Tottenham Hotspur 0 Fulham 0: Spurs natives become restless after crafty Fulham increase Jol's distress

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The Independent Football

It sounded more like murmurings of discontent than a genuinely serious round of booing at the end of this disjointed, fragmented contest. But make no mistake, the natives are definitely getting restless.

This was supposed to have been the game in which Spurs finally got their Premiership show on the road after three defeats in four previous outings, against a Fulham side with plenty of height and physique but not a lot, on paper at least, to hurt Martin Jol's team.

Instead, Tottenham have now equalled their worst League start for 14 years. Yesterday they again produced little creativity, zest or cutting edge despite enjoying heaps of possession. Surely this was not the same Spurs who achieved their best-ever Premiership finish last season and missed out on the Champions' League only by a last-day case of food poisoning?

Well, in one sense it was not because Jol has added significantly to his squad. The problem is, the new faces are not yet gelling and with Jermain Defoe mysteriously still not in the starting XI because Jol insists on playing with a big man-little man strike force, Spurs are not scoring either. In fact, they have now failed to hit the target for 343 Premiership minutes.

Most alarming of all, however, is that the one player they seem to need most is the one they sold. Yesterday's display screamed out for the intelligence and passing ability of Michael Carrick, who was instead on Manchester United's bench. Spurs may have pocketed a cool £18m for Carrick but so far, at least, they do not appear to have found a way of replacing him. Danny Murphy started for the first time this season to provide the midfield brains but soon ran out of ideas.

Jol will point out that the likes of Aaron Lennon and Dimitar Berbatov were missing but Fulham had just as many injuries of their own. They came to frustrate Spurs and succeeded big time. Zat Knight was a rock at the back and Maurice Volz did a superb job out of position on the right side of midfield.

Teemu Tainio's spin and shot and Benoit Assou-Ekotto's right-foot drive - the former just missing the target, the latter bundled away by Antti Niemi - were Tottenham's only two serious first-half chances despite a flurry of corners. Mido hit the bar early in the second half but otherwise rarely threatened. Thereafter, everything Spurs set up they proceeded to waste because of poor finishing or lack of understanding.

"Overall of course it's disappointing," said a downcast Jol. "Not scoring goals is a concern but it's not just about finishing. It's also about the service and about showing more imagination."

Not surprisingly, Chris Coleman was the far happier manager. "It wasn't pretty but our attitude, bottle and commitment were spot on," the Fulham manager said. "We had to come with two defenders playing in midfield and the performance and work ethic were particularly pleasing. The only disappointment is that Boa Morte looks like he's cracked his cheekbone. Maybe we'll need the groundsman to play against Chelsea on Saturday 'cos we're without so many."

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2) Robinson; Chimbonda, King, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Jenas, Murphy (Davids, 80), Zakora, Tainio (Defoe, 70); Keane, Mido. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Lee, Huddlestone.

Fulham (4-4-2): Niemi; Rosenior, Pearce, Knight, Queudrue; Volz, Bocanegra, Brown, Boa Morte (Radzinski, 77); John (Runstrom, 82), McBride (Helguson, 66). Substitutes not used: Lastuvka (gk), Claus Jensen.

Referee: M Clattenburg (Co Durham).

Bookings: Tottenham Chimbonda, Mido, Murphy; Fulham Pearce, Boa Morte, Bocanegra.

Man of the match: Volz.

Attendance: 36,131.

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