Tottenham Defeat West Ham But Ossie Ardiles Is Sacked


In late October, 1994 Tottenham had an impressive 3 – 1 win over West Ham United at White Hart Lane. At any other time that would have had the manager going home content that another three points had been earned and looking forward with confidence to the next game. On this occasion, however, Ossie Ardiles knew that his time at Tottenham was drawing to a close with his dismissal imminent.

The headlines in the build up to the derby against West Ham were all about Ossie Ardiles’ future as Tottenham manager. It wasn’t the win over Spurs’ London rivals which brought Ardiles’ downfall but events in the weeks leading up to this game when results had not been going Tottenham’s way and in particular the midweek defeat at Notts County in the Coca-Cola Cup.

Two months earlier it had all seemed to be going so well. Ardiles had endured a difficult first season when a long-term injury to his striker-in-chief, Teddy Sheringham, had left Spurs without a goalscorer and for much of the season they had been battling against relegation. A late revival ensured they had sufficient points to survive but then the Football Association’s punishment for financial irregularities under the previous regime brought chaos and uncertainty to the club.

Chairman, Alan Sugar, appealed the severe punishment handed out to the club and had it reduced but continued his battle against the authorities through the season. He also found time to acquire the services of the German international captain and striker, Jurgen Klinsmann. Two other notable signings were Gica Popescu and Ilie Dumitrescu. This gave the club the lift that was needed and as the season started with two wins against Sheffield Wednesday and Everton – it was all looking so good for Ardiles. His selection of a team with five attacking players, Klinsmann, Sheringham, Nicky Barmby, Darren Anderton and Dumitrescu, suggesting excitement and no-one was disappointed.

After the early impressive results, things took a downward turn with three successive defeats in September against Southampton, Leicester and Nottingham Forest when Spurs scored 3 goals but conceded 9. They lost at home to Watford in the League Cup but fortunately had won 6 – 3 in the 1st leg at Vicarage Road. A 5 – 2 defeat at Manchester City left Spurs in 13th position in the Premier League and there were rumblings of discontent around the club.

The final straw came in the Coca-Cola tie at Notts County. On a wet, dark, cold evening everything was set up for a Cup upset and so were Spurs. They were two down by half-time and Dumitrescu got sent off. A third goal brought the Tottenham misery to a close as they made an ignominious exit from the Cup – the writing was on the wall for Ardiles – it was only a matter of time.

A Waiting Game

Spurs v WHU programme [Photo: Logan Holmes]Ardiles survived to the weekend but even a spirited win over West Ham wasn’t enough to save him. Klinsmann had put Spurs head after 20 minutes but West Ham drew level just before the interval through Rush. Sheringham restored Spurs’ lead early in the second half and Barmby added a third with 27 minutes to play. The result took Spurs above West Ham in the table but Alan Sugar was biding his time.

The following day, on the Sunday, Ardiles was summoned to the Chairman’s house here he was dismissed, although Ossie insists that the Chairman did not say, “You’re fired!”

Ardiles had a very difficult 18 months as manager of Spurs, coming in to replace Terry Venables, coping with player discontent over the departure of the former manager and the loss of Sheringham for six months in his first season. The possible points deduction put a cloud over the club in the close season and then the arrival of the new players and the disappointing results partly due to Ossie’s determination to play attacking football. If he had paid a little more attention to this assistant, Steve Perryman, who was wanting a better balance between attack and defence in the team, things might have turned out differently for Ossie Ardiles.

Ossie Ardiles remains a firm favourite at White Hart Lane with supporters recalling the good days of his ‘attacking 5’ but overlooking his disappointing times as manager but recalling with joy the successful years  he had as a player with Tottenham.

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