The old adage that a result is a result rings true a lot of times in football; but for a man like Tim Sherwood trying to cling onto his slipping grasp of the Tottenham managerial position there are a lot of others things to worry about.
Yesterday’s last gasp winner against Southampton went some way to righting the wrongs of the last few weeks. Spurs’ assault on the Premier League top four had hit the buffers following defeats to Chelsea and Arsenal, and given the precarious nature of Sherwood’s tenure, the warning signs were there.
So surely Sunday’s victory was the morale boost Spurs needed going into the run-in?
Tim Sherwood certainly thinks so, the Spurs boss now believing that a last minute challenge to Arsenal’s 4th place isn’t out of the question:
“We are going to try and accumulate as many points as we possibly can,” said Sherwood. “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.”
Victory over Southampton may well have been morale boosting, but it was hardly the convincing display to suggest that Spurs can realistically mount a comeback in the league. For the first half the ‘Lilywhites’ were comfortably outplayed, and were it not for some poor finishing the Saints could easily have entered the break a few goals better off than they were. Indeed if Spurs had played anything like that against next weeks opponents Liverpool the match would have been well out of their reach by the half hour mark.
Spurs did however dominate much of the second half, the introduction of Sigurdsson for a disappointing Dembele a key part of that. But even still this wasn’t the performance of a Champions League chasing side, in fact the first two goals were as good as given to Spurs by defensive errors, hardly achieved through their own attacking quality.
The real positive for me though was the partnership between Christian Eriksen and Roberto Soldado, a pair that at times look in a different league to the rest of the Spurs side. But despite this, there continues to be a number of huge concerns for the club and Tim Sherwood going into the last few weeks of the season.
Spurs no longer seem able to retain the ball, a pass completion rate of 74% is pitiful by modern standards and to relinquish so much of the ball against a more clinical side would be to effectively give the game away. Similarly the Spurs backline fails to convince; the full backs both had woeful games, positionally poor and altogether pretty ineffectual going forward as well. This was coupled with a pretty disappointing performance from what many see as Spurs’ first choice centre half paring; surprising given Kaboul’s drive to win a new contract and Vertonghen’s determination to make up for the mistakes of the last few weeks.
Tottenham were effectively a minute away from an arguably deserved draw, and effectively failure in the race for fourth. Sherwood can harp on about guts and determination as much as he likes, but eventually there comes a point where quality and tactical shape are required to carry the team home.
Grinding out a result was important in getting back to winning ways, but with the challenge of title chasing Liverpool next week I think Spurs will need to a little better. With their top four hopes hanging by a threat it is on Sherwood’s head to start trying to deal with some of the clear issues at Tottenham.
My worry is that they won’t get away with a performance like that every time.