BFTP: Tottenham v Rovers - 01-01-02
Updated Friday, 12th November 2010
1st January 2002, Rovers are back in the Premiership and have a New Years Day date with Spurs
Andy Cole came face to face with the harsh realities of life after Manchester United on Tuesday afternoon.
The 30-year-old striker signed for Blackburn because he was hungry for first-team football and anxious to break into the World Cup plans of England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
But he is going to have to survive on mere scraps if the evidence of this New Year's Day is anything to go by.
A close-range header from Dean Richards in the 44th minute gave Tottenham the points in an error-strewn match which suggested the London side will struggle to realise their European ambitions and Blackburn have a tough job just staying out of the relegation scramble.
But it was Cole's contribution which must have had Spurs manager Glenn Hoddle secretly thinking that his long-held opinion of the £8million striker had been vindicated.
Cole still harbours bitter memories of the way he was treated by Hoddle in his previous job as England manager.
Hoddle left Cole out of his World Cup squad for France '98 with the stinging criticism that the striker needed half a dozen chances to score a goal, a luxury rarely afforded at international level.
Today a weak 30-yard shot and a total air-shot in front of goal was the sum total of Cole's groundwork on an afternoon which must have seemed light years away from the glories and medals of Manchester.
The air-shot was embarrassingly similar to one England fans will recall when Cole was in a white shirt.
And while Cole came agonisingly close to an equaliser with a powerful header late on the outcome was a depressingly familiar list of missed chances.
It is something Blackburn manager Graeme Souness must hope is swiftly addressed if Rovers are to end a desperate run which has now seen them lose seven of their last eight matches.
That is relegation form in anyone's book and, apart from the industrious Garry Flitcroft in midfield, it is difficult to see where the necessary inspiration will come from.
Not so Tottenham who, despite playing nowhere near their fluent best, at least had individuals of true class in Teddy Sheringham and Darren Anderton on which to call.
The fact that Spurs skipper Sheringham and Cole endured the frostiest of relationships when they played together at Old Trafford added spice to the encounter.
But, in truth, it was another World Cup hopeful in Anderton who decided the outcome of the points and his contribution for the goal was typical.
First the midfielder, who played such a pivotal role for his country in France '98, refused to give up the chase for a hopeful long ball at the tail end of the first-half.
He forced a corner which he took himself with the swirling precision and pace for which he is famed. Richards duly arrived three yards out to force an unstoppable header past Rovers goalkeeper Brad Friedel.
It was by far Tottenham's best moment of a match in which they should have taken the lead as early as the fourth minute when Blackburn midfielder Tugay played a careless ball infield.
The error was seized upon by Steffen Freund who surged forward into space before pulling the ball abjectly across the face of goal when one-on-one against goalkeeper Friedel.
Indeed, if Sheringham's shooting had matched his approach play the Spurs faithful would have enjoyed a much less fractious afternoon.
As it was they witnessed chance after chance squandered before Blackburn's late rally almost snatched a point.
Hoddle can comfort himself in the fact they played poorly and won.
For Souness, however, the urgency to turn promise into points could not be greater.
Cole will certainly have better days and it would be harsh to write him off on the basis of a freezing afternoon in north London. But Souness needs goals from Cole - and soon.
Tottenham: Keller, Perry, King, Richards, Taricco, Freund, Anderton, Poyet (Sherwood 85), Ziege, Ferdinand, Sheringham.
Subs Not Used: Sullivan, Davies, Gardner, Rebrov.
Blackburn: Friedel, Berg, Short, Bjornebye (Dunn 61), Neill, Gillespie (Hignett 71), Tugay, Flitcroft, Duff, Cole, Jansen (Ostenstad 79).
Subs Not Used: Kelly, Taylor.
Ref: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees).