Spurs: how Sherwood debate highlights perils of being a boss

Mar 13, 2014
Jonathan Harwood

Plain-speaking Spurs manager tells players he is not a babysitter and sends a message to the board

TIM SHERWOOD'S increasingly turbulent spell as Spurs boss is fast becoming an object lesson in the perils and pitfalls of modern football mangement. 

The former midfielder was heralded as a breath of fresh air when he took over from Andre Villas Boas in December, inspiring his players to a string of impressive performances and offering forthright comments in post-match interviews that went down well with the fans.
But, the honeymoon period is now over and Sherwood appears to be struggling with the fragile egos of the players below him, the boardroom machinations going on above him and the expectations of a 21st–century football supporter.
Results have improved under the new boss, but the media furore around his comments has started to make Tottenham look like a club in some kind of crisis.
Sherwood's 18-year playing career straddled the period in which English football's status went from national sport to international media obsession, but his managerial philosophy appears to be rooted in the pre-Premier League era, when players could be told what to do in public and managers even had the clout to take on chairmen.
Nowadays managers need to tread a fine line between keeping players, chairmen, supporters and the media happy, while giving the impression of being in total control. Yet Sherwood appears to have little time for that balancing act.
Speaking ahead of Spurs' Europa League clash with Benfica tonight Sherwood made it clear he did not see his role at Spurs as a pastoral one.
"I'm a manager, not a babysitter," he announced. "A lot here are playing for their future and they realise that now. They are all men. They all appreciate that I am singing it from the heart, not from the script. I'm not an actor. I work on impulse."
Having complained about the "deafening" silence from the boardroom about his future as manager, with rumours swirling that he will be replaced by an established name in the summer, Sherwood went on the offensive on that front as well.
"I'm planning for next season," he said. "There's no point me planning if someone else is coming in. I have an 18-month contract and I expect to be here a lot longer than that."
"It's a level playing field, from the kids to the money signings," he added. "No one's going to get preferential treatment. I know the ones I can trust and those I can't."
Former Spurs favourite Glenn Hoddle was one of those to question Sherwood's approach after he blasted his players in the wake of defeat to Chelsea last weekend.
Bloggers have been quick to nail their colours to the mast as well. Some have welcomed his frank approach, others are alarmed by what appears to be his naivete.
"The lack of faith I have in Sherwood... has me doubting whether anything he does - successful or otherwise - is by design or absolute fluke," says the Who Framed Ruel Fox blog. Sherwood's comments were described as "the last throw of the dice for a man that is already on borrowed time", by the Spurs Talk blog.
Many fans are backing him but have doubts about his combative approach or the chances of him keeping his job. As one commenter on The Fighting Cock Spurs forum asked: "In the modern age of celebrity footballers, do rookie managers ever stand a chance at a top club?"
Sherwood may be a breath of fresh air, but the headlines and debate he has started to attract serve as a good explanation as to why most managers appear so reserved in comparison.

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