Lee defensive as Graham rejects City

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The Independent Online
Francis Lee yesterday denied that Manchester City lack the financial ambition to compete with the best, after George Graham rejected his offer to succeed Alan Ball as the manager at Maine Road.

The City chairman insisted that the reasons for Graham's rebuff did not concern money, the First Division club having been prepared to give Graham - out of football for 18 months since being dismissed by Arsenal - a four- year deal that would have "delighted 90 per cent of managers."

"George Graham was offered very, very good terms and a large amount of money for him as working capital to buy players and expand his squad if necessary," Lee said. "I don't know why he turned us down. It leaves me completely baffled. I am dumbfounded but nothing surprises me in this game."

Graham, whom Lee saw as the ideal man to lift City following relegation at the end of last season and a dismal start to the new campaign, described the offer as "very fair" but did not think the job was "right for me at this time".

Now City may turn to Bruce Rioch, another former Arsenal manager, who was sacked at Highbury five days before the start of the new season. Other candidates may be Kenny Dalglish, who recently resigned as Blackburn's director of football and yesterday returned from holiday a week early, Steve McMahon, a former City player, and even Jack Charlton, the 62-year- old former Republic of Ireland manager.

Gordon Strachan, the former Scotland international, could face a Football Association disciplinary charge after causing the temporary abandonment of Coventry City's reserve match at West Bromwich Albion last night.

Ron Atkinson's assistant manager refused to leave the field after being sent off for foul and abusive language in the 16th minute of the Pontins League fixture. The referee, Tony Green, apparently abandoned the game but, after an interval of 14 minutes, was persuaded to restart it - minus Strachan - by Atkinson and the Albion manager, Alan Buckley.

West Ham's Australian international winger, Robbie Slater, is expected to join Southampton today for pounds 250,000, if he comes through a medical. The fee of pounds 250,000 represents a slight loss for West Ham, who took him from Blackburn a year ago for pounds 400,000 when Matt Holmes moved to Ewood Park with a value of pounds 1m.

Wycombe Wanderers have taken Queen's Park Rangers' 19-year-old forward, Michael Mahoney-Johnson, on loan for a month.

Aberdeen expect to add to their foreign legion today by completing the pounds 300,000 signing of the former French international defender, Antoine Kombouare, from the Swiss club, Sion. Hearts are giving a trial to Stefano Salvatori, a 29-year-old former Milan, Fiorentina and Atalanta midfielder.

Bruce Grobbelaar will coach Zimbabwe against Tanzania on 29 September and Sudan on 5 October. The 38-year-old former Liverpool keeper, now with the Second Division leaders, Plymouth Argyle, was assistant coach for two World Cup qualifiers in June.

Bristol Rovers have called for volunteers to clear away building rubble so that tomorrow's game with Stockport can go ahead. Safety officers have refused a licence for Rovers' new home at the Memorial Ground, but are to inspect the shared rugby stadium again today.