Time out for clubs in Europe

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The English clubs who have failed in Europe yesterday won the backing of Terry Venables and the Football Association for longer preparation time in a quest to avoid a repetition of this season's embarrassments.

The England coach, the FA chief executive, Graham Kelly, and its technical advisor, Jimmy Armfield, gathered in Manchester to meet the managers who suffered a near-total wipe-out to begin an unprecedented inquest: Alex Ferguson (Manchester United), Joe Royle (Everton), Ray Harford (Blackburn) and Howard Wilkinson (Leeds) - plus Frank Clark, manager of the only survivors, Nottingham Forest.

David Davies, the FA's director of public affairs, said last night: "They discussed the need for ways to be found to give our English teams more preparation time for major European ties. Today's meeting is only the forerunner of other similar gatherings which will be held in 1996."

Newcastle United face another tough away-day after disposing of Liverpool to reach the last eight of the Coca-Cola Cup. Yesterday's quarter-final draw sent them to Highbury for a tie with Arsenal. Wolves, conquerors of Coventry on Wednesday, have another Midlands derby at Aston Villa.

Dennis Bergkamp, the Arsenal striker who suffered a calf injury as his side beat Sheffield Wednesday on the same night to reach the last eight, is doubtful for tomorrow's game at Aston Villa. "My chances can only be 50-50 at the moment," the Dutchman said.

Manchester City's Alan Ball has been named Carling Manager of the Month for November. The Maine Road club have taken 10 points from their last four Premiership matches.

Chris Kamara, Bradford City's new caretaker-manager, has named Gary Megson as his first-team coach. The 36-year-old midfielder has had brief spells playing for Lincoln City and Shrewsbury Town this season after leaving Norwich City last summer.

COCA-COLA CUP Quarter-final draw: Aston Villa v Wolves; Norwich or Bolton v Middlesbrough or Birmingham; Arsenal v Newcastle; Leeds v Reading. (Ties to be played week commencing 8 January).