Disappointments are hard to take at the best of times, but for football fans especially any semblance of rationality and restraint seems to go straight out the window. Tottenham fans will today be trying to search for answers in the wake of their failure against league strugglers Norwich; a defeat that put their Champions League hopes on the rocks and left the tenure of Tim Sherwood severely in doubt.
It is easy to brush off the opinions of those that would condemn Sherwood at such an early stage as purely reactionary, but these aren’t concerns borne out over night.
The Premier League club have been lacking an identity for a while now, too willing to trade one regime for another but without ever showing genuine faith in any. The appointment of Tim Sherwood hasn’t done much to change this, with the Interim label dropped for a pretty derisory 18-month contract; it is hard to see this being any more than a stopgap.
Neutrals may laud Spurs for the faith they have put in a young English manager, but at the current stage in their development what Spurs really need is someone with a CV. Spurs don’t have the next Guardiola on their hands, what they have is Redknapp mk II, a man that strives for simplicity above all else. To say his team weren’t “brave enough” yesterday is for me missing the point; the reason Spurs lost was far more wide reaching than simply a question of motivation.
We were promised a return to the old Tottenham under Sherwood, but what we have ended up with is AVB era Spurs without the organisation. Fifth place would spell the end for Sherwood at Spurs, and given the wealth of options waiting in the summer you wouldn’t back against a managerial change.
Louis Van Gaal is the frontrunner for the job, and has continued to drop hints about a move to the Premier League. Van Gaal, who is stepping down from his national team role after the World Cup, said his next challenge could be in the Premier League. Asked ‘At Tottenham?’ Van Gaal replied: ‘Maybe Tottenham are coming.’
The Dutchman would certainly fit the bill, someone with a wealth of continental experience playing football the right way and being hugely successful with it. His Ajax side of the mid 90s is often lauded as being one of the greatest ever, winning the Eredivisie title three times on the spin and lifting the Champions League trophy during the 94/95 campaign as well. Yet it doesn’t stop there for a man that has managed at the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona as well during a career that has spanned most of the continent’s top leagues, the Premier League being perhaps the missing piece in the jigsaw.
The 62-year-old isn’t someone to buy into the run around a bit nonsense that seems to have returned to North London, he’s a footballing thinker, someone that views football as being something of an art like many of his top level contemporaries. Motivation only gets you so far, because if it alone was the key I’d expect my local Conference side to suddenly be making a move up the leagues.
There aren’t any guarantees in football, all the signs suggest that Van Gaal would be hugely successful at Spurs but the club themselves also need to ensure that it works out. The Dutchman would need both the managerial and financial backing to push Spurs onwards, something that has not always been a guarantee under Levy.
Van Gaal is the stand-out candidate for the job in the summer. Given Levy’s reluctance to tie down Sherwood long term, you can sense there are eyes for a change in the near future. Van Gaal would be out of contract and relatively cheap, something that you cannot say for most of the world top managers and surely a deal not to be missed for Levy?
I think the fact that Sherwood’s record is so good yet he remains so unconvincing speaks volumes. Spurs are a side getting away with it, living off the talent they have ahead of anything else and a side very much in need of a facelift this summer.