The Chaos Theory
A summer’s upheaval is almost upon us with Tottenham Hotspur fans nervously awaiting our beloved chairman Daniel Levy to appoint another new coach. There's a reason they're given short term contracts. Never mind the Gillet it's all about the guillotine.
There's one outstanding trend that stands out in amongst all the arrivals and departures that has a direct correlation to our progression in recent years. Actually, it's not a trend. It's more akin to a black hole. You think everything is about to be sucked in and vanquished forever but turns out there's another universe at the other end that you fall into. The light disappears but unexpectedly returns.
This progress, these moments of contention, come into existence thanks to chaos rather than calculated decision making. It's okay, we won't require the services of Neil deGrasse Tyson to explain the science behind the theory. Any one of us can theorise the obvious.
Supporting Spurs feels like drifting in the great expanse of the cosmos, beautiful stars and constellations all around you - none of which are within touching distance.
Martin Jol replaced a lost and confused Jacques Santini, a contingency plan waiting to happen. In the aftermath of the Juande Ramos debacle, we shocked one and all by bringing in Harry Redknapp. Levy made it clear that Redknapp had been discussed in the past, alluding to the fact this was not an interim solution to our infamous two points from eight games predicament.
What followed was unexpected. We went from strength to strength and even claimed that season of adventure with the elite in the Champions League. Something Jol might have achieved if it wasn’t for lasagne (or more likely a virus that knocked out half the team and left the ones that played puking over the Upton Park pitch). Redknapp's free flowing unrestricted 'players over tactics' football was practically revolutionary in an era of overly complex slow brooding strategies that sucked the life out of the entertainment factor.
Chaos led to tangible progress.
Then again, everything we do is chaotic, so does it even matter who gets appointed?
Redknapp hit the wall when opponents wised up and there was no Eureka moment with applying his team with an extra dimension to break down the ultra-defensive. In addition, his transfer ethic was the polar opposite of the model Daniel Levy wanted to instil.
There was no chaos with the sacking. We got treated to some of those shrewd calculations and replaced Harry with a forward thinking manager. Commonly referred to as a foreigner.
Andre Villas-Boas was a risk because of his Chelsea experience. Due to his sacking he was relatively cheap as no compensation was required (well, not until he mutually agreed to leave the club). His time at Spurs fractured by his own tactical stubbornness along with the distance between him, Levy and Franco Baldini leaving the young coach broken towards the end with rumours of alienation with his back-room staff. There was plenty of positives during his tenure. The desire and spirit, the form away from home, the structure of roles and responsibilities within the team. It was however too pragmatic, too rigid and there was a lack of noticeable zest especially in home games. The man with the alleged extra dimension appeared to be stuck in a singularity.
I was perpetually expecting the second phase of enlightenment to kick in, with the fabled aggressive counter-attacking football touted in the very early days of his appointment, but alas nothing. There was nothing to drool over, it was never forthcoming.
AVB played a system that didn't fit the players and refused to fit the system around the players. Begs the question why we would sanction a £100M spending spree and find ourselves with the inability to break free from the cocoon and metamorphosize.
Out of this mess we appoint Tim Sherwood.
Chaos returns. Sherwood more moth than butterfly but when he flutters his arms a Harry Kane occurs.
Sherwood got the job because of timing. You sack a manager mid-season you either have to replace them immediately with your 'long term' target or you prepare for doing just that in the summer – meaning you appoint an interim to cover the remaining months.
We couldn’t tap up a rival clubs manager domestically and any continental targets at the time were not viable options, again thanks to timing and their own commitments. Louis van Gaal and Frank der Boer the two prominent names mentioned at the time whilst Mauricio Pochettino and even Glenn Hoddle had been citied as other potentials.
Since then, it’s never been clear if the 18 month contract given to Sherwood was for financial reasons or ego. Sherwood was very vocal before he was officially given the job, stating he wanted it full time and not as a caretaker. His own tenure began well but then we suffered a multitude of cup defeats and more thrashings and error-prone self-destructs against top tier opposition. Add to this his never-ending stream of conciousness relayed for all of us to hear at any given press conference as he attempts to project himself as someone that is in complete control and knows what he’s doing.
Tim projects himself as the football manager. I've previously compared him to a human clone that has had his life artificially accelerated from birth, from a baby to the age of thirty, and without ever having stepped out of the tube he was created in, is then pushed into a society and expected to interact without suspicion.
In amongst all of this, he’s suggested he wont be at Spurs in his current capacity beyond the summer and yet post-Stoke away he’s having a pop at coaches that have subtly hinted an interest in his job. It’s unclear if he knows whether he's definitely staying or going so it’s equally uncertain for us. So much so, that I’m beginning to suspect that if Spurs can’t find a big name manager they might opt to keep Tim.
Is that too much chaos for this universe to absorb before collapsing in on itself?
Such an eventuality would be a step back. Sherwood has more cons than pros -
Lack of experience with first team football in the Premier League
Lack of experience dealing with first team footballers
No evidence of being able to out think 'top four' opposition
No identifiable style
No defining evidence that he can improve average players or good players out of form
Far too public and self-preservational with self image
Not displaying qualities of assured man-managment (i.e. alienation of players)
Lacks the statue and respect that the THFC brand desires (in theory) to retain and gel current and prospective players
We need an appointment that ticks all the above boxes and also someone that will seek to take advantage of any academy potential that can be developed into first teamers - this being one of the pros for Sherwood thanks to his prior job placement within the club.
Some of the above traits might be a consequence of the uncertainty at the club, forcing this insane fast-tracking that has engulfed Tim (or maybe he just has a big mouth that he can't shut up).
Why is there always a massive disconnect with the coach and what we think the chairman is thinking?
There's always an apparent mystery that suggests the coach never knows what the board are planning to do. Astonishing incompetence or is this another illusion of circumstance? If you don't take statements at face value then what Sherwood states is nothing more then deflection and agenda driven drivel. In other words, it's clear within the club what will happen next but as Tim is the only spokesperson we ever get to hear, he can perpetuate any sound-bite that fits the moment. His moment. Not representative of the club. The club being the dark matter in this analogical universe.
One of two things will most likely play out.
1) We appoint someone with quantifiable experience from within the Premier League or with prior tenure (David Moyes, Rafa Benitez, Fabio Capello)
2) We appoint someone with less experience within the Premier League (Mauricio Pochettino) which could also include a continental appointment like Frank der Boer.
I can't see the complaints and the disgruntlements subsiding as both sets of choices raise questions of doubt. Moyes for his lack of adventure and his overly pragmatic outlook is more suited to a club that wishes to distribute opposition play rather than create a lasting impression of style. Benitez would not be popular with some of us because of reasons beyond tactical presentation and astuteness relating to player development. Capello's club record is stupendously good but his England failure at national level might not sit well with those that want flair and expression over yet another coach that will play controlled football.
Pochettino is a risk simply because he's new and is no different to Andre Villas-Boas in terms of risk. But much like Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez, the upgrade on the club they are managing can be uplifting for all concerned. Questionable however if a single season at Southampton is enough to warrant that risk.
Frank de Boer will (might) arrive from Ajax and the comparative ease of that league but with a keen eye on youth development, which will tie in nicely with the academy and the money the club obviously wants to make from producing talented players that could be sold on for profit. The non-cynical approach would be that producing our very own players can birth a new generation of stars meaning we are not reliant on importing expensive commodities.
Any given appointment will be risky. As we've tried every ilk of coach, we can only back the next man in. Sometimes the unexpected can surprise us all. Maybe this time the chaos theory can be disproved as the single means to progress.
There isn't a perfect appointment and the next move we make will be pivotal if we wish to claim lost momentum but only if there is a completely clear objective shared by the club to the supporters and echoed with unequivocally backing for the coach. The type of support we all wanted to play out with Andre Villas-Boas, something that in the end consumed the reality that it was destined to fail for a multitude of reasons. If the coach was/is the wrong appointment - regardless of the politics ongoing behind closed doors - then fair enough, we have to cut our losses for the good of the club and move on. Manchester United protected their brand when they sacked Moyes. Tottenham need someone to rejuvenate our own brand and add some colour to the undercurrent of darkness.
If failure reoccurs because the same institutionalised errors repeat themselves (with lack of transparency and confidence from the board) leading to fragmentation in the dugout and in the stands - the coach will never succeed. Talking up a blueprint by citing brand new training facilities and a prospective new stadium isn't the same thing as creating an actual blueprint where the football philosophy can be nurtured and matured. We've been waiting years for the new ground to be built yet never seem to exceed more than a handful of seasons for a coach to draft up that ethos we're always promised before said coach is replaced with another.
Or maybe we're never really been promised it and it's something we've made up and think we want.
We are all so lost in microscopic analysis and bloated coverage. We want the Tottenham way of playing attacking, entertaining football. We also want backbone and chess-like preparation and planning that's required for competing at the very highest level - a mixture that at times leads to sacrifice, sacrifice that we don't always enjoy or have the patience to see out.
One step at a time. I'd just like to see us achieve rather than underachieve.
I'm beginning to believe whether it's from chaos or thoughtful decision making, we're going to have to luck out to tick all the boxes for that best of both worlds mixture.