THAT WAS THE WEEKEND THAT WAS

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Wilkinson not ready to be put to the sword

Baffled expressions are nothing new at Leeds, especially among those attending Howard Wilkinson's post-match press conferences, but Saturday's big occasion at Elland Road will go down as a classic of its type.

First, there were the sound effects from the popular seats, which must have been most confusing to visitors unaware of the current climate at the club. Yes, it was the Leeds end of the ground chanting "Wilko for City", a chorus which began as a mischievous offering by the hordes from the red half of Manchester but which seemed so apt in the circumstances that the home fans simply had to join in.

Such messages cut little ice with Wilko, who remains undeterred by the clamour for his head to roll. "Good managers give in when they want to give in, not when other people want them to," he said, even before the drubbing began. We think we know what he means...

Talking of managers giving in, Ray Wilkins emphasised again on Saturday that he most certainly did not do so at Loftus Road. "The statement that we parted by mutual consent was 100 per cent accurate," the former Queen's Park Rangers manager said.

Which, not for the first time, begs a question as to how the two parties in such circumstances actually reach this common agreement. Presumably, the manager says "I quit" and the chairman says "you're fired" at precisely the same moment.

Stoke savour Sheron

Which is the shrewdest piece of transfer business of the past couple of seasons? Ferdinand to Newcastle? Ravanelli to Middlesbrough? How about Mike Sheron to Stoke?

The Liverpool-born striker made it six goals in five matches as Lou Macari's side maintained their promising start in the First Division, with a 2- 2 draw against fancied Crystal Palace.

It raised the 23-year-old's League tally for the Potteries to 21 goals in 33 appearances since his arrival at the Victoria Ground last November, a deal in which Macari parted with not one penny.

Although Sheron had cost Norwich pounds 1m from Manchester City a year earlier, Macari managed to persuade Norwich that his former Wycombe and Swindon forward, Keith Scott, was Sheron's equal and arranged a straight exchange. Since when Scott, after scoring twice in his first two starts for Norwich, has failed to add to his tally.

* * * * * *

Good to see that the new assistant referees (aka linesmen) are being given their proper status. During Saturday's match between Plymouth and Notts County, the Wolverhampton referee Gurnan Singh unfortunately happened to be looking the other way when County's Phil Robinson flicked the ball, George Best-style, out of Bruce Grobbelaar's hands to score, ruling the goal out only after borrowing the "eyes" of his flag-bearing helper.

Jasper Carrott

Trevor Francis

MISTAKEN IDENTITY...

Having parted company with one stand-up comic as manager with the departure of Barry Fry, Birmingham fans could be forgiven for thinking they have acquired the distant cousin of another in Francis, whose thinning hair and beaky nose seem curiously reminiscent of a former Blues director.

NOISES OFF...

"When we have lost in the past we haven't been that bad. Today we were very poor, embarrassingly so. What I have to decide is whether it was a total one-off or if there is something deeper-lying." - Joe Royle, head spinning from Everton's 4-0 defeat at Wimbledon.

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"Neal Ardley is becoming a major force - the nearest thing to David Beckham, if not better." - Joe Kinnear, knocking his players as usual.

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"Manchester United were impressive, but you have to remember that they were playing a very poor side," - Narciso Pezzotti, spying for Juventus at Leeds.

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"To the untutored eye it can sometimes look as though you are not fit, you're not trying, you can't trap, you can't pass, you can't tackle, you're scared. To be fair, hardly any of that is true - but it looked like that at times." - Howard Wilkinson, finding it hard to disagree.

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"If one positive thing came out of today's match it was to illustrate that this season we are going to win some, draw some and lose some." - David Pleat, after Sheffield Wednesday surrendered their 100 per cent record to Chelsea.

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"It's lovely to play in a team like this. The frontmen move very well and when you get the ball you've always got a choice of two or three players to pass to - and if we pass as well as we can do, we can beat anyone." - Middlesbrough's blossoming Brazilian, Juninho.

PREMIERSHIP TEAM OF THE WEEK

DAVE BEASANT

SOUTHAMPTON

NEIL LENNON

LEICESTER CITY

FRANCK LEBOEUF

CHELSEA

STEVE STAUNTON

ASTON VILLA

KAREL POBORSKY

MANCHESTER UTD

NEAL ARDLEY

ASTON VILLA

JUNINHO

MIDDLESBROUGH

JASON MacATEER

LIVERPOOL

CRAIG BURLEY

CHELSEA

SAVO MILOSEVIC

ASTON VILLA

LES FERDINAND

NEWCASTLE UTD

Red card

MICHAEL RILEY

Take a bow

FABRIZIO RAVANELLI

Missing person

CHRIS KIWOMYA

Arsenal

The pounds 1.5m former Ipswich striker will be less than delighted to learn that the new edition of the PFA Footballers Fact File omits him altogether. Trouble is that this useful directory includes only players with League appearances, the previous season of which 26-year-old Chris, sadly, made none.

Watch out for...

JAMIE CARRAGHER Liverpool

One of nine members of Liverpool's FA Youth Cup-winning side to be taken on as professionals this season, the 18-year-old midfield player from Bootle won encouraging notices from manager Roy Evans for his contribution to pre-season games. "He looked comfortable, even in the company of established players," Evans said.

Rumours...

fact and fiction from the Sunday papers

The Blackburn manager, Ray Harford, was in Italy on Saturday evening, according to the News of the World, who reckon he is considering a bid for Udinese's German striker Oliver Bierhoff, said to be unsettled at the Serie A club, who would want pounds 4m. He may return, however, to find an intruder in his Ewood Park office, if The People are right in their claim that Blackburn are ready to ditch Harford in favour of George Graham. The same paper suggests that former Blackburn player Dave Whelan, who owns Wigan Athletic as well as a fortune put at pounds 130m, is poised to buy control of Manchester City. On the transfer front, Coventry could swap Dion Dublin for Wimbledon's Dean Holdsworth (News of the World), Georgi Kinkladze is ready to leave Manchester City for Celtic for pounds 3m (Sunday Mirror) and Southampton are planning a pounds 1m swoop for Middlesbrough's Jan Age Fjortoft (News of the World). The Mirror speculates that Graham Rix may quit Chelsea for a coaching spot at Arsenal, where his 12-year-old son, Robbie, has been invited to train.

The Good...

THE PREMIERSHIP'S LEADING SCORERS

FABRIZIO RAVANELLI

Middlesbrough

Premiership 6; Coca-Cola Cup 0; FA Cup 0; Other 0

KEVIN CAMPBELL

Nottingham Forest

Premiership 4; Coca-Cola Cup 0; FA Cup 0; Other 0

LES FERDINAND (Newcastle), RICHIE HUMPHREYS (Sheffield Wed), JUNINHO (Middlesbrough), STEVE McMANAMAN (Liverpool)

TEAM OF THE WEAK

11 who were less than outstanding

SOUTHALL

EVERTO N

HEANEY

SOTON

STEFANOVIC

SHEFFIELD WED

WETHERALL

LEEDS UTD

KELLY

LEEDS UTD

McALLISTER

COVENTRY

JESS

COVENTRY

FORD

LEEDS

LE TISSIER

SOUTHAMPTON

SILENZI

NOTTM FOREST

WALLACE

LEEDS UTD

THE SEASON'S RED AND YELLOW CARDS

1 Middlesbrough

Emerson booked for fourth time on Saturday

2 Southampton

Three more cautioned

3 Arsenal

Ian Wright among four booked at Villa Park

4 Nottingham Forest

Two yellow cards in the last two games for Nikola Jerkan

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