Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs Need to Outgrow Sherwood's Simplistic Approach

Associated Press
Jerrad PetersWorld Football Staff WriterFebruary 24, 2014

If you believe Louis van Gaal, then it seems the current Netherlands manager could well be in charge of Tottenham Hotspur by July.

"I will definitely not be in charge [of Holland] for the Euro 2016 qualification campaign," the 62-year-old revealed at the competition’s draw event in Nice, as per the Guardian.

Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal has said Tottenham may
Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal has said Tottenham mayBuda Mendes/Getty Images

He added: "I have said before that a challenge could be a club in the Premier League... Maybe Tottenham are coming."

The thing is that Frank De Boer claims to be on the Spurs wish-list as well.

"Tottenham called my boss with the possibility [of managing Spurs] after the sacking of [Andre] Villas-Boas," the Ajax coach revealed in early February, as relayed by Goal.

And then there is the Italian press, which is convinced it will be Italy manager Cesare Prandelli who takes over at White Hart Lane during the summer, according to the Independent.

Naturally, only one of the three will get the highly-coveted job, and at this point one guess is as good as another.

But the whole process of speculation is based on a single assumption: that current boss Tim Sherwood will be shown the door at the end of the season. And if recent performances are any indication, it would seem to be more an exercise in waiting than in guesswork.

Sherwood’s Spurs have won just three of their last seven matches in all competitions—a stretch in which they’ve scored only six goals and have failed to find the back of the net against the likes of Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and Norwich City.

Frank De Boer is the current Ajax manager.
Frank De Boer is the current Ajax manager.David Ramos/Getty Images

Granted, both opponents played very much within themselves and were difficult to break down, but in few instances against either of them did Spurs even look like scoring, and against neither did they make the sort of adjustments that might have created the openings they needed.

In other words, they looked much like they have all season long, whether under the departed Villas-Boas or Sherwood, who replaced the Portuguese in December.

In fact, there’s an argument to be made that Villas-Boas instilled more of an identity in the side (suffocating in midfield, defensively sound) than Sherwood has so far managed, and had he been given more time with a freshly-assembled group of players, he might have eventually loosened the reins and encouraged more creativity in the attacking third.

But after reinvesting the Gareth Bale windfall in a new-look team, chairman Daniel Levy was in no mood for patience, which is why Villas-Boas was sacked and Sherwood appointed after a fifth loss in 16 Premier League games.

Not that anything has changed since then, at least not as far as results go.

And tactically, Spurs look as simplistic and clueless as they ever have—either charging up the flanks and crossing to a pair of strikers or muddling their way about a midfield crowded with too many similar players, none of whom have been given a particular assignment.

Italy manager Cesare Prandelli.
Italy manager Cesare Prandelli.Clive Mason/Getty Images

What’s more, many of the players purchased in recent transfer windows (Mousa Dembele, Paulinho, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela) require systems and strategies in which to thrive. They simply won’t flourish if merely thrown out on to the pitch at a manager’s whim, expected to impact a match through their natural athleticism and creativity.

And that’s where van Gaal comes in.

A respected tactician with a history of success at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, the Dutchman could be just the man to turn an outfit disorganized to the point of tedium into something rather more effective.

So, too, could De Boer, who is already developing a reputation for getting smart and useful performances from young teams that experience significant turnover from year to year.

But perhaps the best option for Spurs is Prandelli, whose contract with Italy expires after the World Cup.

The 56-year-old has managed to turn an Azzurri team chock full of individual specialists into a formidable unit—something that would no doubt serve him well at White Hart Lane.

After all, the current Spurs team is nothing if not a collection of specialists, and one that needs to outgrow the simplistic approach of its current manager.

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