Football: Pleat's credentials impress Gross

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The Independent Online
David Pleat's chances of returning to White Hart Lane have increased significantly following a long telephone conversation between the former Tottenham manager and the current holder of that position, the recently appointed Christian Gross.

Gross confirmed yesterday that he had had a two-and-a-half-hour phone conversation with Pleat, who was recently sacked by Sheffield Wednesday. Pleat is the favourite to be made Tottenham's director of football, an appointment that would allow Gross to concentrate on the day-to-day running of the club.

"He loves soccer," Gross said of Pleat. "It was interesting to talk to him about soccer, but no decision has been taken. Alan Sugar [the Spurs chairman] has already said he needs someone in this position, but the responsibilities are strictly separated. Maybe David Pleat will be that man, maybe not.

"Over the last 24 years he has been on the pitch as a manager, and it's not easy to stop after 24 years in this profession. It's not easy to be on the other side. But David knows English soccer and English players very well."

There will be no decision until after Christmas and, although Gross insists he would still be responsible for negotiating with players, he admits that scouting is an area that needs attention.

Gross had hoped to bring Andy Hinchcliffe to Spurs to shore up a defence that has conceded 10 goals in the last two games and 32 overall. But a player-swap deal for the Everton full-back has fallen through, because of injuries to two of the three players Howard Kendall was interested in. Kendall wanted to swap Hinchcliffe for either Les Ferdinand, Steffen Iversen or Chris Armstrong, but with the latter two injured and Ferdinand not for sale, the deal has been shelved.