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George's joy at spirit levels

Posted on 12 September 2000  - 12:00

English Barclays Premiership

George Graham hailed the spirit of his team as Spurs moved up to fifth in the Premiership following Monday night’s victory over West Ham. Spurs are now one of three teams with ten points on the board, one point adrift of leaders Manchester United.

While George became rather animated on the touchline during the second half, the spirit of his players was a key factor he could not find fault with.

“The spirit is excellent, the team spirit is wonderful,” commented George. “I think that’s very important in the English game, although you may have deficiencies and maybe not have the quality you would like, you can make up for that in other departments.”

The manager is also content overall with his side’s start to the campaign, which now reads won three, drawn one, lost one.

“We have won three home matches on the trot now so it’s a good start. I’m happy with the result, we’ve not had a good record against West Ham since I’ve come to the club, they’ve got a lot of good individual players who can turn a game so it was always going to be tight. They’ve actually played quite well without winning games. In the first half especially I thought they were very good."

The Spurs formation had an unfamiliar look to it, with three strikers included in the starting line-up. “We changed the system,” confirmed George. “We tried to play 4-3-2-1, with three in the middle of the park to counteract them and one up with Rebrov drifting and Iversen drifting. I thought it worked better in the second half than in the first. It takes a bit of time but overall I was pleased.”

Spurs being the highest placed London club in the Premiership might allow supporters to enjoy the luxury of looking down at the neighbours, but it does not cut much ice with George, who views the current position as more of a base to work from.

“I never bother about the league yet. The most important thing as a manager in the first couple of months is to get some results. It gives the players confidence, but if you don’t get the results you get doubts. The results are good to have so you can say let’s keep working on our game.

“In football, if you win the majority of your home matches you’ll keep 95 per cent of your fans happy, because they’ll see you win and less than five per cent see you away from home.”

George confirmed after the match that Mauricio Taricco was withdrawn with leg cramps but is okay, while Luke Young sustained a kick in the ankle, which needs to be assessed. Chris Perry suffered a broken toe in the Everton game, which will see him absent for several weeks.