Toshack targeted by club inquiry

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The Independent Online
Deportivo La Coruna have opened disciplinary proceedings against their manager, John Toshack, with the Welshman accused of insulting fans who criticised him for substituting the midfielder Rivaldo against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

"Although [people] were very angry in the stadium, the coach's attitude cannot be forgiven and must be criticised," said the Deportivo president, Augusto Lendoiro, who had tried to calm his players and coach at half- time.

Toshack insisted yesterday he was not considering resigning and that he hoped the hearings would clarify the incident.

"My insults and gestures were aimed only and exclusively at a section of the crowd that feels that I am the only one to blame for what happens at the club," he said. "I've put up with insults for a long time, but the reaction was not normal for me."

The incidents are the latest in a series of clashes between Toshack and the Riazor crowd since his arrival at the club last season. Fans were especially incensed by his decision to drop Bebeto, and blamed Toshack for the striker's subsequent move back to Brazil.

For his part, Toshack has blamed Lendoiro for buying the wrong players and not spending enough on training facilities. Earlier this year he said he did not expect to continue at the club when his contract expires in June, leading to speculation he may return to Britain.

Supporters replied swiftly by daubing the Riazor ground in anti-Toshack graffiti. Toshack has also come under fire from Rafael Martin Vazquez. The former Spanish international midfielder is one of many players in Deportivo's gifted squad who believes he is not selected often enough.

In Belgium, the national coach, Wilfried Van Moer, has been sacked after nine months in charge and replaced by Georges Leekens, who leaves the First Division leaders Mouscron.

Van Moer was dismissed principally because of Belgium's 3-0 home defeat by the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier last month and also because of communication problems with players and the media. Van Moer was initially praised for his no-nonsense approach but was later criticised for what was perceived as a surly attitude towards players and reporters.