Spurs Have Far Bigger Issues Than Inexperienced Sherwood
In twenty years of supporting Spurs, it is difficult to think of too many more controversial figures at the club than Tim Sherwood.
Described as arrogant, divisive, unqualified and simply not good enough to perform his job, one would have to be remarkably thick-skinned to suggest that his tenure has been a success. The results have been steady, the football mediocre and there are unquestionably more divisions in the squad now than at any point in recent memory. In spite of this, the relentless, unwavering attempts of many Spurs fans to simply discredit the good moments in the past four months seem trite. In the context of a trigger happy board, a seemingly lackadaisical squad with a tendency to implode and a general attitude of, ‘see this year out and start again in June,’ certain aspects of his tenure deserve praise, and it should be noted that managerial failings alone have not led to this disappointing campaign.
One way in which Sherwood has positively impacted the club is his use of youth team players. On the flipside, a critic would argue that he does this to ‘prove a point,’ which has alienated senior players, but the emergence of Nabil Bentaleb, Harry Kane and to a lesser degree Zeki Fryers have been pleasing. Whilst many of our rivals are famed for producing young players, this is an area that we have lacked in for far too long. In an era of big money signings (and flops) it has been good to see the stars of our academy come into the side and take responsibility in important situations, none more so than Bentaleb’s performance in Lisbon.
It is unfortunate that many supporters cannot separate the Algerian fromSherwood. This has lead to unfair accusations, and shrouds the fact that a 19 year old has been able to perform well in the most difficult position on the pitch. Bentaleb has built a good foundation for himself at the club, and will hopefully have a big role to play next season in what will likely be a year of rebuilding. In addition to Bentaleb, Harry Kane deserves recognition for the way in which he has performed this month. After an unsuccessful loan spell at Norwich last season, he was largely written off by the majority of the fan base, so it is of great credit to him that he has come into the side, worked hard and been rewarded with goals. Likewise, it takes a brave manager to leave a record signing on the bench to accommodate a youth team player, so Sherwood should be commended for his use of the 20 year old.
The greatest defence of Sherwood, however, stems from the fact that he is surrounded by a board that regularly makes unfathomable decisions, and a squad who have shown little to no intention of making the most of their abilities since the season began. When the news broke about David Moyes’ departure from Manchester United this morning, a number of journalists and pundits diverted their attention towards the attitude of the squad, and whether they had really done enough to keep their manager. The same questions must be posed of the most expensive Spurs squad the club has ever had. Ultimately, whilst we do score more goals under Sherwood, the general play this season has rarely broken out of second gear. I am no fan of Andre-Villas Boas and felt his position had become untenable, but on reflection I have my sympathies towards him. Despite some decent results at the start of the year, the team always seemed too quick to accept defeat, summed up by the flat performance at the Emirates in August.
As a result, I am hesitant to put too much of the blame from games like Chelsea and Liverpool on Sherwood and his staff; they may have made mistakes in selection, but a team making 19 unforced errors leading to goals in a season suggests a dilemma far deeper than an inexperienced manager. Sherwood’s use of the media to air his issues with the squad has been unhelpful and attracted unnecessary attention to the troubles at the club, but I would question whether some have used this as another stick to beat him with and glaze over the more serious issues at the club. With the way he has carried himself since being given a job he didn’t deserve, Sherwood can have few complaints with some of the criticisms fans have made about his character, but the idea that he is sole problem at the club is simply wrong.
Since taking charge of the club, the team has generally performed well in the league and looks set to qualify for European football again, a must for a club with our ambitions. A tally of 70 points would be a good achievement, considering the malaise that the club found itself in after the dismantling by Liverpool in December. Ultimately, a ‘Defence of Sherwood,’ is as difficult as it may seem futile to some supporters, but by ignoring the good work he has done since getting the job, including some fine results against managers tipped to take his job, the genuine criticisms of his tenure seem blinkered and stubborn. Few fans will look back on this season with any pleasant nostalgia, but when it is remembered, the first negative that springs to mind shouldn’t be the mediocre performance of an inexperienced manager. There are, sadly, far bigger issues than that.