Football: Redknapp left incensed by a Swiss roll

Tottenham Hotspur 1 West Ham United 0
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The Independent Online
Matt Tench

Tottenham Hotspur 1 West Ham United 0

After the diving the writhing. If the antics of a flying Dutchman had called into question one aspect of Premiership foreign policy on Saturday night, the behaviour of another overseas visitor is likely to keep the emphasis firmly on football fakery for much of the week.

The accused this time was Tottenham's robust Swiss centre-back Ramon Vega who, according to the West Ham manager, Harry Redknapp, responded to being kicked off the ball by West Ham's Samassi Abou with all the melodramatic intensity of his namesake Suzanne - but with none of the genuine emotion.

Like most at White Hart Lane, Redknapp missed the beginnings of the incident - which Abou alleges started with him being struck by Vega - but saw the aftermath. "I haven't seen how hard he kicked him, but I saw him [Vega] looking over, looking at the referee, staying down, and when the red card came it was time to get up," Redknapp said.

Abou responded to his red card by entering into an animated discussion with the referee David Elleray despite, in Redknapp's words, speaking "not one word of English". Fearing the worst, Redknapp rushed on to the pitch only to become embroiled in his own flare-up with Tottenham's Colin Calderwood, which brought John Hartson into the fray. "John Hartson thought we were having a row and John, he's my minder and he wanted to get involved," Redknapp explained with impeccable East End logic.

Elleray's initial response was that he was happy with Redknapp's behaviour, but he has now asked the Football Association to study the video which clearly shows the West Ham manager shoving Calderwood, an old friend from their days in the lower divisions. Hartson and Abou, too, may face FA charges.

The Spurs manager, Christian Gross, made the customary noises about Vega not being the sort of player to try to get others into trouble, while Vega himself invited reporters to look at the scars on his leg, but the whole affair was particularly disappointing because it came at the close of an outstanding first half. With a few more goals and an 11-a-side second half the game might have become a classic.

Spurs had seized the initiative with Jurgen Klinsmann beating Rio Ferdinand to David Ginola's left-wing cross to bag his first goal since his return, and though not fully fit Ginola was again a central figure. As elusive as a Tamworth pig, he popped up all over the place, creating chances both for himself and others, and the combination of the Frenchman, Klinsmann and Les Ferdinand (should he ever return fully fit) gives Spurs a forward line that is not so much bottom three as top six.

Not that the visitors were overwhelmed. After weathering the initial onslaught they played plenty of skilful football themselves, not least by Abou who was engaged in a compelling individual battle with Sol Campbell. Even after his departure West Ham regrouped impressively and dominated the opening period of the second half without creating many chances.

Those went to Spurs who broke impressively with another foreigner frequently to the fore. Having being credited as the man who saved Internazionale from relegation four years ago, Nicola Berti appears to be relishing a repeat performance at Spurs. Technically gifted but with a fondness for the tackle, his arrival may prove as important as Klinsmann's and he does enjoy at least one advantage over most of his team-mates: unlike them he has had his serious injury before joining the club.

Goals: Klinsmann (7) 1-0.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2) Bardsen; Carr, Vega, Campbell, Wilson; Fox (Brady, 79), Calderwood (Howells, 58), Berti, Sinton; Klinsmann, Ginola (Dominguez, 65). Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Mabbutt.

West Ham United (5-3-2): Forrest; Pearce, Ferdinand, Unsworth; Potts, Lampard, Berkovitch (Hodges, 85), Moncur, Lazaridis (Dowie, 48); Abou, Hartson. Substitutes not used: Lama (gk) Bishop, Rowland.

Referee: D Elleray (Middlesex).

Sending-off: West Ham: Abou. Bookings: Tottenham: Vega. West Ham: Moncur, Hartson, Potts.

Man of the match: Ginola.

Attendance: 30,284.

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