And so we prepare to bid farewell to Timothy Alan Sherwood, after reports that he will be replaced as manager of Tottenham Hotspur come the end of this season, despite his side’s recent 5-1 drubbing of Sunderland.
On the Coshcast, we’ve made no attempt to hide our bemusement at the man who has led his team to some decent wins, some abysmal losses, and one total collective mental breakdown. We’ve even named a previous Coshcast, “Tim Sherwoord The PE Teacher“. Despite our disdain for the arrogant, tactically inept, desperately-in-need-of-media-training clown, I think it’s fair to say that we’ll miss him and his bizarre antics. He truly has been the Rob Ford of the Premier League. We thought it would be fun to recap his season highlights:
Sherwood’s first act was to relegate defensive midfielder and brand new signing Ettiene Capoue to the status of club mascot. Capoue – who had enjoyed a relatively good start to his Tottenham career – has barely been seen since, and the club tried unsuccessfully to flog him to Napoli in January for more than they paid for him last summer.
This leads us nicely onto Nabil Bentaleb, the 18 year-old Algerian-French central midfielder that Sherwood promoted from the Under 21s squad in place of Etienne Capoue as a bit of a f**k you to Tottenham’s Director of Football, Franco Baldini. Bentaleb has potential and is a promising player, but he’s been done no favours by his manager this season, who has started him in nearly every game whether his form deserved it or not. Meanwhile, the far more experienced Paulinho, Dembele, Sandro and Capoue have all had to spend a lot of time watching from the bench as Bentaleb has struggled his way to scapegoat-hood and derision.
One of Sherwood’s most impressive achievements has been to turn Jan Vertonghen from a top European centre back into an error-prone shambles who – every time he steps onto the pitch – looks like a teenager who has been dragged to the Garden Centre by his parents and pressured into having an opinion on a new floor plant. Equally, young left-back Danny Rose was improving under Andre Villas Boas. Sherwood seems to have instilled in him the positional awareness of Mitt Romney at an NWA concert.
In terms of player development, Timbo’s latest masterstroke has been to play his most creative player out of position. Christian Eriksen is one of Europe’s most promising number 10s, and thrives in a central position just off the striker. The Spurs manager’s insistence on shunting him to the left and forcing him to track back, while persevering with the underwhelming Nacer Chadli through the middle is nothing short of ridiculous. Add to this Aaron Lennon’s stint at number 10, Kyle Walker’s game played at right wing and Sigurdsson’s travails as a holding midfielder and one could almost start to believe that Sherwood – an Arsenal fan from childhood – is deliberately sabotaging his own team.
Other quick highlights:
- Banging on about the need to play with two strikers and then switching to 4-2-3-1 after a few games, albeit returning to 4-4-2 on occasion.
- Banging on about the need to play players in their correct position and then doing the opposite (see above).
- Generally insinuating that everything Andre Villas Boas did was wrong, and then often attempting to play in exactly the same way with one striker, inverted wingers and a suicidal high line that has been giving Michael Dawson vertigo all season. Perhaps it is an over-reliance on Hugo Lloris’ sweeping abilities, but successive Spurs managers have now defaulted to this strategy without implementing the pressing from the front that allows it to work.
Credit must be given where it’s due, though. Sherwood has certainly got the best out of Emmanuel Adebayor, and there seems to be real affection between the two to the point that they salute each other when the Togolese striker scores (as adorable as it is embarrassing). Of their relationship, Adebayor said, “But I was thinking about him in my head and he has done a big thing in my life. When everyone forgot about me, he gave me back my life, so I’m very grateful and I want to say a big thanks to him.”
It makes it all the more strange then that the manager has not been able to coax the best out of other members of his squad. If he has the man-management skills to be able to handle one of the game’s most enigmatic strikers, why has he failed so miserably at motivating other parts of his squad?
We’re unlikely to find out, and for all of the above criticism, it’s a little sad. Sherwood is a ridiculous character. He rants and raves on the touchline, throws his clothes at the bench, gesticulates wildly, and answers questions with questions. He is a cartoon buffoon. But he also has that Harry Redknapp-esque lovable rogue quality that makes him hard to dislike entirely. You rather want to bring him in from the cold, make him a cup of tea and have a good chat to try and get to the root of his problems. Maybe, if he’s lucky, a chairman of another club will do just that.