Tim Sherwood has sounded out his Tottenham squad ahead of the end-of-season run-in, warning that a summer clear-out could lie ahead at White Hart Lane.
Spurs are currently in the race for a top-four finish in the Premier League and face Benfica in their Europa League round of 16 tie, but Sherwood told Sky Sports this week that he's looking for a special brand of commitment from his players:
There are a lot of players here now who are playing for their future and I think they realise that. I will have a good look at the whole squad and see who I need to keep and who I need to bring in. I want players here who want to play for the club and they've got until the end of the season to show they are playing for the club and not for themselves.
I don't think at any football club, a player should be doing a club a favour by playing for them. You'll see a lot of players all over the world, sometimes they think they've outgrown the football club, but people pay a lot of money to watch their clubs and it's in their blood and players owe to them to perform 100 percent for the shirt.
Sherwood took the reins at Tottenham following the December dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas, but there remains some speculation over the manager being replaced at the end of the season, with Holland's Louis van Gaal in the frame to replace him, per The Guardian's Dominic Fifield.
Spurs' most recent Premier League outing resulted in a 4-0 loss at Chelsea, with Sherwood angered by the "lack of character" shown by his players in the mauling, per BBC Sport.
Gary Lineker feels that the manager is better off taking care of these affairs in private, however:
Fascinating, honest but ultimately, I feel, unwise public condemnation of his own players by Tim Sherwood. Private, always the best way.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 12, 2014
The Mirror's Darren Lewis sees the positives of Sherwood's approach, though, pointing out that Spurs fans may not be happy if the coach decided to defend such lacklustre performances:
I get the "Criticise in private, defend them in public" thing. But would Spurs fans want Sherwood defending last Saturday's shambles?— Darren Lewis (@MirrorDarren) March 12, 2014
The North London outfit were busy in last summer's transfer market, reinvesting the funds brought in as a result of Gareth Bale's £85 million departure to Real Madrid.
However, a lot of those new recruits have struggled in their new Premier League surroundings, with players such as Erik Lamela, Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue and Roberto Soldado each enduring disappointing stretches of form at the club thus far.
It's a dilemma that any manager faces when attempting to build a squad worthy of challenging for titles both domestic and international, attempting to get that rare blend of physical and mental impact just right.
Considering this is Sherwood's first post as a manager, there aren't many more difficult tasks one could think of in terms of banding a team together, with much of his first-team squad comprised of those players still relatively new to the English game.
Regardless, Sherwood isn't pulling any punches when it comes to handing his stars sanctuary in the Spurs dressing room, with a critical few months lying ahead for helmsman and players alike.