Sherwood should ditch gung-ho approach at Saints

Posted by Dan Fitch

It’s Tim Sherwood’s second match in charge of Spurs, and the bad news is that it’s a tougher assignment than the first.

We don’t know yet if this is to be the second match of a short or long reign, but if Sherwood -- who has said he wants the job full-time -- doesn’t start delivering results quickly, then the smart money will be on the former.

Sunday’s match sees Sherwood pitted against Southampton and Mauricio Pochettino -- a man among the rumoured candidates to take over at Tottenham .

It will be a real test of Sherwood’s mettle. His switch to 4-4-2 in his first game made sense. A back-to-basics approach seemed wise after the dissappointments of recent weeks. At home, against a poor West Ham team, Sherwood was within his rights to expect his side to be able to be able to pin back the Hammers’ greater midfield numbers and win the game.

Instead, they squandered their chances and faded as the match wore on. The team shot too quickly out of the blocks and having been trained with Andre Villas-Boas’ possession-based game in mind, didn’t have the legs to keep up the pace.

After the match, Sherwood complained that the team weren’t fit enough to comply with his gung-ho tactics. That’s a poor excuse. Sherwood would have surely known how fit the players were. He is the club’s ‘technical coordinator’, after all.

It would be a big gamble to take the same approach against Southampton. This is a side as fit -- if not fitter -- than any other team in the Premier League. In many ways they are the prototype for the type of football that Villas-Boas looked to deliver. Their high line and a quick, pressing midfield will try to make life tough for Spurs.

Of course, Sherwood could go with 4-4-2 again and the side could take their chances this time. He’d be mindful to remember why AVB has built up such an impressive away record over the past 18 months. His tactics might have stopped working at White Hart Lane, but on the road they’ve carried on bearing fruit.

It would be a safer bet to subtly adapt the side. Go with one up front and pack the midfield. In defence we should see a back four of Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Michael Dawson and Vlad Chiriches. Dawson has been a liability of late but it’s a reasonable bet that he’ll look a lot more reliable if the defence are not pushing quite such a high line.

Whatever Sherwood decides to do he’d better hope that it works. With the club currently a laughing stock and Daniel Levy under attack from the Tottenham fans, a man seen as the chairman’s ally is only going to be given the job if he starts winning games.

Right now Sherwood seems only marginally more popular with the Spurs supporters than George Graham was when he was given the job. Yet we football fans are nothing if not a fickle bunch. Start bringing home the bacon and our heads can be turned in the unlikeliest of directions.

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