Since Tim Sherwood’s appointment as manager of Tottenham Hotspur in December, Spurs have won nine of their sixteen matches, moving from seventh to fifth in the Premier League table, while advancing in Europa League with a 3-2 aggregate win over Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.
Surely Sherwood deserves some credit, yes? After all, when André Villas-Boas left the club, Tottenham had won just two of their last seven league fixtures. Now, things are coming together at White Hart Lane.
Or at least, that’s what Sherwood might like fans to think. Yes, seven wins from twelve Premier League matches is an accomplishment, particularly for a first-time head coach. But narrowly beating a Ukrainian side who’d traveled far from home? Getting dumped out of the League Cup by West Ham? Sitting four points back of the last Champions League spot seems alright, although that’s where Villas-Boas was when he left – and then there’s the added factor that Manchester City, currently fourth, have two games in hand.
The fact remains that Spurs look frustratingly inconsistent. Sherwood can’t decide on a lineup or a formation, a trait that may come across as tactically astute, yet often simply looks like the manager is playing guessing games, or doesn’t actually know who his best players might be. For neutrals, at least, this version of Spurs ends up being more fun than the dreary side seen at the beginning of the season.
But is fun enough? Under Sherwood, Tottenham beat Newcastle 4-0, but they also lost 4-1 to Manchester City. Then there was the 1-0 loss to Norwich. And in a season in which goal difference could very well be a deciding factor, Tottenham have +4, while Everton are at +11, Manchester United at +12 and Arsenal at +24.
Yet Sherwood is playing with a stacked deck. Coming in midseason means he’s taking on a team molded by Villas-Boas rather than himself. “If you said to me ‘does that team we’ve got out at the moment play the way Tim Sherwood wants to play?’ No, but I can’t do anything about that.” Sherwood added, “At the moment it’s a balancing act.”
The Tottenham manager is stuck in a difficult situation, and surely he does deserve some credit for the wins the team has notched, as well as keeping them in the fight for fourth. But if praise is what Sherwood is after, the best way of earning that is by traveling to Stamford Bridge on Saturday and ending José Mourinho’s unbeaten home record. Should Spurs beat London rivals Chelsea, currently top of the league, Sherwood will earn more plaudits than he knows what to do with.