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Tottenham 3-1 Fulham Prem 35 1314 The Guardian

last updated Monday 21st April 2014, 8:48 PM

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David Hytner at The Guardian

Tottenham (1) 3-1 (1) Fulham

Tim Sherwood continues to lob the grenades with the abandon of a man who is utterly sure of himself and sure that he has nothing to lose. "I watched Christian Eriksen for Denmark against England [in 2011] and I rang [the chairman] Daniel Levy the day after and said that he needs to sign this boy," the Tottenham manager said. "Ten million pounds later he is finally here, so that is all good news."

Sherwood has made it pretty clear that he has reservations about the coherence of the club's transfer policy, which last summer saw seven players without Premier League experience arrive for a combined £110.5m. Eriksen, who joined from Ajax for £11m, has been the success story and he helped to make the difference against Fulham.

His pacy and penetrative set-piece delivery served to highlight the visitors' glaring defensive deficiencies while there is something reassuring about the way that he takes care of possession and almost always selects the shrewdest option. In the second half the 22-year-old floated between the lines from the left, where Sherwood has positioned him and, despite his late handball offering Fulham a penalty, which Hugo Lloris saved from Steve Sidwell, he was comfortably the best player on show.

Yet with prominence comes a little bit of apprehension for the summer, according to Sherwood. "You are always fearful that someone might come and take one of your best players and Christian is certainly one," he said.

Another is Lloris, the France captain who Sherwood described as "genuine world-class, a player who doesn't say a lot but leads by example". He made a clutch of excellent saves, most notably from Sidwell's fierce penalty and Hugo Rodallega's thumping 50th-minute header. Rodallega playfully throttled him afterwards.

Fulham did have chances and were it not for Lloris and their inability to defend set pieces, they might have taken something away to put towards the survival mission. The space that they allowed Paulinho, and later Younès Kaboul, at Eriksen free-kicks was astonishing.

Lloris wants to play Champions League football and if Tottenham fall short there will be clubs that do qualify who will make him offers. The goalkeeper, though, is not a boat-rocker. "Without a doubt, no one wants Hugo to leave," Sherwood said.

Eriksen is similarly focused and professional. "I drag him off the training field every day," Sherwood said. "I have to say to him: 'That's enough. Go home to the missus.' His deliveries come down to practice. I always say to the guys: 'Andy Murray doesn't just go out there and hit cross-court winners when game-day comes.' You need to practise. Christian doesn't feel the pressure. What to do is embedded in him as he works so hard on it every day.

"I don't think he was available [in 2011]; I think he wanted to continue his education at Ajax. And perhaps Daniel didn't follow up on it as he does not follow up on every player I tell him. There are probably too many! I only tell him about the ones who actually make good in the end."

If it was possible to discern a demob-happy mood in Sherwood as he approaches the end of the season and in all likelihood that of his managerial tenure at White Hart Lane, his Fulham counterpart, Felix Magath, also exuded confidence, albeit in his more-measured way.

Fulham have three matches remaining and at least three points to make up but they do have Hull City and Crystal Palace to visit Craven Cottage, plus a trip to Stoke City.

"I'm prepared to fight to the last second of the season," Magath said. "I'm not dreaming that we would avoid relegation. We have to fight and I'm sure we will do that and it will be enough to stay in the league. I was quite satisfied with this performance. It was not a really good day but I'm confident we can stay up."

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