Emmanuel Adebayor’s new lease of life under Tim Sherwood has been well documented, but he’s not the only one that the new Spurs boss is getting the best out of. Tottenham’s 3-1 win away at Swansea was their 4th in a row and they are undefeated in the Premier League under the stewardship of Tim Sherwood (5 wins, 1 draw).
Sherwood’s first league game in charge was the 3-2 win away at Southampton. The game was Adebayor’s first start of the season and he marked it by scoring 2. Adebayor has started every league game under Sherwood, scoring 5 goals in his 6 starts, as many as Roberto Soldado has managed in 16 starts. He’s also provided 2 assists in the games and looks a new player under Sherwood.
Adebayor looks much more like the player he was at Arsenal and at times at City, confidence is so important for footballers, especially strikers, and what Sherwood seems to have done is give Adebayor a massive boost of confidence. He looks to be building the team around the Togo international and has made Adebayor his main man, it’s a tactic which is to date playing off extremely well.
Christian Eriksen is another player who has started every game under Sherwood. In this time he’s scored his first 3 goals for the club and has provided 2 assists. When Sherwood has deployed a 4-4-2, Eriksen has been utilised through the middle and also on the left. However, his best position is a number 10 role in behind the striker. From here he can have the greatest influence on the game, picking out passes to Adebayor and the other attacking talents that Spurs have.
Eriksen was good enough to be running the Ajax midfield and when you think about the history that entails, it demonstrates what a great player he can become. Especially when you consider that he is just 21 and has so much potential already. He’s the kind of player that David Moyes is lacking at United, he could have easily been their creative spark and they must be kicking themselves for not bidding for the player, given that he cost Spurs a meagre £11m.
Last season at Ajax, he created more chances than any other player in the Dutch Eredivisie (138), scored 10 goals and supplied 17 assists. When you look at those numbers it makes you wonder why AVB didn’t make more of the Dane, he’s already made more starts under Sherwood, and when you consider that Spurs were lacking creativity and a cutting edge under AVB it’s puzzling that he didn’t use Eriksen more. It’s understandable that Eriksen would take time to adjust to the rigours of the Premier League, so that may be why he’s taken time to really hit the ground running, or maybe it’s the confidence that Sherwood seems to have instilled in so many of his players.
Sherwood has had the advantage of being able to play a settled back 4 whilst he’s been in charge. He’s used the same defensive line on 5 occasions and the centre back partnership of Chiriches and Dawson on every occasion. Spurs have conceded just 5 goals in these games and Lloris has kept 2 clean sheets, having a settled back line will have certainly had something to do with that.
Chiriches in particular looks to be growing in to an assured centre back. Playing alongside the experienced Michael Dawson he looks settled and less error prone than when he first arrived.
The Romanian is averaging 2.3 interceptions per game, the most in the Spurs defence. He has the pace to complement Dawson and as a centre back pairing they looked extremely settled and play to each other’s strengths. It’ll be interesting to see if the youngster will keep his palce when Vertonghen and Kaboul return from injury, but if he keeps playing in this way, it’ll be hard to leave him out.
This is something which seems apparent from Sherwood’s management style, he is willing to give players a chance, particularly young players. The chance to gain Premier League experience is vital if these players are to become top class. It’s certainly an advantage Sherwood has over an outside hire, having worked within the club as a coach he knows the players, especially the young players and when you consider the strength of Spurs’ youth system these are players who will be key in the future.
A prime example of this is Nabil Bentaleb. The 19 year old centre midfielder looks adept and mature beyond his years. He has more than held his own in the Premier League and looks a bright prospect, apparently the FA are keen to convince him to play for England as he has represented France at Under 19 level. He has started the last 2 games in the league for Spurs, following an impressive display in the FA cup defeat to Arsenal.
Against Palace he played 107 passes, the most in the team and had a pass accuracy of 93%, he also had 120 touches of the ball (the most), his defensive contribution was clear as well, making 4 tackles and 2 interceptions. He is clearly not just a passenger and is having a positive impact on the team. Against Swansea he continued in a similar fashion, with 91% pass accuracy, playing 58 passes (the most), the decrease in the number of passes is due to the possession dominated style of football Swansea play, whereas Spurs dominated the game against Palace. Despite having less of the ball, he made a staggering 10 tackles in the game, showing he’s more than just good on the ball.
Bentaleb will serve as a prime example for young Spurs players, play well and you’ll continue to get chances in the team. I really like this aspect of Sherwood’s management style; he is basing his selections on performances rather than reputations. Meaning the players who get picked are those are playing and training well, this must inspire confidence in players, which is so important in the modern game.
Whatever he lacks as a tactician Sherwood more than makes up for with his man management techniques, he’s more akin to Harry Redknapp than AVB, and given the size and quality of the Spurs squad, maybe that’s what they need right now.
Next up for Spurs, it’s the visit of City to White Hart Lane and they’ll be looking to exact some revenge for their 6-0 drubbing at the Etihad. Whether or not they will be able to get a result will depend somewhat on the performances of the likes of Adebayor and Eriksen. I fear it might just be a challenge too big too soon.