Over the past 24 hours, speculation has begun to mount regarding the somewhat bizarre manner in which Andre Villas-Boas was sacked by Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy and the connection to new caretaker manager Tim Sherwood.
The Telegraph has an excellent story penned by Jason Burt describing the breakdown in the relationship between Villas-Boas and Levy. As has been rumored for a while, the recently departed Spurs manager did not get a single player from his summer wish list and the shopping done by new Technical Director Franco Baldini was not necessarily done with AVB’s blessing.
I have previously spoken about the need for patience and time to integrate new players into the squad who came from leagues as far-flung as Brazil and Romania as well as all of the typical western European leagues English clubs buy players from. This view was shared by Gary Neville among others yesterday as the critical reaction to the sacking turned a critical eye towards Levy.
What has become apparent is that Sherwood, the former Premier League title winning midfielder with Blackburn who spent four and a half seasons at White Hart Lane from 1999 to 2003 after being bought by George Graham but left the club under bad circumstances after a row with Spurs legend Glenn Hoddle who by 2003 was managing the club, has been bending Levy’s ear.
Sherwood spent some time after his retirement in television serving as an analyst for Setanta Sports. He was brought back to Spurs by Harry Redknapp and has since been around the club as technical coordinator of the u-21 and youth setup at Tottenham. He applied for Baldini’s position this summer only to be rebuffed and given a lesser role in the Spurs hierarchy.
But recent reports and Internet buzz indicate Sherwood has developed an influence over Levy, which could explain some of the reporting in Burt’s piece about tactical discussions between the chairman and his manager as well as some of the growing dissatisfaction with Villas-Boas whose side remained in contention for a top four place up until the very last minute of his tenure.
Levy has shown a quick trigger with managers in the past and while once shrewd in the transfer market as indicated by the sales of Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov, his recent record in the market is much more muddled. Levy’s failure to land any of Harry Redknapp’s top transfer requests in January 2011 cost Spurs a shot at finishing 3rd or 4th in the league that season. The failure to lock down Joao Moutinho at the last minute in August 2012 after the sale of Luka Modrić got AVB’s tenure off to the wrong start. Despite lavish spending this summer, Tottenham still have not bought a player of Moutinho’s influence and quality on the pitch instead opting to buy multiple players to fill what would be his role and what was previously the role of Modrić.
Levy has judged Villas-Boas based on factors that perhaps were not apparent to the general public and Spurs supporters. Despite his own bumbling effort to build a side that would contend for honors with the biggest teams in Europe, Levy has found mastering the elevation of Spurs to the elite very difficult. In Tim Sherwood, it is rumored he has found someone connected to the club that is bending his ear in a particular direction, away from what has been tried in the past.
Only time will tell if this move is a positive one for Tottenham but in the short term it is difficult to see how it works in the club’s favor. Perhaps Levy has conceded this season and the goals he set for the team and wants to get a head start on rebuilding yet again. For a club that has lacked managerial stability and has been the butt of opposition supporters jokes for years, this is nothing new but perhaps completely unnecessary.
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