From The Sunday Time
Tottenham Hotspur 4 Fulham 0: Spurs put Fulham to the sword
JOHN AIZLEWOOD AT WHITE HART LANE
TEN goals without reply in two home games over five days: Tottenham Hotspur - as their fans so vociferously proclaimed after this demolition of a far from feeble Fulham - are marching on once more.
Even now, nobody in N17 would seriously suggest that this season marks a return to the glory glory days. Yet last week's spineless capitulation at The Valley had the air of a mere aberration and the feeling is growing that the team built by Glenn Hoddle upon George Graham's foundations is on the cusp of something special. Their six-goal Worthington Cup hiding of a barely adequate Bolton Wanderers counts for little in the hurly-burly of the Premiership, yet it served notice that winning in style is an option once more.
Crucially, with an injury list of manageable proportions, Hoddle can field a settled line-up: Darren Anderton, outstanding yesterday, has appeared in every Premiership game and when Les Ferdinand's troublesome ankle finally wilted after an hour, the damage to Fulham was long inflicted.
Hoddle promised a passing game to delight the purist and so it turned out, with Gustavo Poyet the fulcrum of much that was admirable about Spurs despite Sylvain Legwinski's detailed attention.
Fulham manager Jean Tigana had suggested his side needed to get forward with more haste. Always chary of the hoof forward, until their spirit was crushed, they broke with gusto and might have scored in the 12th minute when one of their many early corners ended with some penalty area pinball. The final ricochet fell to Frenchman Steed Malbranque six yards out, but the midfielder froze in the headlights of Neil Sullivan's goal and then panicked as he thrashed his shot into the side-netting.
"A bad day," sighed Tigana. "There's nothing good to take from it. Spurs were the best side we've played, but my team were tired: no legs, no reaction. At least I hope that was the problem."
The game see-sawed until Tottenham took the lead in the 20th minute. Steffen Freund's advance was halted by a half tackle. Simon Davies collected, drew Rufus Brevett towards him and rolled the ball into the path of Anderton, who had snuck into the penalty area unchaperoned. Anderton strode to the goal-line and crossed low for Ferdinand to tuck home neatly from a couple of yards.
Deft and well-crafted, it was the 10,000th Premiership goal and 35-year-old Ferdinand - who had scored on the first Premiership Saturday in 1992 - now has £10,000 to split between his favoured charities Surrendering the goal knocked Fulham from their insouciant perch. Their previous assurance took on a raggedy hue as Malbranque allowed himself to be seduced by Freund's willingness to mix it. Freund, the grit amid the polish, was having an excellent afternoon, a Billy Bremner to the Eddie Gray-like charms of his colleagues.
Half-time was beckoning when Spurs doubled their lead. Teddy Sheringham nodded a rare hopeful punt forward towards Ferdinand, who turned provider for the creator of his goal, laying off exquisitely for an unmarked Anderton to fire handsomely past Edwin van der Sar from just outside the penalty area. In keeping with the rest of the game, the ball barely left the ground from boot to net.
"They had two first-half chances and scored both," fumed Tigana. "We missed ours. That's the difference. We have to score more."
Fulham pressed on, resembling royalty outside the penalty area, paupers inside it, where - not for the first time of late - Ledley King belied his tender years with a showing of such maturity that Louis Saha was rendered anonymous.
Tottenham always looked comfortable. Anderton created their third in the 71st minute with a lovely through ball to Davies, who outpaced Brevett, cut in towards the penalty box from the right and placed his shot low past the leaden-footed Van der Sar.
A fourth seemed inevitable and it duly came in the 77th minute when Sheringham's superlative ball split Fulham's defence and found substitute Sergei Rebrov, who sped though to beat the onrushing Van der Sar with aplomb for his first goal since March. There could have been more: only the Dutch keeper's wonder save from Poyet's 84th-minute volley prevented a nap hand. No matter, for Tottenham had an afternoon to treasure and a bright future to contemplate.
"A significant result," noted Hoddle. "We played better at home to Derby and at Leeds without getting anything, but we put them to the sword and they're a tricky little team to play. But our players implemented the plan to nullify them and played with freedom. Remember though, we haven't won anything yet."
And Tigana? "Tonight, I need to take a pill to sleep."
Hoddle finds right formula
There is a sneaking suspicion around White Hart Lane that the Worthington Cup might not be their only route into Europe. It has been an encouraging week at the Lane: 10 goals for, zero against, and while the mockers devalue the so-called Worthless Cup which semi-finalists Tottenham are taking seriously, league performances as complete as this mean a high Premiership finish is also on the agenda.
Glenn Hoddle's team are fast developing. Upon a solid defensive foundation their attacking players are expressing themselves. Incisive passing and intelligent running proved too much for Fulham, with the outstanding Darren Anderton, key in three of the four goals, running the show. Simon Davies, maturing nicely, was not far behind.
The more Tottenham manage to patch up Les Ferdinand, the more he rewards them. Having aggravated an ankle while collecting a midweek hat-trick in the Worthington Cup rout of Bolton's reserves, the 35-year-old recovered to plant another feather in his cap. The 10,000th goal since the birth of the Premiership in 1992 - and a £10,000 prize for the charity of his choice from the league's sponsors - belongs to Les. It may not have been the most significant, but the honour was gratefully received. Simon Davies began the move by neatly supplying Darren Anderton, who cantered into the box and clipped a cross into the danger zone. Ferdinand, unmarked, side-footed past Edwin van der Sar from all of a couple of yards.
It was a frustrating setback for Fulham, who had begun brightly. The home defence had trouble containing Steed Malbranque's positive urges, while Louis Saha and Barry Hayles lurked dangerously without locating a cutting edge. Hayles blazing over the bar was a case in point.
The feeling that things weren't quite going Fulham's way was enhanced when referee Neale Barry reached for his yellow card after Steffen Freund had been fouled. In an extraordinary case of mistaken identity he managed to book Saha instead of Malbranque. Not an easy mistake to make.
For his next trick Barry upset rather a lot of players when, as Ferdinand and Sylvain Legwinsky clashed in the centre circle and the Frenchman crumbled, the Englishman was booked. The protests from both sets of players were vociferous to say the least. It was not as ferocious as the mêlée they shared with Everton last weekend, but Fulham need to remember the need for controlled aggression.
Two minutes later Tottenham doubled their lead in style. From a lofted ball upfield Teddy Sheringham's glancing header found Ferdinand, whose lay-off invited Anderton to take aim from the edge of the box. He did, with a deft drive into the bottom corner.
Two minutes after the restart Tottenham came mighty close to putting the contest to bed. Anderton 's corner was thumped goalwards by Gus Poyet's downward header. Dean Richards couldn't get out of the way, and in attempting to help the ball into the net only scooped it over the crossbar.
A lifeline for Fulham? Not exactly. Breaching a rearguard comprising Richards doing what he does best, the returning Chris Perry and the ever improving Ledley King proved an onerous task.
Consequently Tottenham are not yet the kind of side liberated enough to go for the jugular from first minute to last. But when they are on the offensive, they are capable of enthralling goals. Fulham were crushed by two splendid strikes in a seven-minute spell. Simon Davies savoured the moment to curl gloriously past Van der Sar, before substitute Sergei Rebrov scored with a delightful flick of the outside of his boot.
IN A bizarre promotion for Real McCoy crisps, two male `streakers' spent the hour before kick-off sprinting up and down Tottenham High Road.
They turned out to be fully clothed actors wearing body suits. Far less exposed, in fact, than a Fulham defence who had gone into the game boasting a record of 6hr 45min without conceding a Premiership goal.
Tottenham had rudely interrupted that goalless sequence by scoring twice against Fulham in a Worthington Cup quarter-final a couple of weeks earlier and, as they had failed to score only once in their 19 previous games, something had to give.
It took Spurs just 19 minutes and 45 seconds, in fact, to show that they had the master key to unlock the Cottagers' defence.
Darren Anderton, playing in central midfield these days, proved that he has not completely forgotten his old winger's skills of getting to the byeline and delivering a killer cross by sending in a ball from the right which Les Ferdinand converted from under the crossbar.
It was proof, if any were needed, that Ferdinand is the real McCoy. It was the 10,000th goal scored since the Premiership was launched in 1992 and earned him a £10,000 charity cheque from sponsors Barclaycard, about two days' wages.
He will be delighted, though, to have earned a little place in Premiership history with his 129th goal in the competition, a record bettered only by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole.
Ferdinand's effort interrupted an impressive passage of opening play from Fulham which, as so often, lacked only a decisive ball into the box and a decisive finish. Louis Saha's pace opened up Tottenham on the left but he was unable to produce a pass of any merit and Steed Malbranque shot into the side-netting after a sustained attack.
In frustration, Malbranque clattered into Steffen Freund a few minutes later and looked certain to get a booking from referee Neil Barry. Unbelievably, though, after consulting assistant referee Wendy Toms, Barry showed yellow to the blameless Saha, as Fulham manager Jean Tigana walked down the touchline, looking so disbelievingly that one feared he would swallow his toothpick.
Fulham might have suspected that it would not be their day after that. And when Barry Hayles lifted a great opportunity over the bar in time added on in the first half, they were certain.
Spurs were already two up by that time, Ferdinand repaying the compliment to his team-mate by laying on a ball from which Anderton beat Edwin van Der Saar on his near post with a curling shot.
An impressive Spurs, playing football as pretty as Fulham's but with more end product, claimed a third on 70 minutes when another splendid pass from Anderton invited Simon Davies to flick in.
Six minutes later, skipper Teddy Sheringham, playing his 700th club match but looking as fresh as when he first laced a pair of boots, pushed through a ball which substitute Sergei Rebrov finished off.
The Spurs fans who for years sang about getting their Tottenham back, seemed finally to have got their wish as their team completed their biggest League win of the season against a Fulham side unbeaten in their previous eight Premiership games.
The only thing to spoil manager Glenn Hoddle's day was a Worthington Cup semi-final draw which pitted his side against Chelsea, whom Spurs have not beaten for 11 years.
After this rich performance against the side who share Chelsea's SW6 postcode, however, Spurs fans will believe they can finally bury the jinx when they meet in the new year, even if it is a year that does not end in a one.
News of the World
LES FERDINAND wrote his name in the record books as Spurs ran riot at White Hart Lane.
Ferdinand's 19th-minute opener was the first top flight goal of the day and the 10,000 goal scored since the Premiership started 10 years ago.
The 35-year-old forward and his veteran strike partner Teddy Sheringham were simply superb as they carved Fulham apart at will.
Ferdy, who scored a nine-minute hat-trick against Bolton in midweek, slotted home Darren Anderton's low cross to give Spurs the lead against their London rivals.
Ferdinand then returned the compliment six minutes from the break as he set up Anderton for the second. The former England man finished expertly from the edge of the box.
Simon Davies added the third after 70 minutes when he latched on to Anderton's pass and substitute Sergei Rebrov completed an emphatic win seven minutes later after being set up by Teddy Sheringham.
But it was the Ferdinand's 10th goal of the season which stole the glory.
Steffen Freund won a tackle and the ball rebounded to Davies on the right flank. He played a first-time pass into the path of Anderton, and he picked out Ferdinand with a low cross into the six-yard box which he comfortably slotted home.
The goal won him £10,000 to donate to the charity of his choice, and it will be split between two cancer charities.
He said: "I don't do the lottery but I think I might buy a ticket tonight. It was my 35th birthday last Saturday and things are supposed to be going downhill, but it has been quite a week for me.
"When I scored the goal I heard a big cheer and Steffen Freund came up to me to congratulate me. I hope my dad had a bet on me because apparently I was 33-1 to get the goal.
"I wasn't aware before the game of the fact there was £10,000 as a prize and I hope to split it between a breast cancer charity and the Teenage Cancer Trust, because I lost my mum to cancer 12 years ago.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet, but it is a great honour because I have been around for some time now."
Spurs boss Glenn Hoddle paid tribute to Ferdinand, who had not been fully fit.
Hoddle said: "I discussed it with Les and although he was only 75 per cent fit I wanted him to start today coming off the back of his hat-trick on Tuesday.
"Les is in the autumn of his career, he has had a great week and it is wonderful for a Spurs player to get that goal."
Ferdinand was in the thick of the action again eight minutes before the break. He was booked after a thundering aeriel challenge tackle on Sylvain Legwinski which appeared to be retribution for a late tackle the Frenchman made on him moments before.
But two minutes later Ferdinand was all smiles again as he set up Spurs' second.
Skipper Sheringham - playing the 700th match of his career in domestic football - nodded the ball to Ferdinand in the box and he held it up nicely before teeing up Anderton to rifle a low drive past Edwin van der Sar.
One incident midway through the first half summed up Fulham's day. Steed Malbranque fouled Freund but referee Neale Barry booked Louis Saha by mistake - and that after consulting his linesman.
Fulham had their chances, none better that one that fell to Barry Hayles in first half injury time. Steve Finnan's low cross from the right was missed by Chris Perry, but Hayles blasted over from 12 yards.
The former Bristol Rovers man missed another good chance on the hour when he headed wide from Finnan's cross.
Despite Fulham offering a threat up front they were ripped apart at times by some brilliant Spurs passing.
It was no surprise when the home side netted the third killer goal after 70 minutes.
Anderton found Davies with a lovely pass on the right, and the young Welsh international cut inside two defenders and tucked the ball inside the near post.
Spurs made it 10 goals in five days when Rebrov netted the fourth 13 minutes from the end.
The Ukranian was released by Sheringham and kept his cool to beat the keeper.
There was time for Poyet to be denied from close range by a good save by van der Sar after 84 minutes.
To cap a miserable day for the Cottagers, Luis Boa Morte was booked near the end for diving.
Fulham boss Jean Tigana thought his players looked jaded.
He said: "That is the first time we have lost by such a margin. We had a bad day against an efficient team.
"It is the first time we have played three matches in a week at this level and my players were very tired today, they had no reaction and no legs."