Tottenham Hotspur have given the inexperienced Tim Sherwood the chance to stamp his mark on the ambitious London club by naming him on Monday as head coach until the end of next season with their sights on the top four.
The Premier League club have promoted their former midfield player from his role as youth development manager to replace Andre Villas-Boas, 36, exactly one week after the Portuguese coach was sacked following a humiliating 5-0 home loss to Liverpool.
“We were extremely reluctant to make a change mid-season, but felt we had to do so in the club’s best interests,” chairman Daniel Levy said on the club’s Web site.
“We have a great squad and we owe them a head coach who will bring out the best in them, and allow them to flourish and enjoy a strong, exciting finish to the season,” Levy said.
“We are in the fortunate position of having within our club a talented coach in Tim Sherwood. We believe Tim has both the knowledge and the drive to take the squad forward,” the chairman added.
A technically highly-rated coach, the 44-year-old Sherwood won the Premier League as the captain of the Blackburn Rovers in 1995 before joining Spurs four years later and staying until 2003, and returning five years later to join the coaching staff.
Sherwood was brought back to the club by former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, who this week said: “Let’s hope Tim can get the job, he has great knowledge of the game. They have got a boy on their books who knows the game inside out.”
Sherwood takes over a team on which Spurs spent more than the US$137.07 million they got for selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid in the close-season on internationals like Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen.
Levy is known to be short on patience, having sacked seven managers during his tenure at White Hart Lane, but Sherwood will be hoping that his aggressive brand of soccer can deliver a top-four finish and a place in next season’s Champions League.
That was the minimum requirement that eluded Villas-Boas, with the former Chelsea and Porto manager losing his job despite taking Spurs to their highest Premier League points tally last term because they still came fifth and missed out on Europe’s top table.
The Portuguese manager, who took over in July last year, had been under pressure after a 6-0 thrashing at Manchester City last month following a 3-0 home reverse by West Ham United, who again won at White Hart Lane in the English League Cup quarter-finals last week.
The disappointing 2-1 Cup exit was Sherwood’s first game as interim head coach, but he engineered a 3-2 win at Southampton on Sunday to leave Tottenham seventh in the Premier League standings, six points off leaders Liverpool and north London rivals Arsenal.
That result helped his claims to be given the top job on a permanent basis and Sherwood, a combative midfielder who played nearly 100 games for the club before joining Portsmouth, now has a chance to show what he can do in his first job as head coach.
After Spurs scored three league goals for the first time this season at Southampton, Sherwood said: “I like to set teams up like that [to attack]. There are no rules, there are different ways to win a football match. You have to do what you believe.”
His former Tottenham teammates, Les Ferdinand and Steffen Freund, plus Chris Ramsey, are in a new first-team coaching setup which should find favor with the club’s demanding supporters, who grew frustrated with the negative tactics adopted by Villas-Boas.