Tim Sherwood came back to bite Tottenham on Saturday afternoon, with his Aston Villa side travelling to White Hart Lane and recording a vital 1-0 victory over his former club. For Villa, this was a crucial win, and yet another indication that, despite his lack of experience, the dynamism that Sherwood has injected into this Villa outfit is having a key impact as the Midlands club looks to avoid relegation.
For Tottenham, this was a worrying result and an acutely embarrassing one, too. Spurs waved goodbye to Sherwood after the former Blackburn captain failed to guide the club to Champions League football last season. Two weeks later, Daniel Levy had lured Mauricio Pochettino from Southampton to replace him.
Despite a few teething problems, Pochettino’s new side grew into the season. At one point not so long ago, they were serious contenders for the top four.
Then something went wrong. A loss against Liverpool widened the gap between Spurs and the rest of the Champions League chasers, while a 3-0 decimation at Old Trafford looked to have made things more difficult; but the reality was that even after these losses, Tottenham were still in with a shout.
Then came the international break, and since they have returned things seem to have gone particularly sour. A dour draw at Burnley came at an inopportune time, while Saturday’s home loss to Villa was quite frankly disastrous.
The question must now be asked whether Spurs are actually any further along than they were under Sherwood. The manager narrowly missed out on taking the club to Champions League football; Pochettino looks like he’s going to miss out by a much larger margin. Sherwood got the team playing with attacking verve and vigour – even if it was far too cavalier at times – while Pochettino’s side looks to be running out of gas at a key point in the season.
Sherwood was sacked for failing to guide Spurs into the Champions League, and it is now clear that Pochettino will also fail to reach that benchmark. We might ponder the two scenarios, examine the similarities and wonder whether Daniel Levy will pull the trigger in the same ruthless way he has done so many times before.
The reality is that Sherwood was never Levy’s choice, and this no doubt afforded the former Spurs skipper less time. But the Tottenham chairman is famously impatient – the list of P45s that he’s handed out in the last 12 years is evidence of that – and it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to forsee Pochettino being the latest victim of Levy’s kneejerk policy.
One thing’s for sure, this collapse hasn’t made it easy for Levy to have confidence in the Argentine. Whether there’s any confidence at all, we’ll find out at the end of the season. For Spurs fans, yet another season in the doldrums. Will anyone pay for that? Let’s wait and see.