Tottenham Hotspur lost 3-1 to Portuguese side Benfica in the Europa League on Thursday night. Luisão bagged a brace after Rodrigo put in the opener at White Hart Lane, while only Christian Eriksen was able to score for the hosts. Now, as away goals count in Europa, Spurs have got an awfully high mountain to climb in Lisbon should they wish to progress to the quarterfinals of the tournament.
But will the second leg be about the play on the pitch, or the managers’ antics off it?
After Luisão scored his second, Benfica manager Jorge Jesus celebrated by holding up three fingers. This was too much for his opposition in the nearby dugout. Tim Sherwood snapped, and the fourth official needed to intervene, as it looked as though the two coaches were about to come to blows.
After the match, Sherwood attempted to explain himself, saying “In the first two minutes he was going over to the fourth official saying I was stepping in his box. He doesn’t mind himself, does he?” The Spurs manager continued, “Waving goodbye like that [with three fingers]? It lacks class. Why would anyone do that? He’s got a good side, of course he has but [he is] not for me, thank you. I have no intention of speaking to him.”
Sherwood did, however, make sure to clarify that his words were directed only at Jesus, not the Benfica side as a whole: “I thought his team were very good, got a lot of class. It’s a pity he doesn’t.”
It seems like Sherwood’s cracks are starting to show. First, he publicly called out his players after their loss to Chelsea last weekend, saying they are “too nice”, “need to show more gut”, and stated that he’d only count on some of them. Now, he’s losing his cool when Portuguese tacticians play mind games – not exactly a trait wanted in a Premier League manager, who will need to deal with more masterful ones from José Mourinho.
Sherwood will almost certainly remain in place for the final games of this Premier League season. But is there any way he’ll stay on after its end?