As Tottenham fought gallantly in Lisbon, coming close to equalling Benfica's advantage in their Europa League tie, the players who were publicly criticized by manager Tim Sherwood proved the nutritional value of derision-filled outburst at Stamford Bridge . No harm was inflicted, only some much-needed motivation injected.
Tottenham were resoundingly beaten by Chelsea, prompting Sherwood to lambast his players' "gutless" performances and their frustrating "capitulation" as their shocking errors began a dismal week, concluding in an uninspiring defeat to Benfica. Yet, Sherwood, following two hugely detrimental league defeats to Chelsea and Arsenal, finds his future at White Hart Lane cast into doubt. Yes, Spurs will inevitably miss out on the Champions League for another year, but Sherwood merits supportive time to force his side into Europe's elite.
Tottenham, under Sherwood's stewardship, have only tasted defeat on four occasions from his nineteen Premier League games in charge. To envisage a manager's future imprudently thrown into doubt after lossess to three technically adept sides, two of which are genuine title contenders, shows the unstable state of football management. Sackings are common-place, patience, unfortunately, is not.
Sherwood's promising stats record is not the only reason to why the former Premier League champion should be granted time. As Arsene Wenger stated, the need for home-grown coaches in the Premier League is increasingly high. While the Football Association may spend £105m on the construction of St George's Park, where they hope to nurture the next English Mourinho and Guardiola, the Premier League must firstly hang onto its remaining English managerial contingent as a building block.
Owners are frequently, and imprudently, hasty in their dismals, hungry for success and consequently financial gains. Sherwood accepted his side were in dark days, the part and parcel of football, but enduring club figureheads are a rarity in the modern game. Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has often verified his status as an irritable owner with a propensity to fire coaches following two or three unacceptable defeats, further increasing the uncertainty surrounding Sherwood's future.
Sherwood is well aware that success at Tottenham is not sack-proof. Harry Redknapp, who led Spurs to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, was shorn of assurances over his future and subsequently sacked. Having taken the reign from Juande Ramos, with Spurs struggling at the foot of the Premier League table in October 2008, Redknapp guided Spurs to a fourth place finish in 2009-2010 with a glorious European campaign their reward. And despite finishing fourth the following season, Chelsea's triumph over Bayern Munich ensured the Blues completed the list of English teams in next season's edition.
Sherwood will not force Spurs into the Champions League this campaign and with European qualification seemingly the least Levy expects, Sherwood's future is looking extensively uncertain.
The various names flying around to replace Sherwood, most prominently Louis Van Gaal, do not aid the 45 year-old's cause. The Spurs boss accused the Netherlands manager of shouting for his job, his comments prompted by the Dutchman's recent claims of his desire to manage in England after announcing his departure at the World Cup's consummation. If there is any veracity behind the relentless rumours, then Sherwood is left with little time to win back Levy's backing. It starts with the hosting of Southampton, against the team in which he first faced as officially head coach.
The Saints will inevitably provide Spurs with an examination of character and quality. Following three successive defeats, another on Sunday afternoon would be purgatory and vastly detrimental for Sherwood. In short, it is a must-win game.