McKimmie denies Pittodrie vendetta

Stewart McKimmie, the Aberdeen captain, denied claims yesterday that player-power ousted Willie Miller from his job as manager.

A supporters' club spokesman had suggested it was the players' attitude that had led to Miller's dismissal, but McKimmie said: "There has never been a dressing-room vendetta against Willie. Anyone who claims there was is talking rubbish. The players willbe accepting their share of the blame today for what happened to Willie. There is no doubt our poor performances got him the sack.

"But none of that has been intentional. It has been difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for the slump in the club's fortunes, but a war between the players and manager wasn't one of them."

Roy Aitken took over yesterday, probably until the end of the season, while the former favourite at Pittodrie, Gordon Strachan, who recently announced his retirement from playing and is now coaching at Leeds, has emerged as the leading candidate to succeed Miller.

Jimmy Nicholl, manager of the Scottish Coca-Cola Cup winners Raith Rovers, and Steve Archibald, in charge at East Fife, have also been mentioned.

The Aston Villa striker, Dalian Atkinson, out of the game through illness and injury since the end of November, is scheduled to make his return against Wimbledon on Saturday.

The news is less certain about his fellow Villa forward, John Fashanu, who suffered a knee injury against Manchester United last weekend. Fashanu will undergo surgery tomorrow after a scan failed to reveal the extent of the damage.

The Villa manager, Brian Little, played down reports linking him with the Manchester City striker Niall Quinn, but his transfer-listed midfielder, Garry Parker, is expected to decide soon whether to move to Leicester in a £600,000 deal.