Jol jostles for position as Spurs' comeback falls short

Tottenham Hotspur 2 - Charlton Athletic 3
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The Independent Football

The memorial service Tottenham Hotspur held for Bill Nicholson at White Hart Lane yesterday was a poignant reminder that his many triumphs stemmed from stability. Since Nicholson's reign ended in 1974 (he had a vision for the future of the club that was crassly ignored by the directors of that time) a succession of managers have passed through the revolving door; Terry Neill, David Pleat, Terry Venables, Ossie Ardiles, Gerry Francis, Christian Gross, George Graham, Glenn Hoddle and now Jacques Santini.

The memorial service Tottenham Hotspur held for Bill Nicholson at White Hart Lane yesterday was a poignant reminder that his many triumphs stemmed from stability. Since Nicholson's reign ended in 1974 (he had a vision for the future of the club that was crassly ignored by the directors of that time) a succession of managers have passed through the revolving door; Terry Neill, David Pleat, Terry Venables, Ossie Ardiles, Gerry Francis, Christian Gross, George Graham, Glenn Hoddle and now Jacques Santini.

Santini's departure "for personal reasons" was not as sudden as it appeared when the announcement was made less than 24 hours before Saturday's home match against Charlton. It has since become clear that the Frenchman was at odds with the authority held by Tottenham's director of football Frank Arnesen, their differences over playing policy coming to a head at the training ground in the middle of last week. In failing to get the support he sought Santini immediately began to negotiate a settlement through his agent. In the meantime a contract was being drawn up for Martin Jol who will be promoted from assistant coach today.

Asked if he would accept the position, Jol replied: "I will wait and listen to what Frank has to say. This is a big club, one of the biggest in England." Sitting alongside him, Arnesen said that he would be meeting the club's directors, presumably to argue a case for Jol's appointment. "I have known for some time that Jacques had a personal problem," Arnesen added. "We are talking about a human being who had to make a big, big decision for himself."

The big decisions taken by the present Tottenham board have been no more convincing than those taken by their predecessors. Graham was fired on a technicality after taking Tottenham to the FA Cup semi-finals. His replacement, Hoddle went just six weeks into last season when David Pleat, then director of football, was put in temporary charge of team affairs. Santini's appointment was supposed to usher in a new era along Continental lines but as many suspected a division of authority with Arnesen responsible for the introduction of new players simply didn't work.

Early results under Santini were satisfactory but carried none of the swagger associated with the club from Nicholson's days. It is probably an impossible ask, but in losing away to Fulham last week Tottenham played as though coach and manager were on a different wavelength. Afterwards, Santini appeared sullen, citing injuries and fatigue as reasons for a woeful performance.

Jol would be an interesting appointment. A Dutch international who had spells with Coventry City and West Bromwich Albion as well as Bayern Munich, he was (like Nicholson) a dour midfielder, before winning two coach of the year awards with RKC Waalwijk in the Netherlands.

For almost an hour on Saturday, the Tottenham supporters must have wondered whether Jol's possible appointment would prove to be another boardroom blunder. Charlton, who, according to their manager Alan Curbishley, have not been turning up for away matches - "we've been crap" - were three up and coasting. Jeered off at half-time, their midfield non-existent, Tottenham suddenly came to life with the introduction of Michael Carrick, whose £3.5m signing from West Ham was said to have been one of the issues that divided Santini and Arnesen.

Until then Curbishley had been enjoying Charlton's new-found confidence. "It's a great thing," he said. "Players were doing things today they wouldn't have dreamed of last week." Using Jonaton Johansson and Jermaine Thomas as wide midfielders to support the lone striker Shaun Bartlett, the visitors tore the Santini-built defence to pieces. Thomas, signed from Arsenal for a mere £100,000 last season, was prominent from the start and on 17 minutes his right-footed centre from the left was tucked away by Bartlett.

Charlton's second in the 39th minute saw Tottenham's defence in complete disarray as a move developed along their left. Luke Young exchanged passes with Johansson and his low cross to the far post enabled Bartlett to get his second with a diving header.

All hopes of a Tottenham revival appeared to have gone five minutes into the second half when Thomas cleverly outwitted Noureddine Naybet to take a return pass from Bartlett and score with a shot that was deflected past Paul Robinson by Ledley King. However, there would be a twist in the tale. In the 69th minute Dean Kiely failed to gather a centre and the ball fell to Reto Ziegler whose shot was handled on the line by Bartlett, who was promptly sent off. Robbie Keane drove in the penalty.

Carrick's influence, his use of the ball and willingness to get forward from midfield now tested the weakened visitors as Tottenham's supporters finally got behind their team. A mistake by Matt Holland in the 79th minute gifted the ball to Keane whose pass was driven past Kiely by Jermain Defoe.

Charlton hung on, almost getting a fourth when Jason Euell's prod ran just inches wide of the far post, and surviving a shot from Defoe that went just wide. "We were a different team in the last half an hour," Jol said. The signs are that more will be heard from him.

Goals: Bartlett(17) 0-1; Bartlett (39) 0-2; Thomas (50) 0-3; Keane pen (69) 1-3; Defoe (79) 2-3.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Pamarot, Naybet, King, Bunjevcevic; Davies (Ziegler, 45), Pedro Mendes, Redknapp (Carrick, 59), Keane; Kanouté, Defoe. Substitutes not used: Keller (gk), Silva Sousa, Defoe.

Charlton Athletic (4-5-1): Kiely; Young, Perry, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson; Kishishev, Holland, Murphy (Fortune, 89), Thomas (Konchesky, 84), Johansson (Euell, 81); Bartlett. Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Jeffers.

Referee: N Barry (Leicestershire).

Booked: Charlton: Young, Thomas.

Man of the match: Bartlett.

Attendance: 35,423.

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