Tottenham Hotspur: Evaluating Tim Sherwood After Manchester United Victory

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IJanuary 1, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Tim Sherwood the Spurs manager directs his players during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion on December 26 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
Steve Bardens/Getty Images

The results have been undeniable, but just what is Tim Sherwood doing to turn around a Spurs season that looked to be fading?

After four Premier League matches in charge of Tottenham Hotspur, Sherwood has led the club to a spell that surely justifies his appointment as the club's permanent manager.

While Spurs mustered just eight points over the final seven matches of Andre Villas-Boas' reign at White Hart Lane, including humiliating 6-0 and 5-0 defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool, respectively, the club has already earned 10 points over Sherwood's first four encounters.

Tottenham's 2-1 victory over Manchester United Wednesday, their second win at Old Trafford in the Premier League era, just shows how much the side's play has changed over the past few weeks.

This awesome run merely has catapulted Spurs to the cusp of a place in the league's top four, an achievement that is Spurs' annual goal.

All this success merely begs the question: Just what has Sherwood done to undo the spiral that typified the end of AVB's time in charge?

One obvious change was Sherwood's reinstatement of Emmanuel Adebayor.

Throughout the first part of the season, the Togolese striker was a pariah at White Hart Lane, barely seeing a minute on the pitch and getting exiled by Villas-Boas to training with the reserves.

One of Sherwood's first moves upon assuming managerial duty at Spurs, though, was to place Adebayor at the top of the club's striker pecking order.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01:  Emmanuel Adebayor of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on January 1, 2014 in Manchester, Englan
Michael Regan/Getty Images

The effect has been immediate, with the striker being close to unplayable while picking up five goals in five matches for a side that had managed just 15 goals in their first 16 league matches.

To be fair, AVB's handling of the Adebayor situation was not unthinkable, as the striker had put in some woeful and erratic performances last season, including a ridiculous challenge that all but cost them a match at the Emirates. Still, with the way Tottenham's other strikers were struggling, Sherwood's move was a fairly obvious one, and one obviously can't argue with the results.

Another clear change that came with Sherwood's appointment as Spurs' new manager was the installment of a new tactical approach.

With the injuries the side is currently coping with, Sherwood has softened the stringent high-line approach at the back and employed a swashbuckling attacking nature into the team's approach. As a result, the club has carried a much clearer threat to the opposition goal, a claim supported by their nine goals over their past four matches after their paltry start to the season.

Again, this probably should not be taken as a complete condemnation of Andre Villas-Boas and his approach, as the return of a fit Aaron Lennon and the installment of Adebayor have certainly helped.

However, what Sherwood brings that AVB did not is a certain flexibility of tactical approach, as the final month of Villas-Boas' reign seemed like a man trying desperately to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Finally, the biggest change Sherwood has brought with him to White Hart Lane is belief within the player ranks.

While it is hard to speak on man management without actually being in the locker room, it became clear that the players lost faith with Villas-Boas by the end of the Portuguese manager's reign. After all, one need look no further than the complete loss of discipline in Spurs' pathetic showings against Manchester City and Liverpool for evidence of the extent to which AVB had lost another English club's locker room.

A marked difference has already arisen on this front. After all, while the players could easily have folded against Manchester United Wednesday after conceding a quick goal and seeing Adebayor carted off, they instead stuck together and kept their discipline in (barely) hanging on for a 2-1 victory. That must be seen as a sign of improvement.

Since coming to the club, Tim Sherwood has made just a few key changes to Spurs, but has quickly begun to salvage what had seemed to be heading for a lost season.

While Sherwood's appointment came under initial scrutiny due to his lack of experience at the top flight, there is no arguing that the Englishman has already proved a worthwhile appointment in North London.

With the manager's first North London derby just a few days away, Sherwood has introduced a bit of much-needed optimism at White Hart Lane.