It was the news that no Lillywhite follower really wanted to hear. During the Arsenal versus Chelsea snooze fest at the Emirates on Monday evening, Sky Sports flashed a banner across the TV screen stating that Tim Sherwood had been appointed Tottenham Hotspur head coach until the end of next season.
Next season? Must be a typo, surely that meant this season? A swift check via the BBC Sport website confirmed it was next season indeed—Spurs chairman Daniel Levy had given Sherwood an 18-month deal.
24 hours later Spurs fans are split 50:50. Half are dismayed by the decision and the other half appear to be content. Note that the opinion polls show no deliriously happy fans. Well, certainly not those from White Hart Lane. Supporters of their would-be Champions League rivals though are certain / hopeful the appointment will lead to failure in N.17. The critics voice the following reasons:
Arrogant bar steward
Who does Sherwood think he is? He arrogantly told the media that he didn’t want the job for “five minutes”, in addition to stating he did not want to be considered as a Number 2—outrageous behaviour.
But isn’t that his right? He was asked one week ago to become caretaker manager by Daniel Levy, ahead of the existing assistant manager, Steffen Freund. Does this not imply that Levy wanted to test the waters? Having had a taster, albeit an extremely brief one, why not be bold, he hardly asked for a five year £20m contract.
Sherwood may come across all pompous in interviews, giving the pro-EU crowd ample ammunition to scythe down the reputation of ex-English pros and his mannerisms may be akin to the grammar school of Lord Redknapp, but his job is to manage and organise professional footballers. In short, he’ll fit in like a glove.
Absolutely none cry the doubters. No coaching licence either. Admittedly, the latter point is unarguable—he doesn’t. However, at 44, Sherwood has been at Spurs in a technical capacity since 2008. In addition, almost 100 games as a player between 1999 and 2003, equates to him being at the club for almost a decade in the last 15 years.
Andre Villas-Boas was hardly a seasoned pro at 36. His gruff voice during press conferences told the story of a teacher who had a distinct lack of authority in the classroom—evident by the Spurs players gesticulating their positions play-making among each other before the recent drubbing dished out by Liverpool at White Hart Lane.
At least in Sherwood’s corner, he is a Premier League winning captain and should command the respect of the players with his no-nonsense attitude.
Is he Pep Guardiola in disguise?
Clearly not. However, similar to Pep, he does understand the club. Guardiola’s only experience prior to taking over as Barcelona first team coach was with Barcelona B, effectively the Catalans’ youth team. Given Sherwood’s association with a successful Spurs youth development, their experience is similar.
Why was he hired?
Two reasons—one, the club rates him highly and two; and rather importantly, nobody worth their salt wanted the job—why would they? As per the Independent last week, Brendan Rodgers admitted to having a close shave with Spurs. Why join a club with a distinct lack of managerial stability, when a bigger club such as Liverpool are willing to give a manager time for their project to bear fruit.
Make no mistake, Daniel Levy has taken a significant gamble in appointing Sherwood and if his latest experiment fails, the chairman’s own position should be under considerable scrutiny. But for now, Spurs fans have no choice but to get behind the new manager.
The next two weeks will see three league games culminating with a trip to Old Trafford on New Years Day, plus an FA Cup tie at the home of their bitter rivals Arsenal—a baptism of fire.