The Stamford Bridge hoodoo continued for Spurs at the weekend after a miserable 4-0 defeat made worse by the fact that 3 of the goals were down to individual errors and the fourth was a very questionable decision by referee Michael Oliver which resulted in Younes Kaboul receiving his marching orders. The fact that Kaboul’s card was rescinded during the week provides little in the way of solace after a disastrous day at the Bridge.
However, anyone that watched Tim Sherwood’s post-match interview realise that it wouldn’t be the match result that grabbed the headlines in Sunday’s papers, rather it would be Sherwood’s incendiary comments about his players and indeed, the club as a whole that would be screaming from both tabloids and broadsheets alike. Amongst some of his comments he described his players of being “too nice” and said that his team were “way off” fourth place in the Premier League. Sherwood followed this up on Monday by saying that he has no idea of whether he will be still in a job come the summer adding that “the silence from Daniel Levy is deafening”. His views have divided opinion amongst fans and pundits alike, so was he out of order in criticising his own club and players or has he hit the nail on the head and just emphasised what we Spurs fans have been thinking over the course of this season?
If there’s one attribute that Sherwood possesses in spades, it’s honesty. Even when he got the job and raised a few eyebrows with some of his claims about his intentions for the rest of the season, the listener was left in no doubt that he firmly believed in what he saying and despite his inexperience, he thought he could back up his talk with results. But that was the problem with his claims, how could he back up anything when this was his first ever role as a manager? I don’t want to belittle his achievements since taking over the reigns either, his reintroduction of Adebayor into the team has been a masterstroke and his record of results stands up: 9 wins and 2 draws in 17 games. But like a lot of his predecessors, the record in the big games hasn’t been good, the hammerings against City and Chelsea in the league and the F.A. cup defeat at Arsenal being primary examples.
There’s no doubting Tim’s commitment to the cause either, after the game on Saturday he instructed his players to go and applaud the away support and I have to say, I admired a lot of what he had to say after the game: Yes, too many people at the club think we will make the top four even though we are way off the pace when compared to the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal – our results against the top four this season have only highlighted this. Yes, there is a soft centre to the current side; the team are missing the bite and commitment, especially in midfield, that was visible last season, all too often we have been bullied out of games. Sherwood is right to point out that the players have to stand up for themselves.
The unfortunate thing about all that is that, rightly or wrongly, the buck stops with the manager – end of story. Even allowing for injuries, Sherwood should have enough at his disposal to get the job done but all too often, this hasn’t been the case. Take Saturd for instance, his team selection was questionable to say the least, using Walker on the right side of midfield as a means of shackling Hazard worked for the most part but it meant that the attacking side of his game was limited. Lennon really struggled in the unfamiliar role of playing off Adebayor and was soon switched with Siggurdsson whose inclusion after injury was another talking point; personally I would have preferred to see Townsend. Another issue has been the inclusion of Bentalab as a regular starter in midfield, I admire Sherwood’s faith in the youngster and his attempt at bringing in some new blood to the team but he’s raw to say the least and goes missing in games all too often, he should be used more sparingly in my opinion.
Of course the manager hasn’t been helped in his cause by the constant rumours of a new appointment in the summer, Frank De Boer, Mauricio Pochettino and of course, Louis Van Gaal have all been linked to the manger’s post. There has always been a feeling that Sherwood was “only keeping the seat warm” for a future manager and by the sound of his comments on Monday, the former Blackburn man may be starting to believe this himself.
The main question about Sherwood having a go at his own players is what effect it will have for the remainder of the season? In my view this will have one of two results: it will either galvanise the team and spark them into life starting with the crucial games against Benfica and Arsenal or it will end up with him losing the dressing room completely and players refusing to give 100% to a manager that they have no faith in. Either way it’s a risky strategy for Sherwood and one gets the feeling it could be the last throw of the dice for a man that is already on borrowed time.
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