Spurs: Will Tim Go The AVB Or The Redknapp Route In Europe?
Widespread exasperation greeted the announcement of last night’s Spurs line up for the game at Newcastle. Twitter was alive with fans pointing out that playing Townsend and Lennon wide with Eriksen in behind Adebayor and two from Paulinho Capoue and Dembele in the middle was the blindingly obvious thing to do. Instead Sherwood persisted with the teenager Bentaleb in the middle, dropped Eriksen altogether and pushed Dembele out to the vacated left wing slot in preference to Townsend who is, you know, a left winger. To many it bordered on the perverse. Yet two hours later Tottenham left the field four-nil victors. Among the best performers in the most emphatic win of the season was Bentaleb with his energy and passing particularly eye catching.
Every time you think Sherwood’s shortcomings are about to become undeniable the team goes out and performs for him. Doubters will say we were fortunate to play an Everton team without a centre forward at the weekend and a Newcastle whose top scorer, Remy, was suspended last night. (It also didn’t hurt that Krul who broke records with his excellence at White Hart Lane in the autumn, had a stinker). But Sherwood’s supporters - and there are a few - simply point to his overall record. Ten league matches is a representative sample and Sherwood is averaging 2.3 points per game. AVB’s record for this season at the time of his departure was around 1.68. When the results keep coming, baffling team selections and an absence of discernible tactics are neither here nor there.
But there is a spectre at the feast. Sherwood oversaw early FA and League cup exits that have lead to a nice, relaxed schedule of league games but next week sees the return of European competition. Liverpool, not in Europe, could go out of the FA Cup this weekend against Arsenal and if they do they will have a distraction-free run in as they aim to clinch fourth place. For Spurs, a European cup run could mean an extra nine games and a taxing Thursday/Sunday routine between now and the end of the season. Most of AVB’s early season defeats came after Thursday night outings. Will Sherwood go for the Europa like his predecessor, risking similar consequences? Or will he do a Redknapp and play second string players, shrugging off the inevitable elimination to concentrate on the league? His selection for the next Thursday’s visit to Juande Ramos’s in form FC Dnipro in Ukraine will tell us.