Football: Graham warns his players

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The Independent Online
GEORGE GRAHAM, the Tottenham manager, yesterday urged his side not to relax - despite having nothing to play for during the rest of the season.

With a European place for next season already assured through their Worthington Cup final victory against Leicester, Spurs' season was in danger of fizzling out tamely. It looked as though that was the case in the early stages against Charlton at The Valley in Tuesday's Premiership fixture, as the visitors went behind to Mark Kinsella's fifth-minute strike and were easily second best for the first 20 minutes.

However, Graham is determined to make sure that his first season in charge of the north London club does not drift aimlessly to an end. He has warned his side that he will not accept any slacking off. "For the first 20 minutes Charlton started very well on Tuesday and got the goal they deserved. We were a bit casual and I felt we had to play with more purpose in the second half and we did that very well," Graham said. "I said a few things at half-time. The fans pay good money. At a big club like Tottenham you shouldn't be able to coast after you've won something.

"You've got to give the fans value for money and be hungry for more success and win as many games as we can and that's the way we'll approach the next season. Every game is important," he added. "We've got some great games coming up, absolutely fabulous games against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United."

With some summer rebuilding on the cards and Graham looking to bring in several new men, some of the Spurs players are currently playing for their White Hart Lane future. However, the former Arsenal manager laughed off claims that he has been handed a pounds 20m windfall by his chairman, Alan Sugar, to splash out on new talent. He said: "I don't know where that figure of 20 million has come from! That is not true.

"There are some players looking tired, a little bit jaded and there are players sitting on the bench dying to get on and have a go so we're going to give them the opportunity," the Scotsman added.

"I think there's no question we definitely need more players. The three we've brought in have been good acquisitions for the club, but we definitely need more."

The Charlton manager, Alan Curbishley, has more pressing worries. His side now only have four games in which to save themselves from an instant return to the Nationwide League, beginning with Saturday's crucial trip to Everton.

Curbishley knows he will have to repair the battered morale of his players after their joint worse defeat of the season. "To concede a fourth and make it look like a bit of a thrashing was the last thing we needed before going to Everton on Saturday," he admitted. "We'll have to wait and see how it affects them. I've said to the players that Bolton went down on goal difference last year and we've not done our goal difference too much good.

"We can't afford that to happen to us because at the end of the day it might boil down to that by the time we play the last game of the season and we can't afford [to concede] threes and fours."