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Tim Sherwood: Where the Former Tottenham Head Coach Must Improve in Next Role

Thomas CooperFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2014

Tim Sherwood: Where the Former Tottenham Head Coach Must Improve in Next Role

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    Tim Sherwood could be about to return to The Hawthorns touchline as West Bromwich Albion's new manager.
    Tim Sherwood could be about to return to The Hawthorns touchline as West Bromwich Albion's new manager.Associated Press

    Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood could be set for a swift return to Premier League management.

    BBC Sport reported on Tuesday that the 45-year-old was on West Bromwich Albion's six-man shortlist to replace Pepe Mel. The Birmingham Mail's Bill Howell went one further on Wednesday, writing that the ex-Tottenham boss will be appointed within 48 hours.

    The BBC article states Sherwood's "record impressed West Brom, as did his work with young players while working as technical co-ordinator at White Hart Lane."

    If the aforementioned reports prove accurate, it will be a big boost to Sherwood after his contentious last six months at Spurs.

    The pressure to produce immediate results saw him judged harshly given he was coming in at the midway point of the campaign. It is easy to see how he might have caught the Baggies' attention, though. His overall work was solid, even if it did not live up to certain expectations from the Spurs supporters, and the club itself.

    Even so, there are certain things Sherwood can learn from his experiences at Tottenham to improve as a manager.

Establish the Way He Wants to Play with His New Team

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    Sherwood's flexible approach was perhaps too lax for players used to a more rigid style.
    Sherwood's flexible approach was perhaps too lax for players used to a more rigid style.Steve Bardens/Getty Images

    If appointed by West Bromwich Albion this week, or in the near future, Tim Sherwood will welcome having a summer to work with his new team.

    "It's imperative to have a pre-season and bed your ideas in," he said prior to his sacking as Tottenham manager, according to The Mirror's Darren Lewis.

    Becoming Spurs boss in December meant Sherwood was as much adjusting to his new team as they were to him (though there was some obvious familiarity given he already worked at the club).

    He had to work with predecessor Andre Villas-Boas' players. Elements of the Portuguese's playing style he wanted to change were not going to be easily altered either.

    In response, Sherwood made some adjustments in terms of preferred personnel—notably bringing Emmanuel Adebayor back into the fold and promoting Nabil Bentaleb to first-team duty. He also adopted a more flexible approach tactically, giving his players greater freedom and putting more onus on adhering to specific individual responsibilities than sticking to a strict formation.

    It worked well to a degree. Lesser teams were comfortably beaten, with players such as Adebayor and Christian Eriksen making the most of less restrictions on them. Conversely, though, a stricter team-wide game plan may have helped Spurs fare better against teams capable of stifling and overwhelming them (chiefly in the 2014 losses to Manchester City and Liverpool).

    Moving forward, Sherwood is unlikely to veer too far from the flexibility he favoured at Tottenham. With more time to work with his new team, however, Sherwood will have a better chance of grounding his new players in the duties that can make it work for them.

    West Brom's hard-earned Premier League experience ultimately paid off last season. Their trouble had been Pepe Mel had changed things too dramatically upon coming in. As midfielder James Morrison told the Daily Telegraph's John Percy in February, "it’s taken a bit of getting used to."

    Establishing the way he wants to play, the key difference for Sherwood will be the time that comes with starting a season. Circumstances dictated he could not do that with Spurs, now he has to make the most of it.

Get on Board with the Club's Vision

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    Sherwood will have to adapt to the vision of the next club he manages.
    Sherwood will have to adapt to the vision of the next club he manages.Clive Rose/Getty Images

    The exact nature of Tim Sherwood's relationship with Tottenham technical director Franco Baldini remains unknown.

    The Sunday People's Dave Kidd described a "power struggle" in January. The fact Baldini is still employed by the north London club suggests he won any dispute between the two over the direction of the club.

    Should Sherwood take the West Bromwich Albion job, he will be fully aware he will be walking into a similar setup.

    "The job specification at The Hawthorns has not changed—the successful applicant will be head coach, not manager, working alongside Terry Burton and Richard Garlick in the sporting and technical department," BBC Sport's Pat Murphy reported this week.

    Sherwood's situation at Spurs was obviously clouded by his work with the club's young players. His influence pre-dated Baldini's arrival. Taking on a head coach/manager role, which implies more seniority, he understandably wanted to do things as he saw fit.

    Coaches like Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger being allowed to oversee all aspects of the football side of their clubs are becoming rarer, though.

    The next job Sherwood takes must be one in which he gets on board with the vision of the club. Should he do that, he will have room to manoeuvre in a way that may have ultimately been difficult at Tottenham.

    Newly appointed West Brom technical director Burton seems someone he might be more likely to get on with. English for a start, the 61-year-old has vast experience having worked with the likes of Arsenal, Wimbledon and Watford, one of Sherwood's old clubs.

    That resume and their shared experience of working with young players could chime with Sherwood in a way the more continental leanings of Baldini did not. As a former Baggies coach too, Burton is familiar with the club in a way that could aid Sherwood's own settling in.

Tone Down His Public Persona

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    Tim Sherwood's interviews and press conferences were like gold for journalists.
    Tim Sherwood's interviews and press conferences were like gold for journalists.Steve Bardens/Getty Images

    One of the most divisive elements of Sherwood's managerial style at Tottenham was the way he conducted himself publicly.

    If The Mirror's Darren Lewis is to be believed, the ex-Spurs boss' personality did not appeal to all his players either. "Had Sherwood survived, midfielders Paulinho, Sandro and Etienne Capoue, defender Jan Vertonghen and keeper Hugo Lloris are understood to have been prepared to quit White Hart Lane this summer," he wrote.

    Others were more complementary. "I thought Tim, especially in his first managerial job, conducted himself very well," Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel is quoted by the Birmingham Mail's Bill Howell as saying.

    Sherwood is who he is. He can alter the way he deals with his team, but ultimately he has to be his own man.

    With that said, the image he presents to the outside world—media and supporters alike—is something he can perhaps tone down.

    Sherwood did speak a lot of sense at times.

    When asked good questions, he gave insightful interviews and press conferences on subjects ranging to his own situation to his players—the latter demonstrated by his take on Danny Rose in this piece by the Tottenham & Wood Green Journal's Ben Pearce.

    Post-match, his views were in line with some supporters', if not his plays. His angry response, reported by Sky Sports, to Spurs' 4-0 defeat to Chelsea was definitely justified.

    Sometimes, though, it could be said he talked too much. That the Daily Telegraph put together a piece on his "reign in quotes" says a lot.

    Managers saying more than just cliches and nondescript platitudes is a good thing. But sometimes for their own good, and that of their players too, it is better to pick and choose when to speak up.

    West Brom are a different club to Spurs. They are less high-profile and less demanding, it could be argued.

    Sherwood's words and actions will be interpreted differently there. But while he will hopefully not lose his passion and willingness to talk about football, his career might benefit from being a tad more reserved in what he has to say.

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