A defeat, a win and now a draw to start the unexpected Tim Sherwood era, and there was a suitably middling look to Tottenham’s performance in his third game in charge here yesterday.
Andre Villas-Boas’s successor seems to know the formation and personnel he wants, making only two changes from Sunday’s win at Southampton and again using Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado as strikers. After three goals in two games since being called in from the cold, however, Adebayor was not at his sharpest, failing to collect a long pass from the excellent Kyle Walker for his one chance, while his defensive miskick at the other end led to West Bromwich’s equaliser only two minutes after they had fallen behind to Christian Eriksen’s fine free-kick, which he curled in off the underside of the bar. Soldado had only half-chances but there was no Jermain Defoe to come on as a reinforcement; he is suffering from a hamstring strain.
Although Eriksen and Lewis Holtby should be a perfect mix of craft plus vigour, they will often be outnumbered in midfield, as they were by Albion’s 3-5-1-1 formation. Without a defensive midfielder, Spurs allowed the visitors possession and chances in an open first half before it tightened up later on. Albion were happy by that time to take a point after losing four of their last five and with a visit to fellow strugglers West Ham to come tomorrow lunchtime. The caretaker manager, Keith Downing, feels that is too soon, calling it “ludicrous” to have to play twice in under 48 hours.
By then Albion could be closer to appointing Pepe Mel, the former Betis and Rayo Vallecano coach, as their successor to Steve Clarke. The 50-year-old Spaniard will have further talks with the club today. Asked if an appointment was imminent, Downing said: “I hope so for the players’ sake. But it has to be right, as the last two or three have been. It is ongoing.”
When studying the tape of this game the new man will admire the performance of Albion’s captain, Jonas Olsson, who held the defence together and even stabbed home his team’s goal a couple of minutes after being laid out by a fierce Gylfi Sigurdsson shot.
James Morrison also went close for Albion, Hugo Lloris saving the effort smartly as Michael Dawson misjudged the offside trap. Spurs mustered 20 attempts on goal , but few troubled Ben Foster.