Football

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The Independent Culture
When two teams are stuck in mid-table there is often little to play for. But when the two are local rivals, long-term aspirations cease to matter and football's tribal urges rise to the surface. Tomorrow, the derby spirit hits White Hart Lane as Tottenham takes on West Ham.

The Hammers have been doing good business lately: having sold Julian Dicks to Liverpool for two decent players and pounds 1m last year, they took him back last week for a song. And since Tony Cottee's return they have left the relegation zone behind.

Spurs began the season like rats out of traps, galvanised by the arrival of the magic German, Jurgen Klinsmann. Then followed a Stygian trough, with grisly speculation surrounding the immediate future of their manager, Ossie Ardiles (above), for whom it can be no reassurance, following Wednesday's Notts County debacle, that his chairman, Alan Sugar, seems to be taking more of an interest in the game. Going forward, Spurs can be awe-inspiring, with Klinsmann et al backed up by the Romanian pair, Popescu and Dumitrescu. But that defence . . .

(Photograph omitted)

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