When Tim Sherwood brought a fan down to the Spurs managers’ seat for the last five minutes of Tottenham’s victory over Aston Villa, it was difficult to avoid searching for meaning behind the act, though it’s unclear which meaning fits. Was it a symbol that the role, so revered in English soccer, was less precious than assumed? Or was the act an unconscious confession that the man currently in the role could be swapped for one of White Hart Lane’s faithful. Maybe, it was an invitation – something Sherwood has been unwilling to confess to the camera: You can have this job.
It’s a bit cruel to take what was a a lighthearted gesture and turn it against the man, but Sherwood’s future is the talking point as Spurs embark on their offseason. It is largely assumed that, in the face of mixed results, Tottenham is looking for a new boss, with Dutch national team head coach Louis van Gaal having been linked with the club before Manchester United’s job opened up.
In the face of that speculation, Sherwood continues reciting his résumé, seeing each proffered microphone as an opportunity to trumpet his accomplishments.
“I can only be judged for the season when I’ve taken over,” Sherwood told the BBC after today’s victory. “A 59 percent win ratio is second to none. I’m happy with how I have done.”
It is an impressive number, but it’s also been accomplished with one of the club’s most-talented squads, a factor that led to André Villas-Boas’s dismissal after a series of terrible results. But those terrible results came against the league’s best, meaning at the time the former boss was dismissed, the fixture list in front of Sherwood wastemporarily cleared.
When the schedule brought the league’s best back around, the results were terrible once more. A two-goal loss at Arsenal in the League Cup. Losing by four to Manchester City. A 4-0 defeat at Chelsea, home loss to Benfica, another derby loss to Arsenal. Then, a four-goal failure at Anfield. If Sherwood made any progress, it wasn’t against the teams Spurs need to pass to secure Champions League soccer.
The 45-year-old remains defiant. As has become tradition under Sherwood, today’s post-match interviews were used to cite an opposing view of his record.
“If I had started the season, we would have finished in the Champions League places …” Sherwood claims. “If I’d have known it would only be for five months, I wouldn’t have done it, to be honest.”
On the surface, it’s a beguiling statement, particularly from a man who was at the club when Villas-Boas lost his job after lopsided losses to Manchester City and Liverpool. But if you consider that Sherwood may know he’s gone — that the 12 months left on his contract were only to back him for this season — you see his words as auditioning for other jobs. If he is happy with his results, hopefully other, future employers will be, too.
“This club means a lot to me but if I’m not to continue here as a manager I’ll be somewhere else,” Sherwood, a former Spurs midfielder, explained. “I think a quick decision would make sense..”
But if he is to continue with Spurs, Sherwood needs a new deal.
“It can only be [a new contract or leaving],’ Sherwood explained. ‘It will be interesting to see what I’ve been judged on. If I’m to leave it can’t be on results.”
But it will be. Sherwood was never the favorite to stay beyond this game, but he didn’t do himself any favors in the process. Had he won some of those games against Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, or Arsenal, he would have made his case. Now there’s no argument that he can do with Villas-Boas did not.
In touting his record, Sherwood’s merely pointing out he’s the best flat track bully Spurs have had. That won’t be enough to save his job.