The 45-year-old is privately pessimistic about his chances of staying in charge beyond this season, despite asking Daniel Levy for the chance to copy Brendan Rodgers’s success
By Greg Stobart
Every week, as Tim Sherwood takes his place in front of the press, he knows the question is coming. “Do you think you will still be in charge next season?”
He talks impressively and reels out his answer. As far as he is concerned, he will remain in charge of Tottenham and he is already planning for pre-season.
Behind the scenes, however, Sherwood is deeply pessimistic about his chances of retaining the Spurs job beyond the summer, despite the fact that he has a contract until 2015.
The true reflection of his views on his future was expressed in the heat of the moment when he said that “the silence is deafening” from the boardroom in the wake of their embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Chelsea.
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Sherwood is well aware of the perpetual talk that Louis van Gaal has been all but formally offered the chance to take over at White Hart Lane when he steps down as Netherlands coach after the World Cup. He understands the situation but feels that he deserves a summer to shape the squad in his own image and a full season to prove his worth in the job.
The question is whether or not Levy can be persuaded to back a novice who knows the club and has shown potential but is learning day-by-day on the job at a club who want more immediate success.
With a legendary, proven manager like Van Gaal on the market for nothing this summer and using every opportunity to talk up his desire to manage in England, Sherwood accepts that his chances are slim.
Unlike the vast majority of his predecessors, the Englishman maintains a good relationship with Levy but he is banking on blind faith from a notoriously demanding chairman who is frustrated that the club’s £100 million summer spending backfired so spectacularly.
On the pitch, Tottenham have won nine out of Sherwood’s 15 league games in charge but there has been little sign of the team building their own footballing identity while they have been knocked out of all three cup competitions – the Capital One Cup, FA Cup and Europa League – under the 45-year-old’s care.
Sherwood has told Levy that he thinks the squad is too big. He wants several players to leave and to add three men who can come directly into the first-choice starting line-up with a virtual guarantee of success. He believes that, with the right players, he can produce the kind of expansive attacking football desired by the club’s supporters.
He is also committed to bringing through academy players with whom he worked when in charge of the Under-21 team as technical co-ordinator before he was catapulted in to replace Andre Villas-Boas in mid-December. Nabil Bentaleb was instantly promoted by Sherwood and has been a great success.
The model which he wants to follow is that of Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool, who Spurs face at Anfield on Sunday.
Before the start of the season, this would have been viewed as a game between two top-four contenders. Instead, Liverpool could take top spot in the Premier League while Spurs sit eight points behind fourth-placed Arsenal following a tumultuous season.
“Liverpool is a good example,” Sherwood told the press earlier in March. “They gave Brendan time. They finished seventh last year and look at where he is now – it is a great example.
“That team now play football exactly the way that he wants them to play but they had to take that step back.
“Tottenham have got to decide what they want to do going forward – whether it is to build something or not. It would take the pressure off the person who is in charge for a bit.
“You can’t go and lose six games on the spin at Tottenham – it is not feasible – but Liverpool lost a lot of games last year, a lot of home games as well, and nobody was pointing fingers. Look at the rewards now. The season is not finished and they still had to take a step backwards to go forward again.
“It depends what Tottenham are looking for in the long run, whether they are looking for instant success. That instant success does not necessarily mean bringing in managers. We have had quite a few managers over this period.”
Liverpool have certainly been rewarded this season for appointing and then backing Rodgers as the man to take them back to the Champions League and Tottenham could do with backing a manager and accepting that the journey may include some rocky results.
Rodgers also made some brave decisions and shipped out expensive signings like Andy Carroll, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing to bring in his own men, such as Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho.
At the same time, Rodgers has intelligently brought players through from the academy to become regulars, with Raheem Sterling and Jon Flanagan both likely to start at Anfield on Sunday.
The effects were seen by Levy and the Spurs directors in Liverpool’s stunning 5-0 victory at White Hart Lane earlier in the season that proved the final straw for Villas-Boas in north London.
Yet Rodgers had served his apprenticeship under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and joined Liverpool after taking Swansea City to the Premier League and keeping them in the division. Sherwood does not boast the same CV and there have been no signs, at least in matches, of a clear coaching philosophy – and that is why Sherwood himself fears he will not be around to even answer questions about his future next season.