Sherwood gets perfect response
Tottenham 3 Southampton 2
Tim Sherwood knew full well he was taking a gamble when he labelled his Tottenham players "gutless" after the thrashing at Chelsea.
The head coach was accused of being naive and told he should keep his criticisms in the dressing-room by a host of ex-managers and former players. But Sherwood has made it abundantly clear he will either keep the Spurs job doing things his way or fall on his sword at the end of the season.
After 28 minutes against Southampton at White Hart Lane, Sherwood was fearful the knives would be out. His team were two goals down and heading for a third straight league defeat.
That would have been the perfect time for a disgruntled dressing-room to allow the noose around the neck of their manager to tighten, to prove to Sherwood's doubters that he does not know what he's talking about.
But rather than taking the easy way out, Tottenham's players dug in and showed the type of character and spirit that Sherwood values so highly.
Sherwood had been happy to tell the world what Spurs had been lacking and the players were just as public with their response.
Christian Eriksen pulled a goal back within 90 seconds of Sherwood storming from the directors' box to the dugout and the Dane equalised less than 60 seconds after the break, during which the head coach had delivered an inspirational speech.
Sherwood had retreated back to the directors' box for the second half, but made his way down to the touchline for the final 10 minutes, and his players responded for a third time.
Gylfi Sigurdsson had been sent on as a half-time substitute by Sherwood and the midfielder fired in a stoppage-time winner from 20 yards.
Tottenham had not hit back from two goals down to win a Premier League game since November 2010, so no wonder Sherwood danced in celebration down the touchline. He was not just delighted with the performances of Eriksen and Sigurdsson, but also paid tribute to defender Kyle Naughton, who was at fault for both of Southampton's goals.
After 19 minutes, Naughton misjudged a long punt from goalkeeper Artur Boruc and Jay Rodriguez took full advantage by producing a cool finish to beat Hugo Lloris. Naughton then lost possession on the edge of his own penalty area, allowing Rickie Lambert to tee up Adam Lallana.
The right-back, though, did not let his head drop and set-up Eriksen's first goal by producing the cross, which Nathaniel Clyne failed to cut out.
"I want to give credit to Kyle Naughton and I've told him in there," said Sherwood. "Anyone can make mistakes and it was obvious he made two mistakes. But what everyone can't do is stand tall and put themselves on offer in the second half.
"Too often, not only at Tottenham, but all around the country, players go hiding. They want to go off. He didn't want to come off, he wanted to go out and put that right. And he did that in the second half. I give him massive credit for that.
"I played in lots of games that were disasters. You only learn from playing in that and become stronger for the next time. That's the character I'm looking for, that's what I want to see.
"I want people who want to roll their sleeves up and have a go. And Kyle typified what I want from my players."
Roberto Soldado is another player who has struggled in a Tottenham shirt, but he too showed determination not to throw in the towel just 44 seconds into the second half. The Spaniard outmuscled Dejan Lovren on the right and put the ball on a plate for Eriksen to score.
"I've said to Robbie that you can't score every week," said Sherwood.
"It doesn't happen. And sometimes your play is not going to be fantastic. But one thing you have to guarantee 100pc is effort, desire and that when you are coming off the pitch you can hardly walk."
When Sigurdsson smashed the winner past Boruc deep into stoppage-time, Sherwood knew he had his response. (© Daily Telegraph, London)