Woodgate turns on his team-mates after latest capitulation

Udinese 2 Tottenham 0
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The Independent Football

Heurelho Gomes's blunder helped hand Udinese victory in their Uefa Cup tie here last night as Tottenham's miserable start to the season continued. Juande Ramos's problems are mounting rapidly: defeat in the first of their group games and another sending off – Jamie O'Hara collecting two bookings in a minute – to add to last place in the Premier League. It is a perilous position that prompted an extraordinary outburst from Jonathan Woodgate after the game.

"We have got to start learning quickly," warned Woodgate. "A goal goes in, you think, 'Oh here we go again'. People say you are too good to go down – you are never too good to go down. I have seen it before at Leeds. We had a better team at Leeds than we have now and they went down eventually. We have got to give ourselves a good kick. We have got to really roll our sleeves up now and start grafting because it is going to be hard."

Gomes made it hard for Spurs last night as his mistake was punished by Antonio Di Natale. With Udinese stroking the ball around, Gomes made a total mess of a backpass and ended up bringing down Fabio Quagliarella in the 24th minute. Di Natale, who suggested before the match that no Spurs player would get in the Udinese team, fired home the penalty and the hosts should have added to their lead before Simone Pepe sealed the points.

"In the first half we played OK but our goalkeeper made a mistake that turned the game," Ramos said. "If there was no mistake from Gomes, if we scored the first goal, things would have been different. Of course this type of mistake can always happen, this is part of football. I still have to support my players and defend them. The situation is not very comfortable. At this moment [morale] in the dressing room is not in a normal situation but they know it's possible to win in football and it's possible to lose."

David Bentley was omitted less than 24 hours after his outspoken assessment of Spurs' start to the season emerged – he said his team-mates had no idea what they were doing. "His reaction was normal, the same as the other players who are not playing," said Ramos.

Ramos can at least be thankful that Bolton – Spurs' next opponents – should not have the same quality that Udinese had. Predictably for a team second in Serie A, the Italians started with plenty of confidence. They were also helped by Benoit Assou-Ekotto enduring a woeful return to the starting XI before he was substituted. The only player who looked assured was Ledley King but his knee injury means he is likely to miss the Bolton game, adding to Ramos's selection dilemmas. King had to hold the defence together as Udinese piled on early pressure. Gomes would have had no chance if Andrea Coda's header had not gone just the other side of the post after he met Gaetano D'Agostino's free-kick.

Then King had to head clear after Assou-Ekotto gave the ball away and Inler whipped over a cross. Spurs' first chance came after Jermaine Jenas wriggled to the byline then chipped in a cross but Darren Bent's header went straight at Samir Handanovic. Aaron Lennon stung the keeper's palms with a drive before Spurs' limited confidence was drained altogether when Gomes made his blunder. He had plenty of time to clear Assou-Ekotto's backpass but hesitated and tried to take the ball around Quagliarella. The striker got between Gomes and the ball, and the goalkeeper then hauled him down to concede the penalty.

Ramos made his move at half-time, taking off Assou-Ekotto and bringing on Luka Modric. It meant Spurs had a more attacking formation, and their first effort after the interval was Gareth Bale sending a free-kick over the crossbar. But it was Udinese who almost grabbed a second when O'Hara dwelt on the ball and Quagliarella fizzed a drive towards the bottom corner that had to be smartly saved.

It got worse for Spurs when O'Hara received two bookings in a minute, both fouls on Alexis Sanchez, and was sent off. Di Natale almost added a delightful second, latching on to Motta's long pass and lobbing Gomes but the goalkeeper made it back to claw the ball away. Bent had a header tipped over the bar after Giovani dos Santos crossed from the right. But Pepe, another substitute, wrapped up the points, finishing off the post after Di Natale cut in from the left and Quagliarella helped the ball on.

Udinese (4-4-2): Handanovic; Motta, Coda, Domizzi, Lukovic (Pasquale, 89); Inler, D'Agostino (Floro Flores, 86), Isla, Sanchez (Pepe, 79); Quagliarella, Di Natale. Substitutes not used: Koprivec (gk), Sala, Ferronetti, Obodo.

Tottenham (4-5-1): Gomes; Hutton, King, Woodgate (Giovani, 64), Assou-Ekotto (Modric, h-t); Lennon, Zokora, Jenas, O'Hara, Bale; Bent. Substitutes not used: Cesar (gk), Dawson, Gilberto, Gunter, Campbell.

Referee: F Brych (Germany).

Happy anniversary? How Tottenham's travails compare with final days under Martin Jol

Ominously for Spurs' manager, Juande Ramos, tomorrow marks the anniversary of Martin Jol's dismissal, as Spurs' opening Uefa Cup group match played out in farcical circumstances. Reportedly asked to leave before the match with Getafe, Jol took charge for one last time. After Jermain Defoe put Spurs ahead, Esteban Granero equalised with a free-kick before the interval. News spread of Jol's departure during half-time and the fans rallied, chanting the Dutchman's name throughout the second half. A Braulio back-heel condemned Spurs to only their second European home defeat as Jol's reign ended in defeat. Confirmation of his sacking came on the club's website two hours after the game. Ironically, Jol's side were five points and two places better off than they are now. Just four players that featured that night remain at the club.

Tottenham (v Getafe, 25 Oct 2007) (4-4-2): Cerny; Chimbonda, Kaboul, Gardner (Dawson, 43), Lee; Lennon, Huddlestone, Zokora (Tainio, 73), Malbranque (Keane, 71); Berbatov, Defoe.

Premier League bottom three

25 October 2007:


Tottenham Hotspur 10/1/4/5/17/21/7

Derby County 10/1/3/6/5/22/6

Bolton Wanderers 10/1/2/7/9/16/5

But who is laughing now? Jol is sitting pretty at the top of the Bundesliga with unfancied Hamburg after eight games.

James Mariner


Number of wins for Juande Ramos's Tottenham side this season in 12 attempts.