Football: Graham takes perverse approach

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Coventry City 0
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The Independent Online
ANY HOPES that Tottenham's 3-0 FA Cup replay win over Wimbledon last week had cured Spurs' goalscoring equivalent of writer's block proved to be short-lived, as four days later, they were up to their old tricks again and clocked up their seventh draw in their last 10 matches in all competitions.

And as if to highlight George Graham's perverse approach to winning games he left Chris Armstrong, Tottenham's top scorer, on the bench, preferring Steffen Iversen despite the Norwegian carrying a hip injury into the game. The Tottenham manager admitted afterwards: "Iversen looked out of sorts." That was never more obvious than after 52 minutes when he skied the best opportunity of the game, when unmarked inside the six-yard box.

But if Graham's strikers were unable to profit from the opportunities that came their way, that was in no way the fault of the midfield, who controlled the game from start to finish, with Darren Anderton and Andy Sinton both trying their luck from long range only to hit the frame of the goal.

It was only in the first half that Coventry posed any sort of threat to Tottenham. With half an hour gone, Gary McAllister gave Darren Huckerby a chance to score but Ian Walker saved both the initial shot and the follow-up with his feet.

But once the Coventry manager, Gordon Strachan, had admitted "we didn't play well" there was something else that he wanted to get off his chest. In what is becoming almost a barely disguised weekly ritual of bemoaning his side's status as minnows, this time he rounded on Gordon Taylor, the head of the Professional Footballers' Association.

Strachan revealed that Taylor had not approved of him buying the Bosnian international captain, Mohammed Konjic, who made an impressive debut as a substitute, on the grounds that he had not tried hard enough to buy from within these shores. Rightly, Strachan defended his reasoning that he should be allowed to buy who he wanted, but wrongly he brought Arsenal's purchase of Nwankwo Kanu into the debate, hinting that Arsenal did not face any bureaucratic opposition in signing the Nigerian. In fact Arsenal got their man only two days before Coventry.

Things can change quickly in football - just ask Glenn Hoddle - but with a George Graham team not scoring and Strachan having a good old whinge, well, it was just like the good old days.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Taricco (Sherwood, 87), Campbell, Young, Carr; Sinton, Freund, Nielsen, Anderton; Ferdinand, Iversen (Armstrong, 70) Substitutes not used: Baardsen (gk), Vega, Fox.

Coventry City: (4-4-2): Hedman; Breen (Aloisi, 90), Williams (Konjic, 53), Shaw, Nilsson; Froggatt, McAllister, Soltvedt (Clement, 70), Telfer; Whelan, Huckerby Substitutes not used: Ogrizovic (gk), Edworthy.

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).

Booked: Tottenham: Young; Coventry: Whelan, McAllister, Telfer.

Man of the match: Anderton.

Attendance: 34,379.