That was the weekend that was

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Chase has O'Neill happily hunting his bonus points

You won't find Martin O'Neill complaining about the elaborate bonus system with which the Norwich chairman, Robert Chase, rewards his managers and compensates for his refusal to put them on a lavish salary.

Mike Walker used to argue in his time at Carrow Road that, yes the bonuses were fantastic, and yes, he could earn pounds 250,000, but only if he won the Eurovision Song contest, the Grand National and the Derby in the same year!

To be fair to Walker and his complaint about the lack of security, Chase now gives his managers a longer contract; O'Neill has a two-year deal, Walker had a one-year roll-on contract. But the earn-as-you-achieve principle still holds good.

The win over Port Vale on Saturday was Norwich's third in the first five games thus earning O'Neill and his team a handsome bonus. Chase reckons that nine points out of every batch of five games will yield a total of at least 81 points at the end of the season - enough, he calculates, to send Norwich back to the Premier League as champions.

******

"Rain stops play" is happily an occurrence nowhere near so common in football as in other sports. But then cricket and tennis would not succumb to the problem that hit football last week: "Drought stops play". Two FA Cup preliminary-round matches, at Immingham Town and at Long Buckby, were postponed because of dry pitches deemed unplayable.

Turn back

the clock

Finding one 0-5 home defeat on the Saturday evening football results service is rare enough. When there are two, as was the case this weekend, it is rare indeed, especially when the teams on the receiving end boast among the best home records of all 92 clubs.

Barnsley, spanked 0-5 by Birmingham City after a goalless first half, lost only twice at Oakwell last season; while Bury, thrashed 0-5 by previously- pointless Plymouth Argyle, had gone 22 games unbeaten at Gigg Lane before Neil Warnock's side came to town. By comparison, Wycombe Wanderers were relative slouches, winning only 4-0 at Bradford City.

Sugar sniffs out a bargain

It has hardly been the sweetest of starts to the season for Alan Sugar and Tottenham Hotspur. Now comes a new development which will create another bad smell at the North London club.

In the New Year, Spurs are moving to a new training ground, one Sugar has specially selected near his Chingford mansion but one that lies opposite... the municipal dump.

Sugar outbid his fellow Essex-man entrepreneur, Barry Hearn, who also fancied the 21-acre site - formerly used by the London Guildhall University Students - for his Leyton Orient side.

Having paid out a six-figure sum to purchase the land, the Tottenham chairman is now spending pounds 750,000 on bringing the facilities up to scratch. Bringing his team up to scratch will, it seems, cost a little more.

Macari on the up and up?

Lou Macari was elevated to the post of general manager - the only promotion Stoke City will be involved in this season to judge by early results - before Oldham inflicted a third defeat in seven days courtesy of Vince Overson's own goal.

Mike Pejic, who won four England caps with Stoke before leaving 18 years ago, replaced him on the bench. Pejic's overnight return to the Victoria Ground as coach came two weeks before he was to have emigrated to Australia to become director of coaching with the Victoria Soccer Federation.

Macari, who has recently taken to watching games from the directors' box wearing a suit and tie instead of the familiar red tracksuit and trainers, skipped Saturday's debacle to scout a possible transfer target. The crowd of 8,663, Stoke's worst since 1991, suggested many supporters were doing likewise.

FIRST DIVISION XI

TEAM OF THE WEEKEND

MUSSELWHITE

PORT VALE

GIBBS

WATFORD

MARDON

WBA

EDWARDS

BIRMINGHAM

STUART

CHARLTON

HAMILTON

WBA

BERNARD

OLDHAM

PARKER

LEICESTER

STURRIDGE

DERBY

CLARIDGE

BIRMINGHAM

MATHIE

IPSWICH

Red card

COLIN HENDRY

Take a bow

LEE BOWYER

Tony Adams and Terry Venables plot Colombia's downfall during the England training session at Bisham Abbey at the weekend. Adams will captain England on Wednesday and Venables said his greatest asset is his "over my dead body" attitude. "When you see him strut out for Arsenal and England there's pride and you know he hates to lose," Venables said.

Rumours

Fact and fiction from the Sunday papers

Matt Le Tissier, the Southampton and - occasionally - England midfield player, could be on his way to Blackburn Rovers, according to the Sunday Mirror. After losing three of their first four Premiership games, Jack Walker has, the Mirror claims, given manager Ray Harford the go-ahead to break the British transfer record with a bid of about pounds 10m for Le Tissier. The Mirror adds that Rovers could face competition from Tottenham, in similar need of fresh recruits.

The People reports that Spurs have tried but failed to lure Ruel Fox away from Newcastle, and have no joy either in a move for the Nottingham Forest wide man, Ian Woan. However, Spurs may have better luck with Andy Sinton - the News of the World says that the former England midfielder is on his way to White Hart Lane from Sheffield Wednesday this week.

Also from the People: Everton are checking Arsenal's John Hartson and Manchester United head the queue for Lee Bowyer, the promising Charlton midfielder. The Sunday Express claims that Leeds are also in the hunt for Ruel Fox, and are planning a pounds 2.5m bid this week; while the News of the World suggests that Middlesbrough are another club pursuing the in- demand former Norwich winger.

Excuses, excuses

The chairman [Sir John Hall] put some things in the paper [which] i didn't really like

Paul Gascoigne, now of Rangers, explaining why he did not consider a move back to his native Newcastle when Lazio put him up for sale in the summer

Vital statistics

20,148

Britain's biggest football crowd - at Rangers reserves who beat Celtic 1-0

7

The number of sendings off - four in the Endsleigh League (two at Barnsley v Birmingham) and three in Scotland

31

The number of seconds it took Dwight Marshall of Luton to score the weekend's fastest goal, against Derby County

3

The number of hat-tricks - Alex Mathie, of Ipswich, Miguel De Souza, of Wycombe, and David Scott, of Cowdenbeath

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