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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
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

Selby Jennings: Leveraged Finance - Senior Associate - International Bank - Frankfurt

Competitive + bonus: Selby Jennings: My client, a growing European CIB are loo...

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible