Can Sherwood use his many years of experience as Blackburn and Spurs captain to lead Tottenham to glory?

A workable solution: What Tottenham’s choice of Sherwood implies about Villas-Boas’s shortcomings

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Though I was a bit skeptical of how Tim Sherwood was going about his campaign, there was always one quality in his favor as he sought the Tottenham job. As he showed on Sunday when passing over Etienne Capoue, selecting Nabil Bentaleb to replace Mousa Dembélé in midfield, the man who has signed on to manager Spurs for the next 18 months knows more about the club’s players than anybody  who’d been linked with the job. Who else would have know an 19-year-old French midfielder with no previous Premier League experience was capable of stepping into Dembélé’s shoes?

[MORE: Tottenham officially appoints Tim Sherwood manager]

“I’ve known [Tottenham] from the grassroots right up to the first team,” Sherwood said on Monday, having had the interim tag shed from his job description. “[I’ve] worked at every level of the football club and played here, so I know it better than most.

“Hopefully that will stand me in good stead taking this club forward.”

It’s an interesting proposition, the idea that Sherwood’s familiarity with the club will be important moving forward. The notion’s certainly an intuitive one, and unless he starts playing favorites (perhaps proving partial to players he’s developed an affinity for in the youth ranks), it’s difficult to see where familiarity will steer him wrong.

source: AP
André Villas-Boas carried a reputation of being prideful to White Hart Lane from Stamford Bridge, with speculation that had carried over into internal club dynamics coloring his Dec. 16 dismissal. (Photo: AP)

But what familiarity does Sherwood have with Erik Lamela? Does he have some special insight on Christian Eriksen, Roberto Soldado and Vlad Chiriches that André Villas-Boas lacks? And what does his time as technical coordinator at Spurs bring to bear on incorporation Capoue, Paulinho, and Nacer Chadli?

If Villas-Boas’s biggest undoing was his inability to mold a squad from Tottenham’s disparate parts, Sherwood’s familiarity with Spurs’ organizational dynamics is unlikely to prove better suited. But perhaps, in handing Sherwood an 18-month deal, Daniel Levy is tipping his hand. Maybe the biggest issue with “AVB” wasn’t the results on the field? Perhaps it was that combined with some deficiency in organizational acumen, and that won’t be a problem under Sherwood.

We’ve heard about this before with Villas-Boas – his pride and inability to work well with others being a potential failing. To this point, those faults remain speculative, ones that don’t become concrete with Sherwood’s hiring. Yet if you look at what Sherwood brings to the job — what he has that AVB does not — it’s not experience. It’s not youth, ideas, managerial achievement, or prestige. Given Villas-Boas had been at the club long enough to become intimately familiar with all its inner-workings, the distinct quality Sherwood seems to bring is an ability to mesh with the rest of Tottenham’s management team.

Beyond Villas-Boas, there are a number of candidates who’d bring a more accomplished managerial than Sherwood’s to White Hart Lane, and if the next six months are rocky ones, somebody like Borussia Möchengladbach’s Lucien Favre will surely be approached. (Or, if you buy into the speculation in the Netherlands, Louis Van Gaal may already have a handshake deal.) But in the interim, Daniel Levy’s apparently made a move for stability, and while that may not help Sherwood unlock the talents of Erik Lamela, it could ensure he stays on the same page as the rest of the organization.

AFCON wrap: Tunisia joins Senegal in knockout rounds (video)

Tunisia's Wahbi Khazri smiles during a press conference in Libreville, Gabon, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, ahead of their African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match against Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
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Half of the field is set for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations knockout rounds, as Group B completed his final day of group play on Monday in Gabon.

[ FIFA: World Cup draw date at Kremlin ]

Senegal will move onto play Cameroon on Saturday, while Tunisia will take on Burkina Faso.

Senegal 2-2 Algeria

Leicester City’s Islam Slimani scored twice, but it wasn’t enough to get Algeria into the knockout rounds of AFCON.

Papakouly Diop and Moussa Sow answered Slimani’s goals, and Senegal enforced its hold on the group it had already clinched after two matches.

Algeria needed a win and help, and looked to get it when Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani carried over their chemistry from the Foxes of England to the Fennecs of Algeria.

Zimbabwe 2-4 Tunisia

Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri scored of the fourth of Tunisia’s first half goals as the Eagles of Carthage emphatically clinched their knockout round spot. Tunisia lost in the quarterfinals in 2015.

Lille’s Naïm Sliti was also among the goal scorers for Tunisia, with Youssef Msakni (Lekhwiya) and Taha Yassine Khenissi (Esperance de Tunis) also netting markers.

Tendai Ndoro (Orlando Pirates) and Knowledge Musona (Oostende) scored for Zimbabwe.

Three USMNT players leave camp, two with injuries

Kekuta Manneh chases the ball during practice of the U.S. men's national soccer team Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Carson, Calif. Manneh has become a U.S. citizen, moving the Vancouver Whitecaps forward closer to eligibility for the men's national team. U.S. Soccer announced Manneh received his citizenship Wednesday, after the opening practice of January training camp under new coach Bruce Arena. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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Less than a week from Bruce Arena’s second debut as USMNT boss, we know three players who won’t be in the Starting XI.

Injuries have felled FC Dallas duo Kellyn Acosta and Matt Hedges, while Vancouver attacker Kekuta Manneh is leaving the squad to join his ‘Caps teammates for preseason in Wales.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League Playback ]

Acosta has a mild left ankle sprain and Hedges has a mild right knee sprain.

While Manneh may have been a long shot to see significant playing time on Sunday against Serbia or Feb. 4 versus Jamaica, Hedges had a chance to start at center back and Acosta has been capped before as well.

FIFA going to Kremlin for World Cup draw in December

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  Vladimir Putin, President of Russia speaks as FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter looks on during the Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at The Konstantin Palace on July 25, 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says it will stage the 2018 World Cup draw on Dec. 1 at a Kremlin concert hall in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been allowing FIFA to use high-profile venues for World Cup ceremonies.

In July 2015, the qualifying program draw was made on the grounds of one of Putin’s official residences, Konstantin Palace near St. Petersburg. The summer was home built at the direction of Peter the Great.

The World Cup in Russia kicks off on June 14 at Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital, and returns there for the final on July 15.

Jurgen Klopp discusses Liverpool’s title chances

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool reacts during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Swansea City at Anfield on January 21, 2017 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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It was a disappointing weekend for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

[ MORE: New odds for title contenders ]

The German coach watched on as his side lost 3-2 to Swansea City on Saturday in the Premier League and the Reds fell 10 points behind leaders Chelsea with 16 games to go.

Klopp’s men have only won once in six outings in all competitions in January, and ahead of their EFL Cup semifinal second leg against Southampton at Anfield (they trail 1-0 from the first leg) he was asked if they still have hope of overhauling Chelsea and winning the Premier League.

Speaking to the media, Klopp revealed that his team are good enough to at least be in the top four battle.

“We fight in each game, that’s maybe the most important thing. Then we have to see what happens around,” Klopp said. “Of course, in cup competitions the target is to win the competition. In the Premier League, it’s probably the same but it’s not that easy to plan or whatever. In this case, if Chelsea win all their games – which they pretty much do – there is no chance for any other team. For us, it’s still absolutely important to finish the season as well as possible – whatever that means. We’ll see after the season.

“You can imagine we have the quality to fight for the Champions League, that’s what we should do. If we do this and we are then close enough in the decisive moment of the season, you can still fight for a little bit more. But in this moment, it’s nothing we have to think about or we should think about. We now have two games and then we play Chelsea, so that’s when I’ll think about Chelsea but not how we can get them or whatever. We fight for everything we are able to, that’s all.”

He’s right. Liverpool finishing in the top four this season would be a great achievement at this stage of his project.

Perhaps more worrying for Klopp is that his side may now capitulate and finish outside of the top four for a second-straight season.

There’s no doubting that Liverpool have exceeded the expectations of most people so far in 2016-17 but Klopp’s men faded badly last season to finish in eighth place and with no wins in their last three games in the Premier League the pressure is on.

Without leading scorer Sadio Mane, who is away at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal, they’ve struggled to break opponents down and their defensive issues came to the fore against Swansea with sloppy mistakes costing them dear.

No team in the top seven has conceded more than Liverpool and with the Reds in fourth place and just four points ahead of sixth-place Manchester United and two points ahead of Manchester City who sit in fifth, all of a sudden they are looking over their shoulders instead of up at Chelsea.

Liverpool has lost momentum.

Boy do they need a big win in the EFL Cup against Southampton on Wednesday to regain some confidence and take that into their next PL clash, which just so happens to be against Chelsea at Anfield on Jan. 31.

Whatever he says publicly, Klopp must know that Liverpool cannot afford to lose to Chelsea. If they do and fall 13 points behind the Blues, the Kop can kiss goodbye to their title hopes for another season.