The Tottenham Hotspur FC, despite an excellent outcome in Sunday’s match for Tim Sherwood’s Premier League debut, were courting Dutch National Team manager, Louis van Gaal, for their current vacancy as late as this morning. It had been reported that discussions were in progress between Daniel Levy and van Gaal even as Sherwood was leading the Spurs to Sunday’s victory. Implications made in statements to Neil Ashton and Matt Barlow from the Daily Mail point toward the deal being all but announced. He had made no secret of his desire to work in the Premier League, and according to reports made on NBC Sports, Levy was acting “infatuated” with the prospect of landing van Gaal for Tottenham.
Levy was smart enough to consider his options before making the final decision, however untested at this level, Sherwood still makes an excellent case for being the man for the job. It is a departure from Premier League convention to choose in favor of Sherwood, but it is not the risk it appears to be on the surface. The storied van Gaal has victories in nearly every tournament in Europe, but Sherwood has already earned the respect of his players. The Tottenham Hotspur FC may have been courting its own downfall by deciding to go with Louis van Gaal.
The decision came down to a choice between organizational philosophies. When it comes down to it, selecting in favor of van Gaal represented a choice to follow a popular Premier League path to success. It has become a bit of a standard recipe to hire managers with a big-time international resume in order to attract top international players to the club. Banking on past success to be an indicator of future performance is certainly a proven, if safe, course of action.
Tottenham already has some world-class players on the squad. If there is one consistent criticism that was leveled against Andre Villas-Boas, it was his inability to get consistent results from a squad with such a wealth of talent. Sherwood has already demonstrated his ability to recognize and develop talent at the developmental level for Tottenham. In Sunday’s victory, he showed his ability to position the stars that are already on the team to the best advantage. The decision to reverse the call to sideline Emmanuel Adebayor alone demonstrates an insight that has had an immediate effect. It turned Roberto Soldado, who had all but been written off as ineffective, into a threat on the attack again. It allowed Christian Eriksen to bulwark defensive shortcomings and Gylfi Sigurdsson to operate as the true offensive midfielder he is.
He puts his players in position, and allows them to shine. He sounds more like a player than a coach when he is interviewed, and he gives credit to the players for their successes. He is not the flashy choice, but he is the kind of personality that a team will rally around. What’s more, he is the kind of manager that fans will relate to and rally around. A “people’s choice,” so to speak, his skill with recognizing and developing talent might prove effective without having to throw money at an international coach and the expensive players he attracts.
It was reported during the NBC Sports’ coverage of the Arsenal vs Chelsea game that Sherwood was offered the manager position until the end of next season. No reports have been made yet about the specifics of the deal, but the fact that the decision has been made is a vote of confidence in the players as much as in the manager. Given the potential shown to date, Levy and his Tottenham Hotspur FC will likely do better to stick with Sherwood instead of courting the chaos involved with bringing Louis van Gaal into the fold.
Commentary by Jim Malone