Tim Sherwood sacked: Daniel Levy plans for Tottenham still no clearer as yet another manager is dismissed

Does the chairman want a lucrative sale or to build a side that can challenge?

chief football correspondent

Daniel Levy could hardly say that he did not know what kind of personality he was taking on in Tim Sherwood, who, for the second time in his career, has left the club after a final frank exchange of views with the Tottenham Hotspur chairman.

It was the same 11 years ago when Sherwood, having fallen out of favour with Glenn Hoddle, was eager to leave for Portsmouth and angry that Levy was standing in his way. The Spurs chairman did not bear grudges, however, and was happy for Sherwood to come back under Harry Redknapp, first as one of the then-Spurs manager's assistants and latterly as the club's technical coordinator, overseeing player development.

That relationship came to an end for a second time today when Sherwood was told by Levy that he was no longer the club's manager and a break clause in the 18-month deal he signed in December, after taking over from Andre Villas-Boas, was to be activated. This time Sherwood was informed that he had been too outspoken and too critical of the club in recent weeks, although he has done so in the knowledge that he has been a dead man walking for some time now.

Sherwood will still be paid up on the last 12 months of his contract and becomes just the latest coach to leave White Hart Lane wondering exactly what it is that his chairman wants in a manager.

 

When he took over from Villas-Boas, Sherwood asked expressly whether he was simply regarded as a stopgap until the end of the season or whether he would indeed be able to see out the 18 months of his contract, including a summer transfer window. He had clear ideas about the players he wanted to bring in, including Gareth Barry, who he felt would help to develop the younger players in which he has such faith.

Then, Sherwood was told that the 18-month contract was no fiction and he would be given time. There have been some bad defeats along the way, to Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, but his win rate, as he has pointed out of late, stands at 59 per cent which is better than any of his predecessors in the Premier League era.

There is no denying that Sherwood is outspoken. The club got to a stage where they worried what would come next from his Friday press briefings. But that only started when Sherwood began to sense that there was no appetite to plan for the future with him. He commented in March that the "silence was deafening" from boardroom level.

The Ajax head coach Frank de Boer is a candidate for the manager’s job at White Hart Lane (Getty) The Ajax head coach Frank de Boer is a candidate for the manager’s job at White Hart Lane (Getty)
Since his return to the club almost six years ago he has never been reluctant to tell Levy the truth about the direction, or lack of it, that Spurs have been taking. Everyone else, right up to Franco Baldini, the technical director, has to be more diplomatic. Sherwood has the luxury of being able to pick and choose if he works and as a consequence has never lived in fear of losing his job.

In addition to that he has been unafraid to tell big players in the dressing room such as Jan Vertonghen and Sandro when he feels that they have slipped below the standards expected. That criticism has not always been welcomed.

As for Levy, it is not as if he has been unprepared to listen – otherwise he would not have brought Sherwood back in the first place and then promoted him to manager. What is less clear is what exactly the chairman wants from the club? What is the long-term vision that he and the club's ultimate controlling power, the billionaire Joe Lewis, have for Spurs? Is it a lucrative sale? Or is it a team that can qualify for the Champions League and challenge for the league title, and if so, why do they keep selling their best players?

Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale have all been sold over the last eight years. While Spurs have bought shrewdly at times, that could not be said for last summer. When the club played a friendly in the Bahamas this time last year, Levy and Baldini told Lewis that if he allowed them to reinvest the Bale fee in players they could win the league. They did so and have finished sixth, their lowest league position in five seasons.

Sherwood was less keen on spending money. He believed that the likes of Harry Kane, Nabil Bentaleb, Danny Rose and Tom Carroll, currently on loan at Queen's Park Rangers, could eventually become first-team regulars, if they were given the opportunity. In January he resisted Levy's attempts to trade, including a putative bid to bring back Berbatov.

When Sherwood pushed the club on pursuing his transfer targets he was eventually told, on 7 April, that they wanted a more experienced manager. A lack of backing from the supporters has meant that Levy has not had to fear public opinion. Sherwood has been unafraid to tell Spurs fans that he sees their desire for new signings as an obstacle to allowing the club's academy players to flourish.

Who next? Frank de Boer may have damaged his chances by being too open about Spurs' approach to him. Levy will want someone who is prepared to be on-message. Whoever it is there is a good chance that the best players will continue to be sold, while the long-term ambitions of the club remain vague.

Five Games that cost sherwood his job

4 January 2014

Arsenal 2-0 Tottenham

Sherwood was unbeaten in his first six league games but Spurs fans were angry at the tactical naivety that led to a meek FA Cup defeat at the hands of their local rivals.

29 January

Tottenham 1-5 Manchester City

Danny Rose's later-rescinded red card skewed this result, but Sherwood's side were humiliated at home by one of their rivals for a top-four place.

23 February

Norwich 1-0 Tottenham

Spurs' Champions League ambitions all but died when they were defeated at struggling Norwich. They barely registered a shot on target until late on.

8 March

Chelsea 4-0 Tottenham

Another big game, another heavy defeat. Catastrophic defensive errors after half-time gifted Chelsea the points at Stamford Bridge.

30 March

Liverpool 4-0 Tottenham

Defensive calamities again cost Spurs. Younes Kaboul's own goal in the second minute set the tone for another embarrassing defeat.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor