Beckford’s rising star puts Pavlyuchenko in the shade
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2
Crouch 42, Pavlyuchenko 75
LEEDS UNITED 2
Beckford 52 90 pen
THIS was a tale of two No 9s, of Jermaine Beckford and Roman Pavlyuchenko and the contrasting directions their careers are taking.
Beckford left the pitch after two goals and endless effort, prompting his manager, Simon Grayson, to hang a £10m price-tag around his neck. Pavlyuchenko trooped off laden down with a question-mark from his manager, Harry Redknapp.
One of the stars of Euro2008, the likeable Pavlyuchenko has struggled to make an impact at Spurs. He rose from the bench here, scored and the fans love him, but Redknapp remains unconvinced.
“If he comes in every day to work, train and shows a good attitude and if he plays on Tuesday (against Fulham) then I expect him to run around and work hard for the team,” said the Spurs manager.“ If he does that, then there’s no reason he can’t be in the team.” So was Pavlyuchenko’s attitude not right?
“He’s OK...” Redknapp smiled. “He’s OK.” A mention that Pavlyuchenko is a highly-regarded Russian international drew a shrug from Redknapp.
“Yes, but (Peter) Crouch is an England international. So is (Jermain) Defoe. They might both go to the World Cup. Robbie Keane is the captain of his country and could’ve gone to the World Cup.”
Redknapp simply wanted more application from Pavlyuchenko.“ He’s got terrific ability; good skill, a good finisher. You have to put a shift in, and I’m not talking just about Pavlyuchenko. You can’t have two strikers who won’t work for you, who won’t run the channels and track back when they lose the ball. That’s what you need if you’re going to be a successful team.”
Spurs particularly need strikers to work back when they field what Redknapp described as “an open looking team” with a midfield hardly heaving with ball-winners, and the two fullbacks, Alan Hutton and the excellent Gareth Bale, who regularly vacate their defensive stations.
Redknapp could stiffen his midfield, going 4-5-1, but that is neither his style nor Spurs’. Despite his critique of Pavlyuchenko, Redknapp stressed: “I’d be surprised if he wasn’t here at the end of January.” Part of Pavlyuchenko’s problem is that he duplicates Defoe’s runs. As Defoe tends to start, Pavlyuchenko must bide his time. The Russian took his goal well, making it 2-1 after Beckford and Crouch had exchanged poacher’s goals, but there is a wonderful resilience and stamina to Leeds under Grayson.
This was another memorable moment for a club refinding their feet. Little details showed Leeds have something special. It was the cheeky wink that Beckford gave Gomes after a firsthalf save. It was Patrick Kisnorbo telling the players as the clock ran down to “keep going and we’ll get one”.
They did. Fouled by Michael Dawson, Beckford slammed home a penalty in the sixth minute of injury-time, forcing the replay. Everton and Aston Villa are currently being linked with Beckford. “There is just over a week to go before the window shuts and we are not looking to let him go,” Grayson said.
“If someone offers me £10m then maybewewouldwanttodosomething.”
If Beckford’s stock is hurtling skywards, so is Grayson’s. The Leeds manager’s decision to insert Robert Snodgrass in the hole behind Beckford bemused Spurs. “Spurs did not know what to do with him,” said Grayson.
As well as this tactical nous, Grayson’s demeanour has impressed his players. “He’s very calm,” said ’keeper Casper Ankergren. “He’s very respected because of that. I don’t like managers who hammer the players at training. He doesn’t need to raise his voice.” The only thing Grayson raises is expectation.
As Leeds fans danced off into the London night, Grayson himself was keeping his players’ feet on the ground. “Swindon on Tuesday night,” he reminded them, ordering an immediate shift of focus.
Pavlyuchenko will also be hoping for a chance tomorrow to rid himself of Redknapp’s question-mark. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Tottenham (4-4-2): Gomes; Hutton, Dawson, Bassong, Bale; Kranjcar (Keane, 71), Modric, Jenas, Rose (Palacios, 57); Crouch (Pavlyuchenko, 71), Defoe. Substitutes not used: Alnwick (gk), Naughton, O’Hara, Dervite.
Leeds United (4-4-1-1): Ankergren; Crowe, Bromby, Kisnorbo, Hughes; Howson, Kilkenny, Doyle (Becchio, 81), Johnson (White, 88); Snodgrass; Beckford. Substitutes not used: Martin (gk), Prutton, Grella, Michalik,
Robinson Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).
Booked: Tottenham Hutton; Leeds United Crowe, Kisnorbo, Doyle, Bromby, Kilkenny, Johnson
Man of the match: Ankergren.