Ken Jones on Mondays: Pressure shows on Ardiles

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The Independent Online
PUTTING the case for Osvaldo Ardiles and his assistant, Steve Perryman, a Tottenham Hotspur supporter of long standing had this to say after Saturday's 1-1 draw at home to Queen's Park Rangers: 'Tenth in the table, two points better off than Arsenal and three behind Manchester United doesn't look bad to me.'

Unquestionably, he added, the coaching incumbents have made mistakes in their assessments of individual and collective purpose. But who is going to do better?

It is too early in the season to know whether the asterisk that indicates a deduction of six points for past misdemeanours will be critical, but talk of crisis at Tottenham struck him as premature.

Doubtless, some of those complaining bitterly over recent disappointments waxed ecstatic when - at great expense - notable foreign players, especially Jurgen Klinsmann, were added to the playing staff. It must be comforting to have it both ways.

Even allowing for errors, criticism of Ardiles is doubtless influenced by statements attributed to the Tottenham chairman, Alan Sugar, including the quite risible notion that Franz Beckenbauer might have been interested in taking over from him.

This is nothing new in football. Men who come late to a position of power in the game and begin by admitting ignorance of technical refinements invariably fall into the trap of ignoring that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. In Sugar's case, this is evident when he states a need for Ardiles to 'compromise his principles' and 'mix things up a bit'.

As for Sugar's unseemly squabble with Terry Venables, it is bound to have a debilitating effect on the morale of those Tottenham players who aspire to a place in the England team.

It is impossible to think of Ardiles and Perryman other than as men who have respect for the tradition laid down by Tottenham's stylish achievements, but will they be allowed to go about things without interference? As with Mike Walker, who is coming under a great deal of pressure at Everton, they need time.

It is a matter of individual opinion whether this puts them under an obligation to put security before style. Ardiles seems to feel that it does, because the policy he employed in the absence of Dumitrescu and Popescu, who were required by Romania, and Darren Anderton, who is injured, allowed little room for adventurous considerations.

In keeping six men back, Tottenham emphasised the extent to which defensive problems have entered Ardiles' thinking.

A truth was out and the task was not made any easier by a scuffle that led to the dismissal of Kevin Scott along with Les Ferdinand in the 38th minute. The loss of a resolute centre- back immediately caused Tottenham serious problems, and before they could be addressed at half-time Rangers went ahead when Andrew Impey got his head to Trevor Sinclair's cross.

Rangers then chose to concede the initiative, a dangerous policy despite Klinsmann's difficulties in getting the better of Steve Yates. Hard as things were for the admirably enthusiastic German international, he got his head to a centre that enabled Nick Barmby to fluke an equaliser 11 minutes from time.

The response from Tottenham's bench, a rush of arm-waving celebration, was more than you expect from a team in mid- table. It spoke volumes about the pressure Ardiles and Perryman are under.

Goals: Impey (45) 0-1; Barmby (79) 1-1.

Tottenham Hotspur (5-3-2): Walker; Kerslake (Rosenthal, 84), Scott, Campbell, Calderwood (Hazard, 45), Edinburgh; Hill, Dozzell, Barmby; Sheringham, Klinsmann. Substitute not used: Thorstvedt (gk).

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Roberts; Bardsley, Yates, McDonald, Wilson; Impey, Holloway, Barker (Maddix, 74), Sinclair; Ferdinand, Allen. Substitutes not used: Gallen, Dykstra (gk).

Referee: P Jones (Loughborough).