Football: Pleat lays foundations for Graham - Sport - The Independent

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.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Sport
David Moyes and Rio Ferdinand
FootballRio Ferdinand on why the former manager failed at United
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
News
i100
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories