'He could be our Guardiola' - Tottenham's high hopes for Sherwood's management potential

Spurs have handed the reins to the club's highly regarded technical coordinator in what is shaping up to be the latest of Daniel Levy's manager appointments at White Hart Lane.
During Daniel Levy’s 12-year chairmanship of Tottenham, the club has seemingly tried every type of manager.

From the proven winner (George Graham) to the club legend (Glenn Hoddle), grizzled caretaker (David Pleat), hired international (Jacques Santini), promoted No.2 (Martin Jol), top foreigner (Juande Ramos), populist entertainer (Harry Redknapp) and dynamic youngster (Andre Villas-Boas), there appeared no option that had been unexplored.

Until now. The latest rabbit that Levy has pulled out of his hat is Tim Sherwood, who is unique among the all-powerful chairman’s appointments in having no top-level managerial experience.

Spurs released a carefully worded statement on Monday evening to explain that the club’s technical coordinator “will take charge of the first team whilst the club progresses discussions”. Behind the scenes, Sherwood is regarded as far more than a mere seat warmer.

Sources have told Goal that there is no timescale on how long the 44-year-old will be given and that he will be appointed the next permanent Tottenham manager if he impresses as interim boss.

Privately, Levy and the Spurs board are excited about what Sherwood has to offer. “He could be our [Pep] Guardiola”, observed one source in reference to the famed Bayern Munich manager, who made his name coaching Barcelona B before establishing a dynasty with the club’s first team.

Sherwood, who spent four years at Tottenham as a player from 1999-2003, has built a good reputation in the game since rejoining the club, on the coaching staff, in 2008.

Redknapp was so impressed by Sherwood’s knowledge of the game and tactical awareness that he regarded the former midfielder as a possible successor and wasted little opportunity in recommending him to those both inside and outside of the club.

Blackburn Rovers and Swansea City were among the clubs which offered him a first opportunity to dip his toes into the shark-infested waters of first-team management, but, in displaying an awareness of football politics that should serve him well in the coming weeks, Sherwood opted to bide his time and serve his apprenticeship away from the spotlight.

An adept communicator who knows the culture of Tottenham and players at all levels of the club, Sherwood is regarded by the hierarchy as less of a gamble than outsiders might think.

Levy and his fellow board members have been impressed by the fluency of the football played by Spurs’ Under-21 team, which they regard as far more in keeping with the club’s heritage than the cautious style favored by Villas-Boas following Gareth Bale’s summer exit.

As a member of the transfer committee responsible for Tottenham’s player trading, Sherwood has grown increasingly close to Levy and the key decision makers at the club in recent years.

Spurs’ long-term plan had always been for Sherwood to further learn his trade at Under-21 level before being promoted to first-team manager.

The hope had been that Villas-Boas would stay for an extended period before making another move on the managerial merry-go-round.

However, the Portugese’s shortcomings, coupled with the lack of obvious alternatives, has led to Sherwood being fast-tracked into the role.

Spurs considered reappointing Hoddle, who still has the ear of Levy, as well as an interim hired gun in the mold of Guus Hiddink or Fabio Capello. However, Hiddink has committed to a four-year contract with the Holland national team that begins after the 2014 World Cup, while Capello is on an astonishingly lucrative package to manage Russia in Brazil next summer.

Crucially, Sherwood will be assisted at first-team level by his youth team sidekick and Tottenham stalwart Chris Ramsey, a coach regarded so highly by those within the game that he assesses the up-and-coming coaches taking their badges.

The ambitious apprentice has been given the chance to prove he has what it takes to be a management master.

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