Football: Graham steels Spurs for the journey ahead

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Derby County 1
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The Independent Online
A HOME game against Southampton tomorrow will give us an inkling of whether George Graham can pull off a trick at Tottenham that even he struggled to master in his trophy-laden years as manager at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road. Only once - when snatching the championship from Liverpool's grasp in 1989 after reaching the FA Cup semi-final - did Graham's Arsenal, for all their competitive instincts, prevent sustained interest in a major cup competition from interfering with their progress in the League.

In 1993, the year of the Cup double that Spurs are now attempting to emulate, they won only two of their last 10 League games and dropped to 10th place; the following season as the European Cup-Winners' Cup was successfully pursued, victories were scraped in three of the last 10, all by the odd goal.

Graham claimed that Saturday's match at White Hart Lane proved his new charges, although less battle-hardened than Arsenal's, would not be distracted into conceding Premiership points that they cannot afford to lose while still within reach of the relegation strugglers. There were also signs, however, following a draining FA Cup win over Leeds three days earlier, that some players would find it difficult to lift themselves twice in a week. For all the excellence of their goalkeeper Russell Hoult, Derby should not have been allowed to escape with a draw - Tottenham's sixth in succession in the Premiership.

The answer might be to dip deeper into what is now a stronger squad, as well as a far more confident one, than when Graham arrived five months ago. The imaginative introduction of Jose Dominguez, for the first time since mid- October, turned Spurs' fortunes, as he ran at the visiting defence and set up Tim Sherwood for an equalising goal.

Having won over most supporters, despite the lack of progress up the League table, Graham will risk further anti-Arsenal prejudice rearing its head this week with the appointment of Stewart Houston, once his assistant at Highbury, above the popular Chris Hughton. "Nowadays a manager travels abroad a lot, watching games and players, and I want my philosophies to work when I'm not here," Graham said yesterday.

"It's no slight on Chris Hughton, who's done a great job, and he will still play a big part, but I want my own man here."

Derby also have Arsenal on their mind, and a clear week to prepare for Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final visit there. Although Stefano Eranio, nominated as the man to shackle David Ginola but injured early on, should be fit, Tony Dorigo is likely to miss the tie with a hamstring strain. "I'd rather be coming back here," grinned the Derby manager, Jim Smith.

Whichever part of north London they head for, his team will want to create more than the two scoring chances carved out on Saturday. Paulo Wanchope missed the first, then set up Deon Burton to score from the second.

Goals: Burton (46) 0-1; Sherwood (69) 1-1.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Taricco, Vega, Campbell, Edinburgh; Anderton, Sherwood, Freund, Ginola; Armstrong (Dominguez, 65), Iversen. Substitutes not used: Baardsen (gk), Nielsen, Sinton, Young.

Derby County (3-4-3): Hoult; Laursen, Carbonari, Schoor; Eranio (Prior, 40), Carsley, Bohinen, Dorigo (Harper, 73); Baiano (Hunt, 73), Wanchope, Burton. Substitutes not used: Knight (gk), Sturridge.

Referee: J Winter (Cleveland).

Sending-off: Tottenham Hotspur: Edinburgh. Bookings: Tottenham Hotspur: Edinburgh. Derby County: Wanchope, Laursen, Burton.

Man of the match: Ginola.

Attendance: 35,392.

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