Tottenham Hotspur vs. Fulham: Christian Eriksen Bails Tim Sherwood out Again
Tottenham Hotspur left attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen inspired Spurs to a 3-1 win over Fulham at White Hart Lane. In the process, the Dane bailed out manager Tim Sherwood from the heavy criticism he would have received had Spurs succumbed to a defeat against relegation-threatened Fulham.
Central midfielder Paulinho, centre-forward Harry Kane and centre-back Younes Kaboul were Spurs' scorers, while Fulham central midfielder Steve Sidwell scored the only goal for Felix Magath's side.
Tim 'Eccentric' Sherwood
Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood is a unique character.
"Eccentric" is an ideal word to describe his managerial style, and he seems to make intuitive decisions rather than tactically logical choices.
The notion of playing left winger/deep-lying forward Nacer Chadli in a central-midfield pairing with Paulinho is inexplicably reckless.
Chadli averages 0.8 tackles per game, and Paulinho is a box-to-box midfielder, so Spurs are vulnerable without the ball as neither are confident in tracking opposing midfield runners.
That was why Fulham central midfielder Steve Sidwell bumbled his way through on goal to score.
Sherwood might be trying to replicate Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti's experiment in playing right forward Angel Di Maria in midfield.
Well, Chadli and Di Maria cannot be practically compared.
Di Maria is a high-energy technician with a workhorse mentality, while Chadli flatters to deceive.
Sherwood should quit being a football hipster and make a stock-standard call.
In the future, play Sandro, who tweeted that he was fit to play, along side Paulinho.
Not only will Sandro act as a foil to Paulinho, the two can communicate effectively.
Remember, the language barrier is one of Paulinho's explanations to him struggling in his debut season for Spurs, per Globo Esporte (h/t Paulo Freitas at Sky Sports).
Oh, that won't happen since Sherwood and Sandro have had a falling-out.
"When he [Sandro] shows me that he is and he's at a level with the other players then he can get back in the squad," Sherwood said, per BT Sport (h/t ESPN). "I only pick players based on who can win the game, and at the moment, he's not good enough to be in the squad so he's left out."
Right, so in Sherwood's mind: Sandro is worse than Chadli, who is learning to play the central-midfield role on the fly.
Even without Sandro, why not start Mousa Dembele?
This goes back to Sherwood making judgements on a gut feeling, and Chadli as a central midfielder does not make sense tactically.
Zeki Fryers over Vlad Chiriches?
Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood opted to switch left-back Zeki Fryers to centre-back, thus relegating Vlad Chiriches to the bench.
Sherwood presumably did this because Fryers is less ad-hoc than the flamboyant Chiriches.
Yet it was Fryers' mistake that led to Steve Sidwell scoring for Fulham.
This is another example of Sherwood going left-field, and it is not in the best interests of Spurs.
Management have to persist with Chiriches early on in his career otherwise his signing will go down as a waste of £8.5 million.
Christian Eriksen Covering Tim Sherwood's Tactical Shortcomings
Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood seems to give everyone but Christian Eriksen a permanent (key word being "permanent") run centrally.
- Sherwood lets Emmanuel Adebayor drop deep to playmake.
- Harry Kane is playing behind Adebayor.
- Nacer Chadli has had a run in a deep-lying forward role and is now a make-shift central midfielder.
Yet, Spurs' most valuable player in Eriksen has to spend pointless minutes on the left even though his average positioning is central.
What Sherwood should do is play a 4-3-1-2 and have Eriksen as the "1".
Let Eriksen carry the team, because he makes everyone around him better.
Eriksen's set-piece expertise, which led to Paulinho and Younes Kaboul scoring easy goals, has covered  Sherwood's tactical shortcomings.
 Another player who ensured Sherwood came away with a win was Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
He made a clutch penalty save to deny Fulham central midfielder Steve Sidwell from the spot. If Sidwell had scored, it would have been 3-2 with 13 minutes plus stoppage-time to play.
Statistics via WhoScored.com