Harford calls public meeting

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The Independent Online
Ray Harford, the Blackburn Rovers manager, has called a public meeting at Ewood Park tonight - and is ready to bare his soul on the problems behind the scenes at the club.

Rovers have so far lost the England striker, Alan Shearer, and, on Wednesday night, Kenny Dalglish, their director of football, and now - without a point so far this season - face their worst crisis since Jack Walker took over control of the club six years ago.

The fans' forum will give supporters the chance to voice their fury about losing Shearer and puzzlement at the decision to part company with Dalglish.

"It's the first time I've been unemployed since I left school - by someone else's choice," Dalglish said yesterday. "We came to the same opinion, albeit that they came to it a little earlier than me."

Some of the disquiet at the club is believed to have stemmed from comments made by Shearer on his pounds 15m move to Newcastle when he was reported to have said: "Kenny [Dalglish] told me: 'Whatever you do, you can't lose'. Being the man he is he said: 'Stick with your decision. Go up there and give it your best shot'." This was interpreted by some as tantamount to encouraging the club's prize asset to leave.

Harford and the club chairman, Robert Coar, will tonight try to restore faith among the fans, who cannot believe what is going on at their club.

The question and answer session will be open only to season ticket holders, and over a thousand are expected to grill the manager and Coar.

At Old Trafford, where Blackburn play on Sunday, Roy Keane yesterday signed a four-year contract, ending speculation that he was about to leave.

Phil Neville, United's injured England defender, faces an absence of six weeks to have an operation on a damaged ankle. The United manager, Alex Ferguson, said: "We have delayed the operation for as long as possible but we want to get it out of the way now."

The Leicester City manager, Martin O'Neill, yesterday named his former Nottingham Forest team-mate, John Robertson, as his assistant.

Aston Villa's record pounds 4m signing from Bolton, Sasa Curcic, will be available to make his debut against Derby County tomorrow after being granted a work permit in just nine days, as opposed to the normal two to three weeks.

Blackburn turmoil, page 22