New Tottenham manager Juande Ramos had only a few words to say to his players after he saw Blackburn come from behind to win 2-1 at White Hart Lane on Sunday. He told them: ”The hard work starts tomorrow.”
That work involves instilling a belief in a side that is not short on talent but has forgotten how to win.
After taking the lead through a Robbie Keane penalty just after the interval, Spurs were undone by Benni McCarthy’s equaliser and a 90th-minute winner from Rovers’ giant centre-back, Christopher Samba.
With Ramos watching from the directors’ box, Spurs put in a performance that deserved at least the point that would have allowed them to climb out of the relegation zone. In the end, however, Samba denied them even that.
With the Spaniard not due in the dug-out until Blackpool are the visitors for a League Cup tie on Wednesday night, development coach Clive Allen took temporary charge of the Tottenham team.
And he revealed afterwards: ”I met the new manager after the game and so did the players. He spoke briefly. He said ”we will start tomorrow morning”, which makes sense.
”I am very proud to have taken the team. And I’m not glad it’s over. I could have carried on for the rest of my life. I absolutely enjoyed every second of it.”
David Bentley wasted an early chance to put Blackburn in front but Rovers soon had goalkeeper Brad Friedel to thank when Aaron Lennon burst through and within seconds the American had to pull off a flying tip-over to keep out Keane’s equally-acrobatic header.
Rovers midfielder Robbie Savage suffered a hamstring injury in the process of fouling Keane and had to be replaced in first-half stoppage time.
Spurs were awarded a penalty within three minutes of the restart when Stephen Warnock was adjudged to have brought Lennon down and Keane, who had been relegated to the bench in previous manager Martin Jol’s final game, Thursday night’s 2-1 Uefa Cup defeat at home to Getafe, calmly converted the spot-kick, firing high past Friedel.
Rovers made a change on the hour with the veteran Tugay replaced by Morten Gamst Pedersen and within seconds McCarthy had made it 1-1 with an effort from the edge of the box that seemed to take a deflection before finding the net via a post.
The South African had contributed little up to then but had shown in a moment why he is so highly-rated.
Friedel kept Blackburn level with a reflex tip over of Dimitar Berbatov’s close-range header after Keane had picked out his strike partner, and the American had to be brave to collect the ball at the Irishman’s feet when he raced after another through-ball.
A draw seemed inevitable until Samba, the giant centre back, let fly after Santa Cruz had laid the ball back to him on the edge of the box.
His aim was true and it flew past the startled Radek Cerny to win the game for Mark Hughes’s side.
Hughes was delighted as his side tasted victory for the sixth time in a row and for the fourth successive Premier League game.
He said: ”It’s the first time I have beaten Tottenham in my time as manager. We are really positive about the form we are in at the moment.”
Allen may have stepped down as caretaker manager, but the former Spurs striker hopes to remain part of the new regime.
He said: ”I will report for work in the morning. I am passionate about the work I am doing and obviously I want to go forward with the football club.” — Sapa-AFP