Tottenham misfits find their feet

Tottenham 2 Bolton Wanderers 0
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The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp began one of the craziest 24 hours of his career by announcing that he would just be a passive observer at White Hart Lane yesterday. By the final whistle he had picked the team, sat in the front row of the dugout and directed operations in Spurs' first Premier League win of the season. The fightback has started. The revival may take a little longer.

Harry Redknapp began his first 24 hours at White Hart Lane by insisting he would just be a passive observer at yesterday's match. By the final whistle he had helped pick the team, sat on the front row of the dugout and directed operations in Spurs' first Premier League win of the season. The fightback has started. The revival may take a little longer.

The day after Juande Ramos departed, some of the players whose performances have contributed to his downfall finally got it together in time to impress their new manager. Roman Pavlyuchenko scored his first league goal for the club, Darren Bent added a penalty and, though they may still be bottom of the Premier League, Spurs have at last clawed back a little dignity.

With a shy little wave and a bit of applause for the crowd, Redknapp introduced himself to the Spurs fans on the pitch before the game. They were singing his name within the first 30 minutes and by the end of the match the chant "We've got our Tottenham back" could be heard from the Park Lane End. Steady on, chaps, there is some way to go yet.

There was a warm embrace from Redknapp for Gary Megson as the Bolton manager took his seat at the start of the game and if there was one man really under pressure by the end of the day then it was Megson, who saw Gavin McCann sent off. Two late substitutions prompted a chorus of "Gary Megson is a wanker" from the Bolton fans and Megson's angry reaction on the bench was easy to lip-read. With his team 17th in the table and a win over West Ham in their previous away game, it appeared harsh.

"It's for other people to say what they think about it [the chants]," Megson said. "The players have just been talking about it in the dressing room but that's where it'll stay. Everyone has given it their best shot and frustration has come out and they have chosen to react in the way that they have. You would have to ask them why."

You could hardly blame Redknapp for wanting to get straight into the business of ironing out Spurs' problems, because it is not like he has the luxury of time. Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City are coming up in the league and none of those games looks like a banker for three points. Yesterday, he picked a 4-4-1-1 formation that gave Luka Modric a decent platform, although he may not be able to be so brave when Spurs visit Arsenal on Wednesday.

If watching, Ramos would have recognised the intensity of players performing to impress a new boss. Spurs started well. Interestingly, Redknapp preferred the more refined touch of Tom Huddlestone in midfield to the combative Didier Zokora. Then, on 16 minutes came the kind of moment that Spurs had been hoping for all season. David Bentley picked the ball up and crossed superbly to Pavlyuchenko, who headed just inside the right post of Jussi Jaaskelainen's goal.

It was a goal made and executed by two players with a combined summer transfer total of about £30.8m and it was about time that Pavlyuchenko and Bentley started delivering. Presumably that kind of goal was what the departed director of football, Damien Comolli, had in mind when he and the chairman, Daniel Levy, masterminded those two deals this summer. It came a bit late to save Comolli.

Redknapp will have noted, in particular, that his goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes does not inspire confidence in his defence. Gomes' punching was all over the place and he still seemed to be suffering from the wrist injury that had been bothering him against Stoke City the previous Sunday. He has a tendency to punch too weakly and to direct them, with unerring accuracy, to the feet of the opposition. Both Kevin Nolan and Fabrice Muamba missed when presented with chances from Gomes' bad punched clearances.

On 56 minutes, and with Bolton starting to get back in the game, there was a huge stroke of good fortune for Spurs. McCann, booked in the first half for what looked like dissent, left a foot in late on Huddlestone and was sent off. "I didn't see much contact," Megson said. "I heard a scream [from Huddlestone] but the foul and the reaction didn't go together."

In the subsequent space that opened up in the midfield, Modric finally flourished. He pushed a ball through to substitute Bent, who shot over. Then on 74 minutes, Modric's shot was saved and when Bent beat Jaaskelainen to the ball, the Bolton goalkeeper succeeded only in bringing him down. Bent scored the penalty for his fifth goal of the season. Not a bad day's work for Redknapp, although the real task still lies ahead.

Goals: Pavlyuchenko (16) 1-0; Bent pen (74) 2-0.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-1-1): Gomes; Hutton, Corluka, King, Assou-Ekotto; Bentley, Huddlestone, Jenas, O'Hara (Lennon, 70); Modric; Pavlyuchenko (Bent, 66). Substitutes not used: Sanchez (gk), Zokora, Gunter, Dos Santos, Campbell.

Bolton Wanderers (4-1-4-1): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Cahill, O'Brien, Samuel; McCann; Davies, Nolan, Muamba (Gardner, 84), Taylor; Elmander (Riga, 84). Substitutes not used: Al Habsi (gk), Hunt, Smolarek, Helguson, Shittu.

Booked: Bolton Nolan, McCann, Jaaskelainen.

Sent off: McCann (56).

Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands).

Man of the match: Modric.

Attendance: 35,507.

What the fans think

*Neil Linfield, 46, from Harlow

"Daniel Levy wants sacking if he thinks this is the way the club should be run. You shouldn't give managers the sack after just one year. It will be interesting to see how Harry Redknapp does. He has done well with smaller clubs, but to manage Tottenham is another level."

*Dave Redbridge, 25, from Seven sisters

"I rate Harry Redknapp because of what he has done with West Ham and Portsmouth but I never thought he'd come here. It will be interesting to see if he can give the team the kick up the backside they deserve. Players like Bentley, Modric and Jenas have not played as well for us as they have done with other clubs."

*Ian Kingley, 72, from Dorset

"I would have liked to have seen Juande Ramos given more time. But it will good for us to have an English manager back. We sacked Martin Jol in ridiculous circumstances and I really hope that Daniel Levy knows what he's doing and gives Harry the money and time to make this team a success."

*Pete Redford, 46, from Northampton

"The majority of the fans are happy for the change. Everybody is especially pleased to have an English manager in charge. You could see that by the reception Harry received at the start of the game. He's already working miracles; he's got Ledley King playing twice in a week."

*Alan Wilson, 42, from Peckham

"I hope that this is the end of the soap opera that this season has become. It was getting embarrassing watching us lose every week. We have had more red cards than points this season before today. As long as Redknapp doesn't try and bring Sol Campbell or Tony Adams with him I'll be happy."

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