Ego is a powerful driver for top professional sportspeople. Not merely the desire to do your best to win but to prove to others that you are better than they are. It is the most overwhelming motivational force, better than income or power, where even victory becomes a means to an end rather than an end in itself.
The clash of egos at Tottenham is palpable right now, so much so it can be measured on the Richter scale. As we stagger from the aftershocks of Villas-Boas’ departure, Sherwood and Adebayor have come out on top. For how long we don’t know, but in the short-term at least it’s doing Spurs a lot of good.
I don’t have a problem with egotistical sportspeople. Some are unbalanced by their hubris and are lost to me but if they deliver on their promises, it can only make them better. I like the way Brits love to take down the arrogant but any sportsperson has got to have a level of confidence in their own ability that mere mortals like myself cannot comprehend. It’s like Andy Murray being criticised for not turning up for the Sports Personality of the Year presentation. Top marks to him for putting his focus on winning top of his list of priorities.
I don’t want people like me running Spurs. Too bloody reasonable, happy to toddle along, no guiding light or masterplan. Recipe for disaster, that is, but sometimes those egos put the personal before the team, and there is no excuse for that. None whatsoever.
Adebayor’s disappearance this season was puzzling but had the ring of truth because of the striker’s reputation as moody and inconsistent. Spurs gave him some time to come to terms with the death of his brother. It seemed the right thing to do and he wasn’t repaying us by getting fit. Same old same old, one season then he’s had enough. Given our goalscoring problem, that we had only two fit strikers, that he could provide a different option, that he had a strop on could be the only reason why he was seldom in consideration, surely.
Turns out Villas-Boas hadn’t learned as much about man-management from his time at Che***a as we had hoped. AVB wasn’t having him back, because AVB had a vision of the way the team was supposed to play. That’s scandalous, and that’s from someone like me who has broadly supported him. Imposing his rampant ego on the fortunes of the side may have been an attempt to look strong and decisive. In fact, it leaves behind a tarnished image of a weak man denying to himself that he fears challenge. Good managers harness challenge. Manu and Benny were just rejected. Out of sight but not out of mind because their reputations grew in their absence, just as AVB’s is diminishing by the day.
Manu’s back with a vengeance. W Ham was his warm-up. Against Southampton he was the rangy, roving leader of the line we always knew he could be and have needed so desperately this season. His movement and options would have received my gratitude but taking chances too, there’s honestly nothing I would have liked better for Christmas. His first was a delightful volley from an incisive Soldado cross, close in and shoulder high, then tucking in the winner after the ball was momentarily loose in the Saints’ box. In between he held the ball and linked surprisingly well with Soldado, given that they have never played together. In the first half, Manu stayed more central, in the second the defenders followed him out wide allowing Bobby three great chances. Our weekend would have been perfect if he had put even one of them away. A goal could change his season and ours.
Manu is no shrinking violet. Brought back into the side by Sherwood, his goal celebration versus the hammers showed he was intent on revenge, to right wrongs and injustices, and this carried on yesterday. Probably not a deliberate, extended motivational ploy, designed to release his force on an unsuspecting league for the second half of the season. Sherwood shrewdly played to his vanity, telling him he knew Adebayor was good enough, there’s nothing he could tell him, now go and play. An up-market version of Harry’s legendary, ‘go and f**king run about a bit’ speech to Pav, it did the trick and brought Manu onside as far as the new manager’s methods are concerned. If you are after the job permanently, it helps to have a centre-forward grateful to play for you.
This wasn’t the only sign that Sherwood is determined to make an impression. Going 4-4-2 brings out the creativity of a group of players who like to play as well as directly addressing the goal shortage. Soldado and Eriksen were more involved in the 90 minutes of play, which indicates that Bobby had been told by AVB to lurk moodily around the edge of the box and in the middle rather than his natural instincts.
We made width without playing a winger and the all-round abilities of that four made up for the lack of blistering pace. They got up and back, for the most part at least, and worked hard for ninety minutes. Sherwood stamped his authority on the manager’s position if not the game itself by bringing on Benteleb for his debut rather than Capoue or any other of the benchwarmers. The young Frenchman displayed that poise and confidence that we are breeding into our young midfielders at the moment.
Like the change in formation, it gave the players the message that Sherwood is loyal and will give everyone a chance, that he is able to make decisions, that he is his own man. However, it was a risk. A below strength Southampton found it too easy to operate freely between our back four and the midfield. With strikers peeling off the centrebacks, we left too much space in front of and behind our often stranded back line. Both their goals came from moves that exploited this, the second coming from yet another error by Lloris.
Still, those errors are not so significant if we are scoring, and scoring one more than you seems to be the plan at the moment. It’s refreshing but the dangers are there. A win to enjoy but before 2014 is well under way, make the same mistakes at the back and we will be punished.
10 thoughts on “Sherwood and Adebayor Prove A Point”
Yes indeed to all that. Interesting too that Rafa VDV was shown the door at about the time of AVB’s arrival. Dutch egos being particularly notorious! Andre may have borne the scars of the Chelsea dressing room backlash, but I agree that it diminishes him to be so seemingly unwilling to come to terms with awkward but talented individuals.
We’re gonna need a holding midfielder, though. When The Beast returns as he must, the other 8 or 9 contenders will be playing musical chairs for the other 3 places…
Dembele is more balance between defence and attack,Paulinho os more fluid and gets the ball up quicker,good for open games,Holtby can mix it up. Good choices in a syxtem that is more attacking and fluid.
AVB’s system had a huge problem and that is it needed the one man up to to be a physical player who could act alone.We didnt have one and AVB failed to find any answers.Now its wide open.
On the defensive side even its wide open it cannot be worse than the gaps AVB left us in between the attacking DMs and attacking backs and the two CB’s left standing alone everytime someone lost possession.He was a man stuck in seeing his side of the story.
Maybe Sherwood cannot solve all things.Could be. But at least players instincts will have a say now. Only Bale brought that before. Players at least can now see space and go for is instead of playing to some computer print out.
Maybe Villas Boas football is good for the most part if you are Brazil or Barca but we are not.Ill take Tim for now.
Season’s greetings, Alan — thanks for another half season of erudite and passionate posts. Although vet journo Norman Giller may well have been prescient when early on he noted that Arry’s 4-5-4 may in hindsight one day be considered a golden age…what with all the chaos and 9th new manager coming in. Levy and Co may well have made the Spurs job a truly poisoned chalice — well done on that, BTW, ENIC! Anyway to happier thoughts — Tim’s attacking formation and strategy seems suspiciously similar to Arry’s “run around a bit” only more kamikaze! Nice while it lasts. — From sunny LA, best to you and yours, Alan. 😉
Greetings Ashley, late but heartfelt. Thinking of you in the sun as I watched the floodwater lap around the house on Christmas Eve…
Tim indeed invoking Harry’s spirit, I’m pleased to see some attacking intent but AVB’s away record was decent too. We are well set up to counter, think we should try some of that at home, without being overly defensive.
If only Tim could do 4-5-4, that’s one hell of a formation 😉
Thanks for your support Ashley, means a lot.
Alan, is it insider knowledge that AVB didn’t want Adebayor in on football reasons alone? I hadn’t read or heard that. Not that that means much
I don’t hold out much hope for Sherwood’s tactics long term, not even with a Sandro type, but it might be fun and maybe moderately successful until we get the new fella in. I’m interested to see if Eriksen can become the new Modric in that role. In the two games under Tim Sherwood, Dembele’s giving the ball away an awful lot which is a worry. Still, I enjoyed the performance second half, and match, but we could just as easily have drawn or even lost against an under strength Saints, who seemed to become overconfident and lackadaisical given how open and non-threatening we were for most of the first half.
I wouldn’t say it’s working thus far, lost at home to West Ham reserves and won away at an under strength Saints. Two variations of 4-4-2 played, providing curate’s egg performances n my opinion.
I’m speculating – take it for granted that I have absolutely no inside knowledge whatsoever. But it’s reasonable conclusion – comes straight back in, fairly fit and definitely keen. Why on earth did he not even find a place on the bench under AVB?
So glad to see Spurs play free flowing football, rather than that boring high line from AVB. To be honest glad he has gone, but still feel Levy is to blame for all this.
As you say Alan , defensively it’s a worry, but hopefully with more time with the team Tim will sort it.
Lorris is making too many mistakes and seems to have lost his edge since his head injury. Time for Tim to have Gomes on the bench as a back up rather than Brad.
Good post as always Alan.
Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you and all Spurs fans.
Merry Christmas Koko, appreciate your comments and support.
You have to earn respect,it doesnt come cheaply.
Sherwood seems like he is confident and he seems like he will stand up for what he believes.AVB was confident in his system I think,Sherwood in himself.
Both managers had to sell themselves. (dont they all?)
For AVB it was all scientific.The system will work,but because we have no idea what will transpire we will just have to take his word for it while using one year in Porto only as a marker. He looked clever. But was he? Tactics is more than having one plan.Football is a dynamic and its the tactics of reacting well that tells the story,not the fixed idea of the system (inverting and outverting was a red herring)
With Sherwood,I was surprised he got the gig of 18 months after only 2 games. I thought Levy should have gone more but to get some fresh air and breathing space up front was a tonic.while the defence didnt look any worse than when Fortress AVB had it and the imaginary maginot high line that had a couple of tsnunamis to contend with and were breached many times.
There is a flow now but Sherwood would have to still deal with many challenges.He has the right attitude it seems. He will be tough and supportive with the players which is good and he will also have to adapt for each game.Not just gung ho it.
That will be the challenge.That is how he will get respect. That is why AVB failed.
Overall, AVB was for me a success in year one, second season he stuck to his chosen system, blind to the fact that it did not bring the best from players, who did not fit the bill.
Huge kudos for reading this pony blog on Christmas Day! But much appreciated, glad you pooped in.