Tottenham fans have always taken some comfort in the way their sides have played down the years. Spurs may carry the unenviable tag of Premier League underachievers, but their ability to entertain has rarely gone unnoticed.
It may seem perverse, but Spurs fans do have some notion of glory in defeat, going down with a fight and playing football the right way. This was the problem with AVB; a man that may well have the best win percentage of any Spurs manager, but someone that saw grinding out a result of higher importance than style. Spurs see themselves as the footballing connoisseurs; easy on the eye with a hungering for footballing adventure. But today’s offering is at odds with the great Spurs sides of years gone by, the life has been sucked out of it by apparent over-analysis and tactics.
Sherwood’s rise to Head Coach was supposed to change all this; a return to the expressive freedom enjoyed under Redknapp. But really has anything actually changed?
I think a lot of people have been blinded by the move back to 4-4-2 with some underlying assumption that this makes a side play with more attacking intent, it’s actually complete rubbish. The footballing exile of Adebayor was a travesty and his return huge for Spurs, but in terms of systems and the way Spurs are playing I don’t really see any huge improvement.
Against City last week there was some semblance of a backbone there, 5-1 may seem like a steam-rollering but after the red card Spurs did show a degree of fight, but even so the manner of the capitulation and defeat is clearly something that should worry Spurs fans.
Based on the other fixtures though I’d actually have to say Spurs have played worse. The Hull game was an interesting case in point, with Spurs managing to get only three shots on target with a pass completion of just 64% compared to a season average of 83%. In recent weeks Spurs have been picking up points, but rarely have they been convincing. In fact I’d say the only improvement on the AVB offering was maybe a 20-minute spell away to Swansea.
So have Spurs really got their swagger back?
Sherwood is certainly trying his best to up the attacking ante, giving players like Lennon and Eriksen a freedom to roam and create. This sounds all well and good in principle, but the reality is more just a chaotic mess of individual mediocrity. Lennon typifies this; a man that now just seems to run around enthusiastically, but totally out of tune with the rest of his teammates. Sherwood has eradicated the team structure at Spurs in a hope of creating a highly fluid and dynamic set up, but the reality is that he has created a state of footballing chaos.
Spurs have been fortunate to only really play the teams below them, meaning that Sherwood’s new methods have remained largely untested. Decisions aside, the City game was a harsh footballing lesson. Sherwood’s attitude was one of careless naivety, allowing City to press the life out of the Spurs midfield and have almost complete control of the game throughout. Spurs didn’t even lay a finger on City, and the suggestion that they are simply too good is laughable. Both Liverpool and Everton came away from their respective clashes with at least some degree of respect, yet Spurs left the game embarrassed.
Tottenham’s new found attacking intent is becoming a bit of fallacy. Spurs are scoring more than they did under AVB but that isn’t really an achievement, and they are still far from the heights that the club should be aspiring towards.
Spurs may well put a few sides to the sword in the coming months, but this is as much to do with personnel than anything else. When it comes down to the big head-to-head matches I still fear that Spurs will find themselves lacking. Sherwood’s simplistic view of football is at odds with his close rivals and when the game becomes more about tactics than simply motivation and mindset I think Spurs will be left behind once more.
Are Spurs fans being sold a lie under Sherwood?