Everton appoint Smith

 

The speculation about Everton's next manager in the wake of Howard Kendall's departure last week ended yesterday when Walter Smith agreed to fill the vacancy on a three-year contract worth around £1.5 million.

But, in keeping with the turmoil which has surrounded the Goodison Park job, Smith's appointment was controversial because the former Rangers manager pulled out of a deal with Sheffield Wednesday at the last minute to accept the Everton offer.

His withdrawal annoyed Sheffield Wednesday's chairman Dave Richards, who said: "We are extremely disappointed by Mr Smith's late change of mind after we have done so much to ensure his financial terms and other conditions were fully met."

But Smith, who left Rangers at the end of last season, countered: "I don't believe I have let Sheffield Wednesday down, and I've talked to their chairman to explain my decision. They made me a good offer but nothing had been agreed, and the fact that I've chosen Everton speaks volumes."

What probably swung Smith's decision was the fact that he is likely to be given a large war chest, unlike Kendall who was starved of cash. "There are funds available for players. There won't be any impetuous signings but we intend to build on the current staff," said Smith, who added that Duncan Ferguson, the striker he sold to Everton during his reign at Ibrox, was a key part of his plans.

Smith, who will be joined at Goodison by Archie Knox, his number two at Rangers, follows in the footsteps of Mike Walker, Joe Royle and Kendall as the fourth manager appointed by Everton's chairman Peter Johnson.

Meanwhile the former Manchester United captain Steve Bruce is expected to become player-manager of Sheffield United. He recently signed a new 12-month contract at Birmingham, where he is captain, and the two clubs have been holding talks over compensation.

John Hollins has become Swansea City's ninth manager in two years. The former Chelsea and England player, who had a spell in charge at Stamford Bridge, resigned as QPR's assistant manager to take up the post at the Vetch Field, after Alan Cork was sacked on Monday.

Jamaican World Cup star Ricardo Gardner has joined first division Bolton despite interest from Holland, France, Italy and other English clubs.

The 19-year-old played an integral role in his country's first ever World Cup campaign in France in an attacking midfield role. He joins Bolton, relegated at the end of last season, for £1 million from the Harbour View club in Kingston.