francis terminated the remaining period of his contract. The board would like to place on record its sincere thanks and appreciation of the services provided by Mr Francis in the last four years and wish him every success in the future."

Although Wednesday finished 13th in the table, six points above the relegation zone, they did not secure their Premiership safety until the final day of the season. This was not good enough to satisfy the club's directors, who have invested heavily in new players and expected the team to be challenging for a place in Europe.

The vacancy will be advertised immediately but there is speculation that Chris Waddle, already on the playing staff at Hillsborough, could be invited to become player-manager. Other names linked with the post include Bolton's Bruce Rioch - who has been connected with almost all the present Premiership managerial vacancies - and Dave Bassett, in charge of Wednesday's neighbours, Sheffield United.

After a distinguished playing career with Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City, Sampdoria, Atalanta and Rangers, Francis became player-manager of Queen's Park Rangers in December 1988. His relationship with his playing staff at Loftus Road was always uneasy, however, and he was sacked less than a year later.

He joined Wednesday as a player in 1990 and was appointed player-manager following Ron Atkinson's departure to Aston Villa in June 1991. He took his team to both the FA Cup and Coca-Cola Cup finals in 1993, but they were beaten by Arsenal on both occasions.