Acting boss evokes the Ghost of Christmas past in his timely homage to Redknapp
Published 23/12/2013 | 02:30
It was midway through the second half, shortly after Emmanuel Adebayor had scored what proved to be Tottenham's winner, that a chant of 'There's only one Harry Redknapp' began reverberating around the away end of St Mary's.
It was meant as a dig at the Southampton supporters, whose team were once relegated under Redknapp, but it was also perfectly appropriate for what they were seeing on the pitch. Redknapp became a mentor to Tim Sherwood after appointing him to the Spurs coaching staff in 2008 and, even in the latter's first game as a Premier League manager, it was easy to recognise the influence.
Spurs were attacking, they took risks, they were easy on the eye and, above all, the players were smiling again. They could also have lost the game inside 20 minutes and were sometimes tactically naive but they were worthy winners.
Sherwood (right) has clearly decided that he is going to stand or fall by following his own instincts rather than worrying unduly about what chairman Daniel Levy or anyone else might think. That much was evident in his team selection. Emmanuel Adebayor returned for his first Premier League start of the season.
It was common sense to recall Adebayor but still shrewd man-management and Sherwood made a point of personally congratulating the Togo forward as he left the pitch. It is exactly how Redknapp would have handled the situation. Even more revealing was Sherwood's decision to replace Mousa Dembele with Nadir Bentaleb after 50 minutes. Bentaleb was brought on ahead of Etienne Capoue, the club's £9m summer signing. It was a courageous substitution and was vindicated in how Tottenham then took control.
Sherwood is clearly one of life's natural leader. His performance in the post-match press conference further underlined the certainty that he will do things his way.
He was straight-talking, he was funny and his opinions were offered with honesty rather than any particular thought as to how they would play in the Spurs boardroom. As he explained how it was actually a very simple game that had less to do with formations and tactics than accurate passing and working hard, it was again impossible not to think of Redknapp.
With the Tottenham hierarchy still genuinely unsure whether to entrust the team with a managerial novice, Sherwood's tenure as head coach might yet be short. One thing it won't be is dull. (©Daily Telegraph, London)