Spurs: Our Season's Over But There Are Reasons To Be Cheerful
The last fortnight has seen Spurs lose to your two of their biggest rivals and crash out of Europe, effectively ending any purpose for the remainder of the season. Despite these results and overall poor season I believe there are good reasons to be optimistic going forward. The three loses may do more good than harm in the long-run whilst glimmers of the future were evident in the Moral Victory against Benfica.
The losses against Benfica, Chelsea and Arsenal will surely have planted the nail in Sherwood’s coffin – even if it hasn’t quite yet been hammered home. It was always an insane risk employing a man with zero experience at anything like the required level. The hope, I can only assume, was that Sherwood’s blood and thunder approach would revitalise the squad but that the tactical astuteness demonstrated by Sherwood with the U21s would also shine through.
The first half a dozen games under Sherwood certainly showed some evidence of revitalisation but this appears to be a change of approach offering a temporary boost as is often seen with new managers. As this initial boost dissolved what appears evident to most is that Timothy hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing from a tactical perspective. There appears to be no real purpose when Spurs get the ball and no organisation when defending. Spurs are still blunt when afforded possession but don’t set up to counter in most games.
On top of this Sherwood’s bluntness towards players and transfers will surely not be looked upon with favour by Levy. There’s a good reason not to slate your own players and suggest you’d be willing to sell them – it devalues them. AVB’s insistence that players evidently out the door would not be sold is a much better position if you are selling club. On top of this was Sherwood picking a fight with Jorge Jesus last week on the touchline. This behaviour may be accepted if you are a genius like Mourinho but if you are a rookie with no reputation for success it is just poor behaviour.
Assuming Sherwood does go then there is reason to assume that next year may be a positive one. Despite their collective efforts being subpar this season you can still see the individual talents in most of this squad. Additionally most of the squad are 27 or younger and so are yet to reach their peak. In Sandro, Christian Eriksen, Hugo Lloris and Kyle Walker you have the basis of a very good team. Since coming into the side Nabil Bentaleb has impressed most observers (despite legitimate questions about whether he should have started all the games he has). Vlad Chiriches showed some glimpses of an excellent, if amusingly erratic, centre-back. Paulinho, Moussa Dembele, Etienne Capoue, Roberto Soldado, Emmanuel Adebayor and Nacer Chadli are all talented footballers and many managers would be glad to use them in one capacity or another. The current squad is one that requires some cosmetic surgery – important to it’s wellbeing and performance but ultimately not requiring a complete heart transplant to start again.
Finally we come to Erik Lamela. It is fair to say that so far his transfer has been a complete and utter disaster. He has underperformed, struggled to adapt, been mismanaged and injured. This season, even if he does play again, has been a write-off which has tarnished the young-mans once budding reputation. It wouldn’t surprise me if he high-tails it back to Italy at the end of the season. But if he (or the club) decides that he stays for next season then harnessing Lamela’s obvious ability is another exciting prospect for any new manager to fit into the side next season.
Premier League history is littered with foreign imports that failed to make an impression in their first season but went on to flourish. There is some hope that after a year of settling –personally as much as professionally – that Lamela may go on to join the likes of Luis Suarez, Didier Drogba and Robert Pires who after poor starts lit up the league. The converse side of this argument is that Premier League history is littered with foreign players who initially struggled and never kicked on. Hopefully Lamela falls into the former category.
The near future of Spurs may not be entirely bleak as it might appear. There is the basis of a good, malleable squad which is technically gifted and should possess the ability to play a variety of styles of football. It is a squad that I believe Daniel Levy is likely to realise needs somebody with more tactical nous, experience and less of a ticking PR time-bomb than Tim Sherwood. Luciano Spaletti and Louis van Gaal are a couple of names who have been muted and you can envisage a brighter future with roughly the same squad under either coach.