Football: Francis needs to be wooed

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The Independent Online
Queen's Park Rangers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Tottenham Hotspur . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

WHILE one Queen's Park Rangers supporter was proposing to his girlfriend via the electronic scoreboard at Loftus Road on Saturday, the club's manager, Gerry Francis, was still playing hard to get.

Examine his words closely and you will not find as categorical a denial of any interest in the England vacancy as has been made by Steve Coppell, but it is clear that if the Football Association decide that Francis is its man - and it would have good reason to - it is going to have to do a lot of wooing first.

'My priorities are at club level,' Francis said, repeating the point he has made before that when his contract at QPR expires at the end of the season he may not even remain in the game. Anyone who appreciates good football will hope that does not happen.

What Francis likes about being a club manager is the scope it gives him to nurture a player at youth and reserve level and see him on into the first team - the sort of continuity a national manager cannot enjoy, at least not under the present system.

Francis cited one such example in Michael Meaker, a 22-year-old left-winger brought into the side to replace the injured Trevor Sinclair. Taken on as a trainee in 1989 and with only 12 previous League appearances to his name, Meaker was one of a number of impressive young performers on both sides in a match full of high-class football.

Particular credit should go to Tottenham, who in spite of missing such key men as Teddy Sheringham, Gary Mabbutt, David Kerslake and Jason Dozzell, and going behind in the second minute, played their way back into the game in admirable fashion, even if it took them 85 minutes to level the scores.

QPR went ahead with a trademark Les Ferdinand goal - a prodigious leap to meet Ian Holloway's corner and a superbly angled downward header. For a while Tottenham tottered but as the two Darrens, Caskey and Anderton, found their feet, the game turned into an absorbing contest, with plenty of chances at both ends.

None was better than the 69th- minute penalty awarded to Tottenham after Darren Peacock fouled Caskey. Anderton's scuffed effort wide of the post was one he will want to forget - not so the rasping drive with which he equalised after a lovely, one-touch build-up. That was one of those moments when Francis discovered that love hurts.

Goals: Ferdinand (2) 0-1; Anderton (87) 1-1.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Stejskal; Bardsley, McDonald, Peacock, Wilson; Impey, Holloway, Barker, Meaker; Ferdinand, Allen. Subtitutes not used: Brevett, Penrice, Roberts (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-1-3-2): Thorstvedt; Campbell, Sedgley, Calderwood, Edinburgh; Hazard; Anderton, Caskey, Samways; Barmby, Howells (Robinson, 38; Nethercott, 65). Substitute not used: Walker (gk).

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill).

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