Wednesday 22 November 2017

Technical co-ordinator keeps revolving door in good order

Where now for Tottenham Hotspur?
Where now for Tottenham Hotspur?

Dion Fanning

Where now for Tottenham Hotspur? After Spurs lost at home to West Ham on Wednesday night, Tim Sherwood, in between some wisecracks which were notable by their absence during AVB's sepulchral time, admitted he knew nothing about the future.

"The immediate future is up in the air, that's as much as I know," he said, before adding that he imagined he was "in the frame" for the job.

Sherwood had committed Spurs to some of their older values, sending them out to play with verve and attacking intent before leading them to a home defeat, which could be said to have been a commitment to the oldest value of all at White Hart Lane. This was further evidence that, in Harry Redknapp's words, "they have a boy on their books who knows the club inside out".

Sherwood's puzzlement was more confusing because, by the end of the week, he sounded like a caretaker manager who had just led his side to their tenth consecutive win and wanted to know what the hell was going on -- why hadn't they just given him the job by now goddammit! -- rather than a man with no managerial experience whose record was played one, lost one.

Sherwood's bafflement brought back memories of the greatest caretaker of them all, Tony Parkes. Parkes was Blackburn Rovers' caretaker manager six times, twice while Sherwood was at the club, so it can be said that he learned from the best.

Parkes achieved permanence through being a temporary manager. Parkes' genius was his willingness to step in and help out and his equal willingness to stand aside and help out when another big name came rolling in, certain that he would be there when the walls came tumbling down as they surely would.

Sherwood believes he can "manage men" so he may have greater ambitions than becoming a permanent caretaker. Certainly his work as technical co-ordinator at Tottenham couldn't be ignored forever.

Sherwood clearly feels that he has proved himself while technical co-ordinator, whatever that is, and he wants more. He didn't disagree with the questioner who said he had "earned his Spurs", before putting himself forward as the fans' man -- "I know what they demand" -- and making a strategically magnificent statement that a number of factors have to be "taken into consideration when I decide if it's right for me or not". Redknapp also suggested his old player was the man for the job, fearing above all else that Spurs would do something reckless and ignore Sherwood "because he's not a foreigner".

Sherwood had begun well when he recalled Emmanuel Adebayor who, it turns out, was the fault line which cost Andre Villas-Boas his job, which again would point at deeper problems. Tottenham under AVB had become a confusing mishmash of mixed messages, almost as if the team had been put together by committee. The questions that haunted AVB remained with him until the end. Should he have played 4-4-2? While Michael Dawson holds the high line in the style of Harold Lloyd tiptoeing on the edge of a skyscraper, was that form of defence really necessary?

With Emmanuel Adebayor, at least you know what you're going to get. "I've still got my smile on my face. I got a chance, I took it well. I'm very happy," he said after scoring on his return. Adebayor is a man who in making peace with himself appears to have irritated many other people, usually the managers he works for, who aren't always as happy with what Adebayor is all about as Adebayor is.

He has returned as Tottenham play with two strikers (AVB's reluctance to do so was said to have cost him his job), proving that it is a simple game. Daniel Levy was among those who was reportedly in favour of a return to 4-4-2 which may be the most significant thing of all as Spurs appear to have embraced the modern idea that the head coach is just one voice of many while also observing a more traditional idea and listening to the wisdom of the chairman.

In the appointment of AVB and then Franco Baldini, Spurs had put themselves forward as a progressive club, something which seemed to be confirmed when they won the transfer window so convincingly in the summer. It turned out AVB was not the man we thought he was but managers, some progressives argue, rarely make much difference so it doesn't matter who he was. The good ones still make a difference and the bad ones do too, as Daniel Levy could confirm. There are other voices willing to be heard, among them Glenn Hoddle who was delighted to offer his services last week.

Hoddle is, of course, a curious man. He is said to lack man-management skills but it may be that he simply knows too much. He is, after

all, a man who feels he can answer the biggest question of them all -- "What's it all about, eh?" -- with some certainty. When you've figured that out, you can be forgiven for not hanging around to explain to Matthew Etherington why he only made the bench this week.

Hoddle is ready to answer the deepest questions. In the game of life, he will put his arm round anybody's shoulder and explain what He's thinking. Tactically.

He is a deep thinker about the game as well, they say, an all-encompassing phrase which has been used to describe men as different as Steve Staunton and Thierry Henry.

They were all thinking at the right time and Hoddle has thought more than most. He may be ready to work with Daniel Levy again, no doubt prepared for this rebirth and it is possible that his views on the transmigration of souls have evolved over the past decade.

Perhaps that doesn't matter. He fulfils all of Tim Sherwood's and Harry Redknapp's criteria. He knows the club and he's not a foreigner. The only problem is he's not Tim Sherwood. Not in this life anyway.

dfanning@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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