Sherwood a gamble worth taking for Tottenham

Correspondent's Column: The club's technical co-ordinator has been handed a contract until the end of next season by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy in what is a calculated risk
Greg Stobart
         Goal UK Correspondent


Even Tim Sherwood would admit that he is lucky to have landed one of the plum jobs in English football with just two games as a manager on his CV.

Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, has taken a calculated gamble in appointing Sherwood on a contract until the end of next season following Andre Villas-Boas's dismissal last week.

But for a club who have taken a punt on just about every type of manager over the last 10 years - from Glenn Hoddle to Juande Ramos to Villas-Boas - this is a gamble worth taking.

The Spurs fans hoping for a bigger name would do well to look at the record books for the two most successful managers in the club's history. Bill Nicholson and Keith Burkinshaw were both internal appointments and, like Sherwood, knew the club from top to bottom.

The 44-year-old has long been pencilled in as a future Tottenham manager with his forthright opinions, commitment to attacking football and impressive leadership.

While he has been handed an 18-month contract, the former Spurs captain knows that he is essentially on trial until the end of the season. If he is unable to clinch a top-four finish, Levy will reassess other potential managers, including Louis van Gaal and Frank de Boer.

Tottenham's high hopes for Sherwood's management potential
That both of the Dutchmen started their careers as internal appointments at Ajax is a reminder that every coach started somewhere, with a chairman or president choosing to take a risk.

The most obvious example is Pep Guardiola, promoted from Barcelona B in 2008 and with the Catalan club's ethos running through his veins. There is a lot to be said for someone who 'gets it' at a club and too seldom have young, promising British coaches been promoted at leading Premier League clubs.

Sherwood's inexperience is highlighted by the fact that he needs special dispensation to take over Spurs while he waits to do his Uefa Pro License qualification in the first part of next year.

In his two games in charge of the north Londoners, he has immediately made his mark on a squad where, incidentally, he is liked and respected by the players.

Emmanuel Adebayor was brought back from the cold and has scored three goals in two matches, while Sherwood moved to a 4-4-2 formation and named a host of attacking players in Sunday's 3-2 victory at Southampton.

As a Premier League-winning captain with Blackburn and an outspoken pundit, he has never been afraid to express his opinions and to put his neck on the line. He also did it with Levy by insisting on a contract longer than a six-month interim role.

4/1 Tottenham are 4/1 with PaddyPower to finish in the Premier League top four
Given the problems between Levy and the last two managers - Villas-Boas and Harry Redknapp - the fact that Sherwood has a strong relationship with the chairman is a solid starting point. How he works with technical director Franco Baldini, particularly in identifying and signing transfer targets, is yet to be seen.

Perhaps most crucially, he will also look to integrate academy players, finally bringing some joined-up thinking to the club after Villas-Boas, who barely paid any attention to the youth teams.

By ignoring established internationals to bring 19-year-old midfielder Nabil Bentaleb off the bench on Sunday, Sherwood showed that he is not afraid to back youngsters if he thinks they are ready.

With no high-profile managers available mid-season, Tottenham have decided to back Sherwood and his assistants, Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey. Spurs have taken a risk on a very inexperienced coach to lead them back into the Champions League but Levy has demonstrated time and again that he will have no hesitation in sacking a manager if they do not match his expectations.

Sherwood inherits a strong squad badly lacking in confidence and needing a football identity. If he can address those issues quickly, he could surprise those questioning his credentials.


If I was watching this season's Premier League champions at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night, it didn't feel like it.

As an advert for English football, the goalless draw between Arsenal and Chelsea was about as appealing as the biblical storms in north London.

Jose Mourinho got what he came for and was perfectly happy to take a point after extending his unbeaten run over Arsene Wenger to 10 games. The Portuguese, like Sir Alex Ferguson, knows how to structure a title challenge and has now played for - and achieved - draws at Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Yet this was an instantly forgettable game between one side who got what they came for - a point - and another that, in difficult conditions, lacked the guile to create opportunities.

Mike Dean, the referee, made a big mistake in declining to send off Jon Obi Mikel for a studs-up challenge on Mikel Arteta in the first half but it was so lethargic that even the Arsenal fans barely seemed to care.

"Boring, boring Chelsea," sang the remaining Gunners fans at full-time but Mourinho and his players certainly looked the happier side on an all-round miserable night at the Emirates.


Every year, the Christmas fixtures bring up the usual debate about the possibility of a winter break.

The players need it, the national teams need it, it will help English clubs' chances in the Champions League. That is the argument and it's probably right when we are talking about elite sport defined by the finest of margins.

But, as a fan and a journalist, I cannot imagine the holiday period without the festive fixtures. Yes, it means I have to work on Boxing Day and haul myself up to Manchester on New Year's Day, but it is a huge part of the identity of English football and I wouldn't swap it for anything.