Football

Tottenham's troubles entirely down to Daniel Levy

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Tim Sherwood is an interesting character.

In his four short months in charge at Tottenham, he's been, if not quite a breath of fresh air, then a source of intrigue at the very least.

During and after another sobering 90 minutes for Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Saturday he showed plenty of himself throughout proceedings.

He arrived in west London with a formation and tactics so abstract that, if he were Dutch, they could have been branded as the latest incarnation of Total Football whose origins could be traced back to Rinus Michels.

As it was, he stuck Aaron Lennon up top and Kyle Walker on the right wing and watched his team succumb to a 4-0 defeat that all but ends their top four hopes.

Unperturbed, Sherwood confronted the media after the game, refusing to conform to the stereotype of rookie manager. No one was spared, not his players, or his chairman.

Things went 'Pete Tong' he said following Younes Kaboul's sending off. Spurs' chances of getting the top four spot everything at the club has been geared towards for the past decade were 'slim'.

His players, who were bystanders as they went from 0-0 at 55 minutes to 4-0 at full-time were 'gutless'. The silence over his future from chairman Daniel Levy was 'deafening', he said.

The pros and cons of his approach can be debated elsewhere but there's no doubt that he is his own man. The former tough-tackling, straight-talking, title-winning midfielder certainly has plenty of character. So why doesn't his team?

The reason may well be that this is a team not made in its managers image, but in its masters. 

This team is the product of the uncertainty that surrounds the club caused by Daniel Levy, and the product of a premature dismissal that rendered an entire summer's worth of work where more than £100 million was spent pointless. Not one of the seven players purchased to balance Gareth Bale's departure started against Chelsea.

Levy is the maker of the cloud that hangs over White Hart Lane. His willingness to blink when faced with the difficulties of Villas-Boas's project was startling, if not surprising.

After all, he has plenty of previous - he has dismissed eight managers and had four different caretakers since he became chairman of the club, each with a different approach or philosophy. The only constant is his inability to see a project through, which has led to such unstable times.

There was lack of foresight shown in Sherwood's appointment. Either sack Villas-Boas having already lined up a long-term replacement or wait until the  end of the season and employ a new manager with continuity in mind. Surely you don't through the baby out with the bath water during the busiest period of the season?

Spurs fans have had the director of football/head coach model before with Jacques Santini and Frank Arnesen and then Damien Comolli. The wind changed and so did Levy, eventually going for an old school manager in Harry Redknapp. Then it changed again, and Spurs were back to the 'project'. Now Sherwood, branded ironically 'Tactics Tim' by some of the press, is in charge.

There's no denying that Sherwood's time has been entertaining but he was set up to fail.

Truth be told, it was only against a Newcastle side in free-fall that his team put in a cohesive performance - aside from that many of this teams flaws have been papered over by the goalscoring form by Emmanuel Adebayor.

Sherwood has already tasted six defeats - including two thrashings - this season, the same as Villas-Boas. Spurs won 2.1 points-per-game under AVB, and 1.7 under Sherwood. All of that, and no discernible plan or approach has emerged.

The fact Sherwood opted to field youngster Nabil Bentaleb ahead of Etienne Capoue, Paulinho (both summer purchases) and Sandro at various times highlights the discrepancy with what he wanted, and wanted to do, and the reality of what he was dealing with.

That is not to dismiss Sherwood but to highlight the difficult task he was handed. He'll be back, with his reputation in tact, but at a different club. Before the Chelsea game, he described himself as a manager who 'builds something over a period of time'. He's at the wrong club.

Back in 2012, When Villas-Boas was appointed and Franco Baldini followed there was the feeling that the long-term was being looked after and thought of.

A few months into his second season and Villas-Boas was out, and Sherwood is parachuted in with a completely different outlook, with an 18-month contract that leaves the club in limbo, and leaves the players with a difficult task of breaking into the top four while learning to work under a new manager. It was always destined to fail.

Levy's defenders may point to the good work he's done in the transfer market over the years but even that's a red herring; over the past five years the club's net spend stands at just shy of £4 million.

That figure is not the be-all and end-all and is testament more to the good work he has done selling the club's best players for big fees. What it does show is that Tottenham are a club in perpetual limbo, spending to make the top four and selling to make up for when they don't.

The upshot of all this is a club back to square one. In fact it is back to where it was before Harry Redknapp signed on the dotted line, which is square minus-one.

Sure, their league position may not be as bad but when the current QPR boss departed it was because Levy and his cohorts wanted a clear plan to progress, and felt Villas-Boas was the man to implement that.

Now key players like Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris have hinted they may leave if Champions League football isn't secured. Which it won't be. A new manager will arrive in the summer, and be told to aim for the top four. Sound familiar? It should do.

In fact it is all too familiar. Nothing has changed at Spurs despite Levy consonantly ringing the changes. The fact that it is Liverpool, rather than Tottenham, who were ready and waiting to swoop when Manchester United inevitably fell is criminal. Any good work done over the past two seasons has been rendered obsolete. Tottenham are a team, as it stands, stagnating, or worse going backwards.

With managers, players, and big wigs coming and going, sooner or later Tottenham's fans must wake up and realise that the biggest problem they have is the only constant at the club.

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Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
Football
Premier League

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