Tim Sherwood’s management style is evolving game by game. Today with the inevitable onslaught expected from Manchester United, the untested Spurs boss made two very curious tactical changes that perhaps showed his growth and bravery as a manager.
Ahead by a goal in the 64th minute, Sherwood brought on the highly-touted youngster Nabil Bentaleb in a holding midfield role. Bentaleb responded very well, positioning himself well and showing excellent covering skills when left-back Danny Rose bombed forward.
In minute 75, Sherwood brought on Harry Kane, who has spent more time on loan than on the pitch for Spurs over the past few seasons. Kane replaced the gassed Roberto Soldado. And on Twitter, many people, myself included, expressed horror about Kane’s insertion in the side.
But Kane and Sherwood got the last laugh. The young Tottenham striker held the ball up well late on in the match and helped to relieve the pressure on Tottenham’s defense, which was building to a boiling point.
Sherwood doesn’t have the PowerPoint presentations, flip charts or coaching badges that indicate tactical savvy the way his predecessor Andre Villas-Boas did. But based on the early returns, ten points in four Premier League matches, he does understand man management and also has a keen sense of which youth products can contribute to Tottenham’s cause.
One of Villas-Boas tasks was to integrate players from Tottenham’s excellent youth setup into the side. He did well with Andros Townsend and Danny Rose, but the likes of Bentaleb and Kane could be long-term options for Sherwood. When changes mattered the most, Sherwood called on two youngsters and they came through for him.
With the victory, Spurs climbed to within two points of fourth place, and that elusive UEFA Champions League spot that has defined Chairman Daniel Levy’s thinking over the past few seasons. Not too shabby for a club that is in “crisis?”
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