After an exceptionally disappointing run of results, including crashing out of Europe and losing to our two most fierce domestic rivals without scoring a single goal, the mood around White Hart Lane had taken a pertinent dip. The rumors surrounding the potential big name replacements for Tim Sherwood have been doing the rounds since before he even put pen to paper on an 18-month deal. However, they seemed to have slightly more substance after such a torrid run of form. The post-match interviews seemed to suggest that even Tim was unsure of whether he would be leading us next season. The continued silence from the boardroom did nothing to slow the rumors in this particular mill.
For some reason, there seems to a body of opinion in the press and indeed supporters who feel that Tim was only ever hired to keep the seat warm for a more experienced man, to come in the summer. There is no doubt that the CVs of Van Gaal and De Boer would appeal to Levy and ENIC. Indeed, I will be the first to admit, that several of our post-Christmas performances have smacked of a man slightly out of his depth. Would the Van Gaals and co. of this world have lost 1 – 0 to Norwich, or lined up so bizarrely at Stanford Bridge? Probably not.
However, I am not part of this body of opinion. Admittedly, my personal opinion is that Tim is doing a pretty good job. Yet, lets put that to one side for a second. Let’s have an objective look at whether he is here for the long-term. Whether you like him or not, whether you think he is doing a good job or not, Tim Sherwood will be our manger next season. Objectively, there are a number of reasons why it is difficult to envisage anyone but the gilet-donning geezer sitting in the dugout next season.
First, I simply don’t buy into this opinion that Levy brought in Tim to get us until the summer. Why would he? Okay, AVB had had a couple of shockers against Man City and Liverpool. Yet, these had been punctuated by two wins on the road and a gutsy performance against the reigning champions. If Levy were going to change the manager in the summer anyway, why would he go with a completely untested manager in Tim Sherwood, rather than sticking with AVB, to get us through the rest of the season? Levy is many things, but two things he is not are: a water of money or a non-pragmatist. Given the option of a five million pound payout and pushing the most inexperienced member of back-room team into the dugout or, saving the severance money and giving AVB a few more games, which one would you expect him to with? Clearly, the latter. Unless, of course, Levy has been keeping a close eye on Tim Sherwood as a future manager from some time. This is exactly what had been happening.
Tim has been part of the set-up since Arry’s arrival in 2008 and since then we have rejected several approaches for his services. These have ranged from coaching roles at other Premiership clubs, all the way to the hot seat at Blackburn. Obviously, many in the football world see something (admittedly rough around the edges) in this chap. We fought hard to keep Tim after the Blackburn approach. The rumors at the time suggesting he was seen as a future manager of the club. How quickly that came about, eh? Levy knew he had the potential; we just needed to keep hold of him until he was ready.
So, when the wheels came off the AVB wagon in spectacular fashion. When he slagged everyone off from the media to the crowd, when he was losing his cool in just about every press conference or having opposing fans ejected from the stadium, and when he seemed bereft of ideas during damaging defeats, what was Levy to do? Sure, he could give him more time; he might even have raided the coffers of Joe Lewis to go and get a world-class manager mid-season. Yet, he didn’t. He sat down in his dimly lit office and thought, let’s give Tim a whirl, let’s see if he has we thinks he does.
The Sherwood project had been six years in the making, from coach, to reserve manager to technical director. Plenty of investment in his skills, his coaching badges and even a few new contracts along the way to keep him out of the reach of Rovers. Why then, why on earth would we blow all that by putting him on death row? Why would we put him in the firing line with another man’s poorly gelled squad, only to cut him loose at the end of the season? Six years hard work pissed down the drain for another inevitable 5th placed finish and drab continental exit.
No, Levy is clever than that. He might not have wanted Tim to take over the first team this early in his career, but he did want him to at some point. Circumstance forced his hand; AVB’s November breakdown forced his hand. He threw Tim in earlier than he wanted to, but if the season was already one of transition, a bit of a write-off, why not use it to bed in a manager you’ve had your eye on for a while.
So you ask me if Tim Sherwood will be our manager next season? Of course he will. He’s had his time to get to grips with the job. He’s had a chance to get a look at whom he likes and whom he doesn’t (Etienne and Lewis, dig your suitcases out lads), and now it’s time to crack on. Tim will be given a transfer window and pre-season to do things his way. I am not saying it will work out, I may be sat down this time next year writing why Les Ferdinand is going to be our manager next season (God help us is that little prophesy comes true), but it’s almost certain to happen.
Back then, briefly, to my opinion on this series of events with Tim in charge next season. As I said, I think he’s done an all right job. Yes, I would have preferred not to watch the Norwich match with a mate of mine who is fanatical canary (that was a long afternoon). Yes, I almost lost my self-respect swearing at the TV in a family pub as we conspired to fail to punish a dreadful Gunners display. However, as I previously said, he’s got another man’s squad and he’s new to all this. I love his passion, I love his post-match interviews, I love the injection of academy players and I love the way he has finally got the lads playing for the badge. Give him a pre-season, give him a modest budget, let him get the dead wood out and give it a whirl.
Whether you like it or not, Tim Sherwood will be our manager next season. Get ready for a bumpy ride, as per.
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