Football: Waddle in command

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The Independent Online
Tottenham Hotspur. . . .0

Sheffield Wednesday. . .2

FOUR years ago Tottenham waved goodbye to Chris Waddle and said hello to more than pounds 4m. Yesterday he returned to White Hart Lane and showed his old club and his country what they are lacking.

Waddle did not have a hand in either of the goals that made Sheffield Wednesday look misleadingly superior, but he was comfortably the best player on the pitch. It was an exhibition marred only by unselfishness: at 32, it may well be that you lose the nose for goal, but it surely would not be too much trouble to take the odd pot-shot, rather like the one with which David Hirst sealed the result two minutes from time.

The even more gangly Darren Anderton, the Spurs winger currently burdened with the expectation of filling Waddle's boots, ferreted and bustled in vain. They say that if you're good enough, you're old enough. Anderton and Nick Barmby, the little-and-large duo who look as if their combined age is the same as Waddle's, created chances aplenty for Spurs, but nothing came of them.

They could only spectate as Waddle proved the opposite: if you're good enough, you're young enough. Even against the sort of head wind that plays havoc with flighted, weighted passes, Waddle chipped and curled and measured his distribution with the breeziness of someone who played his best football at Marseille during the Mistral. From his gently hanging corner, Hirst produced a good first save from Erik Thorstvedt; from a viciously bending free-kick, Nigel Pearson headed over.

Mark Bright, with sharp opportunism,and Hirst, spectacularly, were Wednesday's predictable scorers. At the other end, Gary Mabbutt, Teddy Sheringham and Vinnie Samways, who played his best football outside the box, formed an orderly queue to give Chris Woods a relatively trouble-free afternoon.

Tottenham Hotspur: E Thorstvedt; D Austin, J Edinburgh (J Hendry, 77 min), V Samways, G Mabbutt, N Ruddock, D Howells (G Bergsson, 71 min), N Barmby, D Anderton, T Sheringham, P Allen. Sub not used: I Walker (gk). Coach: D Livermore.

Sheffield Wednesday: C Woods; R Nilsson, N Worthington, J Harkes, N Pearson, P Shirtliff, G Hyde (P Warhurst, 81 min), C Waddle, D Hirst, M Bright, J Sheridan. Subs not used: C Bart-Williams, K Pressman (gk). Player-manager: T Francis.

Referee: K Morton (Bury St Edmunds).

Goals: Bright (0-1, 54 min); Hirst (0-2, 88 min).

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