Football: Le Tissier finds elusive consistency

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Southampton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Everton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

MATTHEW LE TISSIER had disappeared by the time the Everton manager began yet another inquest into a defeat, but if his ears were no longer burning there would certainly have been a smile of recognition. 'Consistency,' Mike Walker said, 'that is what we have to achieve.' Walker's team had shown some improvement in recent days; now they had to produce it in every game.

Other managers at other times had given the same appraisal about the conjurer the Dell devotees refer to as 'God'. Not any more. The one flaw in Le Tissier's armoury, the inability, or more accurately the lack of desire, to give those marvellous, intuitive skills a regular showcase, has become a thing of the past.

This was a typical Le Tissier performance. He scored one goal and made another, both the product of a vision and a measured control given only to a privileged few.

George Best came to mind when Alan Ball, the Southampton manager, was challenged to compare his star turn with those of the past. 'Matt has the same awareness and ability as George had,' he said. 'I can't praise him higher than that.'

Are you listening ,Terry Venables? One hopes so, because on Saturday the England coach was not watching. Venables chose instead to go to Anfield to assess Steve McManaman's claims.

But more than one man and his immediate promotion, this was a tale of one team's despair and one manager's concern at what awaits him if they continue to drag along the foot of the table.

Everton's positive start to their 11th attempt to secure a first win thi season belied a fragile resolve that was apparent as soon as Ronnie Ekelund shot Saints ahead with his third goal in as many league games since his cut- price arrival from Barcelona.

Daniel Amokachi then had a 'goal' disallowed for offside, but otherwise Dave Beasant, an early replacement for Bruce Grobbelaar, who broke his nose and fractured a cheekbone, had not a single save to make in the Southampton goal.

As worrying for Walker as Everton's lack of penetration was the elementary loss of discipline and organisation which often gave those in stripes time to spare. There was nothing they could do to prevent Southampton's second, Le Tissier stroking the ball past Neville Southall after Neil Heaney had produced a decent cross.

Walker continues to talk a hopeful game, but he must be seriously worried if this is the best he can inspire from players, half of whom he has introduced to the team.

He says he intends to see out the full three years he agreed to in January and trusts his chairman, Peter Johnson - who on Saturday made the wise choice to be on his yacht off the south of France rather than in the troubled waters off the south coast of England - will allow him to.

Funny that, because at Norwich, it will be recalled, Walker did not appear so concerned about what was written down in his contract.

Goals: Ekelund (19) 1-0; Le Tissier (73) 2-0.

Southampton (4-4-2): Grobbelaar (Beasant, 5); Kenna, Monkou, Benali, Charlton; Ekelund, Maddison, Magilton, Heaney; Le Tissier, Dowie. Substitutes not used: Dodd, Widdrington.

Everton (4-4-2): Southall; Jackson (Stuart, 81), Watson (Durrant, h-t), Unsworth, Burrows; Rowett, Parkinson, Samways, Hinchcliffe; Rideout, Amokachi. Substitute not used: Kearton (gk).

Referee: B Hill (Market Harborough).

(Photograph omitted)

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