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Last Updated: Monday, 25 February 2008, 08:37 GMT
Ramos takes centre stage

Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Wembley

Juande Ramos took charge of Spurs in October - when his chaotic coronation in the wake of Martin Jol's sacking doubled up as a preview for a Carling Cup clash with Blackpool.

Ramos knew nothing about Blackpool and precious little more about the cup competition he was about to embrace for the first time.

Juande Ramos
Ramos guided Spurs to their first piece of silverware in nine years

How different it was at Wembley as Ramos confirmed his reputation as a relentless pursuer of silverware by giving Spurs their first trophy in nine years with a well-deserved win against Chelsea.

Such is the apparent lack of affection for Chelsea these days that someone in the bowels of the stadium was moved to describe it as a victory for good against evil.

Nonsense of course and hugely disrespectful to Chelsea's great successes, but it was certainly a triumph for a manager and a team who showed more ambition and bravery than their counterparts.

Ramos will be feted at White Hart Lane after completing phase one of his rebuilding process with a landmark win, but questions must be raised about Chelsea boss Avram Grant after a limp showing by both him and his team.

The Spaniard prepared Spurs to perform with drive and commitment, and showed a sure grasp of the tactical changes required throughout the ebb and flow of a cup final.

Ramos clearly wanted his team to make a fast start, and so it proved as a host of chances should have brought a healthy lead before Didier Drogba's sucker punch put Chelsea ahead.

Chelsea's flaws were there for all to see. Over-cautious, uninspired and strictly second-best

He kept his head to inject greater impetus into his side with the introduction of Tom Huddlestone and the switch of Aaron Lennon to confront the nervy Juliano Belletti on the left flank.

It was as impressive a management of the situation as Grant's was poor.

Chelsea will hate the comparison, but there was a clear sense that Jose Mourinho would have responded to events in a far more effective manner than Grant.

It was a bad day for Chelsea. And a bad day for Grant.

Grant's team selection was flawed. The exclusion of Joe Cole was mystifying, as was his desperately late introduction - and that just scratched at the surface of his failings.

Michael Ballack has been in something approaching his true form this season, and yet he was sidelined. Frank Lampard, despite hints to the contrary, took his place and looked desperately short of match fitness, offering no influence on the game.

A crowning folly was the deployment of Nicolas Anelka on the left flank, a ploy that left him looking a lost soul long before the final whistle.


When Anelka arrived at Stamford Bridge from Bolton for 15m, few would have predicted he would have spent his first major final at the club attempting to keep the opposition right-back in check.

Chelsea also looked directionless, with John Terry appearing to have more influence on the team talk before extra-time than Grant. Terry was doing the fist-pumping as Grant stood motionless in his shadow.

And just to complete the day, there was the unedifying sight of coach Henk Ten Cate having to restrain a graceless group of Chelsea's defeated players confronting referee Mark Halsey at the final whistle.

Grant, when quizzed about the gamble of playing both Anelka and Drogba, replied: "It's not a casino."

Lucky for Grant it wasn't because he would have been turning out empty pockets on this grim evidence.

Chelsea's flaws were there for all to see. Over-cautious, uninspired and strictly second-best.

Avram Grant
Grant left the in-form Michael Ballack and Joe Cole on the bench

Grant has promised more attacking, free-flowing football at Chelsea - and yet they remain as functional as ever, only now they are robbed of the air of invincibility and tactical sure-footedness afforded by the great Mourinho.

This, however, should not detract from the scale of Tottenham's achievement.

Ramos' side provided all the entertainment and attacking ambition until they took fright near the finishing tape.

They took the positive approach and claimed the reward. Chelsea took a chance on Spurs sacrificing themselves on their own attacking intent and ended up losers.

It is a popular victory because it breaks up the mini-cartel at the top of Premier League and was achieved by a team and a manager that refused to put on the handbrake in pursuit of victory.

Ramos achieved great things at Sevilla with an attacking philosophy that sits well with White Hart Lane traditions - and a successful Spurs playing the sort of football the club is famous for is a good day for the game in this country.

They showed Chelsea and Grant that sometimes fortune can favour the brave - and under Ramos there is the prospect of more days like this to come.

Tottenham 2-1 Chelsea
24 Feb 08 |  Football
Ramos sets sights on more success
25 Feb 08 |  Tottenham Hotspur
Grant pained by Chelsea cup loss
24 Feb 08 |  League Cup
Comment: Spurs approach pays off
24 Feb 08 |  League Cup


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