Football: Forest still need fresh recruits

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Nottingham Forest 1
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The Independent Online
How Irving Scholar must have regretted not attending White Hart Lane on Saturday so he could rub you-know-who's nose in it. I bet another of Alan Sugar's old adversaries, Brian Clough, will have enjoyed it from afar, too. All in all, it was an ideal place for the new Nottingham Forest regime to kick off with a victory, including the new management team of Dave Bassett and Stuart Pearce, who are both north London boys.

Two days into the job, Bassett could have brought little more to the proceedings than his sometimes charmed life in Premiership struggles ("I did make an observation or two at half-time because Stuart couldn't really breathe"), but the return from suspension of the inspirational Pearce most definitely lifted the side. That, crucially, may have had something to do with the weight of responsibility being lifted from the caretaker manager's shoulders.

While Bassett stressed that it was still a joint managership effort and that Pearce would have the final say in team matters, one can predict that the captain will soon be relinquishing his role as caretaker in order to take care of his playing performance for club and country. "He [Pearce] knows he can always be Forest's manager in a few years' time - when I'll probably be dead," said Bassett. "I don't want to be a tired old bastard of 60 running around in a tracksuit."

Much will depend on how wisely Bassett spends his money when, for the first time in his life, he is let loose in the sweetshop with pounds 16m in his pocket. Despite the sweet economy of a victory derived from just one shot at goal, beautifully taken though it was by Dean Saunders, strengthening the attack must be Bassett's first priority.

Gerry Francis, the Spurs manager, will envy his spending power. Not that he has not had his own financial backing from Sugar, it just has not been there in large enough sums when he needed it. Spurs' seventh defeat in nine games, he admitted, was taking them into "areas in which we don't want to be."

Unlucky as Francis has been with injuries, it is now becoming something of a lame excuse, if you excuse the pun. There was enough quality in the side on Saturday to have disposed of even such resilient opponents as Forest, but their finishing was lamentable, even if Tommy Wright in goal did have a stormer in his last match before joining Manchester City today. The last time the Northern Ireland international played that well was when he repelled Spurs' soul-mate Jurgen Klinsmann and company in Nuremburg earlier in the season.

Obviously, with Darren Anderton, Chris Armstrong and Ramon Vega restored to the side, Spurs would be a force with which to be reckoned, but it seems as soon as one gets fit another suffers a relapse. It might help if Francis knew in advance who was going to be available. On Saturday Anderton, who was expected to play, did not and Teddy Sheringham vice- versa. Now they have Andy Sinton, carried off with a bad shin injury, doubtful for tomorrow's match at Sunderland. So it goes on.

Goal: Saunders (17) 0-1.

Tottenham Hotspur (3-5-2): Walker; Scales, Campbell, Calderwood; Austin (Rosenthal, 72), Howells, Nielsen, Sinton (Dozzell, 58), Wilson; Iversen, Sheringham. Substitutes not used: Carr, Allen, Bardsen (gk).

Nottingham Forest (4-4-1-1): Wright; Lyttle, Chettle, Jerkan, Pearce; Allen (Phillips, 85), Cooper, Haland, Gemmill; Clough; Saunders (McGregor, 90). Substitutes not used: Howe, Roy, Fettis (gk).

Referee: J Winter (Cleveland).

Bookings: Tottenham: Austin. Forest: Pearce, Cooper, Lyttle.

Man of the match: Wright.

Attendance: 32,805.