Football: Pleat lays foundations for Graham

Derby County 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1

RELIEF POURED off David Pleat like sweat. The defeat of Derby had ended his seven-match stint in charge of Tottenham, and with it, possibly, a long and distinguished managerial career, but he was not about to go quietly before handing control to George Graham.

The Graham era officially starts today. If it is true it will mean the primacy of pragmatic values over purist ideals, Pleat's parting shot before returning upstairs as director of football proved that at least one idiosyncratic heart still beats within White Hart Lane.

The verbal equivalent of his much-replayed manic dance across Maine Road after Luton had escaped relegation, Pleat's emotional scattergun fired out indiscretions, insights, wit and wisdom. "We like a tackle at Tottenham," he chortled in acknowledgement of the debate over Spurs' soul. "We're not all pansies."

Christian Gross was "a gamble too far", he suggested, and could not understand the players' jokes. Footballers are "simpletons" who do not play "for the jersey" but to "maintain their careers". As for his replacement: "I want George to do well because I feel we've lost style and credibility."

Compared with the Double-winning side of '61, or the Hoddle/Ardiles class of '81, that is certainly true (though the decline might not have been so pronounced had Spurs not ousted Pleat on spurious moral grounds 11 years ago). But the acting manager's efforts - four wins, two draws and only one defeat - ensures that morale will be buoyant when Graham takes training this morning.

Graham's inheritance is superior to that which Howard Wilkinson left him at Leeds. The first side he sent out there was littered with players who, just two years later, are not pulling up any patios with Carlisle, Hull, Blackpool and Wrexham.

Espen Baardsen must have impressed the watching Graham with his adhesive handling; besides, from Rune Hauge to Gunnar Halle, Graham seems to like having Norwegians around. The back four, or rather three of them, may be more hard pressed to meet his exacting standards.

Ramon Vega raised an arm to claim offside inside 20 seconds, prompting Derby's fans to ask whether they were Arsenal in disguise. Vega and the full-backs gave the kind of performance players tend to put in for a new gaffer - Gross and Gerry Francis are entitled to wonder why they did not produce it consistently for them - but may find it difficult to develop their impersonation of Tony Adams et al.

Sol Campbell is the exception, the rock around which Graham will build much as he did with Adams and Lucas Radebe. He not only proved impossible for Derby's attackers to by-pass but he also organised that collector's item, a tight Spurs back-line, and settled the contest by heading his third goal in as many matches from David Ginola's free-kick.

Ginola is the most gifted of Graham's new charges, but then so was Charlie Nicholas at Highbury and he replaced him with Perry Groves. The Frenchman had a fitful afternoon, with the more workmanlike virtues of Allan Nielsen exerting greater influence. Meanwhile, Les Ferdinand put himself about in a way that was a revelation to many supporters.

Derby's Jim Smith had already been a player-manager, at Boston United, for three years before Pleat donned his sheepskin coat with Nuneaton Borough in 1971 - when, coincidentally, Graham's wiles were helping Arsenal emulate their neighbours' Double. Smith agreed that Spurs had become regarded as a soft touch. "I'd imagine George will bring people in," he said, "but he's got the basis of a very good team."

The caretaker concurred, pointing to the strong potential spine of Baardsen, Campbell and Steffen Iversen. It remains to be seen whether Pleat is around to see the revolution take shape. Graham's hands-on style is likely to leave insufficient scope for a tactical acumen which, as he showed on Saturday, could still be profitably deployed in a Premiership dug-out.

Pleat, who is younger than the Scot, insisted he would be staying. He said it, however, with a self-mocking lack of conviction, and when the Nottingham boy was pressed as to whether Derby had seen his managerial swansong, he reiterated Graham's revealing remark on being asked a month ago whether he might swap Leeds for the Lane: "Never say never."

Goal: Campbell (60) 0-1.

Derby County (3-4-1-2): Hoult; Carbonari (Burton, 89), Laursen, Prior; Delap, Carsley, Powell, Schnoor (Eranio, 80); Bohinen (Sturridge, 73); Wanchope, Baiano. Substitutes not used: Kozluk, Poom (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Baardsen; Carr, Vega, Campbell, Edinburgh; Fox (Clemence, 86), Anderton, Calderwood, Neilsen; Ferdinand, Ginola (Armstrong, 72). Substitutes not used: Berti, Iversen, Walker (gk).

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).

Bookings: Derby: Laursen, Schnoor. Tottenham: Neilsen.

Man of the match: Campbell.

Attendance: 30,083.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Sales Advisor - OTE 18k-23k

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Ford's leading Parts Who...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to learn ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Lead

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading providers of w...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders