London: Tottenham’s Premier League clash with Sunderland was overshadowed on Monday night by new details of the club’s plan to replace head coach Tim Sherwood at the end of the season.
In a situation that evoked memories of how Martin Jol’s fate was effectively sealed at Spurs while he was still manager, fresh reports emerged just hours before Monday’s game that Sherwood would leave in the summer.
Both Sherwood and Tottenham subsequently issued statements that were conspicuous for their lack of any clarity on the head coach’s future beyond the end of this season.
Jamie Redknapp, a close friend of Sherwood, also appeared on Sky Sports News on Monday afternoon to squarely blame Tottenham’s disappointments this season on the player recruitment that was overseen last summer by technical director Franco Baldini and chairman Daniel Levy following the world record sale of Gareth Bale.
Although Holland manager Louis van Gaal is regarded as the favourite to succeed Sherwood, the Daily Telegraph can reveal that Southampton’s Mauricio Pochettino is emerging as an increasingly serious candidate. Sources close to Levy have even claimed that Pochettino, who is leading Southampton towards an unlikely top-eight finish, is now the club’s number one target.
Van Gaal held talks with Levy before Sherwood was handed an 18-month contract as head coach following the departure of Andre Villas-Boas but Pochettino’s style of football has impressed Levy and majority owner Joe Lewis. There is also hope inside Spurs that Pochettino would be able to persuade midfielder Adam Lallana to follow him to North London. The England international figures prominently on Tottenham’s list of summer transfer targets.
Pochettino is also in talks with Southampton over a contract that, like Sherwood, expires at the end of next season. There are doubts, however, over whether Southampton will be able to keep their best players as they try to balance their books following the spending under former chairman Nicola Cortese. It had already been reported by the Daily Telegraph that Sherwood is unlikely to keep his job past the end of this season and he has now become resigned to that fact.
Tottenham’s heavy defeat to Liverpool and the reaction of the travelling fans towards Sherwood is understood to have made up the mind of Levy. Sherwood could still be offered a role at Spurs under a new manager, but he has insisted he is not interested in any sort of number two role.
Tottenham were also unable to offer any certainty. “The board will meet with Tim, as would be normal, at the end of the season to review how things have progressed,” said a club spokesman. “Anything else at this stage is just speculation.”
Sherwood’s tenure has been mixed, although the team have maintained a challenge for the top four until late into the season. His blunt analysis of the team’s failings has been controversial, particularly his complaints of a “lack of characters” after the 4-0 loss at Chelsea.
Sherwood also said that the team were “miles away” and that people in the club talking about a top-four finish needed to “wake up”.
Redknapp, who played with Sherwood at Spurs, said: “Tim’s a genuine football person. He was put in a position that wasn’t easy. Some of the players they have signed probably haven’t been good enough. Managers take the brunt for this. They have gone through two managers already, the ones that’s bought the players, Franco Baldini and Daniel Levy, I think they have to take some responsibility as well. Who has really come in and made an impact?
“If Tim Sherwood does leave at the end of the season, how a director of football like Franco Baldini can still keep his job, I find that amazing. These young managers get the sack and the people that bring the players in don’t have any responsibility. The club looks like it’s in disarray again. “The silence has been deafening this year from the club. They’ve never given him any real support. It doesn’t really surprise me. Sometimes it isn’t always the managers that are making mistakes.”