Despite spending a crock of gold - £19m to be precise - on strikers, Tottenham have not been able to buy a meaningful League goal of late. But yesterday a rainbow burst over White Hart Lane. It was there in the sky, after the showers, and on the pitch, after the fog of the first 40 minutes. Not to stretch the imagery too far, but it was an Irishman who found it. Robbie Keane, a £7m purchase, providing the impetus for a victory which applied further balm. "He's someone to hang your hat on," said the caretaker manager David Pleat - who did just that. "He's a personality player."
That's something Spurs - previously so wan and woeful - have lacked. In avoiding a third successive home defeat they did so much more, producing a restorative performance and a third clean sheet that can only speed recovery. The confidence visibly grew. Three goals in six minutes - including a thumping half-volley from Frédéric Kanouté ("C'est magnifique," said Pleat when asked to describe it) killed off an Everton side which had their manager, David Moyes, so choked he could hardly express his disappointment beyond saying it was their worst of the season. Any positives? "No." Those players not on international duty can expect to sweat.
In losing, Everton continued a sequence which has not seen them win away for six League games and not here since 1985 - before the first of Pleat's now four periods in charge. Three of those have been as caretaker and he showed his years when he praised the players "from one to 11". Well, that will be from one to 36 now there are squad numbers - but it was clear what he meant. It is also clear what he has done. Greater organisation and purpose. A simplicity of system which further advanced his own case. "The board [of which, as director of football, he is a member] have got to get it right this time," Pleat said. But does he want the job? "It's a very good question," he responded. "But you won't get an answer and you can put any slant you want on that."
There was only one slant on this match. Everton were poor. Spurs, after a ragged start, won easily with Pleat's decision to recall Rohan Ricketts - who easily outshone the disappointing James McFadden with his work-rate alone - vindicated. Nevertheless, the visitors created the better of the early chances with Steve Watson - the scorer of a hat-trick in the traumatising of Leeds United last weekend - skimming the roof of the net with a header. There was early success for Duncan Ferguson who made his presence felt while Tomasz Radzinski prevailed over Anthony Gardner.
Spurs' effort was undeniable but they betrayed their anxiety by snatching at opportunities after Keane - who scored three times in this fixture last season - dropped off the front-line, time and again, and to effect. He fired into life - neatly slipping the ball through Joseph Yobo's legs only to put too much purpose and not enough power in his shot which was pushed away. Still it provided the spark and after Kanouté knocked down a goal-kick, the Irishman returned the ball. Kanouté did not hesitate, one bounce, and he thrashed it over Nigel Martyn from 35 yards. "Psychologically that is why we went out so well in the second half," said Pleat.
Indeed. After the break, Darren Anderton - having a meaningful game - swung a cross in and his fellow thirty-something Gus Poyet timed his run and his header to find the corner of the net. Just 40 seconds had elapsed. Three minutes later and it was three. Anderton was again involved, cleverly sliding the ball through to Keane who had drifted off Unsworth's shoulder. As the defender tried to recover, Keane steadied to shoot low and across Martyn. By now it was his show. Everton were simply all at sea. Panicked, they fired the ball, again and again, up to Ferguson. It came back quickly.
Something different was called for and - inevitably - Wayne Rooney arrived. He provided greater vigour although he was booked for dissent - alarmingly his fifth caution and with it a suspension. At the end the sky was blue. On the pitch, meanwhile, it had been all white.
Tottenham Hotspur 3 Everton 0
Kanouté 43, Poyet 46, Keane 49
Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 36,137Reuse content