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.

Top Premier League story lines – Week 2

Photo by Keith Tsuji/Getty Images for Premier League
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The Premier League hits its second match day on Saturday, beginning with Manchester United’s trip to the Liberty Stadium to face Swansea City.

That match isn’t even in our top five as a pair of Top Four battles await Sunday and Monday.

[ MORE: Another American teen making Bundesliga name ]


Can heated rivalry help Chelsea find its form?
Tottenham – Chelsea (Sunday, 11 a.m. ET, NBCSN) [ STREAM ] 

The Blues took a long time to recover from Gary Cahill‘s early red card as Chelsea lost 3-2 to Burnley on Opening Day, and know they could find themselves six points behind Tottenham after just two weeks of the Premier League season. The rivalry between Spurs and Chelsea has risen several notches in the past couple years, and Chelsea will also be hampered by suspensions to Cahill and Cesc Fabregas.

Everton starts murderer’s row of fixtures at the Etihad
Manchester City – Everton (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) STREAM ] 

Man City, Chelsea, Spurs, Manchester United: Those are Everton’s next three matches following a win over Stoke and Thursday’s Europa League win over Hajduk Split (The Toffees head to Croatia on Aug. 24). The good news, if there is any, is that Man City didn’t look terrific in its win over Brighton and Hove Albion. The bad news? Everton’s top men, aside from new boy Gylfi Sigurdsson, almost all played in the win over Hajduk.

Arsenal’s beleaguered defense heads to the road
Stoke City – Arsenal (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

The Gunners may boast wins over Chelsea and Leicester City this month, but Arsenal conceded thrice to the Foxes and needed drama to boost three points from Opening Day. Stoke fell 1-0 at Everton but was far from a pushover.

Can Town make it 2-for-2 versus the Toon?
Huddersfield Town vs. Newcastle United (Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – STREAM ]

Rafa Benitez’s Opening Day plans were shuttered by Jonjo Shelvey‘s poor red card, and the Spaniard won’t have his best midfielder at The John Smith’s Stadium when Newcastle faces a Town team that won 3-0 at Crystal Palace. The road sides won when these two met in the Championship last season.

Liverpool’s stumbling defense meets old pal Benteke
Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – STREAM ] 

Jurgen Klopp‘s men stumbled out of the gates, even if their last minute concession against Watford in a 3-3 draw arguably shouldn’t have stood up to the linesman’s view. Benteke scored twice as the Eagles won at Anfield last season, and will certainly be up for irking his old boss once more.

VIDEO: Giovanni Reyna stars for USYNT with goal, assists

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Seldom is a U-15 match truly worth national attention, but it certainly deserves eyes when the player who stars in the Stars and Stripes happens to be the son of USMNT royalty.

Giovanni Reyna is going to be known as Claudio Reyna’s son for some time, but if he keeps up starring roles like his goal and two assist performance against Panama in the CONCACAF U-15 Championship, Claudio will move into “Giovanni Reyna’s dad” status at some point.

[ MORE: Another American teen making Bundesliga name ]

That’s way down the line considering “Dad” is an American pioneer with 112 caps, eight goals and a career with Manchester City, Rangers, Sunderland, Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, and New York Red Bulls, but worth noting nonetheless.

Reyna’s goal was an absolute stunner:

And here are his two assists, putting Mexico on notice for Saturday morning’s final.

Europa wrap: Milan runs riot; Everton wins; USMNT’s Horvath posts clean sheet

AP Photo/Antonio Calanni
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The matches were plentiful as clubs from around Europe angled for a spot in the UEFA Europa League group stage in the first legs of playoff round ties.

[ MORE: Schalke’s American teenager ]


Panathinaikos 2-3 Athletic Bilbao

Ageless Aritz Aduriz just keeps scoring, and La Liga’s visitors erased a 2-0 deficit with a pair of goals from the 36-year-old — he’s not really ageless, guys and girls — sandwiched around a De Marcos tally.

Everton 2-0 Hajduk SplitRECAP

Stylish assists from Leighton Baines and Wayne Rooney set-up Michael Keane and Idrissa Gana Gueye for rare goals, and Everton could’ve had many more in the first leg. Hajduk, however, showed some danger late and a raucous, disruptive, and even violent visiting crowd showed the second leg will be anything but simple for Ronald Koeman‘s men.

Club Brugge 0-0 AEK Athens

USMNT backstop Ethan Horvath kept a clean sheet with a two-save performance for Brugge, and the Greek visitors won’t take any away goals home for the second leg.

AC Milan 6-0 Shkendija

In another realm, Milan is still scoring goals. Andre Silva netted twice in the first 28 minutes, Fabio Borini and Luca Antonelli also scored. And how about Riccardo Montolivo?

 

UEFA Europa League playoff first legs
Utrecht 1-0 Zenit — Weds.
BATE Borisov 1-1 Oleksandriya
Apollon Limassol 3-2 Midtjylland
Krasnodar 3-2 Red Star Belgrade
Dinamo Zagreb 1-1 Skenderbeu
FH 1-2 Braga
PAOK 3-1 Ostersund
Vardar Skopje 2-0 Fenerbahce
Viktoria Plzen 3-1 AEK Lamaca
Altach 0-1 Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Ludogorets Razgrad 2-0 Suduva
Domzale 1-1 Marseille
Osijek 1-2 Austria Wien
Viitorul 1-3 Red Bull Salzburg — 2:45 p.m.
Ajax 0-1 Rosenborg
Legia Warsaw 1-1 Sheriff
Partizan 0-0  Videoton
Maritimo 0-0 Dynamo Kyiv

Everton 2-0 Hajduk Split: Toffees cruise in Europa League first leg

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  • Keane nabs first EFC goal
  • Baines, Rooney with classy assists
  • Gueye scores rare goal
  • Second leg Aug. 24 in Croatia

Michael Keane and Idrissa Gana Gueye scored as Everton took a 2-0 lead over HNK Hajduk Split in a UEFA Europa League playoff round first leg at Goodison Park on Thursday.

Leighton Baines and Wayne Rooney had assists for the Toffees, while Jordan Pickford, Ademola Lookman, and Davy Klaassen also posted lively performances for the hosts ahead of next week’s second leg.

The Toffees could’ve scored four or five if not for questionable offside calls alone, and the match was interrupted in the first half when the Hajduk support section got out of hand.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ademola Lookman won an early corner for Everton that led to nothing, and played a terrific ball into the center of the box that Davy Klaassen just missed with a sliding effort.

Hajduk had a moment in two in transition, but the Toffees handled it well. Baines in particular broke up the earliest sign of danger.

The breakthrough goal was splendid, with Baines scooping up a punched corner kick and darting past a defender to dink an aesthetically-pleasing ball into traffic for Keane to head home. 1-0, 30′.

The match was stalled for 5-10 minutes after riotous behavior from visiting Hajduk Split supporters, who tossed bottles onto the field and charged at the stewards (one appeared to punch a security guard).

The Toffees went up 2-0 off a classy assist from Rooney, who was moving away from the defense when he cut a ball to a darting Gueye. The Senegalese engine provided a rare goal in the 45th minute.

[ MORE: Europa League schedule ]

The chances were at a premium for both sides in the second half, with Everton still having the better of play. But Jordan Pickford had to get horizontal to make an outstanding two-handed parry on a Hajduk rush in the 61st minute.

Hajduk really found its game late as Everton seemed to rest on its laurels. Pickford was livid, and called into duty to make some big stops and preserve an important home clean sheet.