The parting of the ways

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

I am a staunch believer in sticking with your manager and players, in giving things time to settle and allowing people to prove themselves. Just last week I wrote not just about the objective reasons why Tim Sherwood would be our manager next season, but also why this is something I would support. Whilst one should always exercise caution in changing their mind about such matters on the basis of 90 minutes of football, sometimes there are watershed moments. There was something rotten about Tottenham on Sunday afternoon; something I haven’t seen dressed in Lillywhite for a fair few years: an indifferent and perfunctory attitude that quite frankly, really pissed me off. I am not directing all my disappointment at poor Mr. Sherwood, but something at White Hart Lane needs to change and it needs to change fast.

My first suspicions about the mindset that was being taken into the game were aroused by the television shots taken in the tunnel. Jan Vertonghen slouched against the wall enjoying a nice chat with the Liverpool players, Danny Rose in casual conversation with Howard Webb and Roberto Soldado with a look on his face nothing short of fear. One must always accept being beaten by the better team, even soundly beaten if they produce a superb performance. Yet, when you know you’ve lost the match before the line-ups have been read across the PA-system, there is something wrong. Say what you want about Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Michael Carrick. They all knew that they wanted out at the end of the season; their agents had been in their ears about the overtures of big clubs for months before the curtain came down. Yet, they gave it everything, they played for the club and cared where we would finish, even if they weren’t going to be around to enjoy the benefits next season. I don’t see that in the body language or the performances of any our players and that is a real worry for two reasons.

The first and most obvious is that our season is (barring a catastrophic implosion by both Everton and Arsenal) now over. There is little left to play for and the players seem to have little desire to play for it regardless. This is of course depressing in its own right. The final six games of the season are likely to be played with the flip-flops on, shying away from tackles to avoid a world-cup ending injury. This is going to be dull to watch and frankly a waste of money for season ticket holders. Nevertheless, there is a second deeper, much more worrying question that this situation throws up.

I started this article with a mention to our manager, Tim Sherwood; yet, don’t let this deceive you. The criticism for today’s performance can’t be laid like a flaming bag of excrement solely at his door. There were 11 players on that pitch this afternoon, a majority of whom, no matter how loudly their fans were singing, no matter how much they are paid, couldn’t have cared less about the result. Whilst the manager is of course responsible for motivation and alike, he can’t change personalities overnight and he can’t make mercenaries play for the badge. Our squad resembles a cacophony of the not good enough and the couldn’t give a shit with a sprinkling of individual yet muted talent. The second, much deeper issue that I wish to discuss is what on earth we are going to do about. I think something needs to change, I said so in my introduction, but what and how?

The issue we are faced with is that most criticisms of our season can be traced back to the summer upheaval and replacement in our squad. If I hear one more commentator or columnist state how we shouldn’t have bought that many new players, I am going to throw a Sherwood and my now hallmark Gilet is going for a trip out of the window. Of course we bought too many players, I know it, you know it, surely even at this stage the immovable Daniel Levy knows it. Great, thank you Mr. Guardian Columnist, you win, we were wrong and you were right: we shouldn’t have blown all the Gareth Bale money in one fell swoop and now we’re up the proverbial creek with no paddle. However, what a lot of these writers have failed to notice is that we now seem to be caught in a catch-22. We’ve just paid the price for squad upheaval and wholesale changes; yet, we’re nearly all in agreement that a lot needs to change at the Lane, including a good number of the players. So, do we stick with what we’ve got and hope they gel over the summer, or do we instantly repeat our mistake of 2013 and have a clear out? To be brutally honest with you all, I don’t know.

The former option of trying to make it work with what we’ve got throws up more questions than Jeremy Paxman on a Monday evening. Do we try and aim for full continuity and keep Tim too? Surely a change of manager would bring further upheaval. What do we do about the players like Jan, Hugo and Eric who may well push for a move? The stick option in this complicated game of Blackjack seems like asking for trouble. There are too many players in the squad who are just not good enough for Spurs or who are good enough, but know it. Keeping this poisonous stew and letting it simmer over a warm summer might lead to another November sacking and pitiful top-4 attempt.

Yet, the latter option is a minefield in its own right. If this were Football Manager or FIFA 14, I’d get rid at least half of our squad. Naughton, Dawson and Rose are not good enough for a team wanting to play Champions League football. If Vertonghen doesn’t want to be here, then don’t make him. If Real Madrid offered me £30 million for Paulinho I’d drive him there myself. I love Aaron Lennon, he was the first name I ever got printed on the back of my shirt, but he has produced next to nothing all season. The less said about Soldado, the better. Nonetheless, this isn’t a computer game and team chemistry is something far more complex than a score out of 100 on your XBOX. If we go and ship out all the dead wood and try replacing it for a second summer running, then aren’t we just repeating old mistakes? It’ll be another season of transition; John Motson will introduce our “New Look Side” on August 10th and we can all pack up and go home for another year.

It seems that we have no option but to plum for the lesser of two evils. I, for one, have yet to decide which one of the two options presented that is. Perhaps I’ll make up my mind over the next six weeks. Perhaps a couple of players will come to the same conclusion and might even start playing for their Spurs career. Although, on the basis of today’s performance, that would be optimistic to the point of absurdity. I don’t know which way Daniel Levy will go but you can bet it will divide opinion in the stands, the press and the dressing room. Whether this summer is the parting of the ways for our staff and a number of our players is a decision that may well determine the foreseeable future of this club.

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  1. Our season was over before it started, after the idiotic kids-in-sweetshop spending splurge, and with the wrong manager who no longer had Bale to cover his inadequacies. I don’t blame Sherwood – was put in impossible situation with no notice. He’s got potential as a manager and could be good for a Championship club initially.

    The real villains and incompetents are the board and Baldini – I’d unload the lot of them tomorrow if I could.

    • Yes but the vast majority of Spurs fans (probably including you) were almost wetting themselves with excitement and couldn't wait for the season to get underway at the time those players were bought. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I can only remember Wenger expressing doubts at the time and he was derided by the vast majority of Arsenal fans at the time.

    • moron, you don't blame Sherwood! he is the instigator of all the unrest at the club and AVB will go on to prove himself a quality coach. The only potential Sherwood has is as a bouncer. He took a decent squad and ruined it and built divisions and unrest within the squad. The only thing I can agree with is the incompetent board siding with the wrong man. We have our Tottenham back and I don't like it one little bit.

  2. I have been a Lillywhite all my life, l am now 62 years old. Sadly, the players are to blame for the demise of clubs, and sadly l feel that Tim, should be relieved of his role. Spurs need a manager that will lead the team and not sit back and allow them to get away with it. Spurs fan have been brought up on honours and attacking teams. Sadly, we are not getting it. Our season is now over.
    We have to start rebuilding now. Bring back Hotlby, and get rid of Soldada who will surely go down as the worst striker we have ever bought.

      • rebrov was not a striker, he was a No. 10 to A. shevchenko @ D. kiev but the idiots tried to use him as a striker and with no partner to suit his game,
        we are the same club that their manager & scouts recomend &signe SAHA, NELSON….and other over 30's but reject to signe SUAREZ !!!! T. S &L.F are to blame.
        i think sherwood has to go ASAP cuz he,s not a PL manager whatsoever. no experience. no knowlwdge of modern game tactics, he,s mentors are like s of K. daliglish & H. Redknap for f.. sake.
        we have to go for L V G. some one who knows how to use continental players and knows about modern game and tactics, someone who strikes fear and respect into this team and apponents.

  3. Sherwood has to go he cares but not good enough tactically useless and from todays performance he has lost the players

  4. Get Laudrup tonight before it's to late. Good manager, premier experience, available, cheaper than Van Gaal, liked to play good football.

  5. In 10 years time i'll be able to tell my Grandchildren that i watched us play Real Madrid in the QF's of the European Cup, they'll never believe me, probably put it down to dementure.

  6. There is no balance in the side, the players are good as individuals but guess what? it's a team game and no-one since Harry (sorry had to mention him..) has talked about a balanced side that is capable of keeping the ball and having a strong spine in more ways than one. Let's get the basics right and instill some passion and fight in the players. We don't want anyone playing for the club who wouldn't give everything during the game. Fans pay good money for these guys to represent the club we love and who wants to be mediocre? Top players work hard to get to the top. I've seen some great players, the common factor being they do not give up…ever!

  7. Season was over as soon as the sun reading fan of talksport, levy got rid of Avb who, by the way, is probably lhfao!!

  8. Inept management is at the core. Tim is not up to the job and has no tactical nous. He may have the potential to be a good manager one day but this is not the day.

    Today was an example. Talk about hit and hope.

    But all the signs are there. Soldado, 4 ft nothing and utterly incapable of receiving any other ball than to feet playing as a sole striker. Completely ineffective and on the rare occasion he finds himself in front of goal with the ball cannot hit a barn door. Don't keep telling me he lacks confidence and will come good. He hasn't got it in him. He's just not up to the premier league, full stop. Inept management, you bet
    We let Benny go on loan leaving us with only Danny Rose as a lone left back, he's just not up to the job as the main man, nor has he got anybody in the position to learn from. Inept management, you bet.
    We sell Caulker who now all the talk is of buying him back. Inept management, you bet.
    I love Kaboul when he's both fit and match fit, but he never is. If he's not injured he's not match fit and it shows.
    I love Sandro but his wholehearted nature that I love means he's either injured or walking a disciplinary tightrope.
    Political games between a director of football and the manager means players bought that the manager doesn't want. Multimillion pound players left on the bench or out of the squad altogether, inept management, you bet.
    Players played out of position almost wholesale undermining confidence and cohesion, inept management, you bet. Or is it that the management just doesn't understand our players best positions or the importance of teamwork in a team game, either way, inept management you bet.
    The list could go on and on.
    Anybody can make a mistake or two, nobody's perfect. But a good manager in any walk of life is one who gets 8 out of 10 decisions right and not 2 out of 10

  9. Please get rid of sherwood…every chance he gets to beat top teams we FUCKING LOSE not a least a draw. UNITED DOESN'T COUNT

  10. I hate to say it but we need to change again. Tim is not a top four manager, the players are not top four players, we wonder why we're not top four, why?. There is no way Danny Rose and Dawson should be playing at this level week after week I see Rose on the wrong side of his player, and Dawson is so slow and makes the biggest howlers week in week out. Naughton should never make the fist team ever I'm sorry to say Soldado would have trouble scoring in a Sunday side. Yet we get told by Sherwood we didn't need cover for Defoe we were strong enough in attack, whilst every supporter was screaming out we need cover, don't he look at our goal difference? With a totally laughable defence and strikers who can't score no wonder we're -4GD. The problem, is the bad players bring the rest of the team down no matter how well the rest of the team play these clowns throw it all away. Every time we have to defend the team panic they know with our defence Is leakier than a chocolate teapot. Llores pulls off some great saves yet he gets no protection from the defence no wonder he has been linked away. Vertongan has given up working with this bunch of idiots. No wonder he wants away. Paulinho not getting picked over the managers love child Bentaleb. No wonder he wants away. The thing is Erikson is fighting a losing battle no one to create for he wi be the next to want away. Lennon showed promise when playing with Bale, Modric, Van de Vart but is extremely limited with the current crop of wasters. Or I could be wrong and if I am it didn't cost £110million.

  11. Look through the great sides of old, at any level, and it started with a solid defensive line that held their ground, kept play in front of them, stopped play, passed to a more creative guy, and moved back to their position. The best side I've ever seen was the 94 Milan team, and they had amazing talent but the Costacurta, Maldini, Baresi etc back line solidified the game and let the creative guys do their thing.

    Look at Spurs. We've got two full backs who spend the whole game in the winger position giving away the ball and then standing there, and four CBs. One is too slow and error-prone for this league (MD), one is mentally at another club (JV), one is terminally injury prone (YK) and the only one who looks to have quality and desire is on the treatment table (VC).

    I have no doubts that Eriksen, Sandro, Paulinho and Lamela can be a great force in the midfield (the Beast already is), but not when Eriksen is having to fill in at LB and Paulinho/Lamela pull a muscle when they cough. Get a solid base, and then go from there.

    In fact if the midfield could concentrate on being midfielders and getting forward, rather than covering back for a too-high, wheezy, talentless bunch of defensive wasters, then the ball might be on the floor and Soldado can do what he's paid to do. Or indeed Jermain did. But all the while they're deep, then the ball forward is long and neither Soldado nor the much missed Defoe are designed for that. The worlds best forwards (generally) don't count 'height and holding up the ball' as their calling cards. Romario wasn't exactly Crouch was he.

    Then again, with a manager spending the game as a paid fan in the stands, what the freak do you expect?

  12. Posted this on another forum but thought I'd share it here too, it's a bit long, but I had a lot to say!
    I have to say it, I don’t think I will ever see Spurs challenge for the title ever. I have supported them since the late 70′s when I was 10. I stood on the shelf when we crammed in there, and games were always winable, and we still didn’t challenge for the title back then. If anything things have got worse.
    There are so many games we enter now with the attitude we can’t really win this, may be we can get lucky. Things have been like that for years now, apart from the odd season here and there. As I said things ahve got worse, I mean that in the sense that we seem to continually year after year be the main factor and contributor to our own failing. The team or players (bar 1 or 2 over the last 30 years) never seems to become part of the fabric of the club, part of the fans dreams while they play for our club. There is never a proper season on season, and season long focus and drive on being the best team in the division, a desire to be at the top of the pile.
    It appears to me that players do not actually view our club as the one that will be where the pinnacle of their careers are reached, and the medals will be won at. We are a big club with an unbelievably huge fan base, London status, and a name fortunately steeped in football history because of some extrordinary exploits by players and teams long since gone. We are a high profile midway club now, players not quite good enough for their agents to get them into the top paying clubs, instead direct them to us, with the nudge and wink of ‘If you put in a few decent performances at Spurs, they are under the spotlight, big with the media, then we’ll get the transfer into the real big money and medals’.
    So they never really come to our club with the sole ambition of making the move to be part of a successful club or team. It’s just a shop window, so every player is focused on their own personal ambitions, as opposed to those of the collective, and this is why we never play as a team and individuals always make mistakes. If you don’t think as a team, you play as if you are not part of one. We do not have a team, we have 11 players who just wear the same shirt and happen to play on the same piece of grass in the best league in football under the gaze of the world, thats not a team.
    What we have is Dawson or a Lennon, they know Spurs is as good as it will get for them in their playing careers, hoping to grab a cup medal if luck brings it their way. Then you have the Roses and Naughtons, who came in with fingers crossed they’d turn out to be good enough and young stars, a gamble if you like, if it doesn’t work out they become squad players or move to Hull. Finally you have the Eriksens, Lamelas and Chadlis etc, these fall into the Modric, Carrick, Berbatov camp. Others teams, high profile teams, liked them,but are not quite prepared to sign them till they see if they can cut it, and that’s where our beloved Spurs plays it’s role, or gets used as the shop window. If these guys make it for a season it’s ‘get me one of the high profile clubs’ being texted to their agent.
    Ok the club does well out of it financially, but it’s meant to be about the glory, and the players believe the glory is else where. So in my view it’s pointless blaming the managers. Are you telling me, every single one we have had in the past 30 years is useless, it can’t be true. It’s the players perception of the club and what they can achieve there that is the issue.
    It is at this point that I do believe a manager earns his corn though, before a player is signed he needs to have the ability to spot or sense if the player really wants to succeed with our club or just use us, because a player with a desire to succeed becomes like a virus, it spreads,and then, guess what you are left with, a team of hungry players, who want to make their mark at our club, fill their living rooms with medals and write their names in the history books. All it needs is one player with a touch of quality, and that belief and desire to make Spurs his club for life, and bingo.
    It really is that simple, and then I will see Spurs challenge for and win a title one day.

    • I've been a Spurs fan since the '78-'79 season and I'm afraid I came to the same conclusion many years ago. We need another Bill Nic, our own purple-faced Alex Ferguson to get out of this rut. We need a manager for whom Spurs is the be-all-and-end-all. To be quite heretical, we need an Arsene W to do for us what he did for the Woolwich in his first 10 years. Until then, we will always be a wannabe club, a stepping stone for ambitious and talented managers and players on their way to glory at national European cup winning clubs. Remember that heroes such as Hoddle, Waddle and Sheringham had to leave WHL to win national titles and compete at the very highest level in Europe. Teddy actually came back after he'd had enough of winning titles with the attendant pressure and expectation at the Manx. And guess what, we were grateful to him for coming back!
      It used to annoy me when other football professionals, pundits and fans described Tottenham either as flash Essex boys or trying to do things on the cheap. I realized sometime ago that those comments hurt because they contained an element of truth. I now look at Spurs as a very rich West Ham, a fair amount of money, a bigger fan base but essentially the same non-winning mentality. Liverpool were always going come good one of these days, because at the core of that club is a winning mentality, a NEED to win. We don't have that, have never really had that in my lifetime and I'm 47. Until we can discover that winning mentality, or the person, chairman or manager, who can turn us into a title winning club, we'll continue to go round and round in circles, going from crisis to crisis, bringing in new managers and players and generally playing the big I AM whilst not really going anywhere. Will this ever happen in my lifetime? One can only hope!

  13. I hate negative comments and always prefer solutions, but, sadly the solution requires a negative comment in this instance! Sherwood must go, end of discussion. Without doubt the worst manager we have had in my 29 years as a manager. He is out of his depth and too arrogant to accept his shortcomings!

    Away from home against the leagues inform team and he played his love child and siggy in central midfield? Likewise, soldado scores his first goal from open play and then gets benched for 3 games AND when he is brought back it's on a weakened team away from home in Europe!
    Great way to boost his confidence Tim…

    And don't even get me started on his comments after the game, if you can't effect what's happening on the pitch you shouldn't be the fucking manager!!!!!!!!!!!!


  14. That is the first time I've turned the TV off before the end of the game, sick of the scorn from the two commentators for the way we played. If I was a Man City or Chelsea fan, I'd be suspicious that we took a bribe to throw the game.

  15. This isn't just hindsight: I posted on this site in another thread before the game that Eriksen's defensive shortcomings would cost us and within the first minute Johnson had skipped round him for the cross fr the first goal. If even I can see playing Eriksen on the left leaves us exposed defensively surely a professional manager should notice.
    Sherwood's main problem is stubbornness: he comes up with what he thinks is a clever idea, playing Walker at right wing, switching Eriksen & Chadli's positions, promoting Benelab, and he persists with it even when everyone else can see it's not working. And his temper tantrums pitchside are a sign he's not thinking clearly – which is the prime requirement for a manager. His man management is poor, such as his public slagging off of players after the Chelsea match and dropping Soldado just when he finally scored, not to mention the obvious favouritism.
    And tactically naive – not playing a specialist defensive midfielder (when we've got Sandro!) at Anfield and hoping Siggursson could fill in in an unfamiliar role. Sorry but Sherwood isn't yet a top division manager. He needs to spend a few season managing at a lower level under less pressure to learn the skills needed. I admire his passion but he's not what's needed at Spurs now. I'm not sure we'd be much better off if AVB had been given until the end of the season – which I thought his results in his first season entitled him to – but it would have made it much easier to convince a top manager to come to Spurs if they could expect to be given a fair chance.

  16. Well said Jon! 100% right. Why would any manager at any level go to a top club that's in poll position to win the title and leave proven world class players on the bench and field a team of young men that are not interested in playing for our club. The reason is simple! Tim Sherwood has achieved what he set out to do and that was to make sure Spurs would not finish above Arsenal and just in case his team( Arsenal) did slip up he was going to make sure Everton were tight on our heels. Job done Tim!!!! Please Mr Levy do us all a favour and ease the suffering, for the fans sake go buy 7 ONE WAY tickets
    (1) Aaron Lennon (2) Danny Rose (3)Kyle Naughton (4)Nabil Bentaleb. (5) Andros Townsend (6) Tim Sherwood. Oh gosh you have one spare! Please feel free to use that one yourself and let us enjoy our life!!!!

  17. Are either Paulinho, Capoue or Bentaleb better than Huddlestone?… i dont think so. Is Soldado better than Defoe? No!… Are Rose or Naughton better than Benny? not really!
    None of the above wanted to leave. Changing for changing sake is a waste of time and Money. Should have kept those 3 (and possibly Crouchy, who by the way is also better than Soldado or Kane) and just used the Bale Money for just one or two world class players particularly central defenders.

  18. saw all the games in the double season and must say it was a much better fan who supported tottenham then unlike the dopes who blat on about nothingness because they can as regards twitter and facebook and this, get a life.STFU!!!!!!

  19. tottenham have to find a way of scoring 3 goals per game because there allways likely to concede 2 goals its are tradition thats why its always exiteing watching spurs play over the years,but what ever going on at the club you can tell the players look like they ve never trained together,they cant use the europa cup as an excuse now,sherwood needs to build good performaces untill the end of the season,but it looks like some of the players have given up already,verts doesnt want to play for us,kaboul a gonna,they might aswell play fryers and sandro in defence now,


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