Just how well is Sherwood doing at Spurs, anyway?

Does Tim Sherwood deserve more credit for reviving Spurs?

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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.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.