COMMENTBy Greg Stobart at Stamford Bridge
It was an open secret at White Hart Lane that Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood did not see eye to eye when the Portuguese was in charge of Tottenham.
But Sherwood will be feeling some sympathy for his predecessor today after watching his team concede some frankly comical goals in the 4-0 defeat to Chelsea.
It was just the latest in a series of humbling defeats for Spurs this season that leaves them with a goal difference of zero, 42 less than Manchester City above them. Even before today’s game, the north Londoners had been beaten 6-0 and 5-1 by Manchester City, 5-0 by Liverpool and 3-0 by West Ham.
It points to a fundamental lack of backbone in the squad that would undermine any manager.
Many Spurs fans will cite bad luck. The gameplan worked fine at Stamford Bridge for 55 minutes as the visitors restricted Chelsea and looked threatening on the counter-attack.
But Jan Vertonghen gifted the ball to Samuel Eto’o for the opener, then Younes Kaboul conceded a soft penalty and was sent-off for a challenge on the Cameroonian. Eden Hazard converted from the spot and the game was over as a contest.
It is also hard to legislate for the terrible individual errors that allowed Demba Ba to complete the rout with two late goals.
But when it happens again and again, there must surely be more to it.
Sherwood certainly agrees. "You can't legislate for the capitulation - you can't have that,” he said in his post-match television interview.
“There’s a lack of characters, too many of them are too nice to each other and you need to show a bit more guts and not want to be someone's mate all the time. They need to drag it out of each other.
"It hurts me and I won't forget about this when we hit the motorway, but some might.
"It's not a penalty and not a sending off but the game was finished after that. We've got the Europa League on Thursday and we owe the fans a performance. We let them down again on the big occasion. You won't finish in the top four if you don't beat top teams. You're miles away unless you beat the top teams.
"There have been too many blips. The club talks about fourth, wake up."
Some of the players certainly need to wake up because too often this season they have played as though in a trance.
There is every chance that Sherwood will lose his job during the summer and find himself replaced by current Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal.
But even a legendary manager like Van Gaal wouldn’t get this current Spurs squad in to the top four. The likes of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale have moved on and only been replaced by expensive gambles and mediocre punts.
Spurs have a few good players, plenty more average ones and the squad is completed by players that simply aren’t good enough for a side with Champions League aspirations.
It means that after spending - or should that be wasting? - £110 million on new signings last summer, the club will probably need another summer revamp on and off the pitch.
For the rest of the season, Sherwood forget about any chance of reaching next season’s Champions League.
His sole focus has to be on advancing in the Europa League and building a team with the type of spirit that at least offers hope of something to build on.