Football: Ginola's home alone act lets in Redknapp's visitors

Tottenham Hotspur 1 West Ham United 2
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The Independent Online
WITH JUST a few minutes left and Tottenham pressing hard for an equaliser, David Ginola provided one of those moments that polarise opinions about him. The Great Entertainer foolishly dribbled into trouble when the situation cried out for a less complicated means of putting the ball into West Ham's goalmouth.

Thrilled by Ginola's reviving goal in the 73rd minute Tottenham's supporters did not think less of their hero for such unnecessary extravagance. Ginola's team-mates were not so forgiving, their frustration with the Frenchman evident in angry gestures. Former Tottenham players in the audience, one or two from the brilliant Double-winning team of 1961, were equally critical.

That's it with Ginola. On the one hand a breathtaking footballer whose charm has built up plenty of votes for Footballer of the Year; on the other a dissident presence who would have been substituted had he not brought Tottenham back into the game on Saturday. "David wasn't getting anywhere. I was about to bring him off," George Graham admitted.

The Tottenham manager's dilemma is pretty clear: should he stick with a player who does not always conform to required levels of concentration and collective understanding or risk the wrath of the crowd by leaving him out?

Many years ago a similar situation grew up around the gifted if unorthodox Sunderland inside-forward Len Shackleton, who was repeatedly passed over for a place in the England team. "If Shackleton would come half-way to meet me, I would go half-way to meet him," I remember England's manager of the time, Walter Winterbottom, saying.

Ginola's rejection by France for last summer's World Cup finals sprang from the belief that his instincts might undermine the team effort. Doubtless, Tottenham's supporters don't see it that way but should be reminded that great artists in their club's history conformed fully to the collective ethic.

It is difficult at this stage to imagine what the future holds for Ginola or for a team on which a great deal of money needs to be spent if Graham is to take it a stage further. "As things stand we have no chance of being up there with Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea," he said after a more or less makeshift West Ham had outplayed them for an hour, winning more easily than the 2-1 scoreline suggested. Graham's priorities are to acquire both a centre-half to play alongside Sol Campbell and a goalscorer. He may get the money for one but will probably have to sell in order to get the other.

For West Ham it is case of hanging on to what they have got, especially Eyal Berkovic, who was quite brilliant when darting forward in support of Ian Wright. Ahead after only five minutes, when Wright punished confusion in Tottenham's defence with a clever lob, West Ham took the game over, outsmarting Tottenham with sensible midfield deployment. "I thought they were terrific," West Ham's manager, Harry Redknapp, said. "I can't have too much praise for them and you could see from their response at the end how much spirit they have."

Redknapp is baffled by the administrative upheaval that will see the club's managing director, Peter Storrie, leave at the end of the season. "I wasn't told anything about it," Redknapp said. "In six years together we've had only one disagreement, which isn't bad. Peter has taken a lot of the strain, dealing with contracts and setting up player development. The whole thing is a mystery because I think the club is in a better shape than I have ever known it. The team is doing well and the kids are in the semi-finals of the Youth Cup with a three-goal advantage from the first leg. It all seems pretty good to me."

Goals: Wright (4) 0-1; Keller (65) 0-2; Ginola (76) 1-2.

Tottenham Hotspur: (4-4-2): Walker; Carr, Young, Campbell, Tarrico; Anderton (Nielsen, 73), Freund, Sherwood, Ginola; Iversen (Armstrong, 82), Dominguez. Substitutes not used: Baardsen (gk), Nilsen, Fox.

West Ham United (4-3-3): Hislop; Lomas, Pearce, Ferdinand, Minto; Lampard, Moncur, Berkovic, Sinclair; Wright (Lazaridis, 90), Keller. Substitutes not used: Forrest (gk), Mean, Cole, Bullard.

Referee: U Rennie (South Yorkshire).

Bookings: Tottenham: Anderton, Ginola, Tarrico. West Ham: Lomas, Ferdinand, Moncur, Berkovic. Sent off: Moncur.

Man of the match: Berkovic.

Attendance: 36,089.

Brian Viner, page 7

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