Tim Sherwood falls prey to Louis van Gaal and Spurs’ unrealistic expectations

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Louis van Gaal spiced up a decidedly underwhelming Euro 2016 qualifying draw on Sunday by saying he would consider joining Tottenham after this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

“I will definitely not be in charge (of the Netherlands) for the Euro 2016 qualification campaign,” the legendary Dutch manager noted to Reuters following the draw. “I don’t know where I will go next. Normally I go with my pension and go to live in Portugal, but maybe there will come a new challenge.

“I have said before that a challenge should be a club in the Premier League. That’s a challenge. Maybe Tottenham are coming but, first, we have to go to Brazil.”

The comments are the latest hint van Gaal has dropped concerning his interest in taking over at Spurs. Following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas on December 16th, van Gaal emerged as a front-runner for the North London post after meeting with chairman Daniel Levy and admitting “I’ve always said I want to work in the Premier League” but would “never comment on offers.”

A week later interim manager Tim Sherwood was then awarded for his results by being named head coach on an 18 month contract. Under Sherwood the mood of the squad palpably changed for the better, and the results were promising – winning five of their first six league matches.

But the 5-1 home thrashing by Manchester City on January 29th set off alarm bells and the attention once again turned to van Gaal, who breathed life into rumors of his move to White Hart Lane by pondering, “Am I still in contact with Spurs? There will come a moment that I can talk about that.”That moment – and it was merely that, a moment – came Sunday when he outrightly named Tottenham as his possible destination following the World Cup. Following City’s demolition of Spurs, Sherwood did well to get the club back on track, drawing 1-1 away at Hull City before beating fellow European competitors Everton 1-0 and hammering Newcastle 4-0. But in the past week things began to unravel after Spurs lost 0-1 to Dnipro in the Europa League on Thursday before suffering the same fate yesterday at lowly Norwich City.

Van Gaal’s unscrupulous decision to name Spurs as a potential next stop in his career (again) not only comes at odds with the unwritten code of honor among professional managers but reeks of narcissism. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager should be focused on his job at hand – managing Holland in the World Cup. Certainly the KNVB can not be pleased by van Gaal’s eagerness to look beyond Brazil. His willingness to speak beyond issues of the national team – even if it’s so much as a mere mention of Tottenham as his next destination – is a slight to both Oranje and Spurs.

Perhaps van Gaal’s comments would be less objectionable if Sherwood was an interim coach. But he’s not. He’s a head coach with an 18 month deal who and has taken the club from 7th to 5th in the table during his tenure. For van Gaal to undermine Sherwood’s status at the club by issuing these comments is a disgrace. Imagine for a moment that van Gaal named Arsenal as his next potential career stop – can you imagine how Arsene Wenger, who’s contract ends at the end of this season, or the Arsenal community altogether, would react? It would be mayhem.

Sherwood has achieved success at Tottenham by inserting a confident, relaxed, free-wheeling attitude to the club that has helped the players shed the heavy mental strain that was the legacy of Villas-Boas. He’s also unearthed two considerable talents that were going unused underneath AVB – Emmanuel Adebayor and 19-year-old French international Nabil Bentaleb, both of whom have been fantastic in their play.

Yet putting blame on van Gaal tells only half the story. Because while the Dutch manager undoubtedly smells blood that’s only the case because Levy has been chumming Sherwood’s waters with the unrealistic expectations that come that final whistle on May 11th, Spurs will have secured a Champions League spot.

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

AP Photo/Armando Franca
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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia