I never like to put gut reactions into articles. However, for the purposes of this article, I will describe to you my gut reaction to the news of Tim Sherwood's appointment as Tottenham manager.
Picture Anakin Skywalker burning, writhing in pain, screaming, completing his transition into evil. It seemed like the world around me, already built on unstable molten rock and pain, was falling apart. In just one week, we had gone from Andre Villas-Boas, an image of class, of method, of intelligence, Tim Sherwood, a man who has discredited himself in his time at Tottenham. In my eyes, the only man who had any favour for this appointment was Daniel Levy (conveniently the only man necessary for the appointment to happen). I was distraught.
Under AVB, Tottenham's style of play became stagnant. It lacked rhythm, had very little cutting-edge in the final third and primarily, it lacked goals. With 15 goals in 16 matches in the league, Liverpool fans were quick to point out that Luis Suarez alone had scored 17 goals in 11 league games this season. Due to this lack of attack, the team could not respond when our defence capitulated (cite West Ham, Man City and Liverpool games as proof). Critics would label Villas-Boas as 'stubborn', 'arrogant' and 'tactically-rigid' in his final months. Can the same be said of his replacement?
Sherwood seems willing to play two upfront, introducing Emmanuel Adebayor back to the first team with immediate results. He has also abandoned the holding midfielder role, a short term measure to deal with injuries to Sandro and Paulinho, hoping to create an attacking intent. The team is looking more free and open, guaranteeing goals and more movement in the final third.
It is clear that Tottenham must possess a bigger attacking threat and something more in the final third to challenge for the top four this season. A big change was needed. From two games under Sherwood, it is evident that we will see more attacking intent. Change is guaranteed, at least in the short term. In the long term, this will not work. With an 18-month contract, Sherwood would be wise to factor in the long term.
Across AVB's tenure, the man was given the task of modelling a new squad after losing key players of Redknapp's regime, notably Rafael van der Vaart, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale. In 18 months, 15 players came in and 17 players went out. AVB modelled his transfers to a 4-3-3 formation, focussing on a three-man midfield and one upfront. In this sense, there is no way that Sherwood can accommodate for the entire squad by playing 4-4-2. Sherwood's real aim should be making 4-3-3 work to Tottenham's gain.
Off the pitch, Tottenham are in a state of crisis. Fans are being overpriced and priced-out under the categorisation system, criminalised by over-zealous stewards and the police, dealing with legitimised ticket touting under StubHub, preparing for the effects of the new stadium in a few years time. The club have dealt with nine managerial changes across twelve years under Daniel Levy. Constant change. No stability.
I tell you this in an attempt to explain why any manager will struggle with this job, why a completely inexperienced coach in Sherwood, already disliked by a large section of the support for ratting out the Tottenham staff to the media and tensions with Glenn Hoddle in his managerial tenure, will struggle to succeed at this club.
Don't get me wrong, Sherwood has things going for him off the pitch as well. After being heavily involved with the youth setup since being appointed to Redknapp's coaching staff in 2008, Sherwood has spoken about his desire to promote more youth team players into the first team, something always pleasant to see. Sections of the media have praised Levy's willingness to give an English coach a chance at the top level, giving him the media backing that AVB never seemed to have.
Despite these things, despite weighing up both sides, despite the chairman's support for this appointment, I can only see Sherwood ending one way. The competition for the Champions League places this season is the most competitive ever. Many of the teams competing are in some sort of change, but none more so that Tottenham, on and off the pitch. The likelihood of a sustained challenge this year is unlikely. It'll all end in tears. It always does.
The appointment of Tim Sherwood was a massive gamble, the man even admitted it himself. To give a coach with no professional managerial experience whatsoever, a tainted history at the club and all the problems and instability of Levy's regime and expect him to deliver is madness. I never saw Villas-Boas' sacking as a positive; I don't see Sherwood's appointment as a positive.
Come June, the blood will be on Daniel Levy's hands.