Managerial patter cannot disguise pitiful show

Phil Shaw watches a strong defensive unit hold their mundane visitors at bay

Goalless, guileless, graceless. This match was to the beautiful game what the Spice Girls are to political theory. So banal that the Leeds fans who baited John Scales beforehand were too non-plussed to boo him at the end.

Scales, whose punishment for preferring Tottenham to Leeds was to have to sit through the contest because of injury, may have considered his decision marginally vindicated by proceedings. Spurs were the better team although their inability to finish off Leeds hardly suggested that the new year will see them among the silverware.

Ruel Fox and David Howells headed against the woodwork either side of half-time, and Fox might well have had a late penalty. Even so, when Gerry Francis began his post-match comments by hailing his side's "excellent performance", one half-expected the Spurs manager to add, like a mischievous five-year-old: "Not!"

Apart from saving a header by Gary Kelly and a shot by Rod Wallace, Ian Walker came under so little threat that Spurs ought to have pushed harder for victory. But with their most inventive player, Teddy Sheringham, marked into mundanity by Lucas Radebe, they possessed insufficient craft to undermine Leeds' defensive resolve. At the back, Sol Campbell was so commanding that Francis may have wondered whether the Scales fee might have been better spent on a creative midfielder.

As for George Graham's team, they have now kept five clean sheets in six matches, prompting the question as to whether they really needed Scales either. In the unlikely event of Leeds maintaining that record when they visit Manchester United and Newcastle over the "holiday" period, Graham would be entitled to believe he has saved pounds 2.6m.

Other areas of the Leeds line-up certainly appear to be in more urgent need of strengthening, notably an alarmingly prosaic midfield. With the exception of Nigel Martyn, whose form merits scrutiny from the England management, few of the players bequeathed by Howard Wilkinson would probably be in Graham's ideal squad. Several, in fact, are unlikely to be in his actual squad come next August.

The Leeds manager reputedly has money to burn but he claims the players he wants are either not available or overpriced. While the present personnel should ensure survival, the credibility gap continues to widen at Elland Road. Having haemorrhaged talent since taking the title in 1992, their embarrassment over Scales highlights a disparity between their self-image as Yorkshire's Manchester United and the perception of them within the game.

Still, as Graham pointed out, Leeds performed poorly yet did not lose. As a concept not dissimilar from the supposed hallmark of champions - winning while not playing well - that seemed to hearten him. Francis, who has also bought Steffen Iversen since the 6-1 aberration at Bolton, is closer to the team he wants. However, it will take considerably more spending to make Spurs anything more than a decent long shot for the FA Cup.

On the subject of cups, the former Leeds legend Norman Hunter was about to fill his with a hot beverage during a half-time break from his duties as a radio summariser when an accidental collision left him with coronation chicken splattered over his trouser leg and the fabled left foot. Some scribes reflected that many a forward had a leg bitten for less. Others were still dissecting the incident, like Alan Hansen or Delia Smith, well into the second half. It was that kind of match.

Leeds United (5-2-1-2): Martyn; Kelly, Radebe, Palmer, Beesley, Halle; Bowyer, Ford (Jackson, 63); Wallace (Kewell, 74); Deane, Rush. Substitutes not used: Wetherall, Harte, Beeney (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Carr, Calderwood, Campbell, Wilson; Fox, Nielsen, Howells, Sinton; Iversen, Sheringham. Substitutes not used: Edinburgh, Dozzell, Nethercott, Allen, Baardsen (gk).

Referee: P Durkin (Portland, Dorset). Attendance: 33,783.

Bookings: Leeds: Martyn, Beesley. Tottenham: Sheringham, Nielsen.

Man of the match: Campbell.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn