No breaks for Sheringham and company

Southampton 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0

STEPHEN BRENKLEY

Southampton 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0

In four matches between Tottenham and Southampton last season, there were 20 goals. Yesterday was pay-back time for fans. Not only was the match scoreless, it was also cheerless. As the proceedings wore coldly on, a goal looked less and less likely.

True, five minutes from time, the England striker, Teddy Sheringham could, perhaps should, have won it for Spurs when he had time to select the place for his shot from 12 yards. It was entirely appropriate that Dave Beasant, having dived one way, should have stopped the effort with his legs. Neither Sheringham nor the match merited a goal at that stage.

The lack of ambition, matched only by a similar dearth of skill, was probably provoked largely by a two-tone pitch, green and reasonably soft in one half, white and frost-ridden in the other. It was untrustworthy all over. With the sun shining postponement, of course, was never an option.

On another day such a surface might have led to mistakes but the central defenders on both sides stood up well, in all senses, to their task. Ken Monkou and Richard Hall, for Southampton, and Gary Mabbutt and Colin Calderwood, for Spurs, ushered forwards out of danger areas, always assured and controlled of purpose. Maybe it helped that they knew forwards would be reluctant to turn quickly.

Spurs set out to play the way they have now established when not at White Hart Lane, to absorb the opposition and then counter-attack. Here they did the absorption without the trouble of the counter-attacking. Southampton have made themselves, as their manager Dave Merrington proudly said afterwards, a difficult side to beat. Given the money, Merrington said he would like to bring in a couple of players with extra flair to supplement Matthew Le Tissier, who limped off yesterday after 20 minutes with a recurrence of a calf injury. But he knows that money alone would not be enough. Equally, the Spurs manager, Gerry Francis, lamented the absence through injury of his players with that elusive quality. The managers concurred, too, on another point, which usually gets an airing just as the turkey goes dry. The gist of this is not only that there are too many games in the English season but that there are too many bunched together around the Christmas period.

Merrington said there were too many amateurs at the top of the game telling professionals what to do, the sort of comment that may get him into trouble with the aforementioned amateurs.

Francis was more emotive: "I've spent 27 years in this game without getting a proper break with the family over Christmas. I think we should have a 10-day gap which wouldn't just allow that but would get players a rest and a chance to get over knocks."

If there is a reason for suspending the Premiership over the Christmas holidays, this match should be used in evidence.

Southampton (4-4-2): Beasant; Dodd, Hall, Monkou, Charlton; Oakley, Venison, Magilton, Heaney; Shipperley, Le Tissier (Warren, 20). Substitutes not used: Maddison, Nielson.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Austin, Calderwood, Mabbutt, Edinburgh; McMahon (Slade, 75), Wilson, Campbell, Rosenthal; Sheringham, Armstrong. Substitutes not used: Nethercott, Day.

Referee: P Durkin (Portland).

Bookings: Southampton: Charlton, Venison. Tottenham: Edinburgh.

Man of the match: Monkou. Attendance: 15,238

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game