‘The Spurs Way’

The notion that is for many the true test of a Tottenham manager. Indeed manager’s down the years have been branded failures and elevated to legendary status because of it; you only have to look at AVB to realise the value placed on playing with a flourish at White Hart Lane. Sacking the manager with the best win percentage in Spurs’ history was always going to be about more than just results, the Portuguese tactician was never able to create anything like the style of football that was expected of him in North London.

There are echoes of the great Danny Blanchflower here:

“The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.” 

So when analysing the transition from AVB to Sherwood it is important to keep this great battle between perceived ‘glory’ and footballing success in mind. AVB was a man to always emphasise winning at all costs, no matter how mediocre the football had to be to achieve it. Contrast this to Sherwood who for me is very much out of a more expressive and wholly more simplistic school of footballing thought.

There are shades of Redknapp here, the whole go out and enjoy yourselves mentality. It is much less about shape and tactics, more about motivation and attitute. The programme notes from the recent Premier League encounter with West Brom highlight this point:

I am not one to complicate the game, I like attacking players to attack, defenders to defend and midfielders to do a bit of both”

Many would see this as hugely reassuring, with the shackles now off players can finally go out express themselves fully. Indeed recent results in the Premier League would suggest this decision has been a marked success, three wins and a draw with the win at United capping off an excellent start for Sherwood at Spurs.

For most the return to 4-4-2 has been a revelation, Soldado finally getting the support he needs up top through the help of a resurgent Adebayor. This partnership is developing so quickly that many now see a 4-4-1-1 forming with one playing off the other with regularity, that said I doubt Sherwood himself would have noticed these intricacies.

Spurs are certainly playing more entertaining football now under Sherwood, but are they actually going to be more successful?

The appointment is a huge gamble and u-turn from Daniel Levy and the directors at the club. After Redknapp there was always the sense that someone with top-level experience and a knack of winning trophies was required in order to take the club to the next level, people that think that the cockney London charm alone will wash at the top level are kidding themselves. The finest clubs in the world are grounded in a lot more than simply player happiness and motivation, tactics and planning are important and for me Sherwood in this department is unconvincing.

He got the Arsenal game completely wrong. Arsenal are a much better passing outfit than Spurs and were able to have the freedom to play their natural game from midfield, lining up with five in the middle of the park and tearing the likes of Bentaleb and Dembele to shreds from the off. Losing to better opposition is one thing, but to have effectively thrown the game before the outset just isn’t acceptable. A one-size fits all approach to management just doesn’t work in the Premier League I’m afraid, if Sherwood wants to be a success he needs to find something more than he looks to be offering at the minute

Sherwood may satisfy those that hunger for a return to expansive football, but when it comes down to it results will always be the mark of a good team.

I am a sceptic; Sherwood is merely a feel good filler before Levy puts someone in charge with continental pedigree over the summer. The right move for Spurs short term, but in my opinion an appointment that may not stand the test of time.

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