Football: Tottenham in dire need of Sugar and spice

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The Independent Online
Tottenham Hotspur 1 West Ham United 0

Despite a pretty dreadful Tottenham performance, Gerry Francis may just be entitled to a smile or two at the moment.

Beset by injuries to key players since the start of the season, Spurs have somehow managed to creep into eighth place in the table. They now have a fortnight's break and, according to Francis, all his wounded, bar Gary Mabbutt, will be available when Sunderland come to town.

But, more than that, and even more than the outrageous good fortune he enjoyed at Harry Redknapp's expense on Saturday, the news that Alan Sugar finally seems to have agreed to dip into his pocket and fork out for some new players will give Francis an extra spring in his step this week.

It is no secret that Trevor Sinclair, a player under Francis at Queen's Park Rangers, would be top of his list were he available (the QPR board meets today and will discuss Sinclair's transfer request), but Francis claims to be closer to signing three others.

With Mabbutt out for the season and players dropping like flies around him, Francis needs all the reinforcements he can get if Spurs are to build on their useful start.

While Francis is out doing the club shopping over the next few days, he will be aware that, in spite of everything, the particular brand of football he prefers has yet to win over many Tottenham fans, who are used to a more extravagant diet. However, there is no lack of flair in the squad, and Sinclair would undoubtedly add to that and, besides, it is amazing how quickly supporters' principles are compromised when their team is winning.

Right now, though, it is doubtful whether Cinderford Town would be intimidated by playing at White Hart Lane, such is the lack of vocal encouragement for Francis's team. West Ham and their followers were quick to make themselves at home, and after dominating for most of the match they must have kicked themselves for leaving empty-handed. For all Hugo Porfirio's industry and imagination, Redknapp's latest mail-order recruit did not look like a natural poacher of goals.

Chris Armstrong demonstrated his prowess in that department when he took full advantage of Slaven Bilic's momentary loss of co-ordination to deprive West Ham of even a point and give Tottenham a belated reward for being the perfect guests at Matthew Harding's memorial match the previous week.

Up to that point Spurs had not had a sniff of a chance, but for all their pretty football West Ham had had only one, Porfirio failing to connect properly after a neat one-two with Iain Dowie. Bilic nearly made amends with a volley from 20 yards that cannoned back off a post, and Porfirio, completely unmarked, fired over from much nearer with virtually the last kick of the match.

Goal: Armstrong (67) 1-0.

Tottenham Hotspur (3-5-2): Walker; Carr, Calderwood Campbell; Allen (Rosenthal, 89), Nielsen, Howells, Wilson, Edinburgh; Sheringham, Armstrong. Substitutes not used: Dozzell, Nethercott, Austin, Bardsen (gk).

West Ham United (4-4-2): Miklosko; Breacker, Bilic, Rieper, Dicks; Hughes, Moncur (Futre, 76), Bishop, Lazaridis; Dowie, Porfirio. Substitutes not used: Dumitrescu, Lampard, Potts, Shilton (gk).

Booking: Tottenham: Allen.

Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees).

Man of the match: Porfirio. Attendance: 32,999.

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