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.

Zlatan confirms Manchester United departure

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed myriad reports he’s leaving Manchester United with a perfectly-Zlatan Instagram message.

Ibrahimovic is expected to join the LA Galaxy next week.

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The words aren’t too important, but Ibrahimovic posted an old graphic of him in Greek god garb, arm-wrestling a devil. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

The living Swedish legend, 36, has been limited to seven appearances, one start, and one goal in returning from a season-ending knee injury, but finishes his Manchester United tenure with an impressive 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 games (deduct the seven and one for peak impressiveness).

Bale breaks Wales scoring record

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Gareth Bale has now unquestionably written his name into Wales history.

The 28-year-old Real Madrid scored a hat-trick for Wales in its 6-0 demolition of China, taking his overall tally to 29 goals, breaking Ian Rush’s record.

“It is right up there, maybe as the best,” Bale told reporters after the game. “I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales. It is a massive honor. I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honor and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career. On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”

Bale was unable to carry Wales to the 2018 World Cup, but he first became a National Team legend by helping take Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, scoring three goals along the way.

Here’s a look at Bale’s record-breaking goal.

Sporting KC giving away creative “Bike Opara” bobblehead

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In his ninth Major League Soccer season, Ike Opara has scored just a dozen regular season goals.

He’s known more for his physicality in the backline, for creating space for teammates on set pieces, or heading balls on to teammates with slightly more fleeter feet.

But in June 2017, it all came together for Opara in a magical moment, where he beat an offside trap from the LA Galaxy and scored an insane bicycle kick for Sporting Kansas City.

Now, to honor Opara’s ridiculous goal, Sporting KC has announced the first 10,000 fans through the gates at Children’s Mercy Park on March 31 will get a “Bike Ike” bobblehead, with him in flight kicking the ball towards goal over his shoulder.

You’ve gotta love the creativity and fun the Sporting KC marketing department is having. Hopefully, Opara can give the team another memorable goal in 2018.

Van Dijk named new Netherlands captain

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Virgil Van Dijk has had a pretty decent last three months since moving to Liverpool, and the towering defender earned a new personal achievement on Thursday.

Van Dijk was named the newest captain of the Netherlands National Team, where he’ll play under former manager Ronald Koeman. Van Dijk’s first game as captain will be against the nation where he currently plies his trade, England, on Friday.

“I am very happy with it, it is a great honor to be the captain of your country,” van Dijk said at a pre-match press conference Thursday. “Everyone knows that Koeman gave me the chance at Southampton, I am very grateful to him. This is very special.”

Van Dijk’s commanding presence in the Liverpool backline and previous stops at Southampton and Celtic make him an obvious choice for captain, taking the place of the now-retired Arjen Robben. At just 26-years old, van Dijk could carry the armband for a half dozen years if he keeps up his strong form.