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Friday, 16 March, 2001, 17:00 GMT
Graham's losing battle
George Graham
George Graham with summer signing Neil Sullivan
BBC Sport Online's Phil McNulty looks at the inevitable conclusion to George Graham's decision to transfer his affections from Arsenal to Spurs.

George Graham has always courted success but never popularity - which was just as well in the eyes of Spurs fans.

Graham's hasty departure from White Hart Lane was the inevitable conclusion to a war of attrition he was never going to win.

Spurs fans almost challenged him to win their hearts and minds by ditching his football principles that were set in stone to do things the so-called "Tottenham way".

They issued the challenge - then turned against him when it became clear Graham was only interested in his way not their way.

Graham's theory was based on the not unreasonable suggestion that Tottenham's traditional approach had brought a meagre return of one title in 40 years.

He won the occasional battle, lifting The Worthington Cup in 1999 shortly after his arrival from Leeds United and leading Spurs to FA Cup semi-final this season, but he was never going to win the war.

Sergei Rebrov
Sergei Rebrov - belated success
The tough Scot's football philosophy and background counted against him in the eyes of Spurs fans, who saw him tainted as a successful manager of bitter north London rivals Arsenal.

They also saw him as the living embodiment of what they regarded as then chairman Sir Alan Sugar's failure to bond with the Spurs following.

What chairman would genuinely believe he was giving Spurs fans a gift they wanted by appointing a hugely successful former Highbury legend who still had Arsenal shares as manager?

Graham was given a welcome that could be described, at best, as cautious when he took over.

The majority of supporters greeted him with reserve and suspicion, feelings that would run the entire length of his White Hart Lane reign.

He never heard his name chanted by Spurs fans, some of whom would only call him "the man in the raincoat" rather than actually utter his name.

Sol Campbell
Campbell's contract saga
Graham was not prepared to alter his principles an inch to accommodate the feelings of the fans - and in the end it was his undoing.

Indeed, after the influential Tottenham Action Group lobbied for a vote of no confidence in chairman Sugar and the Spurs board, Graham was swift to label them "professional whingers."

It was hardly the act of a man intent on currying favour with the fans.

He will believe he can leave Spurs with his head held high after plotting a dramatic FA Cup quarter-final win at West Ham last week.

Graham is convinced he has a promising group of youngsters - but he was never going to change the Spurs' fans feelings towards him.

He stoked up their rage before the start of the season by selling the beloved David Ginola to Aston Villa for 3m.

Spurs fans were up in arms, and yet Graham's judgement has been proved correct as the flamboyant Ginola has been a major disappointment at Villa Park.

George Graham
Graham failed to fire fans
He offered up 11m Ukranian Sergei Rebrov as the player he believed would be as exciting and influential as Ginola, but with the added bonus of being a team player.

So it was with heavy irony that Rebrov finally produced the form he is capable of by scoring twice in the game that was to prove to be Graham's Spurs swansong at West Ham.

But he has also had to contend with the "will he won't he" Sol Campbell contract saga that took on the appearance of a daily soap opera to cast a shadow over Graham's work.

The end, when it came, was unexpected and badly timed.

George Graham has finally gone - defeated in a one-sided battle against Spurs fans and Spurs tradition.

And it is highly unlikely there will be many tears shed inside White Hart Lane at his departure.

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