Football: Smith the great motivator
Monday 03 November 1997
Jim Smith, suit freshly pressed and with surviving hair combed neatly into place, looked more like a retiring sales director than an active football manager as the chairman presented him with a set of golf clubs. A pension and a quiet life on the links, however, is the last thing he is thinking about.
The clubs, a gesture of appreciation from his eighth employer, were to mark Smith's 25 years in the game's toughest job. Yet, after a quarter of a century, his enthusiasm is undimmed.
But not so long ago his palate was so jaded he effectively quit, becoming chief executive of the Football Managers' Association, a post he did not expect to relinquish for a return to the front line.
Derby tempted him back, though, and Smith has rediscovered his sparkle. What is more, he has shown himself, even at 57, to be as tuned in to the modern game as anyone.
To some he is the epitome of the old-fashioned English manager, yet there is no team more cosmopolitan than his and few coaches more tactically astute. Here, for example, having been fortunate to reach half-time on level terms against Arsene Wenger's team, for whom Ian Wright, perhaps critically, missed a first-half penalty, Smith changed his formation, gave key individuals new responsibilities and turned the contest round.
These are not skills Smith has acquired suddenly, of course, but now he has the players who can make his ideas work - and most of them hand- picked by himself.
On Saturday, one could marvel at Smith's judgment in picking Francesco Baiano ahead of Roberto Baggio last summer as the forward from Fiorentina give an excellent demonstration of how to make the deep-lying third striker's role so effective.
Although the pace of Dean Sturridge was a factor in two of the goals, Baiano's influence had a greater range, providing the vital cog in so much of Derby's movement.
And then, of course, there was Paulo Wanchope, whom one expects to lose his legs at any moment but instead keeps scoring goals - nine in his last 10 starts.
Smith cannot claim to have combed the beaches of Costa Rica in search of this particular gem - as with so many modern imports, the Wanchope story began with an agent's video tape - but it was he who decided to risk pounds 600,000 of Derby's money on him. What a bargain he is proving.
"What can you say? He's very lucky as well as very skilful," Smith said, having watched Wanchope catch out an unsighted David Seaman and then take advantage of Nigel Winterburn's mistake to put Derby two up. "But what I really like about him is how he works so hard for the team and there's no doubt about it, he's a real handful and he does frighten players," he said.
Arsenal, even against a Derby side depleted by injuries, looked to have forgotten how to score, a failing Wenger would not blame solely on the absence of the suspended Dennis Bergkamp. "We didn't score in the last two games when he was there," Wenger said. "We don't create enough, it's a collective problem rather than an individual one."
Goals: Wanchope (46) 1-0; Wanchope (65) 2-0; Sturridge (82) 3-0.
Derby County (4-3-1-2): Poom; Rowett, Laursen, Carbon, C Powell; Solis (Kozluk, h-t), Carsley, D Powell; Baiano (Trollope, 86); Wanchope, Sturridge (Burton, 86). Substitutes not used: Hunt, Hoult (gk).
Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Bould, Adams, Winterburn (Wreh, 69); Parlour, Vieira, Platt, Petit; Anelka (Boa Morte, 69), Wright. Substitutes not used: Grimandi, Hughes, Manninger (gk).
Referee: P Alcock (Redhill).
Bookings: Derby Wanchope, Rowett; Arsenal Bould, Winterburn, Boa Morte.
Man of the match: Baiano.
Latest in Sport
Mario Balotelli scored as many goals for AC Milan on second debut as he did for Liverpool in the Premier League last season
Cyprus vs Wales match report: Gareth Bale's bullet header has Welsh on brink of Euro 2016
Jose Mourinho: Chelsea manager has four Guinness World records hanging in his office
Manchester United will pay Monaco £7.2m extra if Anthony Martial scores 25 goals in four years as deal could rise to incredible £58m
Pedro hits outs at Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal for treatment of Victor Valdes
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 3 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 4 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...
£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...
£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...