Never-Say-Die Tottenham Making the Case for Manager Tim Sherwood

Nick MillerFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2014

Tottenham's manager Tim Sherwood directs his players during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton at White Hart Lane stadium in London, Sunday, March 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

Tim Sherwood is sometimes an easy man to mock. From his choice of touchline clothing that looks like he does most of his shopping at the Spurs club shop sale, to his emphasis on 'passion' rather than fancy stuff like tactics and so forth, to his selection of mild cheddar as his favourite type of cheese in an interview with The Guardian.

Since his appointment as Spurs manager back in December, Sherwood has had to deal with a largely sceptical fanbase and an underperforming but expensive collection of players bequeathed to him by the previous regime.

On the other hand, he has enjoyed the support of much of the press, in particular, pundits like Neil Ashton and Jamie Redknapp in the Daily Mail, who seem keen to back Sherwood for assorted reasons, among them a desire to see more young English managers in the Premier League.

This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but their support for Sherwood contrasts sharply with their treatment of Andre Villas-Boas, as can be seen by this piece from Ashton and in particular this from his colleague Martin Samuel, which Villas-Boas brought up in a press conference before his dismissal.

Still, whichever side of the debate you fall on, Sherwood is at least making the subject of his future a debate.

Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

Sherwood signed an 18-month contract at White Hart Lane, a length that seemed just long enough for him to accept as some form of commitment but short enough that Daniel Levy could easily and cheaply move him on should a bigger name become available. And since Louis van Gaal has repeatedly said that he would like to manage in England, most recently in The Daily Telegraph, it seems just such a name will be free come the summer.

This would be a much easier decision for Levy if Sherwood's tenure had been a failure, but Sunday's win over Southampton brought Spurs to within six points of Arsenal. Given Spurs have played a game more than their local rivals and only have seven games left in the season, that is a not insignificant gap, but with most of their remaining games fairly simple and no other distractions, it is not out of the question that they could nick a Champions League spot.

Sherwood certainly seems to think that's possible. He said, as quoted by The Guardian, after the Southampton game:

We are going to try and accumulate as many points as we possibly can. I think we are a point behind where we were last year [at this stage] and we pushed Arsenal really close so who knows what could happen. It is squeaky bum time, time for the men to stand up and get as many points as we can.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 23: Gylfi Sigurdsson of Tottenham Hotspur scores his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton at White Hart Lane on March 23, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Ros
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Tottenham's win on Sunday certainly seemed to be the sort that Sherwood encourages. To come from 2-0 down against a side like Southampton, even if their own deficiencies had caused them to be behind in the first place, showed plenty of the character and 'men standing up' that Sherwood likes to emphasise, and while one could think that a particularly old-fashioned and reductive way of looking at football, it seems to be working, relatively speaking, at the moment.

At the very least, this never-say-die attitude that Sherwood wants to instill in his team is making the case for his retention at the end of the season. It will be interesting to see how Levy handles the summer.