Tag Archives: Tim Sherwood

The Tim Sherwood Story

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” crowed Tim Sherwood – for Timdays on end – in to the ear of chairman Daniel Levy, swapping the phrase “are we there yet” for “can I have the job”. Like any overworked parent, Daniel finally acquiesced, giving Tim the keys to the kingdom, keys he previously entrusted to a well-dressed Portuguese man with fluffy hair.

Daniel Levy“Now, Timothy,” he said sternly, peering over his fashion-friendly
glasses, “don’t fuck it up.”

As an ambitious tyke with full confidence in his own abilities, the 44-year old Tim immediately began stamping his own mark on the team, abandoning tactics and finding as many players as possible who the previous manager did not like.

“Hello, Ade? I’m going to put you in the team on Sunday. I Adebayorexpect a performance.”
“No problem, boss. You’ll get 100% from me. But no more than that, it should be noted.”
“That’s fine. Now you’re not going to score a couple in your first game and then disappear for the next three games, are you?”
“Noooo. No. Probably not.”

Tim was nothing if not wily. You don’t get to the position he was in without having full confidence in your abilities as well as saying and doing the right things at the right time. So with that in mind he immediately set about trying to win the fans over by doing opposite things to the previous bloke that they did not like.

“Right, lads,” he said to some lads who were nearby. “We’re going to shake things up a bit.”
“Great! The club needs some innovative ideas to get us out of this slump. What have you got in mind?”
“We’re going 4-4-2 with the emphasis on attack.” Eriksen
“That could work, Tim. This is great. How will Eriksen play in this 4-4-2? Will you play him wide like how Man City play their creative players sometimes?”
“No, in the center.”
“Ok…he’s not really got defensive qualities so you’ll probably play him with a solid defensive midfielder, yeah?”
“Well I thought Dembele given how he’s quite athletic and can run a lot.”
“Hmmm, well we’ll give you a pass on that one, barely. So, say he’s not available. Would you then put Capoue in?”
“Not at all. He’s not great at attacking. I only know one way to play. Attack. That’s the way to play the game. So I’d put Holtby in alongside Eriksen.”

With the players on board and the lack of tactics decided, Tim knew he had one more area to focus on – public relations. Although he had full confidence in his abilities, he knew he needed advice from a very smart manager. He flipped through his rolodex/contacts app and called up a very popular manager, a(n FA Cup) winner, a former Spurs hero, a man who had recently suffered relegation and won four out of his last twelve games.

“‘Ello ‘Arry.”
“Alright, mate! How’s it going? Heard about the gig. First smart decision Daniel has made since that time he allowed me to sign Ryan Nelsen and Louis Saha. Better off with those terrific, honest, top, top lads than your fancy dan Powlinos and Ceaușescus.”
“As you know ‘Arry I’m new to this. Can you give me a few tips on how to cope with the media?”
“Sure, sure. First of all, after a negative result, talk about how the lads gave you 100% – even Ade – and you couldn’t ask for anything more.  Then talk about the injuries. Throw in a “bare bones” reference and always have a list of unavailable players that you can rattle off. You can throw in a few extra names at the end like youth players or ‘Robbie’. No one’s going to try and figure out who you’re talking about.”
“Anything else?”
Arry in Car
“Make sure the electrics on your car are working good. You need to be able to roll the window down on 31st of January and talk about how there’s nothing doing out there and that you worked ever so hard to bring in players but ultimately clubs don’t want to let ’em go.”
“What about communicating the improvement I bring to the club?”
“Absolutely. Take whatever statistics you can and manipulate them in a bid to show how important you are to the club. For example, if you’re 8 points clear of the bottom three now but 12 points clear in three months, talk about how you’ve lifted the club away from the relegation zone. If you’re in eighth position now and no lower than that in May, you can tell everyone how Spurs were mid-table when you come in and you brought them in to contention. I’m not as stupid as I looks, Tim. Even though I can’t read very well and I writes like a child.”

Tim’s final stop was to see Franco Baldini, the man who became the new Damien Comolli, who was the new Frank Arnesen, who was the new David Pleat.

“Hello, Tim,” Baldini said, probably in an Italian accent.Baldini
“Don’t ‘hello, Tim’ me,” responded the indignant manager. “What we gonna do about all that tripe you bought in the summer?”
“Like who?”
“Chadli.”
“He’s good.”
“No he’s not. He’s good in Holland. And what about this Soldado chap? Bloody hell. He couldn’t hit a barndoor with a…ball”
“He’ll come good. He scored many times in the Spanish league,” insisted Franco.
“And Chiriches. It’s like a Ramon Vega tribute act,” Sherwood complained
“Anything else?”
“Lamela? He’s worth about a third of what Bale was.”
“Which is actually factually correct, Tim.”
“Look, all I’m saying is that these lads are no better than what we had.”
“And what do you propose?”
“We bring in Jamie Redknapp. As a coach.”

Jamie

And with that, Tim sauntered down to the training pitch to work on no tactics.

Out with the old

Sell sell sell

If you had have told me that Tottenham would spend the summer off-loading deadwood, I would have told you that lucid dreaming is as good as life will get for Spurs fans.

But it’s true. Glenn Hoddle and ENIC have finally done what should have been done twelve months ago – sent the crap packing.

What began last season with highly paid stars like Tim Sherwood and Sergei Rebrov, continued through the summer with the likes of Steffen Freund, Ben Thatcher, Teddy Sheringham and hopefully very soon, Steffen Iversen and Darren Anderton.

Deadwood

Sherwood rarely performed for Tottenham – a sign that he had lost what he had, or perhaps never had it in the first place. Poor old Sergei Rebrov went from Champions League hot-shot to Worthington Cup substitute. Quite how the Ukranian managed to look so out of place is a mystery.

Teddy had reached the end of the road long before his move to Portsmouth earlier this month, and Steffen Freund, a cult figure more than a capable player, was living on borrowed time at Spurs. Ben Thatcher represents the worst value for money purchase in the history of football. Anywhere. Ever.

Move on

The two players on the brink of moving on, Iversen an Anderton, deserve two very different mentions. Iversen, signed as a raw 19 year old by Gerry Francis, showed plenty of potential early on in his career. He has scored some memorable goals, and his “golden” season of 1999/2000 remains the highlight. But after that he reverted to type – a slow, laborious, plodding, overweight ‘talent’, bereft of a first-touch, sans a football brain and without the ability to judge the flight of a football.

Dazza

Darren Anderton, the butt of many (admittedly, hilarious) jokes looks set to move to Portsmouth as his first team opportunities become more limited under Hoddle next season. There are a few ways of looking at this. Few would argue that Anderton has seen better days. His form is erratic, and although still capable of some superb performances, more often than not he is left wanting.

However, he is still a favourite of Hoddle’s and despite maybe not being a first-choice player next year, the manager would probably prefer to keep him in reserve. I have a feeling that the board have suggested to Hoddle that Anderton’s £45k a week (including his appearance bonus) can be channeled into a new, healthier signing. I imagine that it is with some reluctance that Hoddle is allowing Darren to move on.

Anderton deserves a great reception on any future return to White Hart Lane. After his shaky beginnings as a nervous 20 year old in 1992, he matured into one of the most popular and naturally gifted players in England. But injury struck him in 1995 and over the next three seasons he only played 27 league games. Miraculously he managed to recover to feature in England’s Euro 96 and World Cup 98 teams.

But even though the rest of his Tottenham career was blighted by niggling injuries, he battled on and his commitment could never be called into question. He rejected a move to Manchester United in the mid-nineties and If he is released, it will be with a feeling that he never fully reached his potential.

Who else?

But there are still a few more players that really should hit the bricks.

Gary Doherty – an Irish legend, but a Spurs misfit. The center-back began so brightly at Spurs, forming part of a rugged back-three with Sol Campbell and A N Other, under George Graham. But when injury forced Graham and Hoddle to use Doherty as a forward, things fell apart. Struggling to make an impact (and stay onside for more than 30 seconds), the Doc became a target for frustrated fans. Of course these same fans should have been directing their anger at the real criminal of the piece – a very poor manager – but that’s another column altogether.

But the Doc has shone on the international stage, rescuing Ireland with some inspired goals and performances, and with the praise ringing in his ears, Gary should not be afraid to move on and find a first team place, perhaps in Division One.

Balkan-mania

We hear plenty about Hoddle being hamstrung by other managers overdraft-chewing signings, but Born Again is leaving his own legacy at White Hart Lane in the form of lumps like Goran Bunjevcevic and Milenko Acimovic. The Balkans don’t even come close to being good enough for the top half of the table and despite Acimovic getting some peculiar fan support this summer, you have to ask what he’s done to warrant it. He looks to be a Bolton player, and frankly I’d send him there and get a real class player, Okacha, up to the Lane.

Bunjevcevic can knock out a cultured pass every now and again but his attempts at playing the holding midfield position are about as successful as Posh Spice’s attempts at subtlety. His best position might be central defence but with Gardner, King and Richards ahead of him (at least), he might be better off packing his bags.

But there’s more

But the sales are only one half of the happy story this month. The other half are the signings.

20-year old striker Helder Postiga, frankly previously unknown to me, is a player with a big future in the game it seems. The Portuguese striker who has made his name at Porto and recently for the international team, chose to display his undoubted talent at Spurs. Why? I have no idea.

But lets be positive about things for a change. If this fast and skilful attacker can acclimatise to English football, Tottenham could have a player capable of propelling Spurs into Europe at last.

Bobby Boy

And this weekend saw Spurs capture another young talent, although one with a bigger question mark hanging over him. Bobby Zamora finally made the step up from Brighton to the Premiership after two years of rumours and conjecture. But the 22-year old struggled somewhat in Division One (14 goals in 35 games), and Hoddle must be hoping he can harness the kid’s undoubted raw talent. As it is, Zamora is likely to be a substitute – but with no previous top flight experience, you can’t expect him to be an impact player.

Come Back Brighter

So are things brighter for Spurs this season? Reluctantly I’d have to say ‘yes’. And why am I reluctant? Because I’m sick and tired of disappointment. Going to games is a costly exercise for me – four or five trips to White Hart Lane is equivalent to an entire season ticket practically, so it must really be worth it for me to fly over.

This year I think there are going to be better players on display. But – and it’s a big but – it’ll all be for nothing if Glenn-doh doesn’t get more tactically aware, flexible in his team selection and encourage movement on the pitch.

And finally…

Good old Chelsea, giving us something to enjoy this summer. I’m not a fan of Chelsea, or indeed their odd manager, but if they manage to bring some top-notch talent to this country I’ll be only to happy to enjoy watching them.

But the whole thing doesn’t look as good so far in reality as it did in the newspaper rumour columns. Thus far we have seen them sign three players. Two of them are young British full-backs. Fine and dandy, but £6m on a rookie right-back who might be on loan to Crystal Palace in three months? And how clever are Southampton for snapping up £7m for the reasonable but hardly brilliant Wayne Bridge? Look at how Sunderland and Brighton messed up by not selling over-valued players when they had the chance (Kevin Phillips and Bobby Zamora are worth a fraction of what they used to be).

Geremi is an excellent player but he looked good at Middlesbrough last season – he hasn’t been able to break in at the top level with Real Madrid – that’s where Chelsea aspire to be so shouldn’t they sign players who are potentially good enough for that level? And why try and sign Veron? Why?

As for Damien Duff – an excellent player, but 17m is far too much and Blackburn should be hoping that Duff will go. Having said that they will struggle without him next year.

The jury is out on whether or not Chelsea can pull in the big names from the big clubs, but with a month to go, they might sign themselves someone who will make them genuine contenders. So far they haven’t.

Season of wither

I’m back!

After an eight month absence, I’m back with more half-baked ideas and non-sensical verbal sillyness. To think I missed nearly all of last season and now I’m going to have to play catch up. So what did I make of Tottenham’s tenth place finish in the Premiership last year?

Last season

It started so well for George Graham, and he must have been pleased with the early season form of his new signings, especially Oyvind Leonhardsen and Tim Sherwood who knocked in a dozen goals between them by December. But when injury took both these men out of action, things went pear shaped. The league form dipped and Spurs incredibly found themselves knocked out of all the cup competitions by Christmas. The most controversial moment came when David Ginola was dropped for Spurs unlucky defeat away to Kaiserslatuern. The gamble almost paid off, until Spurs conceeded two goals in injury time to go out 1-2 on aggregate. The reception for George Graham was icy to say the least, and that was the beginning of the slide which put him under pressure.

Earlier in the season Spurs had recorded victories over Arsenal, Manchester United as well as knocking in goals for fun against Everton, Newcastle, Coventry and Watford. However, apart from a home win over in-form Liverpool in January, the new year didn’t go so well. Poor defeats against Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Chelsea (twice) and criminally, Arsenal, meant that European football was out of the question. Tottenham finished in tenth despite a late rally which produced good wins over Leicester, Wimbledon and Sunderland.

Star Men

Star performers of the season were 17-goal Steffen Iversen, full-back Steven Carr, and the revitalised Chris Armstrong who netted 14 times after an injury and poor form nullified the first half of the season.

How the new signings faired

George’s new signings were a mixed bag. Tim Sherwood missed more than a third of the season with groin problems but up until his departure, he had been a star performer in midfield. Oyvind Leonhardsen too was a revelation up until injuries took his season away. His energetic and purposeful performances, combined with his telepathic understanding with Norwegian compatriot Iversen, gave Spurs a thrust that was badly missed in the year 2000.

Steffen Freund became George Graham’s second John Jensen, as such. The fiery midfielder showed a knack for never hitting the target, and also a talent for picking up needless yellow cards. When on his game, he was a vital part of the Spurs rearguard, but when having an off-day, he looked a liability. Mauricio Tarrico was a regular at left back, and was pretty much considered a success. Not the greatest defender in the Spurs back-four, he made up for his shortcomings by showing a real flair for attacking play. His link-up play with Ginola was impressive when Spurs were in command, but when on the back foot, he often found himself exposed by a lack of cover from the Frenchman.

Willem Korsten missed most of the season following his 1.5m move from under the noses of Leeds United. You have to ask what Leeds (and Graham) saw in the player who struggled to shine wherever he played on the pitch. However, following the injuries he has sustained, he can be fotgiven for lacking confidence and form. One can only hope that this player who two seasons ago shone at Leeds, can do so again at White Hart Lane.

New arrivals

But the squad is thin – anyone can see that. And even after some busy moves in the transfer market, that still looks the case.

Goalkeeper, Neil Sullivan (free) has arrived from relegated Wimbledon. This is a sign that Graham was not happy with his current selection of shot-stoppers. Walker performed moderately last season, and while elements of his game have improved, one can’t help feeling that he never looks much above average. His deputy, Espen Baardsen, while not overall as good a keeper as Walker, certainly seems to have more of a ‘spark’ in his play, i.e. he looks more capable of making the stunning save or coming out on top in a one-on-one situation. Sullivan is a very capable keeper and a great addition the the squad. Graham now has three good keepers at his disposal, all of which are current or former internationals.

After suffering the ‘talents’ of Ramon Vega and John Scales for so long, it’s nice to see Spurs have some quality defensive talent waiting in the wings for a change. Luke Young and Ledley King have been working their way up slowly and now Graham has brought in Port Vale youngster, Anthony Gardner for under a million. The highly-rated center back has already impressed in the reserves and in his brief appearances in the pre-season tour of Scandinavia, one it is likely that he will see first team action very soon. The more cynical observer has suggested that Gardner is being brought in as a replacement for Campbell, whose contract expires next summer. Also purchased from Wimbledon, is Ben Thatcher (5m). The full-back has tons of ability, and a bit to much agression. If he curbs his violent streak, then Thatcher will be a huge success. With the expception of Steven Carr, he is potentially Spurs best full-back since Chris Hughton in the eighties.

The sparse midfield has been boosted by the signings of Peterborough pair, Simon Davies and Matthew Etherington for 1.5m. Etherington is a pacy left-winger who is seen as a natural replacement for ageing French star, Ginola. The 19-year old has plenty to learn but has been recieving plaudits for several years in the lower leagues. Simon Davies is a box-to-box midfielder who has played international football for Wales. The 20-year old is fancied as a future Premiership superstar and a natural successor to 31-year old Tim Sherwood.

Up front, the landscape has completely changed. The big signing of course is Ukraine international, Sergei Rebrov (11m). Spurs record signing is a true world class performer, and arguably Spurs biggest signing since Gary Lineker in 1989. For someone who is used to performing in the Champions League, the fact that he signed for a mid-table side like Spurs either says more about him, or more about George Graham and David Pleat’s persuasive abilities. Rebrov is likely to be a huge hit but will need time to settle as he gets used to those around him.

More young talent brought in to play up front is Ireland international striker, Gary Doherty (1m) and non-league star, Dave McEwan (nominal). McEwan and Doherty both got to play in the Premiership last season and will get further chances to develop this year I hope. Doherty looks big and powerful in the vein of Les Ferdinand or, more telling, John Hartson. When the move for Hartson fell through last year, Spurs immediatly moved for Doherty. Compared to the 7m Spurs were willing to splash out on the injury-prone Welshman, the investment in Doherty looks to be money well spent.

McEwan will take a few seasons to get accustomed to full-time football, but at 22, he’s got time on his side. It would be the fairy tale to beat all fairy tales if this man makes it at Tottenham.

Even with these new faces on board, there is still not enough proven quality on show. The three summer signings (Sullivan, Thatcher and Rebrov) are all excellent deals that will definitely improve the first team, and the improved competition will hopefully bring out the best in Walker, Tarrico, Armstrong, Iversen and the other players whose automatic places in the first XI are now a thing of the past.

But I’ll discuss this more in my next column.

And finally…

So Martin Edwards has thrown in the towel at Manchester United. After more than a decade of controversy, the chief exec has decided to step down. And I think everyone from the average Man Utd fan to Alex Ferguson himself will be delighted by that. Ferguson has been banging heads with Edwards for the last five years over the lack of financial support that he’s been provided with. The wage structure at the world’s richest club was only broken at the tail end of last season in order to keep their vital cog, Roy Keane, at the club. And it has been said that Edwards refused to sanction the signing of players like Figo, Batistuta and Kluivert because he doesn’t wish to pay them 50k a week! This is a club that is worth over one billion pounds for Christs sake. They are the biggest club in the world and Ferguson has led them from relative obscurity to this position. And this is the thanks he gets.

Although the last thing I want to see is a more dominant Man Utd, I welcome Edwards departure as he stands for stubborness, greed and stupidity. Three characteristics I don’t embrace…hang on…Sir Sugar, are you listening??