Sherwood unfazed by speculation, as Tottenham boss impresses with passion

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LONDON, England — As the rain teamed down at White Hart Lane early in Tottenham’s 5-1 win against Sunderland, Spurs manager Tim Sherwood sat on the edge of his seat on the bench tentatively, like a cat on a hot tin roof.

Slumping back into his seat time and time again, jumping up and down, remonstrating with the referee, swearing excessively, getting involved with fans and doing it all with a smile on his face, Sherwood enjoyed his night despite all the recent pressure being piled on top of him.

Earlier on Monday it was reported that Sherwood will be let go as Tottenham manager at the end of the season, responding to questions about his future, the Spurs boss remains defiant he’s the right man for the job.

“Nothing has changed, I have had a chat about next season, players I’ve identified for next season and preseason plans. Nothing has changed,” Sherwood said.

Responding to further questions about the uncertainty around his future, Sherwood isn’t fazed by it. Not at all.

“The uncertainty has always been there, you can’t stop speculation. It has always been there from the moment I took over to where we are now,” Sherwood said. “It’s up to the football club to answer those questions. I am going to be professional and worry about the players on the pitch and getting the best out of them between now and the end of the season. I am more than capable of doing that.”

(MORE: Three things we learned from Tottenham’s win vs. Sunderland)

With manager’s such as Louis van Gaal reportedly lined up to replace Sherwood in the summer — with the former Spurs captain only handed an 18-month deal back in January — it seems like Chairman Daniel Levy isn’t 100 percent certain on what Sherwood’s no-nonsense character brings to the table. He has had a wonderful start to life in the PL, there’s no disputing that. The 45-year-old has won 10 of his 17 games in charge of Spurs since taking over from Andre Villas-Boas, and has the best winning percentage of any Spurs manager in PL history. But somehow his face doesn’t quite fit, as it’s inevitable that a new manager will be at the helm at White Hart Lane next season.

Asked whether Tottenham are entitled to look for a new manager, while he is still in charge, Sherwood had the following to say.

“I think every club are always looking for the next one,” Sherwood said. “It’s the same with players, you always look for someone to possibly come in and replace the player. I don’t know if this club has been doing that, I have no idea. All I know is that any question regarding my employment, you have to ask my employers.”

(MORE: Tottenham 5-1 Sunderland – Eriksen all-world at White Hart Lane)

Tottenham’s players put in a top performance for Sherwood, as they hammered Sunderland and had 29 efforts on goal in a completely dominant display. When Emmanuel Adebayor scored his second, he ran to Sherwood and saluted Spurs’ boss… Sherwood saluted back with a cheeky smile on his face. The players seem to love playing for Sherwood, does he get the feeling that they are backing him 100 percent?

“I think they are, I’m backing them as well,” Sherwood said defiantly. “What they get from me is honesty, they know when they don’t do it. I tell them. But when they do well, I pat them on the back. It works both ways, and that is healthy. I always wanted honesty from my managers, sometimes I never got it.”

Will Sherwood get honesty from his chairman and those who decide his future? That’s the least he deserves, as speculation around his future continues to spiral out of control.

UCL wrap: Barcelona, PSG roll; Dzeko scores stunner (video)

Tim Goode/PA via AP
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There were a few more zeroes on the board in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League action, but that doesn’t mean the day failed to entertain by any stretch of the imagination.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan, USSF prez? ]

Chelsea and Roma staged a slugfest at Stamford Bridge, while PSG and Barcelona saw its stars shining, and Jose Mourinho orchestrated another away defensive masterclass for Manchester United.

Chelsea 3-3 RomaRECAP

There’s a lot to say about this one. Chelsea goes up 2-0 through solid goals from David Luiz and Eden Hazard, but finds itself down and needs another Hazard goal to rescue a point.

But this goal, one of two from Edin Dzeko, is why we watch this wonderful sport. Aleksandar Kolarov also scored and had an assist as ex-Man City men came to play at Stamford Bridge.

Benfica 0-1 Manchester UnitedRECAP

The perfect road match, more or less, though United scored its lone goal thanks to goalkeeper error. Marcus Rashford took the free kick that was carried across the goal line, and United completed more than 500 passes to double Benfica’s output at the Estadio da Luz.

Barcelona 3-1 Olympiacos

It’s not much of a surprise to see Barca triumph at home over Greek opposition. An own goal joined Lucas Digne and this historic Lionel Messi marker to build a 3-0 lead at the Camp Nou.

Anderlecht 0-4 Paris Saint-Germain

In case you think PSG cannot make a run this year, consider its list of goal scorers on Wednesday: Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria, Neymar, and Edinson Cavani.

Elsewhere
Qarabag 0-0 Atletico Madrid
Juventus 2-1 Sporting Lisbon
CSKA Moscow 0-2 Basel
Bayern Munich 3-0 Celtic

Mourinho: Tactics involved targeting young Benfica backstop

AP Photo/Armando Franca
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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho knew that promising Benfica backstop Mile Svilar would be facing some big nerves.

The 18-year-old was making his UEFA Champions League debut, and Mourinho instructed his Red Devils to challenge the backstop at every turn.

[ RECAP: Benfica 0-1 Man Utd ]

That paid off when Svilar carried Marcus Rashford‘s free kick into the goal, the lone marker of a 1-0 loss that keeps United atop Group A and Benfica three points behind second- and third place.

“I knew how good the goalkeeper was, I told the players that. We had a little bit of a strategy, especially on set-pieces to make him uncomfortable. We put men around him on corners so he cannot come out. He risks a lot, but only top keepers do that. He was unlucky for the goal,” Mourinho said.

Svilar looked dejected after the game, apologizing to fans at the Estadio da Luz and getting consolation from a fellow Belgian in Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku.

Nemanja Matic laid out United’s strategy a bit more, from the BBC:

“The manager said to us to try and shoot and get some crosses towards their goalkeeper because he is young and playing in his first game. This is football and I know he is a great goalkeeper and I wish him well for the future.

“We had control, some difficulties in the first 30 minuets but then we controlled the pitch. We used our experience. We could not find the second goal but did not make any mistakes at the back.”

Rashford limped out of the game, and Mourinho says he initially thought it was cramps. Instead, it’s a problem with his left knee. Simon Peach of the Press Association quotes Mourinho as hoping the injury is not bad.

United completed more than 500 passes, doubling Benfica’s production. Some have been critical of Mourinho’s penchant to play it safe, and he winked at them after the match in calling his tactics “a crime.”

“We were in control, David De Gea did not have one save to make. I never felt we could concede a goal and were solid defensively. Sometime I feel being good defensively is a crime, but that is a way of getting results.”

Chelsea 3-3 Roma – Thrills at the Bridge

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
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  • Luiz, Hazard put Chelsea up 2-0
  • Kolarov, Dzeko brace flip lead
  • Hazard nabs equalizer
  • U.S. U-20 mid Scott on bench for Chelsea

Eden Hazard scored twice as Chelsea overcame the sacrifice of a 2-0 lead and the Blues drew AS Roma 3-3 at Stamford Bridge in UEFA Champions League action on Wednesday.

David Luiz also scored for Chelsea. Ex-Man City men Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov starred for Roma, with Dzeko scoring twice and Kolarov adding a goal and an assist.

Chelsea has seven points to lead Group C, two more than Roma and five ahead of third-placed Atletico Madrid. The sides will meet again in Rome on Halloween.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan, USSF prez? ]

Luiz started the scoring with a delightful strike. Call it a second bite at the proverbial apple if you must, but then admit he sunk his teeth into it.

Eden Hazard made a darting run to double Chelsea’s lead, but Kolarov pulled Roma within one with a deflected strike past Thibaut Courtois.

Diego Perotti curled a shot that hardly troubled Courtois in the 63rd minute, the Chelsea keeper just leaving his feet collect it.

Dzeko and Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Then the former Man City striker struck again, seeing a long diagonal ball over his shoulder and whizzing a perfect left-footed volley through the flailing arms of Courtois.

Dzeko then made a late move before a Kolarov free kick to lose his mark and nod home a go-ahead goal.

It wasn’t over, as Hazard found his way to space and a cross from Pedro.

The Belgian headed his chance beyond a diving Alisson, and it was 3-3 with 15 minutes to play.

American-English midfielder Kyle Scott did not make his Chelsea bow. The 19-year-old has represented England at the U-16 level and the U.S. at the U-18 and U-20 levels.

Benfica 0-1 Manchester United: Match-winner Rashford injured

AP Photo/Armando Franca
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  • No shots on goal for Benfica
  • United puts four on frame
  • Man Utd out-passes Benfica 522-237.

Marcus Rashford scored the lone goal of the match, then limped off injured in Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Benfica in UEFA Champions League action at the Estadio da Luz on Wednesday.

United is close to wrapping up a knockout round berth with the win, leading Basel by three points, CSKA Moscow by six, and Benfica by nine.

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho got his managerial start at Benfica when he replaced now-Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes in 2000.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan, USSF prez? ]

Rashford’s free kick from the left fooled young Benfica backstop Mile Svilar.

The 18-year-old was making his UEFA Champions League debut, and was caught out of goal.

While retreating toward his end line, his two-handed catch carried him and the ball into the goal despite the efforts of his outstretched paws.