Spurs: Why Does Tim Keep Overlooking Christian Eriksen?
Despite the usual brickbats on Twitter, a one nil away defeat in Europe is acceptable - as long as Sherwood can rally the troops to pile on the misery for Chris Hughton at Carrow Road on Sunday.
Spurs don’t lose very often. Except in cup games. Tim Sherwood has managed nine out of 10 undefeated games in the league; in the cups he’s lost three out of three.
In the aftermath of yesterdays defeat to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, there was the usual coruscating fury from incredulous Spurs fans on Twitter - castigating the manager and players, in particular Naughton, Dawson, Bentaleb, Townsend and Soldado. It was the usual stuff.
The truth is, a narrow one-nil first leg reverse in deepest, darkest Ukraine is actually a perfectly okay result, particularly when you consider that Sherwood had sensibly left Loris, Walker, Dembele, Adebayor, Lennon and Sandro at home to get some rest and relaxation ahead of that Norwich trip.
Ukraine, it should be remembered, is no footballing backwater, and Dnipro is a club that pays decent wages.
Well, decent enough wages for them to employ an expensive manager in Juande Ramos, pricey foreign imports such as Brazilian international Giuliano, and the coveted winger Yevhen Konoplyanka who lived up to his hype and scored the winning penalty.
Of course the game did raise some increasingly familiar questions about Sherwood’s tactics and team selection. Do the midfield go out with any kind of plan? Why has he apparently gone off Christian Eriksen, the best playmaker at the club?
The Dane was given just 26 minutes to influence the game in the Ukraine. In that time he made three successful crosses from four attempts. The whole rest of the team managed one from twelve in the entire 90 minutes.
That stat tells you all you need to know about Eriksen and his class, and it is to be hoped that he’ll be reunited soon with Adebayor in the central partnership that so terrorised the Swansea defence in the league a few weeks ago - but has remained largely untried since.
As for the hapless Soldado, some may have given up on him, but many still see enough to suggest that he just needs a bit of luck in front of goal to get going.
Sadly the re-emergence of Adebayor means his opportunities are now more limited. The last time the Spaniard played a Europa League game at White Hart Lane, he scored a hat trick.
Perhaps Sherwood will take that into account when he selects the team for next Thursday’s return match.
In the meantime, Spurs fans might feel a tinge of guilt wishing for an emphatic victory on Sunday at Carrow Road because it could mean the end of Lilywhite legend Chris Hughton’s reign as Norwich boss.
Stats-wise, Tottenham’s hugely impressive away form, and Norwich’s continuing inability to score goals, only point to one result.
But this will be Sherwood’s first try at winning on a Sunday after returning from an arduous European trip on a Thursday so perhaps there’s hope for Hughton yet.