Transfer Rumours and Gossip: Arsenal, Chelsea, Wigan, Liverpool, Sunderland, Newcastle, Reading and Manchester City’s Mark Rivlin brings coverage of the day’s rumour and gossip. 

Stuart Pearce and Graeme Souness top the list to fill the vacant managerial chair at Wigan following the sacking of Chris Hutchings (Independent).

Chairman Dave Whelan has an appreciation of Pearce, once claiming he could be a contender for the England job. The former Manchester City boss does of course manage England (at Under-21 level) and has a new contract with the FA, but a return to the Premier League may be tempting. Souness, the bookies’ favourite, has been out of a job since leaving Newcastle in 2006.
Chelsea boss Avram Grant is sure England would be on their way to Euro 2008 if Frank Lampard had played from the start against Russia (Daily Star). Lampard has scored four goals in two games and goes into tonight’s Champions League Group B tie against Schalke bristling with confidence. It will be a return to the scene of one of his biggest personal nightmares – The Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen is where Lampard was one of three players to miss in the quarter-final penalty shoot-out with Portugal that saw England crash out of the 2006 World Cup.

According to Grant: “Frank is a strong character, as everybody knows. I am not the England national coach but I am sure if Frank Lampard and John Terry (who was injured) had played in the last game against Russia, the result would have been very different.” Things are going well for Grant, with Michael Ballack off his sick bed. And the Israeli even managed a smile when he said: “I hope he will be available for us as soon as possible.”

Newcastle United’s first-team squad held a video-nasty inquest on Monday into their dramatic loss of form (The Times). Some supporters have questioned Sam Allardyce’s tactics and player recruitment, putting more pressure on the club ahead of the weekend derby with Sunderland. Allardyce told the press: “It’s back to basics and back to square one. It’s back to rolling our sleeves up and digging in.” Back to? Isn’t that the Allardyce style that was so successful at Bolton? Maybe it’s just not working at Newcastle.

Keeper Steve Harper said. “By 12 minutes past three, it was almost like a bomb had gone off. It was one of those days when everything that could have gone wrong did.” He may have picked the ball out of the onion bag with worrying regularity but Harper could not be beaten on the cliche front: “We were totally gutted. The manager was very angry and rightly so. Saturday wasn’t great, but it’s history now. We’ve dealt with it and put it to bed.” Quite.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could make a move for Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, whose contract finishes in June (Mirror). The one loose cog in the well-oiled Arsenal machine is in the custodian department, with Jens Lehmann out of favour and Manuel Almunia, despite solid performances, still not entirely convincing. He has to carry the can for Manchester United’s second goal on Saturday.

Liverpool are interested in signing Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones and could make a £12m bid for him (Mirror). This is one that really defies logic. With all the words written about Rafa Benitez’s snubbing of Peter Crouch, surely the last thing the Reds need is another tall striker who would only serve the purpose of marking Crouchy in training. You can see the headlines now … Benitez: ‘Me and misses Jones.’

Steve McClaren will not quit even if he fails to guide England into the Euro 2008 finals (Mirror). I think the expression ‘push comes to shove’ springs to mind.

Defender Leon Cort says he has joined Stoke on loan because Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock does not like his face. Cort revealed: “He was saying things like I did not have enough scars on my face, so I knew my time was up” (The Times). It’s hard to believe that Warnock, exponent of the beautiful game (boxing that is), could ever say such a thing to a player.

Reading players have donated £5,000 to subsidise the cost for supporters travelling to watch them play at Manchester City (Various). The first 350 fans who book their tickets will pay only £5. You wouldn’t want to miss a place on the coach for that one. Maybe the club would be better giving the offer to the final 350.

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