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.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Ashdown Group: Senior Web Developer - C# / ASP.NET - London - £55K

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Web Deve...

Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

£26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower