Guppy is example to Spurs

Leicester City 3 Tottenham Hotspur 0
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The Independent Online
Judged by criteria such as pedigree and pay, Steve Guppy does not belong in the same sentence as David Ginola, let alone on the same pitch.

Guppy worked on building sites before breaking into the Vauxhall Conference with Wycombe Wanderers, going on to play for Newcastle (reserves) and Port Vale before Leicester paid pounds 850,000 to bring him into the Premiership at nearly 28.

Ginola is better acquainted with modelling than hod-carrying, a sideline that started when the French international was with Paris Saint-Germain before successive pounds 2m-plus transfers led him via Newcastle (definitely not reserves) to Tottenham.

At Filbert Street, two men linked only by the fact that Kevin Keegan bought them filled identical roles on the left flank. Guppy was a model of industry in Leicester's biggest win under Martin O'Neill. Ginola cemented an impression of indolence that could lead Spurs fans to question Gerry Francis's judgement, his powers of motivation, or both.

The contrast embodied by the two wingers may have confused those connected with Atletico Madrid, whom Leicester visit in the Uefa Cup tomorrow, as they watched live coverage of the match. Spurs, who once trounced Atletico 5-1 in an unforgettable Cup- Winners' Cup final, still have a name in Spain. Leicester mean about as much there as Real Valladolid do in the East Midlands.

Atletico have spent pounds 23.5m to add Juninho and Juventus' Christian Vieri to a squad which did the Double 18 months ago. They will ignore at their peril, however, the evidence that O'Neill's inexpensively assembled side take a Wimbledon-like delight in rubbishing reputations.

By the end of August Leicester had prised eight points from four of last season's top five. Yet according to their manager, Saturday's display was the best since his arrival. No great artistry was involved; rather a camaraderie and commitment Spurs could not match.

Francis went into elaborate explanations about the problems of preparing a side when so many members are absent on international duty, and bemoaned an injury list to which Les Ferdinand was added. But the bottom line was that Spurs found the intensity of Leicester too great. "Once the first goal went in," their manager conceded, "we collapsed."

That goal, headed by Steve Walsh after a Parker free-kick, epitomised a facility for set-pieces that will have been noted in Madrid. Emile Heskey completed the rout, but it was almost a routine affair compared with the screamer that opened Guppy's account for Leicester.

"He was fantastic," O'Neill drooled of the player whose Chris Waddle fixation he nurtured at Wycombe. "I said to him: `You can die happy now'. All he ever wanted was to score in the Premiership. I also told him he'll be sub now in Madrid - only joking."

The woodwork had already allowed Spurs two lives before Leicester struck; they were incapable of deriving resilience from good fortune as at Arsenal a fortnight earlier. "They're a worrying side on paper, and if they'd got the bit between their teeth, they could have caused us problems," said O'Neill, highlighting the chasm between ability and application.

This morning he will take training in one of the Continent's great capitals. Francis, meanwhile, will be preparing for a hiding-to-nothing night on Wednesday in the makeweight stages of the competition that swept Leicester into Europe. Carlisle in the Coca-Cola Cup is a long way from the catwalk, and Ginola is not alone in owing Spurs some sweat.

Goals: Walsh (55) 1-0; Guppy (68) 2-0; Heskey (77) 3-0.

Leicester City (3-5-2): Keller; Prior, Elliott, Walsh; Kamark (Fenton, 88), Izzet, Lennon, Parker, Guppy (Cottee, 88); Marshall (Claridge, 73), Heskey. Substitutes not used: Stuart Campbell, Andrews (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (5-3-1-1): Walker; Carr, Sol Campbell, Mabbutt, Scales, Clemence; Howells, Nielsen, Ginola; Dominguez; Ferdinand (Armstrong, h- t). Substitutes not used: Fox, Calderwood, Arber, Bardsen (gk).

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street). Booking: Tottenham: Campbell.

Attendance: 20,683. Man of the match: Guppy.

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