Promising season fizzles out
7 April ~ Tim Sherwood did everything right following the sacking of André Villas-Boas and his own ascension to the position of Tottenham Hotspur head coach last December. He brought Emmanuel Adebayor back into the fold, gave the team more attacking freedom and was rewarded with five wins and a draw in his first six league matches in charge. His early success was not to last, however, and after four defeats in six, Spurs need a win against Sunderland tonight to move back ahead of Manchester United into sixth place. The top four finish that seemed a relatively realistic target at the start of the season is now all but out of reach.
Meanwhile a series of bizarre team selections and public utterances, not to mention a recent insistence on watching from the stands, have seen Sherwood swiftly become something of a joke figure.
The performances of the club’s most talented players (Adebayor and Christian Eriksen) have improved under Sherwood but the players (Aaron Lennon, Andros Townsend) and sections of the team (defence, central midfield) that require more extensive coaching have predictably regressed. Sherwood has looked painfully short of ideas in recent weeks and the club cannot afford to let him learn on the job.
Louis van Gaal, who will step down as head coach of Holland after the World Cup, appears to be the favourite to take over, although there are concerns about whether he would be willing to work under a director of football. Frank de Boer of Ajax and Southampton’s Mauricio Pochettino have both been mentioned, while Luciano Spalletti, whose position at Zenit was taken by Villas-Boas, is another attractive option.
It is an appointment that the board have to get right. We have managed to parlay the sixth-highest wage bill in the league into top five finishes in each of the last four seasons, consistently overperforming in relation to resources. If we are to continue to do so, we need a coach capable of getting the most out of a squad that, while deficient in some areas, does include of number of talented players. Eriksen, Erik Lamela, Paulinho and Vlad Chiriches will all surely improve in their second season in English football.
In the midst of an uninspiring end to the season, there was some good news this past week, with the club announcing that they anticipate going out to tender for construction of a revamped White Hart Lane by the end of the year. The plan is to be able to move into the partially finished stadium in the summer of 2017. With a season ticket waiting list of 47,000 there should be no problem filling it and the additional revenue should help us to continue competing at the top end of the table. Nick Dorrington