Walker courts Venables


TERRY VENABLES is understood to be considering becoming the new manager of Blackburn Rovers. It is unclear whether the former England coach has been offered the job, but he is believed to have met club officials on Saturday when he was sounded out about his interest in the £300,000 a year post.

It had been widely thought that Venables, currently director of football at Portsmouth, would not be interested in a move away from his southern base.

But yesterday he specifically refused to rule out going north, saying of the Blackburn possibility: "I've always said I'll keep my options open and we'll see what happens.

Venables is eager to return to management, but with a club that has the finances to become a major force in the Premiership. He recently turned down the chance to take over at Queens Park Rangers, mainly for that reason.

So, despite never having worked north of Watford, he is being tempted by the chance to spend £25 million to build his own team, courtesy of the club, owner Jack Walker's £360 million personal fortune.

Few such jobs will come along in the near future, especially in the south where two of the biggest clubs - Arsenal and Chelsea - have secure managers, while Tottenham is out of the question even if Gerry Francis's job was on the line, which it is not.

So Venables must decide whether he can afford to let the opportunity pass. He once worked in Barcelona, so a move to Blackburn may not be such a problem.

He still has legal cases to fight, but Blackburn are unworried, simply determined to replace Ray Harford with someone they believe is the best manager for the job following England's relative success in Euro 96.

Other candidates are Sheffield Uniteds Howard Kendall, Bruce Rioch at QPR and former Leeds manager, Howard Wilkinson.