Appointing Tim Sherwood as manager, sorry, head coach, has a certain logic to it. The most compelling reason of all, though, is almost certainly that Sherwood was available. There’s hope here too – the appointments Daniel Levy makes without the benefit of some elaborate plan tend to be the better ones, witness Martin Jol and Harry Redknapp. But whatever the reason, there’s nothing to be gained by arguing about it – Sherwood’s in the seat.
I don’t share the view that appointing him for 18 months perpetrates the instability that is so evident at the club. If it had been a straightforward appointment, Levy’s track record would have pointed to Sherwood getting the boot within that period anyway, depending on when Levy read a book or got someone else whispering in his ear about another very clever plan. If Sherwood does well, presumably he will get an extension. Although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what doing well constitutes in Levy’s eyes. The logic I mentioned comes from the fact that Sherwood has been coaching the younger players in the same way he will expect the first team to play. So there is a common playing philosophy running through the club.
It was daft, but par for the course at modern Spurs, that the technical director and the head coach had different ideas about the way the game should be played. It remains to be seen if the director of football’s ideas chime with the new head coach’s. If they don’t, there’s plenty of room for finger-pointing if things don’t work out. Which seems to be the purpose of the system Levy has established.
There’s much being said about coaching badges and the merits of a supposedly fancy dan ‘foreign’ approach against good old British common sense – much of it nonsense. Sherwood will prove himself by motivating the players and getting them playing attractive, successful football. At the moment no one knows if he can or not – least of all Levy. But, as I said, Sherwood was available and there’s a certain logic to making an appointment and getting on with it.
Sherwood seems to have the support of the players, who once again are very disappointed with their inability to do the basics properly and have vowed not to let it happen again. Again. One must presume he won’t have to deal with discontented personnel briefing the media with negative stories, although how Baldini reacts to the new regime leaves room for worry. And perhaps Alan Sugar may take the opportunity to stop dispensing his words of wisdom so publicly every five minutes. Sherwood will certainly face a more sympathetic press than AVB ever had, especially with his best mate Jamie Redknapp in a key position – and we can expect Harry to let us know how Sherwood’s tenure is really an extension of his own on a regular basis. All this will dampen any press opposition, which in turn may mean Levy is less inclined to start panicking and courting new clever plans the first time things look shaky. I emphasise the word ‘may’.
The most disturbing thing about AVB’s departure, aside from the decision being taken when the club’s board clearly had absolutely no idea what to do next, was that he appeared to have given up by the end. We’ll probably never know what the turning point was – it may be as far back as missing out on the Moutinho deal. On that, Levy’s decision to haggle over £500,000 in a £26m deal looks very much as if he sees proving a point about his negotiating powers as more important than any footballing decision. The manner of AVB’s departure reminded more of Santini’s than anything else. Not quite as quick, but a similar feeling that someone had concluded Levy’s system was unworkable. More self-inflicted damage.
Sherwood may be the new broom that is needed. He is certainly not short on self confidence and it is to be hoped he manages to rope off the footballing side of things as much as possible from the meddlesome bungling of Levy and co. He also, if the evidence of the Southampton game is anything to go by, needs to wise up about how to deploy his players. That’s not a call for what the British Common Sense Brigade would dismiss as fancy dossiers and PowerPoint presentations, just recognition that a better a side than that Southampton team would rip that Spurs team to shreds.
The Spurs fan community being what it is, there already seem to be some almost wanting Sherwood to fail to prove a point, just as there were those on both sides of the AVB debate that seemed to value proving a point above the club’s success – shades of Levy perhaps? In the end, I don’t believe any of us wishes anyone at Spurs any ill, we all want success. I thought AVB was the answer, but he wasn’t, and it’s no good picking over the bones of that one. I want Sherwood and Spurs to succeed, but I have no idea if he will or not.
In that respect, I can certainly identify with Daniel Levy. The difference is that I am not banking £2.2m a year to have absolutely no idea of what’s going on. While I acknowledge Levy and his board have done much to put the club on an even keel, it strikes me that Levy’s biggest advocates emphasise what he is not, rather than what he is. He has not plunged the club into debt, changed the colour of the kit or the name of the club. And for that, we must be truly grateful. But, 12 years into a three-year plan to sell the club for a profit, neither has he established the kind of strong, identifiable core that runs through the heart of successful clubs. And don’t mention the stadium. The success that has come seems to be in spite of, rather than because of, him, and there are too many instances of shots in the foot to give him any credibility on the football front.
It may be that Sherwood and his allies are now in more of a commanding position than any previous faction that has held sway in the Court of King Daniel. What Spurs need more than anything is stability, an end to short-termism, and a determination to make what is wrong right rather than throw everything away and start again with new. The only thing I can predict with confidence is that us fans will be paying a lot of money to find out what happens.
It’s been a busy year and I’m taking advantage of Christmas to have a complete break from the web and social media. I’ll be back in the new year, until then, happy holidays.