Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Time's inevitably up for Tim - but little-mourned Sherwood did as good a Tottenham job as he could

Novice boss Tim Sherwood seemed so keen to convince as Tottenham head honcho, his five months in charge at Spurs felt at times like a crash-course in experimental multi-tasking.

Why, he tried to be many different managers in his bid to be not merely 'the interim' - or 'the inter-Tim' - but, well, 'the one'.

There were the match-by-match costume changes, from dapper black suit to shabby shellsuit or most memorably that now-infamous gilet.

And on the field itself, his selection technique was one characterised by the element of surprise, each newly-announced XI bemusing many onlookers.

The only apparent constants were the unshakeable Hugo Lloris in goal and the rejuvenated Emmanuel Adebayor up-front, as Sherwood alternated between full-backs in midfield, wingers up-front or in the holding role, and defensive midfielders left invariably on the bench.

Nabil Bentaleb was promoted from youth-team anonymity to central midfield against the top-four likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool - only to be discarded again for the season’s final months.

Yet for all his lack of coaching badges - and, at times, tact - Sherwood did have a positive impact in his short and unexpected reign.

Adebayor’s 14 goals in 25 games summed up just how frustrating his earlier absences and tantrums have been but also pointed to the folly of his previous exile by Sherwood’s predecessor Andre Villas-Boas.

AVB’s many defenders online point to the greater solidity his side showed from the season’s beginning, urging greater patience as last summer’s seven new signings settled in.

Yet while the 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle felt freakish, with opposing goalkeeper Tim Krul blessed by his own reflexes as well as Spurs’ misfiring strikers, the 3-0 White Hart Lane trouncing by West Ham was more indicatively depressing.

And the 6-0 and 5-0 thrashings that followed, at the hands and feet of Manchester City and Liverpool respectively, suggested a loss of spirit and structure despite AVB’s safety-first mindset.

Sherwood’s promotion brought instant domestic cup departures yet also enthralling away victories, including at Old Trafford - ending Manchester United’s resurgent six-match unbeaten run and perhaps tipping David Moyes inexorably into the turmoil that would overwhelm him.

Sherwood’s Spurs scored an average 1.82 goals per game, with 1.39 conceded - compared to AVB’s 1.07 for and 1.31 against.

As he now moves on to whatever his second managerial role will be - with WBA, Norwich and Brighton all mooted – he can also claim a dubiously-meaningful Spurs record of 1.91 Premier League points per game.

His own playing days at the Lane ended amid rancour, directed from him towards then-boss Glenn Hoddle and from fans towards a player who seemed to spend most time berating team-mates for his own haphazard passing.

Sherwood’s previous rifts with Hoddle and ex-Blackburn manager Roy Hodgson - who nevertheless remains full of praise for his former skipper - have been held against him amid complaints about his treatment by players and the Press.

His outspoken remarks may well have helped talk his way out of a lengthier spell at Spurs - though his fair-enough criticisms of Tottenham’s many under-performing players carried much truth.

Maybe too much, in a footballing climate where to ‘lose the dressing-room’ is a cardinal managerial sin.

And yet many fans opposed to him from the start have perhaps been too quick to wax indignant at even minor barbs or even jokes, such as quipping ‘Que?’ when asked about Erik Lamela’s English.

Meanwhile, while AVB grumbled about the White Hart Lane atmosphere, Sherwood has been at pains throughout to praise the supporters and gush about how privileged he felt to manage this ‘great club’.

Too-privileged, sure. He should not have needed to be given the job when he was, in yet one more example of Spurs’ panic-stricken improvisation.

But he deserves a little more respect and gratitude than to be booed even at Ledley King’s testimonial on Monday - and not to be simply dismissed as ‘Dim’ 'Deadwood'.

Sherwood was the first ‘Tim’ to manage an English league club since Derby County’s Tim Ward, succeeded in 1967 by a certain Brian Clough.

Sadly, Tottenham’s owners Enic - especially trigger-happy chairman Daniel Levy - have given little indication that the tenth manager of their 13-year ownership will come anywhere close to such calibre.

We go again…

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