Tim The Temp Takes Spurs To Another Win

After a sticky start, Spurs pushed on to secure a comprehensive victory against a lacklustre Swansea side. Once we went a goal up, the outcome was seldom in doubt. Strong on the counter, we protected our three goal lead efficiently in the last 15 minutes with a smooth display of possession football.

Adebayor rightly deserves the plaudits. On song for 90 minutes, his was the performance that decisively made the difference between the two sides. A roving lone striker, the Swansea defence was powerless in the face of his movement and intelligence, and at last we have someone to put away those chances.

Just as significant in the longer run, Christian Eriksen is becoming better game by game, maturing before our very eyes. He was excellent yesterday, particularly in the first half when he revelled in the increased involvement that came with his central midfield role. He wants to get on the ball, to make it work for himself and the team, and his cross for Manu’s opening goal was a thing of great beauty, hit quickly in a glorious arc, so lusciously inviting that I was shouting ‘that’s in’ even before Adebayor took off at the far post. Of the many subtle but significant changes Tim Sherwood has brought in, playing to Eriksen’s strengths could be seen as his masterstroke in the weeks and months to come.

Sherwood has his feet on the ground and is under no illusions about how he got the nod and the precarious nature of his contract. This weekend Louis Van Gaal took just a soundbite to remind him that he was second choice and that the Dutchman will come back for a second interview after the World Cup. Tim the Temp just shrugged it off, acknowledging post-match that whatever the time-period of his contract, Spurs have to finish fourth or he will be gone. Bit harsh on himself there, if I may say so, but he knows Levy and knows the score.

However, he remains unfazed. His determination to grab the opportunity with both hands is serving Tottenham well so far. No Spurs manager has ever started as well in the job as Sherwood and the indications are that this could be more than just a new manager bounce. Yesterday he showed his tactical flexibility again, confounding all the 4-4-2 debaters with a flexible 4-2-3-1. Chadli played wide left, allowing Eriksen to come inside but not to be stuck so far forward, as he was under AVB, that he could contribute little to the game. Bentaleb and Dembele’s starting positions were deeper but the Belgian could progress forward if circumstances allowed.

By the basic expedient of players settling in positions that suit them, it worked so much better than Villas-Boas’s attempts at the same set-up. While Chadli continues his quest to make as little impact on games as he possibly can, he is learning (slowly) to work back and to time his diagonal runs into the box. Lennon was busy on the right, allowing room for Walker to advance, while Sherwood protegé Bentaleb is remarkably accomplished in central midfield, especially in the final 15 minutes when under some Swansea pressure he kept the ball and stuck a toe in to break up attacks.

However, it wasn’t all sweetness and composure in midfield. They took time to find their rhythm but Swansea failed to make the most of the time they were offered in front of our back four. Bony caused more problems for our back four than any lone striker should. Swansea failed to  give him either the service he required or much support in the box so his tireless efforts were wasted. Drifting almost exclusively onto Dawson, who presumably was targeted as the weak link, he was a real handful although our skipper kept on in there in the sort of battle he relishes. Chirches tidied up where he could – he played well. Our back four were too far apart at this point but they tightened up later and the team worked hard to cut out the supply of crosses to Bony.

In these early stages we gave the Welsh side too much respect and too much room. We preferred spectating to closing down but Lloris was impeccable, saving on several occasions and timing his dashes to the edge of the box well. The one time he was beaten, Bony’s shot crashed against the woodwork.

And that, as far as Swansea’s hopes of winning, was that. Gradually we got on top, then never let go. Adebayor found Eriksen’s cross from the right so desireable, he barged both a defender and team-mate Chadli out of the way to score a classic far-post headed goal.

Swansea made it straightforward for us to pick up where we left off. Throughout they showed none of the accurate, patient football or the pace of passing that has become their trademark under Laudrup. Spurs had a bit of luck for the second. Walker’s cross from the right was hard and low into the heart of the 6 yard box but Flores could have cleared, rather than knocking it past his keeper. As with the own goal Dembele forced against Sunderland earlier this season, it proves once more the value of dangerous crosses between the keeper and his back four.

Spurs were well on top now, easily breaking down the Swans’ feeble attacks and launching a series of smooth counters. Dembele should have scored from one, or passed to an unmarked Adebayor with half the Welsh defence out for a stroll along the Gower, but the Belgian did neither and rolled it past the post.

No matter. A minute later, Danny Rose, with his new beard looking like an extra from Shaft, burst onto a sharp tackle come pass from Siggy and raced down the left. His perfect ball found Ade who guided it carefully home. There’s no greater sign of where we are right now that you did not expect him to miss.

We played out the remaining time without being seriously tested, apart from the compulsory defensive cock-up. We failed to take several opportunities to a clear a ball and eventually Bony sidefooted it inside the right hand post. But Sherwood showed another string to his bow, how to use his subs well, Siggy replacing Chadli to guard against complacency at two up then Naughton shored up our right to protect us from runs from their attacking sub.

This was a good win but without taking anything away from the performance, it is put into some perspective by the fact that Swansea were not very good at all. If Bony on his own can cause problems, City will take us apart in our next game if we play the same way. However, our cunning cup exit gives us 10 days to get Vertonghen, Sandro and Paulinho fully fit.

Also, we may not be a match for the very best but my view has always been, win the games against teams below and around us, then see what happens. And that we are doing. I have grevious anxiety about the lack of long-term planning at Spurs that led to Sherwood’s appointment, which I mentioned last time and are superbly covered in passionate depth by Martin Cloake here. No doubt at all, however, that Sherwood is doing his level best on behalf of the club and is getting good performances from his players, and right now, you can’t say fairer than that.

8 thoughts on “Tim The Temp Takes Spurs To Another Win

  1. Yes it was a good win but we are still not in the same class as Man City or Chelsea. The Defense still seemed a little “ill disciplined” at times and it still needs work. Tim is doing a fine job and as long as we do not get any of the key players Baleing on us next year will be huge.


  2. It was a great performance, especially from Eriksen and Adebayor. However, beating lightweight passing sides away from home was never our problem, even under AVB. The issue was beating obdurate defenses at home.

    Dawson is definitely our weak link and I worry what Man City will do to us next game. As with Crystal Palace, early on we seemed very vulnerable to quick passes through the middle, and this was Swansea with one up front.


  3. You can only beat what is in front of you, and Spurs are finally becoming adept at that. You’re right about the Chelseas and Citys being currently better than us, but at least we’re winning games and keeping in touch (our strength and counters are suiting us beautifully away from home where the home team has to come at us, while we’re finally taking advantage of playing at the Lane, with less reliance on two DMs holding our build-up play back, and showing more guile and creativity). When I think of the silly lost points before Tim took over, because AVB did not make the best use of a very good squad, I could cry (especially when I think too of the cruel luck and wasted opportunities of the past 3 seasons). But all is not lost on the 4th position spot yet (which most pundits seem to think is between Liverpool and United). We’re level with Liverpool and, unless Everton surprise us all, we can hold off Utd and the Scousers to the ‘grail’. What we mustn’t do is falter as we’ve done in the last two seasons when 3rd has beckoned with 10 or 11 matches to go, and Tim must ensure against that (I know he’ll be fully aware of it). Exactly two years ago we were miles ahead in 3rd with a played 22/46 points total ..last year we were 4th with a 22/40 total ..while now we’re 22/43, and 5th (maybe 6th if Everton beat WBA tonight). So we’re thereabouts and, barring some poor collapses again in the final few months, we should be on for 72 to 74 points (taking into account tough matches against City, Everton and Arsenal at home, and L’pool, Chelsea and Newcastle away). If we hit that sort of target, then surely the bad luck of doing similar last season won’t keep us out of the CL places this year. The trouble is that United and Liverpool demand and expect 4th at the very least this year ..while we are simply hopeful!
    Keep the faith and just pray!
    Re the game. Eriksen is really showing signs now of finally eclipsing the Modric factor. Admittedly (unlike the countless playmakers and creators at Chelsea, City and Arsenal etc.) we haven’t much by way of replacements if he goes injured, although Sig and Holtby could cover. I’m pleased to see Dembele being given freer rein in midfield. He hasn’t got a creative thought in his head, but what an asset he is!. And we’ve still got Sandro, Paulinho, Verts, Kabul, Townsend et al coming back!
    Perhaps the early spring can finally allow Lamela to find his way. He surely cannot be a ‘dud’, not after being so impressive in Italy and costing so much, so, Eric, take a look at all the other South American players doing well over here, and start to BELIEVE!!


  4. Thanks for the review Alan which is v much on the ball.

    Yes, Chelsea and Man City are a level ahead of us at moment but the return of Vertonghen, Sandro and Paulinho provides the interesting and enticing prospect of getting this high quality squad playing to its potential. Sherwood’s early credentials on that front are good though we are relatively untested under him. The City match may be one game too soon for the returning triumvirate to really do their stuff but it gives cause for optimism.

    I know Adebayor has a habit of letting you down but I am beginning to believe that he might decide to hang out his brightest colours for the remainder of the season, and if he does we can do damage. He has been at times immense since his return and was the stand out performer during yesterdays game – operating at a level above his opponents and most of his teammates.

    What I like about this is that our season has been written off by many, so we can play the role of the unfancied outsider – not unlike when we qualified for CL with that wonderful culmination to the 09/10 season. I think the outsider role suits this manager and the players are clearly taking to the new approach. Who knows where it will bring us but it has started to be enjoyable again to be a Spurs fan.

    Thanks again Alan


  5. Got to say Alan. Well done to Tim so far. Not only winning,but in style, barring 1st half Palace.
    Just glad that we now play to certain players strengths, rather than the way AVB played them out of position.
    Best game seen Ade so far, and just hope he is up for the City game.
    Good analysis of the game Alan, and Keep up the good work.


  6. Lots to work on still, the first 30 mins against another struggling side were underwhelming to say the least. Nonetheless, we are amassing he points and looked strong and in command of how we wanted to play in the second half. Everyone had a decent to good game.

    When we haven’t played the high line, I think Dawson has done pretty well this season. He’ll look even better when Vertonghen is restored to his side. Always room for a nuts and bolts defender and leader and he stuck to it well against a very powerful and lively opponent in Bony. Nice little pass down the side of the pen area for Walker to cross for the second goal, too.

    As insightful as ever Alan. Thanks.


  7. It was the worst of times…it is the best of times. I suspect I was in the majority who shook my head at the appointment of Sherwood. But here we are one month older and slightly chastened at our lack of support. Half the problem is we have become conditioned to shower praise or ordure on a result-by-result basis; in our case fully justified following the shambles against Liverpool and Man City. As others have pointed out we can’t have expected more, even if Mourinho was in the job, so let’s enjoy our current run because it will surely hit the buffers over the next couple of weeks with Man City, Everton and Newcastle a class above most of the recent opposition. What I like about Sherwood is his obvious common sense. AV-B gave the impression he had swallowed a dictionary each time he tried to explain a situation, whereas Tim is keeping it simple, which is something the players respond to, as well. I also admire his poker face when handling recent questions about transfers. He manages to give a (mostly) substantive reply without saying much, being well aware how we all dissect every word. You’d never believe he is still just weeks into his new role and I’m now beginning to understand what “insiders” meant when they said Sherwood was “well regarded” by Levy and others. I’m not expecting too much against City. I think it will be more of a test to see how we respond to superior opposition, i.e. how far we’ve come, and our ability to contest the whole 90 minutes, rather than the capitulation at their place.
    But if the pundits are correct and this team has equalled the number of successive away wins established back in 1961 then we are in a good moment.


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