Football: Tottenham's revival hopes threatened by Venglos factor

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Chelsea 6

A match of conflicting signals about the impact of foreign managers on English football. Ruud Gullit's unconventional wisdom helped Chelsea become only the second visitors ever to score six at Tottenham, while Christian Gross suffered a setback more redolent of Jozef Venglos than Arsene Wenger.

Dr Jo, it may be remembered, was the highly experienced Czechoslovak coach to whom Aston Villa turned after losing Graham Taylor. But like Gross, plucked from relative obscurity in Zurich, his command of English did not match his obvious urbanity, causing communication problems. Spurs must trust the similarities do not extend to an inability to attract signings of the requisite quality.

The Swiss said afterwards that he was still "assessing" his new charges, though he felt the existing squad had mid-table potential. Yet this was a defeat so crushing that there can be no doubt he urgently needs to buy.

Therein lies a catch. Players need little persuading to move to Stamford Bridge because of Gullit's status as one of the most revered performers of his generation, not to mention Chelsea's participation in Europe. Gross has no such reputation and can offer only a relegation struggle.

The next fortnight is likely to have a considerable bearing on whether he bridges the credibility gap. Spurs meet Coventry and Barnsley, two places above them and below them respectively. With Ramon Vega starting a five-game suspension, John Scales out with injuries suffered against Chelsea, and Sol Campbell still doubtful, Gross' first venture into the transfer market may well be to buy a centre-back.

Having worked abroad until last month, he will not be as aware of British players as those managers who have watched several matches a week for longer than they care to remember. So Spurs' scouting network had better be good. Maybe Alan Sugar, whom one has always suspected of Michael Knighton tendencies, could offer advice.

Tore Andre Flo's hat-trick might suggest that that the absence of Vega and Scales can scarcely make matters worse. However, Gross' compatriot was the best player in a team who defended wretchedly from back to front. David Ginola rightly won praise for his industry on the ball, but he was standing around rather than closing down Frank Leboeuf as he set up two goals like some playmaker manque.

Similarly, Spurs seemed surprised by Gianfranco Zola's propensity to drift into midfield. New as Gross may be to the London scene, the Italian's capacity to inflict damage from deep positions is so well known it carries a government health warning. Despite Spurs' central midfield staffed by combative rather than creative players, Zola ran free.

Dan Petrescu was also allowed too much space. If his forays caught the eye of Glenn Hoddle, whose England side will encounter the Romanian at the World Cup, the marksmanship of Flo should certainly rate a mention the next time Colin Calderwood speaks to Scotland's manager, Craig Brown.

The Norwegian was the beneficiary of Gullit's disregard for the maxim about never changing a winning team. After hailing Chelsea's 4-0 defeat of Derby as "perfect", he left out Mark Hughes, presumably on the basis that the warrior forward is banned for the next three games. Other managers pay lip service to the concept of squad rotation. Gullit exploits it without fear or favour.

Chelsea continue to look like Manchester United's most plausible challengers. After a deceptively even first half, the rhythm and precision of their attacking was formidable.

They have made a habit of upsetting United over the years. Now they must stay with them as doggedly as Leeds in 1992 and Blackburn three years later. While five defeats in the first third of a season is usually too many for title aspirants, Chelsea have drawn just once. This second six- goal spree on their travels also indicates that their habit of losing to lowly placed sides is behind them.

Embarrassingly for Spurs, the programme listed results between the clubs under the headline "Close Encounters". With hindsight, the faithful may almost have wished the margin had actually been greater, because their record home defeat remains a 6-0 drubbing by Arsenal. Gross could do his standing a power of good by evening that 62-year ignominy, if only partially, in the Christmas derby.

Goals: Flo (40) 0-1; Vega (44) 1-1; Di Matteo (47) 1-2; Petrescu (59) 1-3; Flo (63) 1-4; Nicholls (78) 1-5; Flo (90) 1-6.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Carr, Vega, Scales (Allen, 71), Wilson; Fox, Nielsen (Anderton, 60), Calderwood, Sinton (Edinburgh, 56); Ferdinand, Ginola. Substitutes not used: Mabbutt, Bardsen (gk).

Chelsea (4-4-1-1): De Goey; Sinclair, Duberry, Leboeuf, Babayaro (Nicholls, 20); Petrescu, Di Matteo, Wise, Le Saux; Flo; Zola. Substitutes not used: Vialli, M Hughes, Myers, Hitchcock (gk).

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).

Booking: Chelsea: Di Matteo.

Man of the match: Zola.

Attendance: 28,476.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor