Watching Tim Sherwood morph from a respected coach who had done very good things within the Tottenham youth set-up into the laughing stock of English football was quite remarkable especially as the transformation was achieved in such a short period of time.
For sure, Sherwood didn’t help himself with his antics on the side-lines and his jocularity when talking to the media. His evident passion for the job didn’t seem to help; if anything it counted against him by making him seem like a typical British manager who prefers heart over tactical guile.
Even so, the amount of derision over his time as Tottenham manager was surprising. Everything that he did was written off and within a few weeks of his appointment it had almost been decided that he wasn’t going to be staying beyond the end of the season.
Ultimately that proved to be the case yet, unfashionable as that might seem, there are decisions that Sherwood made which deserve to be highlighted and praised.
Prime among those decisions is his willingness to look within in order to strengthen Tottenham’s squad. Contrary to most managers, for whom the default reaction upon being put in charge of a new team is that of asking for new players, Sherwood turned instead to the youth players who had been given so few opportunities by his predecessor.
Nabil Bentaleb and Harry Kane became pretty much regular fixtures whilst Zeki Fryers also got plenty of first team exposure. None of this trio proved to be out of place with Bentaleb in particular proving that Tottenham could have avoided signing at least one of the central midfielders they got last summer.
It is unlikely that within the club people weren’t aware of the potential of these players. Even so, Tottenham opted to spend millions to bring in players who not only weren’t needed but also were going to block the development of those youths in whom so much had been invested.
Football clubs increasingly like to see and refer to themselves as businesses. In truth, there is no business in the world that would spend around £5 million a year on its Research & Development - which is what clubs typically spend on academies - and then dismiss out-of-hand anything that came out of that investment. Because effectively that is what most clubs are doing by putting so little effort in ensuring that the players coming out of their youth system are good enough and get the opportunities to prove their worth.
It is baffling how clubs can willingly change managers without ensuring that these will give youth the focus that it deserves. And it is a sign of the excess money that there is within the game at the highest level that they keep on signing players for the first team regardless of what is coming through.
The lack of continuity planning is astounding. Sherwood, for all his faults, was doing something to validate Tottenham’s investment. Sadly, his immediate sacking validates the actions of those who take a more sanguine approach to management.
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