The Tottenham manager, Juande Ramos, may have learnt that it can do your reputation no harm to be regarded as someone who can turn a seemingly ordinary substitution into an art form. Sir Alex Ferguson won the European Cup thanks to the impact of his men from the bench, while Jose Mourihno won plaudits for his use of substitutions, when others wondered why these players were not in the line-up in the first place.
Ramos rescued a dull game when, with 20 minutes to go, he summoned Darren Bent and Jamie O'Hara from the bench. Within 12 minutes of their introduction, Spurs were 2-0 up, with Bent scoring his fifth league goal of the season and O'Hara adding a second with his first league goal for Tottenham.
Ramos revealed his philosophy regarding substitutions, but also admitted it is one that British players can find difficult to accept. "I try to play with 14 players, which the regulations allow me to do, and to analyse the situation and to use the substitutions as effectively as I can," he said. "I use substitutions in a way which I believe will help the team, whether they [players] like it or not."
Following their victory in the Carling Cup final last month, which secured European football at White Hart Lane for next season, Spurs have been accused of playing as if they are already on their summer holidays. The hail and snow should have been an indicator that this might be a premature course of action.
Without the ineligible Jermain Defoe, Portsmouth, whose minds appear to be on their FA Cup semi-final appearance in two weeks' time, were content to hit on the break, while Spurs were uninspired until the changes.
Bent broke the deadlock when he headed home a scuffed Dimitar Berbatov volley, before Bent rounded Hermann Hreidarsson and squared for O'Hara to roll the ball home.
"Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't," was the assessment of Harry Redknapp, the Portsmouth manager, on the use of substitutes. "If we were that clever, we'd start them in the first place."
Goals: Bent (80) 1-0; O'Hara (82) 2-0.
Tottenham (4-4-2): Robinson; Hutton, Dawson (Bent, 70), Woodgate, Chimbonda; Lennon (O'Hara, 70), Zokora, Huddlestone, Malbranque; Berbatov, Keane (Tainio, 83). Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Kaboul.
Portsmouth (4-5-1): James; Johnson, Hreidarsson, Distin, Aubey; Utaka, Davis, Hughes (Mvuemba, 90), Mendes, Kranjcar; Kanu (Baros, 83). Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Nugent, Wilson. Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).
Booked: Portsmouth Utaka.
Man of the match: Huddlestone.
For Capello's notebook
Paul Robinson The Spurs goalkeeper made an outstanding save from a chip by Sean Davis, which may have helped to earn his recall to the England squad.
Jonathan Woodgate The Tottenham defender was rarely troubled as Portsmouth played with one up front.
David James The Portsmouth goalkeeper had little to do throughout and could not be faulted for either goal.
Glen Johnson An impressive performance from the full-back, who has matured defensively since his days at Chelsea.Reuse content