Football: Graham's unease is disguised by genius of Ginola

Tottenham Hotspur 4 Watford 0
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The Independent Online
TOTTENHAM MADE the most of the ideal Christmas gift yesterday - a visit from a team without a victory in 13 games. As so often before it was the contribution of David Ginola which proved crucial for the home side, for whom he scored an inspirational opening goal and created another. But the angry reaction of some of the Tottenham crowd when the Frenchman was substituted with a quarter of an hour remaining betrayed the underlying unease at a club whose season has nose-dived following traumatic Cup defeats by Fulham and Newcastle.

For George Graham, yesterday's result was "a good response" to those losses but, if his response to criticism of supporters behind the dug- out was anything to go by, the Tottenham manager appears to be feeling the pressure. As Ginola departed to a standing ovation, Graham shouted back to one of his interrogators: "We've got a game on Wednesday - Idiot!" It was an unusual outburst from a man who is normally a master of his emotions in the public domain.

Although Spurs ran out easy winners, with Tim Sherwood, twice, and Steffen Iversen adding to Ginola's opening effort, the suspicion persisted that if they had met anyone other than this Watford side so palpably devoid of real hope they would have endured their seventh consecutive match without a victory.

After Iversen and Allan Nielsen missed easy chances in the first two minutes it seemed Tottenham, still smarting from their 6-1 midweek defeat at Newcastle, had slipped into a depression in front of goal.

A very obvious exchange of insults between Iversen and his captain, Sherwood, after a quarter of an hour darkened the sense of foreboding and Watford, with shots from Richard Johnson and Micah Hyde, briefly threatened to profit from the disarray.

But Ginola rolled away the clouds in the 27th minute, cutting in from the left past Hyde, holding off the attentions of his unfortunate marker for the day, Neil Cox, and reducing four defenders to stumbling impotence as he tracked along the edge of the area before firing home a right-foot shot.

Five minutes later the game was effectively over as a contest when Iversen headed home from Chris Armstrong's right wing cross. Ginola nearly collected a second goal two minutes from half-time with a shot that curled only a fraction away from goal. Watford attempted to halt the flow by bringing on three new players for the second half, but in truth they could have done with twice that number to give themselves a chance of arresting their demoralising drop back towards the First Division.

Ginola created the third goal for Spurs in the 56th minute when, after toying with the attentions of Tommy Smith and Paul Robinson, he bent in a right wing cross so accurately that Sherwood only had to stick his forehead out to score. The Tottenham skipper rounded things off eight minutes from time with another unhindered header.

Goals: Ginola (28) 1-0; Iversen (34) 2-0; Sherwood (56) 3-0; Sherwood (83) 4-0.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Carr, Perry, Campbell, Taricco; Nielsen, Sherwood, Clemence, Ginola (Dominguez, 75); Iversen, Armstrong. Substitutes not used: Baardsen (gk), Korsten, Edinburgh, Gower.

Watford (4-4-2): Chamberlain; Cox, Williams (Miller, h-t), Page, Robinson; Hyde, Palmer, Johnson, Perpetuini (Foley, h-t); Smith, Ngonge (Gudmundsson, h-t). Substitutes not used: Day (gk), Gibbs.

Referee: M Reed (Birmingham).

Booking: Watford: Perpetuini.

Man of the match: Ginola.

Attendance: 36,089.

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