Spurs Suffer As Sherwood Gets Desperate

At times this season, the hurt has been excruciating. Destroyed 6-0 by City in what was billed as a clash of title contenders, only three and bit months ago. Shipping more goals at home to the same opponents, kept it to five this time. Liverpool felt like having your spleen removed without anesthetic with only the precision of their surgical incisions to dull the pain.

The saddest and worst for me, though, occurred on Thursday evening. For an extended period at the end of the first half, Benfica corralled Spurs deep inside our own half, trapped in the fattening pen awaiting slaughter. We had no idea how to escape. We tried to go forward but found no way through the tight, eager and superbly organised midfield, We played it from side to side at the back. All that brought were a series of dangerous passes created by the pressure and the sight and sound of Vertonghen ferociously berating Kaboul and Naughton.

In the end we resorted to the long ball game. Even then we couldn’t do that properly. Adebayor flailing did his best but aside from a couple of headers from Kane, we got no one anywhere near him in case we got a knock-down. In the second half, Paulinho was pushed further forward, presumably to link with Manu and Kane. All this meant was that he saw even less of the ball than he did in the first half, thus approaching a number close to absolute zero.

Spurs were out-classed. The game proved, if any proof were needed, how far away from Champions League quality we are. Benfica have a group of talented players but the gulf in class was shown in teamwork. They were a team, we were 11 individuals. They hunted in packs, moving up, down and across the pitch in unison when they lost the ball and supporting each other they had it. We had a couple of failed one-twos, two players working together, not even three let alone a team.

The Bloke Behind Me ripped Sandro for a weak tackle. The referee gave a free-kick for an over-vigorous challenge. That’s the difference between the PL and Europe, right there. The team may or may not be trying – I think the players were committed on Thursday but there’s an alternative view, I grant you. But fist-pumping get-stuck-in rhetoric, whether it comes from row 15 on the Shelf or Tim Sherwood, is nowhere near enough. Problem is, the TBBM left early, Sherwood’s our manager but that is all he’s got.

Tim reverted to a familiar 4-4-2 ish formation with Vertonghen back in the centre of the defence, Walker and Naughton at full-back and Sandro and Paulinho in centre midfield. Paulinho was encouraged to take up more advanced positions, to be joined by Eriksen coming in off the left and Lennon wide right. Kane came in to play off Adebayor but does not have the talent either to support Manu in the box or link midfield and the striker.

You could see what Sherwood was thinking. Spurs were at home and had to try to take the game to our opponents. However, the inherent vulnerabilities were soon exposed. After a brisk start Benfica dominated midfield because we were outnumbered. To combat this, we needed width. Indeed, Lennon was our best attacking option with a couple of classic twinkling winger-type runs on the outside. Then he stopped. Came inside all the time. Didn’t link with Walker just when we needed to spread the play and have a go at them. This was compounded on the other side where we had no width at all because Eriksen was coming inside and anyway he’s not a wide player. Eriksen provided some flickers of creativity and should have been moved there in the second as Paulinho did nothing, but that was another missed opportunity.

Once Benfica got our measure, they controlled the game. Their first was a fine goal, lots of room between Vertonghen and Naughton, torn between dropping back but tempted forward by his opposite number drifting deep, but ruthlessly exploited by a delightful pass from deep and an equally fine finish.

We had a couple of opportunities right at the beginning of the second period. Adebayor missed – was he offside, I couldn’t see? And that was that. No 2014 Spurs performance is complete without some self-inflicted agony. Ironic given their superiority but the second and third both came from set-pieces. Both were unnecessary – Kane caught with the ball deep in his own half then Naughton conceding a free-kick. Both were as a result of poor marking. Their centre half rose free like a bird to head in number two, then banged in a loose ball for the third. Adebayor was deputed to mark their most dangerous header of the ball. bad mistake – he was nowhere on both.

This Spurs week has been conducted to a backdrop of Sherwood moaning. I see no reason to alter what I said over the weekend. Managers do not openly and consistently criticise their players in the media. There’s a reason for that. It doesn’t work. he may be right, he may be wrong but that’s not the question. The conundrum he has to solve is how to get the players to play better.

He clearly has a keen tactical mind. However, the constant changing of tactics has prevented the players from forming any cohesion or consistency. They need time to bed down. Sherwood is making substantial changes each and every game. The managers that do that, and there are very few, do so only after they have been with their team for a long time, they understand the players and the players can cope with the changes because they are confident. In the other words the total opposite of the situation at Spurs.

Tim says he’s trying to motivate, weed out the deadwood. but everyone knows he won’t be around in the summer. The players have no incentive to respond therefore. Sherwodd wants to get at the players, to make them harder. But people are people, they are individuals, they respond to different ways of being managed. He showed Adebayor he cared, and Manu responded magnificently. Not the others, then?

This piece from the Guardian shows Tim has form. It’s a series of examples from his own career about how he has not learned man-management lessons. Tim has a career ahead of him as a manager. What he’s doing at Spurs smacks of a job application. Tough, hard-man manager, licks players into shape, understands tactics, brings on the youngsters. A good CV for the lower leagues, then he can work his way up. he’s good mates with the Swindon chairman, look out for a west country move.

And he will do well, but it is not right for our club. That’s what I care about. This has all gone horribly wrong. It’s like Sherwood has compressed the first five years of management into a few months. Start by taking over and  settling the team down – familiar, straightforward tactics, get the best from the players, keep them happy. Try something different, new tactics. Some of it comes off. Then things go wrong. More changes, doesn’t work, more changes. Start blaming the players. This isn’t about Tim, it’s about the club and our club is a laughing stock.

Grab a bagel on the way home, see the TV. Jermaine Jenas is the pundit pontificating on our club. Can we get any lower? We may find out tomorrow.

16 thoughts on “Spurs Suffer As Sherwood Gets Desperate

  1. What a depressing night.

    Tap tap, side to side, long ball across to the other wing, back again, back to Vertonghen in the middle then back to Lloris.

    I was thinking during the game that we should fine players £50,000 if they pass back to Hugo from the centre circle.

    A team bereft of belief, ideas and creativity. What a waste of a football season.

    Benfica were a class apart on Thursday. Over the next few games against A……, Benfica away, Southampton and Liverpool we could concede a record number of goals.

    The losing I can just about cope with. It’s the fact we’ve become a joke again that really hurts. Just when we were on the verge of being taken seriously as contenders.

    I was sitting behind Sherwood and the dugout on Thursday night. As the game unfolded you could see that there was no idea about what to do next or how to respond.

    Apart from when the Benfica manager wound up Sherwood. That got a response.

    Otgerwise it was like we were being managed and coached by the Easter Island statues staring blankly into the distance.

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  2. And another thing.

    Harry Kane in the team to play Benfica while Soldado, who hasn’t played since he scored against Cardiff, is on the bench?

    Hopefully we’ll have Brad Friedel starting in the number 10 role against A……

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    • This is the first time I have commented on any blog. Spot on about the Benfica game. Fantastic support as well. I wish we could show such unconditional love. I was at Chelsea and thought we played very well for 60 minutes. I saw real commitment. The support was very good. Made me proud. Then our luck turned. I can’t see it as a crushing defeat. I remember not so long ago we were the fifth best team in London not the premiership so let’s have some perspective. Too many supporters with entitlement issues. I am looking forward to Lisbon and a chance to be with people who love the club and sod the rest.

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      • Maybe paying the second highest ticket prices in the league gives those fans a sense of entitlement. They certainly shouldn’t be expected to pay what they are for the shit that has been served up this season. Too many sanctimonious ‘super supporters’ confusing ‘love’ for the club with being exploited.

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      • Barry, we simply kept a tired looking Chelsea at bay with our ‘possess deep but can’t create’ football.
        We didn’t play ‘well’ for nearly an hour as you suggest we did ..we just kept them waiting for the mistake that inevitably came.
        No one minds mistakes if a team is exciting and taking risks ..but we weren’t that team. We set out not to lose ..because we didn’t have the confidence to win. And even when we could see the Blues were not completely at the races after the first 5 minutes, we couldn’t exploit that, or simply dared not to. ‘To Dare is to Do’?! ..Huh. Someone should take Tim and all his players and make them say that mantra for an 12 hours straight! .

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  3. Anyone who thinks Sherwood should be here beyond the last game of the season is rruely deluded, As much as AVB bored and stifled the flow of the team apart from a couple of 3 games we always looked comfortable, in fact reflecting on those three heavy defeats I would say only against Liverpool did we look overrun.
    The players brought in we’re not bad players when we bought them , Lennon getting injured early season hurt the progression of the team and Townsends continued insistence to cut inside and shoot was detrimentle and since his return from unjury looks like he is still doing the same he has a over inflated view of his abilities and should just try create for the forward players rather bathe himself in glory. Saldado in Spain was a strickers who scored most of his goals from one touch in the box, this never happened for him here as the ball would never be delivered.
    And now we have Sherwood who after all the games he has been in charge I am still trying to work out exactly what style formation we actually play and his insistence of playing Bentaleb is baffling, yes his stats are high but his not effective sideways and back passes may keep possession but creates nothing most of the time he runs about pointing and all who say potential ok so why is he playing every week and the madness to play Kane on Thursday why not put Chadli/Townsend on the left and Eriksen in the No10 rolle??
    The team could not play any worse if we got the groundsman to take over and why does Ferdinand sit on the bench give that space up to someone who has something to contribute he could not hit a barn door when he played for us and he is striking coach might.explain why our strikers can’t hit the target.
    We need a experienced man with a definate strategy and strength of character to give confidence in what he is doing a man who is driven to win LVG step up deliver on the expectation we had last summer.

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  4. There’s promise in Sherwood and I’ve come round to him, but he isn’t what we need at this time. I think you are right Alan (now I’ve cooled down a bit after last Saturday) about it being the wrong thing to call the players out in public.

    Benfica looked a very good side, and they didn’t even get out of their less than stellar CL group. Though Juve messed up CL qualification too and they are a genuinely top side in my opinion (though I see a fair bit of them and this was the first time I’ve seen Benfica this season).

    I too think Tim has to settle on a first eleven and formation until the end of the season.

    Eloquent and insightful write up as ever Alan, thanks.

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  5. We were supposed to get better, weren’t we!? Yet we are a travesty compared to the team we were two seasons ago.
    All those concerns I, and a few others, had at the start of the season, in the face of unbridled and misguided optimism from most Spurs fans, simply because we’d spent £110m+, My concern was that we hadn’t brought in ‘creative’ players, playmakers, players with pace, tempo, guile and imagination, who could set the rest of the team alight in the aftermath of Bale and Modric. Eriksen, the £11m afterthought, has proved our best signing and it says it all.
    I’m not saying we haven’t got excellent players in our squad, I’m saying they were mostly the wrong purchases and the wrong character types. Some of our squad could quite easily fit into the RM or Barca set up ..because the players they’d be playing with at those clubs would bring out the very best in them, and in their best positions. What have we got here, however?
    No settled side, no settled tactics (AVB and Tim, so different, share that fault) and no inspirational players like Bale, Modric, Hoddle, Ardiles, Gazza et al ..with no real leaders either (although Daws does his best, bless him). Quite simply they are under performing en masse because THEY don’t know themselves what they’re supposed to do, let alone reading or gauging the movements of the players around them.
    Bedding down? More time? You’ve got to be joking. They are no more bedded down than they were the day Arsenal beat them 1-0 in August. They looked like a bunch of strangers that day (trying to keep hold of the ball but doing nothing with it ..like clunky robots imagining that strength would get them through) and they look a bunch of strangers now!
    How far removed we are from our Tottenham!

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  6. Could not agree more.Hope T.S. does not remain the manager/coach too long to cause further damage to the current or future playing staff.Even if the the result against Arsenal is a good (fortunate) one – it should not hide the deficiencies of the current so called manager.

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  7. I must admit its gruelling supporting the ‘nearly team’ that we’ve been for a few seasons now. Although this year, we’re not even that.

    Tim Sherwood is not up to managing Spurs. That’s not me slagging him off, he’s simply not experienced enough and the public shaming of the lads he did last weekend showed that. Passion is a virtue for fans, not managers. Stress and man management is what I want to see from him. He needs to cut his teeth in the Championship perhaps and bring a club up through promotion. I’m sure he’s capable of that.

    As for next season, all we can hope for is that we try to hold on to as much of the spine of the team as possible; perhaps bring in one or two new faces and go at it again, I suppose.

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  8. If it was a job interview, I doubt many chairman would like a manager who is liable to publicly nail them when he’s not even cornered or prodded. Sherwood really has a lot of balls for someone with very little substance. He’s laughably paper-thin and one-dimensional. So out his depth, they’ve even called off the search party.

    We will do what we always do. Write off the season and see how the “circus upstairs” continues during the summer.

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  9. This wasn’t even their best team. Gaitan, Perez and Maxi all not in the 11. But that’s the point. I can name Benfica’s best team. I haven’t a clue about Spurs nor could I even tell you our best formation. We’re in meltdown at the moment. Interim Tim is a problem but the main one is higher up.

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  10. Pingback: Tim Throws His Gilet, Spurs Throw Away The NLD | TOTTENHAM ON MY MIND

  11. Hi Alan,
    Me again! Last year AVB said the Woolwich were on a downward spiral and look what happened! This year Sherwood in Timmy Time says “They’re papering over the cracks”. If they go on to win the double now (they have to be favourites for the cup), can we take it in turns to publicly flog him?

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