Northampton Town's struggle to live up to their impressive new stadium cost John Barnwell his job as their manager yesterday.

Northampton, who are one place off the foot of the Endsleigh League, will advertise the position, with their vice-chairman, Barry Stonhill, saying: "There are a lot of so-called high profile managers looking for work. Why don't they demonstrate how good they really are by applying to take over at a club like Northampton."

Barnwell, had been in charge at Northampton since September 1993 when he took over from Phil Chard.

With their Premiership form at its lowest level since Brian Horton became their manager, Manchester City are to jettison their most recent acquisition, Maurizio Gaudino.

The German international midfield player, signed on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt, was substituted against Liverpool on Wednesday when City went down to their fourth successive League defeat and, barring further injury problems, will not play against Aston Villa at Maine Road tomorrow.

"I feel sorry for Maurizio," Horton said. "I doubt if he knows what has hit him at the moment. He has come to a new country where the standard of football is quicker and more physical than anything he has been accustomed to and in the space of little more than a week he has been asked to play against Newcastle, Blackburn and Liverpool."

Alan Ball, meanwhile, must be wondering what is about to hit him after it was confirmed yesterday that he has been reported to the Football Association following remarks to a linesman during Southampton's 2-2 draw with Queen's Park Rangers.

The referee, Keith Cooper, ordered the manager from the touchline during Wednesday's match and has included a reference to the incident in his report to the FA. It will be the fourth time Ball has faced action over disputes with match officials.

He was banned from the dug-out for two months and fined £250 in 1986 when he was in charge at Portsmouth and was punished twice for similar incidents while he was at Exeter City.

Newcastle's hopes that Peter Beardsley would be back for tomorrow's match against Norwich have come to nothing. His hamstring has not responded to treatment and the earliest he will be back is the FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers on 8 January.

Neil Cox, who joined Middlesbrough from Aston Villa last summer, will be out for six weeks after X-rays revealed he fractured his collar-bone during last night's 2-1 win over Notts County.

n Pieter Huistra, Rangers' Dutch international winger, is to sign for the Japanese club Hiroshima for £350,000.

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