Usually when a manager is sacked, rightly or wrongly, the least the fans can expect is some sort of plan for a replacement.
But in the case of Tottenham Hotspur this season, it seems that chairman Daniel Levy acted on impulse rather than any reasonable logic when he sacked Andre Vilas-Boas and replaced him with managerial novice Tim Sherwood.
With the club’s Champions League hopes all but over and Europa League ambitions dashed, the wisdom of this change is highly questionable.
AVB was shown the door in the wake of a 5-0 humbling at home to top four rivals Liverpool back in December.
His Spurs’ side had also recently been hit for six at the Etihad and was struggling to hit the back of the net, scoring just fifteen goals in sixteen league matches.
But was a managerial change really justified?
At the time of his sacking, AVB’s Spurs sat in seventh place, just eight points behind leaders Arsenal. How Spurs fans would love to be that close to the summit right now.
Progress in the cup competitions had been secured too. Knockout fixtures against Dnipro and West Ham had been booked in the Europa League and Capital One Cup respectively.
In the Premier League era, AVB had registered the highest win percentage of any Tottenham manager with 53.7%. Despite narrowly missing out on a Champions League spot last season, Spurs accumulated their record points total in the Premier League in just Villas-Boas’ first season in charge.
Heavy defeats aside, the situation at White Hart Lane wasn’t all that gloomy when Levy took the decision to dispense with his manager’s services. Any manager in the world would encounter some difficulties after the sale of their best player.
Gareth Bale’s world record transfer to Real Madrid left a huge void which Director of Football Franco Baldini attempted to fill with a high volume of new signings.
From having a team that was set up to get the very best out of Bale, AVB now had to adapt his approach at the same time as accommodating a wealth of new personnel, many of whom who had no experience of the Premier League.
Players such as Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela, Paulinho and Roberto Soldado may have arrived at the club with big reputations and Baldini’s seal of approval but, that didn’t mean the club would be impervious to the effects of Bale’s departure.
Since leaving the club, serious question marks have been raised as to whether AVB even wanted these players.
The Director of Football system that has proven popular on the continent has so far failed to make a successful transition into the Premier League. Damien Comolli’s signings for Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool failed to rejuvenate the Merseysiders’ fortunes. The less said about Joe Kinnear’s time at Newcastle the better.
Levy’s decision to sack AVB has yet to be vindicated. With high profile names such as Frank de Boer and Louis Van Gaal linked to the post following the sacking, Tottenham fans may have been surprised to hear of Tim Sherwood’s appointment on an 18 month contract.
A managerial novice, Sherwood was promoted from within and prompted a short term revival in form. However, over time his lack of experience has been brutally exposed. With Spurs’ Champions League hopes all but extinguished already and a Europa League exit, the club’s season looks to have curtailed early.
Unfortunately for the club, Sherwood has been exposed as out of his depth in the managerial hot seat. Although he signed an 18 month contract, the former Blackburn Rovers midfielder is simply regarded as a stopgap until the summer, when Levy will court higher profile candidates for the role.
This begs the question, why on earth was the decision taken to replace AVB with Sherwood in the first place? A comparison of their managerial stats so far this season reveals unsurprisingly that the former was more successful in the position.
In his twenty six matches in charge, Vilas-Boas’ win percentage of 65% is far superior to Sherwood’s current figure of 47%, with only nine victories registered in nineteen fixtures.
Considering that AVB was sacked after a number of heavy defeats, it is worth pointing out that Sherwood has also suffered several humbling reverses. Manchester City left White Hart Lane with the points after a 5-1 thrashing and Chelsea recently defeated their London rivals 4-0.
With Levy being convinced that AVB was not the right man to take his club forward, plans should have been made for the immediate appointment of the chosen successor. If the desired candidates were likely to be unavailable until the summer, why create the need for a stopgap?
The chairman’s impulse created a managerial vacuum, a position that Sherwood was merely selected to keep warm.
With such uncertainty surrounding the futures of so many at the club including the manager, the stability which Tottenham so desperately needs doesn’t look likely any time soon.
A short term bounce aside, Levy’s decision to replace AVB with a managerial novice has proven to be a very poor choice indeed.