Leicester are still at a loss

Football Round-Up
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The Independent Online
IT has been an irredeemably wretched week for Leicester, managerless again after the resignation of Mark McGhee and his coaching staff in circumstances similar to the departure of Brian Little last season, and it ended in appropriate gloom with a 2-1 defeat at Southend.

The club chairman, Martin George, remains adamant. "McGhee is still our manager," he insisted after the game, "he simply has not turned up for work during the last couple of days. I read he is about to join Wolves but as far as I am concerned they can do nothing without our agreement."

David Nish, in charge of Leicester yesterday, said: "If the manager's job becomes available here, I would like the opportunity to take over the position." Russell Osman, former Leicester centre-half and Bristol City manager, has also declared an interest in the job. Struggling Wolves play at bottom club Luton this afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Bald Eagle is flying high again. A run of five wins in six matches has lifted Jim Smith's Derby County into the crowded First Division promotion shuffle. An easy 4-1 victory over Barnsley at the Baseball Ground saw County spring up seven places to second. They have 34 points, the same number as no less than six other clubs, but have scored the most goals.

The Rams wasted no time in taking the game to the Yorkshire side, Lee Carsley heading in Darryl Powell's cross after only 68 seconds. Dean Sturridge proved too much for Barnsley's Dutch defender Arjan De Zeeuw, whose torture ended when he was sent off three minutes before half-time after a second bookable offence.

Marco Gabbiadini nipped in to head the second seven minutes into the second half and Sturridge scored from close range to make it 3-0. A minute after Andy Rammell had narrowed the arrears, Sturridge was felled and Ron Willems scored the penalty.

The division's form team, however, is Stoke who won 1-0 at West Brom (their eighth consecutive defeat) to join the 34-points scramble. Albion went close when Daryl Burgess headed against the bar but four minutes later Paul Peschisolido's shot won the match. Stoke are unbeaten in 15 games.

The Manchester consortium eyeing Portsmouth will be happier about their proposed investment after Pompey's 2-1 win at promotion hopefuls Tranmere but the new owners at Sheffield United will not have been impressed by the 2-0 home defeat against Huddersfield.

"I have got to find out exactly how much cash there is to spend," the Blades" manager Dave Bassett said. "We are in a relegation battle. Have the players got the bottle and character to get out of it? On the second half performance they haven't."