Where I am with THFC

I keep thinking of writing something about our current situation but wonder which angle to take; to write an article that is adding something new to the debate or unique in some way is difficult. For insightful and intelligent comment on our plight, I have to recommend the following:

Greg Stobart on The e-Spurs Podcast – Goal.com’s Greg Stobart talks much sense on where we go from here.
Spurs Lose It, Tim Loses It, I’m Next – Alan Fisher points the finger at Levy (as eloquently as ever).
Enic out!? No – just do their job. The state of Spurs we’re in – Adam Powley also talks about ENIC, and does so beautifully.

Though I do not agree with every word written or spoken, I am unable to come close to the detail and sentiment contained in the above so, instead, I have decided to scribble down a summary on some of the key issues in the hope that I feel better afterwards. And – through me – you might also find some relief to your Spurs-related suffering!

Sherwood’s tactics

There is no denying that we have looked fragmented and disorganised in some of our recent outings, but Sherwood and his coaching team are not as tactically inept as many will have you believe. The first half of the Chelsea match was going very much to plan (albeit with a little bit of luck inside the first five minutes) and, until Jan fell over and had a brain-fart, the second half was going reasonably well too.

With Chris Ramsey – viewed by those in the know as one of the better coaches around – working with our players on the training ground, I think it is unfair to assume our players are just told to ‘run about a bit’. The problem might be that Sherwood’s ethos is too different from AVB’s and – in trying to change too much, too soon – we are falling somewhere between, meaning that we are often open and unbalanced.

Sherwood’s preference seems to be for us to move the ball quickly into wide areas, using Adebayor to create triangles and find the wingers/full-backs. He has chopped and changed from inverted wingers (Lennon on the left) to using one wide player and one player to drift in (Eriksen from the left) to two old-fashioned wingers on their “right” sides. He does not seem to particularly favour any of these strategies, instead making selections based on player availability and the opposition on the day (i.e. Walker on the right of midfield to combat Hazard).


The jokes about Bentaleb being Tim Sherwood’s lovechild or that Sherwood gets a bonus for Bentaleb’s appearances are somewhat insulting. Since he came into the side, Bentaleb has been consistently good – especially for a 19-year old who had previously not played any league football.  He has not been anything more than good (except for the Newcastle game, where he showed attacking thrust from central midfield that we have not seen since Luka Modric left) but he has not had any matches where he has stood out as being particularly bad either. The Arsenal and City games are cited as having been shockers for Nabil, where he was “out of his depth”; I mostly disagree. Overrun, perhaps, but that was more down to overall team tactics than his individual performances.

In Bentaleb we have a real talent who I hope and believe will go on to be a first team regular at the club for years to come. We have yet to see him at his attacking best in the first team and, once we do, he will hopefully surprise a few people.

Sherwood’s interview

Tim Sherwood’s post-match interview has divided opinion. For me, the home truths needed saying, and his honesty and obvious passion were raw and endearing. It remains to be see whether it will help the team (or himself), but I am hopeful that those players that do care will want to prove a point.

It felt fairly obvious to me that Sherwood was referring to Vertonghen and Paulinho, and possibly Dembele. Vertonghen’s attitude has been poor for a long-time, with the player visibly sulking about having to play at left-back as well as being outspoken of his preference for playing in the centre. Paulinho seems to want to preserve his health for the World Cup in his home country – understandable, perhaps, but his lack of commitment in challenges has not impressed fans. And Dembele was rumoured to have pulled out of the game with little more than a minor knock, which – if true – will no doubt have irked Sherwood.


The buzz-word of the moment is ‘identity’; apparently we lack one. Many seem to have tied this into André Villas-Boas leaving and Sherwood coming in, whilst others suggest that it dates back further.

The identity that AVB installed – whether he meant to or not – was that of a team that kept things tight and hoped to win by the odd goal. Personally, I was happy for the club to give him time to move beyond this, but that’s where his team was when we parted company.

Sherwood’s ideal identity is a team that plays fluent, attacking football. He talks about having players that can pass the ball, about not wanting players who are solely defensive-minded in the middle of his midfield. Clearly he has not achieved anything like a fluent attacking unit just yet, but it is still early days. Identity is a big word, and is not something that can be found overnight.

The new signings

At the start of the season I was wildly praising the work that Franco Baldini had done in bringing in our seven new signings (and getting shot of a fair amount of deadwood). In hindsight we have overspent on players who are either unsuited, no better than what we had, and/or failing to settle.

Christian Eriksen and Vlad Chiriches have been the pick of the signings, but neither has been consistently good. In both, we have seen glimpses that offer encouragement for next year, and we have to remain hopeful on Erik Lamela too (although seeing Adel Taarabt tear up Serie A does make one wonder…). I would suggest that there is a strong possibility that the we will cut our losses on Capoue, Chadli, Paulinho and perhaps even Soldado, none of whom have played well enough to maintain a first team place.

Ian Broomfield

The re-appointment of Ian Broomfield as a scout suggests that Daniel Levy is far from impressed by the players identified by Franco Baldini and his network.

Broomfield followed Harry Redknapp to QPR, but has been tempted back to the club despite strong interest from Arsenal, who he seemed about to join. He was supposedly responsible for identifying Sandro, and instrumental in the captures of Vertonghen, Dembele, and Lloris, as well as recommending Suarez (who Redknapp turned down).

This move could mean that Baldini will be on his way out or, at the very least, that his areas of responsibility will change.

Louis van Gaal

Rumours suggest that Louis van Gaal will be our next manager, with Levy having put in plenty of groundwork, and LvG even touting himself for the job.

Greg Stobart put it brilliant; Van Gaal is the one type of manager that Levy has yet to take a chance on – “the legendary manager, the guy who has won everything, whose done it, who can go into a club and ave the personality and aura to just take over”. But yet there are no guarantees; LvG might not be a silver bullet for our club.

With the World Cup final on 13th July, Van Gaal – should he be appointed – would have approximately a month to assess the squad, recommend players to be sold (in order to trim the wage bill), and identify key positions to strengthen. It is not impossible to do that effectively, but the timeframe is not ideal.

Then there is Van Gaal’s management style – he does not suffer fools, and is not worried about speaking his mind to fans and the media. He is keen on squad rotation – something that Premier League football fans seem uncomfortable with – and has had a number of fallings out with players. He’s an abrasive character that will undoubtedly rub some up the wrong way. But he’s also a born winner who has a track history for improving players when he joins a club. The signs are good, but there are always doubts – there are no guarantees that Levy and LvG will be a match made in heaven.

The Summer

Complete overhaul, partial overhaul, or continuity? Sherwood and Baldini out and Van Gaal in? Just Baldini out? Just Sherwood out? High player turnover? Or stick for another year?

Part of me is keen to see Sherwood given the opportunity to sign his own players and to see what happens. I have been open to him having an opportunity because we have consistently been too quick to judge managers and make changes in the past. Many of those who wanted AVB to have more time have already turned on Sherwood, failing to see the irony in doing so.

Sherwood may never amount to much as our Head Coach – or as a manager elsewhere – but he holds the position so he deserves our patience, especially having inherited a dysfunctional team mid-season.

On the other hand, a substantial section of the fan-base seems pretty set on him being a failure, and an unwelcome one at that. With that in mind, it might be best for him to either fade into the background – back into a Technical Co-Ordinator/Director role – or to leave the club entirely.

Personally, I struggle to see how Baldini – as nice a man and strong a negotiator as he is meant to be – can be kept on after the absolute failure of his signings.


We have the 6th highest wage bill in the Premier League, and yet we sit in 5th place. We are, at least, punching our weight.

We can still win a trophy and the good news for next season is that we have a *lot* of players with unfulfilled potential.

Join the conversation

  1. I agree with most of what you say. But you are too harsh, IMHO, on Baldini and on the summer signings. Baldini wasn't responsible for all of the summer signings, and not wholly responsible for any of them - we operate a transfer committee. I believe all foreign players should be given a year to settle in, especially young ones (and Soldado was the only player over 25 YO that we signed in the summer). Mostly they have hardly had a run in the team, injuries and managerial change to boot. Soldado is the only one we should really have hoped to have hit the ground running, and he has been poorly used, especially by AVB. Otherwise, I agree with the major points you make.
    1. Fair points, I think, but I'd just have wanted to have seen more promising signs from our signings. Re: the transfer committee, I'd love to be a fly on the wall during their meetings...
  2. Strongly agree with a lot you've written here. For what it's worth, here's my view on a few things regarding THFC, my opinions, nothing more! :) The talk of enic to leave and new owners to come in for me is a non entity, as a Tottenham fan loving in Portsmouth I've seen what new owners have done to that club, and trust me they've had enough of them! One I don't think was even real.... But for me I like that we have a chairman who, to some is tight but for me is a shrewd negotiator and gets the best for the club, as a business, not always from a fans point of view! They backed the manager in the summer and believed with the signings we got would push us on to the next level. Obviously that hasn't been the case and while avb wasn't particularly doing a bad job when he left, I don't feel we really stepped up from where we were. Now on to the players we've signed, soldado- I really want this guy to find the form that he's had, the form for me which warranted the money we spent, in hindsight, the fee was a little high but his record in the past justifies it, he was something like in the top 10 combined goals and assists over the last 5 years in Europe? Or something like that? Either way, I've wanted him at spurs when I've seen him for Valencia and think he may still come good. Optimism maybe. Capoue- injuries have hampered his season a little and he seemed a strange signing at the time, maybe he was bought to cover dm/cb but we saw him at cb against Liverpool and I don't think Sherwood fancies him or has any trust in him, he's showed glimpses at times but can see him being one we move on in the summer. Lamela, we love to have a player in the squad who the fans want to see do well and tear up the prem, in recent years we've had GDS and falque, neither of which seem suited to England but as a fan, we'd love to see them succeed. Personally I think the lamela deal/fee was a strange one, It comes across as being more than meets the eye with the fee, maybe it wasn't as high as reported or staggered over years with add-ons which, may be a good deal, but seems strange if we payed around 30m, and I wonder if, with us taking baldini, the fee was increased as a "sweetener" to avoid any complaints? Maybe we tapped him up and as a result, paid more? Either way, he's here and I want him to do well, think the fee has overshadowed him and he's showed promise, but think he needs time to settle and adapt, I'd like to see him have he confidence to express himself, move inside, shoot, but equally take a player on the outside, either way, I'll back him till he's no longer a spurs player. Chadli just looks like the pace of the English game is a fraction too quick for him at the moment. Onto Sherwood, I don't see why fans want him to fail, I'll back any manager we have because, they are there to do the best for the club, he tries to pick a team for each game and we may not agree with it but the grass isn't always greener on the otherside. Like with Ramos, santini etc etc.... Whatever happens we know pretty much for a fact that Sherwood is her till at least the end of the season so I'm backing him, I don't want/like seeing us fail, neither do I want to, we support spurs through thick and thin, win or lose, the manager is there to be backed and by wanting him to fail is wanting spurs to lose. Last point on bentaleb, for me, he's done ok, for his role he's played goes very unnoticed, he keeps the ball moving and brings others into play, therefore he gets it, and moves it on quickly, he's at times, brought and attacking threat but is happy to do the dirty work and let's others express themselves, like joe Allen in a way, happy to keep the ball moving and not hold on to it for too long. Personally would love to see him express himself just that little more, have the confidence to take the game by the scruff of the neck and impose himself on the game, from what I've read you and others say about his time in the u21s etc he has that potential, maybe we, as fans, need to help give him that confidence? Whatever the future holds, COYS keep up the good work Chris as I like your articles! Jon
    1. Great stuff, Jon. I think you're right on Lamela - I bet the final fee won't be anything like the fee quoted. But even so, we need him to step it up to get value for money. I hope you're right on Chadli, and that he adapts to the pace of the game - I have my concerns. I could see him ending up at a mid-table club.
  3. Agree with almost all of what you have written Windy. In addition for me, identity is also about us as fans identifying with the players themselves. No one has taken that mantle on with maybe the exception of Dawson and Walker who's performances have been sketchy at times. I don't identify with the players - are they taking the piss? The nature and structure of our team and the way we chop, change and don't seem to have any great pattern leads to this also. I want my Tottenham back is not just about the way we play. I'm not sure we'll ever get that back again. Anyway, did the article help in any way? I suspect not at the moment and it'll take an upturn in results, but especially performances to help with this.
    1. A win on Thursday would really help, mate, gagging for us to win a trophy.
  4. 1) Sherwood + ethos = oxymoron 2) If Broomfield was so good why was he allowed to leave? 3)We want sherwood to fail because we didn't want AVB sacked, didn't like the role Sherwood played in that sacking and find it very difficult to warm to his inarticulate pressers after AVB erudition
    1. We don't really know what role - if any - Sherwood had in the AVB sacking. I heard AVB had burned his bridges with many at the club.
  5. Totally agree with the tactics and Bentaleb sections. I personally prefer to see statements like the interview kept inside the company, you wouldn't expect it in any other industry and it often breaks any trust between players and management/support, a united public front is essential, I didn't like it when Rednapp did it and I don't like it now, it's unprofessional and leaves a taste of throwing your mates to the school yard bullies. Nothing to do with protecting delicate egos but protecting those you are responsible for from a self important overly curious media who will push a negative agenda. Sadly this is modern society, we want to see people fail on xfactor or big brother or other peoples football clubs and while less people support spurs than don't (or any one club) this is how you sell adspace. We're already thinking of whether Sherwood has endeared himself or whether any of the players are stroppy, a clear division in the organisation just from one interview. I tend to distrust the whole sell everyone and buy new in one sweep tactic, it didn't work any of the last times we did it usually leading to a sacked manager shortly after. Much of what we say about Soldado was said about Giroud last year, Modric got comfortable with the league out on the left until he was put central and a strong left winger brought in, perhaps Rednapp doing this was what Sherwood was thinking of with Erikssen (and could it be Lamela or Chadli he has in mind for the left next season a la Bale) at this stage I don't know, I think a few weeks into the next season and we will know one way or the other. As for Van Gall, he seems to have that one thing Sherwood doesn't, but he doesn't have one thing I feel Spurs need, and that's time, he's not going to be there for the long haul, ideally it would be a 2 year stint with Sherwood shadowing and a clearly defined staggered phase out, however, there's not a person on this planet that would believe either manager would accept that. I have still been hoping that with Arsenal unusually still involved in cup matches and Liverpool pushing into the top three that it would be Arsenal's place we everton and united were competing for, but realistically i think we need to focus on fending off everton and united, unlike Liverpool over the last few years i think we rely on the Europa league revenue and not regaining it at least would be the start of a descent towards mid table like villa rather than a focused effort on fourth like Liverpool that others are hoping for, our sponsorship deal almost demands it. Injuries, while we're not the only club to use this blood spinning technique, perhaps we may want to stop, players are getting injured, coming back and immediately getting injured again for extended periods, I realise they may not be linked, but it might be worth a try. Anyway, as you can see you have given me much to think about, a fantastic piece Windy, thank you for your continued hard work.
  6. Broomfield who has he found? Samba at QPR? Saha Nelson at Spurs? Can anyone name the players he "discovered" Baldini's signings with AVB agreeing I hope seemed ok, Liverpool were supposed to be after some of them. Integration of so many into the team was impossible but for a Champions league side a large pool of players is reqD.
  7. Great points. I agree with most of them. I feel sorry for Sherwood, he has been put in an impossible situation. However, I don't think there's an irony in not being willing to give him time. He's got no track record and should spend some time at a smaller club or as an assistant to prove himself as AVB had already done. Otherwise on what basis our we putting our trust in him? I would like us to appoint LvG or Fdb, and get rid of Baldini and Sherwood. Demoting Tim now will just undermine any new manager. I still have faith that some of those signings can come good, especially Lamela and Soldado. It must be tough with all the speculation at the club. A new manager and another year settling in England may help. As for identity, I don't think saying you want to play expansive, attacking football constitutes an identity. It's like a politician saying they want to help children. Of course you do, the question is how are you going to do it?
  8. Really it was sad to see AVB going we should give him some times but now is gone let look at the future keep faith with the squad that we have but not with the coach ....am sorry but Mr tim need to go get some experience and learn more ; learn like Zidane is doing at Madrid but no Mr Tim just want to jump fast to be come a manager straight no no no Tim go get your licence first and please don't sale any of our players coz van gaal will come to fix it for we need to keep lamela coz is excellent kapoue strong like a Chelsea player matic saldado Lewis intelligent player.
  9. Nice piece, to me Louis Van Gaal seems a done deal, & Levy is content for us to tread water from now until the end of the season. In hindsight, appointing Tim Sherwood seems to have been a mistake in that he doesn't seem able to keep some of the big names on his side now that the dream of CL football has been crushed. I think he picks Bentaleb as much for his attitude as his current ability, & the cracks in the squad are now clear to see, as are the lack of cover at left back, central defence & up front. I'm assuming - or at least hoping - that a new boss (presumably LVG) will be efficiently appointed in the summer & the squad can be re-tailored in his image & as fans we can once again hope for a return to the top 4.
  10. Spot on with the comments, although my thoughts on Sherwood and his future differ slightly. His face said it all after the Chelsea match and before he even opened his mouth my respect for the guy jumped - he was visibly gutted and fair play to him for having the balls to say what he did, probably knowing all to well that Levy wouldn't be a happy bunny about his comments. Vertonghen has had his head up his arse for a while now so I'm actually hoping Sherwood will follow up on his comments and maybe drop him for Thursday night and bring in one of the younger lads (Velkovic...?). This would show us (and Levy) Timmy really does have a big set of balls - although realistically the chances of him dropping Verts are low. Oh and keep up the good work!
  11. Sherwood's biggest problem to me is he cannot settle on a system of play. It changes every single game and it seems to me he taylors play depending on the opposition. Fair enough to make tactical tweets when you play the better teams but against the likes of Cardiff and Norwich we should make them change. Sherwood might be fine in the future but he needs to go and learn somewhere for a few seasons before he gets a job as big as the Spurs one.
  12. I agree with some of your comments, on the incoming transfers last summer my feeling is that you have to give new signings 2 seasons before you judge them fully especially more so with young players, AVB should never have been sacked, and to replace him with Sherwood showed a lack of ambitioniqqq
  13. Generally agree with your piece, well written too. I am 100% with you on Sherwood and Bentaleb and it is rare to see someone who agrees with me. However I do think you are a bit harsh on Baldini and in particular Paulinho who has not had a bad season but has faded out of some games. We must remember he has played football for almost the last 14 months non-stop and a WC win and a rest would be perfect for him. I expect to see the best of him next season. I think Chadli also gets far too much stick and I expect him to be much improved.
  14. Good assessment. I would say that IF there is an agreement for LvG to join us after the World Cup, he will have suggested players to Levy and Baldini before the tournament. All will not be left until he comes in and assesses. It's not inconceivable that he's doing some assessing now.
  15. Nice points for the most part. I don't think Sherwood is a long term solution, especially with the competition for top 4 getting tighter and tighter. Imagine what it will be like next year - Chels, Arse, City, Liv, Manu (who will buy players and/or sack manager over the summer). Is Sherwood the guy to take us into top 4 given the level of competition? Ultimately, the failure is on Levy and Enic. Being tight with the purse strings is fine as long as you are willing to loosen them at the critical moment. For me, Levy made two huge mistakes that have put us where we are now. First, he fired the manager who got us top 4 twice. Love him or hate him, Arry got us there and didn't deserve the boot. Second, he had the opportunity to spend on Moutinho summer before last and waited until the 11th hour of deadline day to force a deal, trying to save a couple million pounds I suppose. Last year's team needed a creative midfielder and he was the guy AVB wanted and definitely would have improved our squad by 2 or 3 points. One player = top 4 last year = better position this year with perhaps keeping Bale (unlikely) and/or attracting better options than "The Beatles".
  16. Some really good points here, Windy. I think it's fantastic that we're in 5th position despite the turbulent season we've had. It's easy to underestimate that. I totally agree with you when it comes to player commitment. I reckon we've been cursed by the World Cup and that many of our players (particularly the Summer signings) are so worried about being fit for it that they aren't giving their all. It reminds me of Redknapp being linked with the England job; they are distracted with what's to come and aren't focusing on the job at hand each week. Paulinho reflects this clearly: he was brilliant at the Confederations Cup, but he hasn't found that form here. That may be to do with several factors, but ultimately his problem seems to be a lack of intensity and ambition. The Stoke game was interesting; he'd just come back from injury and seemed to have regained his flair. However, he suffered that horrible challenge from Adam and was out of action again. I can completely understand that he is concerned about missing the World Cup in his home country but he cannot let that affect his play. He should look to Sandro for inspiration; he is in the same position but gives his all whenever he's on the pitch. That is a sign of someone who values himself as a professional and loves the game of football.
  17. Sherwood was appointed to keep a seat warm for..whoever. He has almost done too well but Levy will sack him anyway The outburst is reason enough as by implication he is criticising Levy. AVB should not have been sacked mid contract and nor should Sherwood. At least let him fulfil the 18 months and match the Spurs average manager term. No good threatening players who want to go anyway with the sack. Empty threat at best. We have made ourselves look ridiculous and inept even though we are 5th. Agree in the main Windy and elegantly put.
    1. It does feel that way, Jimmy - Van Gaal?
  18. Good points Windy. My personal opinion, LvG WILL be in charge come summer unless ManU sack Moyes. However no matter who's in charge its blatantly obvious that to win the league you must pay silly money for players and spend silly money on wages. Long gone are the days of coaching a decent squad to first position.
    1. I feel the same - LVG will come in I think.
  19. I would like an explanation, Windy, as to what was just served up in lieu of a team performance tonight. That was not the performance of a team schooled by a sentient being, it was painting by numbers done by someone who's not able to count. It really was appalling.
  20. And another thing: Ramsay may be a respected youth coach and Europa licence examiner, but that f
  21. .. Doesn't mean he's a good coach for the senior players. There appears to be no tactical acumen on the bench whatsoever. Benfica weren't that great, but we played to their strengths by gormless long ball tactics. Sherwood is an utter shyster.
    1. Benfica was a very, very poor performance, mate, but am interested in what you felt of the Arsenal game.
  22. I saw the last twenty minutes of the NLD and then saw the highlights on MOTD: I saw more long ball play. Arsenal sat back comfortably and picked off the crosses. The substitutions were poor and late. The players move less than before under AVB and there appeared to be little interplay on Sunday. TS persists with the high line that AVB was lambaste for. Rose keeps getting caught out of position and this is someone who has been coached at the club, presumably by the present coaches. So, despite what has been said in some quarters, that we outplayed Arsenal, I did not see it. It was unintelligent and ineffective. I look forward to your response.
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