Sherwood's Days May Be Numbered, But Troubled Spurs Crave Stability


Another chastening defeat last weekend has highlighted the many flaws from boardroom to pitch at Tottenham, writes Unibet columnist Iain Macintosh...

Poor Tim Sherwood never stood a chance.

An 18 month contract on a salary thought to be less than £1m is no contract at all these days. After a humiliating self-inflicted defeat at Stamford Bridge and Sherwood’s ferocious post-match analysis, it seems highly unlikely that chairman Daniel Levy will baulk at the idea of paying off his former technical director and starting all over again.

But it’s going to take more than that to lift Tottenham Hotspur back into the top four. 

This is a club crying out for stability. Levy has veered from one ideology to another, building managerial structures and then scrapping them after failing to ensure that the key figures complemented each other. In the space of five and a half years, Spurs have gone from a continental partnership of coach and director of football to Harry Redknapp’s blank clipboard, back to the continental style and now find themselves with a hopeless short-term hybrid of the two; a shouty English manager and an increasingly compromised Franco Baldini.

The much vaunted replacement of Elvis with The Beatles was a spectacular failure, though it’s unclear where the blame lies. Who was responsible for accidentally signing S Club 7? The principle of allowing a senior figure like Baldini to oversee the recruitment drive was sound, you can’t expect a coach to handle everything these days, but were the two men in agreement with each other throughout the process? Villas-Boas thinks not and that’s hardly surprising. 

Levy couldn’t even ensure that his manager and his technical director were on the same page. After Sherwood’s first game in charge, a league cup defeat to West Ham in December, he complained that the players weren’t fit enough to play his preferred style of football, and yet he’d been working with Villas-Boas for 18 months. Why weren’t the two departments operating in tandem, with the development sides playing in the same style as the senior team? 

In this bubbling pot of crazy soup, the maddest croutons were Levy’s expectations. We are told that Tottenham, a team stripped of their best player and attempting to integrate seven new signings, weren’t expecting Champions League qualification this season. No. They were expecting the title. The title!

Apparently, the senior figures at Spurs felt that this £107m investment was enough, not just to compete with Chelsea and Manchester City, but to beat them! Never mind the fact that it wasn’t really an investment of £107m, but a reinvestment of the Gareth Bale money, never mind the fact that Villas-Boas had already had to deal with the loss of Luka Modric, Ledley King and Rafael van der Vaart in his first season and now had to cope without Bale,  this was definitely Tottenham’s year. 

No wonder the board were disappointed with the way the season unfolded. 

Villas-Boas wasn’t blameless, of course. He couldn’t solve the Emmanuel Adebayor conundrum, something that Sherwood managed with impressive speed. AVB's tactical inflexibility cost him, particularly against Newcastle. But pressure breeds pressure and he should have been better supported by his board. There were some particularly well-sourced stories in the press long before he was sacked. 

Sherwood has worked tirelessly and it’s hard not to admire the way he has approached the job, uncompromisingly doing it the way he thinks is best, striving to ensure that he won’t have any regrets when the axe falls. 

But yet another managerial change won’t make any difference if the same mistakes are repeated. Tottenham need to give a manager time and support. If they opt to retain a director of football, they need to ensure compatibility. If they have a technical director, it might be nice if his teams played the same style of football as the first team. You know, just in case. 

Never mind winning the title. If Tottenham carry on like this, they’ll struggle to get back to the top four.

Tottenham are 2.30 to beat Benfica in the Europa League this week.