Sherwood: Levy's Perfect Lightning Rod

Matt Stanger is perplexed by Daniel Levy escaping scrutiny at Spurs. How can Tim Sherwood be wholly to blame when his appointment was always destined to fail...

Last Updated: 01/04/14 at 08:08 Post Comment

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Tim Sherwood is out of his depth. He is out of his depth tactically, he is out of his depth in terms of motivating the squad - despite what he might tell you about his 'little rants' - and he is out of his depth when it comes to dress sense. These are all things we knew a long time before Tottenham's latest embarrassing collapse on Sunday.

They are things many predicted would soon be proven back in December, when a coach with no previous management experience was handed the reins at a club with top-four ambitions. There is nothing shocking about the death of Spurs' season. In fact, the most surprising aspect of Sherwood's tenure is that he has kept the club in the top six.

But Sherwood is the perfect lightning rod. A brash, outspoken manager who, by his own admission, likes to wear his heart on his sleeve - "when I wear them". The level at which he regards his own ability has risen at a rate mirroring the amount Spurs fans wish he would leave or, at the very least, stop talking. This has been an excruciating public humiliation for supporters both on the pitch and in press conferences.

But whatever people think of Sherwood, he is not the man responsible for Spurs' failings. Sure, he's incompetent, and at times annoyingly smug, but it's hard not to feel that he's taking the blame for someone else's mistakes - specifically, the person who thought this would be a good idea in the first place.

Daniel Levy may be one of the shrewdest negotiators in the game, but the frequency at which he drives a hard bargain disguises the frequency at which he allows Spurs to lurch from one philosophy to the next. There were justifiable reasons to get rid of Harry Redknapp and adopt a new approach under Andre Villas-Boas in 2011 - and there may even have been cause to sack the Portuguese just 18 months into the job - but letting Sherwood lead £70m of new talent when Spurs were still fighting on four fronts immediately seemed a preposterous move.

Levy's escape from scrutiny has been aided by Sherwood's meltdown becoming the Spurs narrative in the second half of the campaign - exacerbated by the chairman's deliberate refusal to offer him public support. Despite awarding his rookie manager an 18-month contract after just two games in charge, Levy has left Sherwood high and dry every time he has sought clarification on his position amid rumours of the chairman pursuing Louis van Gaal. "The silence is deafening, isn't it? It's up to Daniel," said Sherwood at the start of March.

Indeed, whatever you might think of him as a man or manager, Sherwood deserves some sympathy for the club allowing his future to be the subject of relentless speculation, and there are plenty more experienced managers who would have cracked under the same pressure. While he has spent the last three months fire-fighting - mostly owing to his own tendency to spontaneously combust - Levy and the rest of the Tottenham board have been happy to sit in the shadows.

The most unforgivable aspect of this latest failure is that it was so predictable from the moment Levy installed Sherwood as Villas-Boas' replacement. From the outside it looked like guesswork, while the noises coming out of the club certainly don't suggest there is a secret plan locked away in the White Hart Lane safe. Instead, the chairman continues to gamble with Spurs' future, rather than drawing up a strategy and remaining loyal in the first signs of struggle.

When things go wrong, managers always receive the brunt of the criticism. But neither Sherwood or Villas-Boas - whose transfer policy last summer was driven by Franco Baldini - were provided with the proper framework to achieve Spurs' ambitions. Levy has been happy to propagate the myth that a new manager will provide a quick fix to Spurs' problems, but the evidence shows that simply isn't the case. The club is no longer treading water, it is falling backwards, and it is the seemingly unimpeachable Levy, not Sherwood, who is to blame.

Matt Stanger - he's on Twitter

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