Football: Graham haunted by passing ghosts

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The Independent Online
Leeds United 2 Nottingham Forest 0

It was Mark Hateley who prompted the decline of the Howard Wilkinson empire at Elland Road when, playing for Rangers four years ago, he struck the second-leg blow that knocked the then English champions out of the European Cup.

With a deft touch of irony, the towering striker not so much kick-started as belatedly head-started, as it were, the George Graham era at Leeds on Saturday. Less than a minute into the second half the head of the on- loan Queen's Park Ranger set up Rod Wallace for the first of his two goals, and the team Graham inherited from Wilkinson were on their way to their first Premiership win under new management.

There is more likelihood, though, of Tomas Brolin collecting a gold watch for long service than of the colleagues he is reluctant to join marching on together to trophy-winning glory. As Graham duly acknowledged after his first success as a Premiership manager since January 1995: "It's not right by any means."

That Graham needs to return to the transfer market that was his ruin (or was it Rune?) at Highbury was glaringly evident. Ian Rush has yet to score for Leeds and it was easy to see why as he spent his afternoon dropping deep into a midfield where the ghosts of McAllister, Strachan, Batty and Speed will continue to haunt until signs of life reappear.

Though Trevor Sinclair's is the name apparently topping Graham's shopping list, midfield prompters such as Forest boasted on Saturday in Ian Woan and Scot Gemmill appear to be a greater priority.

Woan has been linked with Leeds but Frank Clark can ill afford to lose him "I'm confident we'll turn things round," the Forest manager maintained. "We've got a good squad."

They only have two points more, however, than Forest had after the first nine games of Brian Clough's final season, and that was the team that was supposedly too good to go down.

Goals: Wallace (46) 1-0; Wallace (89) 2-0.

Leeds United (3-4-3): Martyn; Wetherall, Jobson, Radebe; Kelly, Ford, Couzens (Dorigo, 81), Sharpe; Wallace, Hateley, Rush (Jackson, 88). Substitutes not used: Harte, Beesley, Beeney (gk).

Nottingham Forest (3-5-2): Crossley; Blatherwick, Cooper, Pearce; Lyttle (Haland, 81), Gemmill (Roy, 75), Bart-Williams, Woan, Allen; Saunders, Lee. Substitutes not used: Chettle, Phillips, Fettis (gk).

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).

Bookings: Leeds Kelly, Wetherall, Dorigo. Nottingham Forest Cooper.

Man of the match: Woan.

Attendance: 29,225.