One is considered to be one of the best young managers in world football, having managed FC Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur despite being only thirty-six years of age. The other has won the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers as a player and has been a coach at Tottenham since 2008. It is strange how, the first manager referred to, is unemployed, having been sacked by Spurs and replaced by his former assistant Tim Sherwood. This is not the first time that AVB has been relieved of his duties as a manager of a Premier League team, as he was sacked by Chelsea in 2012. While many may agree that his sacking had a positive impact on Chelsea as they won the Champions League that year, was his sacking by Daniel Levy warranted?
AVB’s record in the league up to his sacking was 8 wins, 3 draws and 5 losses. Sherwood’s record so far is 8 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses. It is fair to say that Sherwood’s record is better as he has notched up the same amount of wins as AVB in four less matches. That alone may be enough to convince many that Spurs are better under Sherwood. They certainly are playing better, as they have moved from a 50% win percentage to an impressive 66% win percentage, but why?
After the world record transfer of Gareth Bale from Tottenham to Real Madrid, AVB had around £85m to compensate for the loss of Bale. He used this money to buy midfielders Christian Eriksen, Etienne Capoue and Paulinho, defender Vlad Chiriches, winger Nacer Chadli and forward Roberto Soldado. Despite the plethora of creative and attacking talent acquired in addition to those they had before, Spurs only scored 15 goals in 16 matches. Under Sherwood, Tottenham have scored 22 goals in the 12 league matches. Perhaps the biggest reason for this is the return of Emmanuel Adebayor to the starting line-up after only featuring once under AVB. Adebayor has scored 8 goals in 13 matches this season while Soldado has 6 in 23, with only 2 being from open play. So it seems that something as seemingly simple as player selection has played a major role in the Lilywhites’ improvement under Sherwood.
Along with the inclusion of Adebayor, Sherwood has changed Spurs this season by altering their formation and playing style. Spurs have adopted a 4-4-2 formation under Sherwood and the players seem more comfortable playing in this system with its direct approach as opposed to the more patient approach that was used in AVB’s 4-5-1 system. Spurs have scored more than 2 goals in a league game 4 times this season, all under Sherwood. It seems every comparison somehow leads back to goal scoring, which is understandable, as goals win games. AVB’s team were all too poor in that aspect, as in his final match, a 5-0 hammering at home from Liverpool. Luis Suarez’s two goals put him on the same amount of goals as the entire Tottenham squad, despite playing 5 less matches.
It must not be forgotten that just last season, AVB led Spurs to their record points total, despite finishing 5th. Some may say that this was due to the performances of a certain Gareth Bale and they may have a point. But, as it relates to this season, the sacking of AVB and the subsequent hiring of Tim Sherwood was justified.