Divorce is inevitable
Tim Sherwood's honeymoon period is over. Divorce is inevitable. The pre-nuptials set by Daniel Levy, unforgiving and merciless. If you're crazy enough to get down on one knee for Tottenham Hotspur then it's your own fault when it all ends in tragedy. Another shotgun wedding destined for failure. Don't be shy, go ahead and kiss the bride. She's collapsed on the ground. The kiss required is the kiss of life. Sherwood with the first aid. He'll need to quickly move onto CPR to get us breathing again. It's all got a bit messy at the reception and I need another drink.
I'm not knee-jerking here. I'm a patient football supporter, a rare breed often accused of sitting on the fence or not taking a side when all I do is attempt to retain some balance and let the rest of you fight it out. I've had another epiphany found at the bottle of 40% dark rum and it wasn't one I enjoyed (not the rum, the epiphany).
Sherwood's first call to action when he took the role as coach was to simplify it all. Uncomplicate the laborious methodology of AVB. It worked proving if you have quality players you can play and win games with more freedom to express. Which is probably more of a testament to the fact we have some very good players in the squad and if they just play football we're half way there. But half-measures are not enough unless we want to be subjected to watching others take the spoils of war.
It's far too early to expect anything more than this. But then what are your expectations?
After the £100M spent in the summer I'd wager they're high. He's playing it safe is Tim. Too safe. We should appreciate we've gone from a broken philosophy of football and returned to the basics, no fault of his own (unless you wish to flirt with conspiracy theories that Sherwood engineered his rise to the throne of swords situated in the dugout).
We struggled to create an identity under Andre Villas-Boas. Not sure we've quite got one under Sherwood. Yet. We're going to find out if he's capable of more, not in five games but in all of the ones that remain from now till the end of the season. If he wins the next three on the bounce does everyone baying for blood and heads on spikes disappear back into the shadows until the next disappointment? Or do we deflect and look up at the other throne, the one made out of money, situated in the directors box?
If you expect Champions League qualification, then the expectancy will stress you out even more. This goes beyond Sherwood and even this seasons events. It's a tipping point that has found itself amplified when compared to the momentum achieved in the past couple of seasons and how it's all been vanquished in the blink of a summer. Nobody wants to wait to see if it's momentary or not. Nobody that gave AVB the benefit of the doubt wants to retain similar patience with our current predicament because we're all fed up with having to wait and see. Always waiting, never seeing.
Sherwood is as stubborn and committed to his ideals as AVB was to his own. There was no tactical substitutions in the game against Hull City until one was forced upon him. There was no traditional holding midfielder. He remains committed to the inexperienced Nabil Bentaleb, who for the most part has impressed. There was neat football but not enough of it and no killer instinct. Hull City out done us with route one football. There was also a lack of zest and zip, seen twice before when we failed against Arsenal in the cup and the City mauling.
Is he doing as good as he can with what he's got? Is he playing low risk football because he knows the quality will win us most of the game but probably not the games that matter most? Is damage limitation not enough or is it damaging to limit that risk when surely there is nothing to lose now? Or maybe there is everything to lose. Sherwood doesn't want to lose his job. We don't want to surrender the little momentum we have left. Daniel Levy and ENIC would really like those naming rights which might be forthcoming with Champions League.
He's got us playing with more conviction (up until the last two games), we're more open in attack (and unfortunately in defence), but there isn't anything exceptional about it. Is it early days? Are early days affordable in modern footballing culture? Is the fact he appears to be interim damning us to another transition come the summer? Some fans losing patience with our chairman and are targeting Tim with similar disdain.
This season is pretty much a write off even though we could still be there or thereabouts if we beat Everton. That wonderful paradox has remained the underlining narrative throughout all the non-crisis pain and suffering we've endured/exaggerated. It looks worse than it does because we all know we should be doing so much better. But being average and still in touch makes a mockery of whatever it is we're meant to be mocking.
The problem isn't Sherwood or his lack of experience or the fact that perhaps we need to wait until the end of the season to judge him unequivocally. The problem is the lack of any genuine plan from the chairman. As fans we have a right to question and disagree and demand something that unites all rather than fragment the fanbase. Daniel Levy doesn't allow for continuity on the pitch. Everyone he appoints walks the plank. He's a captain of a ship with no compass. Everything back on land is rosy. He's ever present, allowing him himself the virtue of breaking a bottle on a maiden voyage which sets sail to replace the one before that sank.