Recently sacked Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas regularly used two central players positioned in protection of the back four but his successor has changed that philosophy since inheriting the top job, with his colleague explaining their preference for midfielders who can participate in both attacking and defending play.
The switch has paid dividends for Sherwood, who has seen his side win five of their six Premier League matches under his tutelage, and Ferdinand told the Tottenham & Wood Green Journal: "I know there's a lot of talk about holding midfield players, and I'm always arguing with Tim and Chris about this - and they agree.
The coach pinned the tactical style on a specific player.
"I was saying to William Gallas when he was here: The worst thing that happened in this league was Claude Makelele," he said. "When he came into this country [to Chelsea in 2003] he wasn't a holding midfield player. He was a player who had the intelligence to say: 'Frank [Lampard], you can score more goals than me so, if you go, I'm going to tuck in here for you and I'll hold. You keep going forward.'
"Then everyone went 'right, we've got to have a holding midfield player' and what we've done is produce a crop of players who don't want to go over the halfway line, who don't want to pass over the halfway line and are happy to just sit in front of the back four."
Ferdinand points toward Manchester City's success this season as a perfect example of why teams do not need holding midfielders.
"Do Man City play with one? They've still scored 100-odd goals," he said. "People say Yaya Toure is a holding midfielder. No he isn't, he's getting forward and getting goals - but, if someone else goes, he'll stay in there.
"Fernandinho's scoring goals. Why? Because he's a holding player? No. They've just got an understanding: 'If he goes, I'll hold, and, if I go, he'll hold'."