December, 2015: The Keys Residence, Doha
It’s a warm winter’s day in Qatar. At the Keys Residence, host Richard has gone inside to spend an hour doing some public relations work on Twitter, leaving Tim alone by the pool to unwind. Our hero’s thoughts, as they so often do, turn to his time at Tottenham…
If I could pick two words to describe my thoughts on Tottenham, it would be “pride” and “anger”.
Pride, at the incredible work that I did there. Anger, that I wasn’t given the chance to bring my vision to fruition.
My successor, Mauricio Pochettino, has been receiving a huge amount of praise lately. I’ve got nothing against Pochy, he was a proper player in his day. And I’m pleased that he is continuing to give so many of the kids I brought through a chance.
But some of the praise has been a bit overboard in my view. You’d think Spurs were top of the league with some of the things people are saying about them. People talk a lot about stats these days, but in my view, there is only one stat that matters: your last result.
Last time I checked, Spurs were fifth in the Premier League. Where were they last season? Fifth. That doesn’t sound like progress to me. When I took over, the club was seventh, and I lifted them to sixth. That is progress.
Pochy is getting praised for make Spurs “hard to beat”. That’s all well and good, but I don’t need an analyst to tell me that there’s three points for a win and only one point for a draw. His win percentage was 50 percent last season, and is only 40 percent this season. Mine was 59 percent. You can’t argue with that.
Like many proud Englishmen, I’ve been very impressed with Dele Alli this season. It was a great bit of business by Spurs, and credit must got to the head scout over there, Paul Mitchell. There’s not many traditional scouts like Mitchy left in the game these days, but he is reaping the rewards for braving the wind and rain at MK Stadium, week-in week-out, while the laptop brigade were inside with their lattes trying to spot the next Spanish wonderkid.
While we were preparing to go on air with BeIN Sport recently, Brendan Rodgers told me about how Liverpool blocked him from signing Dele a couple of years ago, even though Brenders just knew in his gut that this kid could be the next Stevie Gerrard.
I don’t like to brag, so I kept quiet, but I’d known about Dele for a long time. I remember back in my Blackburn days, when we were looking to replace Paul Warhurst in midfield, I identified Dele as a guy to watch. He’d only just been born, but I knew, even then, that he was going to be a proper player.
A lot rests on Harry Kane’s shoulders this season for Spurs. He’s come through the hard way, and I know he will always be grateful for the opportunities I gave him. Spurs have been incredibly lucky with injuries, and Pochy will be hoping his luck holds or he is going to have a real problem up front.
I don’t buy this nonsense that somehow Pochy and his team have made this Spurs team fitter and this means that there are fewer injuries as a result. These are professional footballers — they are all fit. It’s not like the old days when it was a bag of chips and a cigarette before the match and half a dozen pints after. You really think the Spurs players can run further than the Arsenal players? It’s just bad luck that Arsenal have lots of injuries. Some of the criticism coming at Arsene Wenger is bang out of order, in my view.
Spurs can’t go through the whole season with one striker. This talk about how some of the players are versatile is nonsense. I’m a big fan of Nacer Chadli, but you may as well put Kyle Walker in midfield for all the good it would do putting Chadders up top.
Because of this lack of strikers, I was very surprised to see Spurs allow Emmanuel Adebayor to leave on a free. This is a guy who has played for Real Madrid, and has banged in the goals for Arsenal and Man City. Are you telling me Spurs don’t need a player like that?
When I took over at Spurs, Ade was out of favour and out of form. But he is a confidence player. I told him just to go out there and play, and the goals started flowing. Forget systems or tactics, a striker’s only job is to score. And a manager’s job is to manage. If Pochy feels he can’t manage someone like Adebayor, who I admit can be a bit tricky but is world class on his day, then that raises questions about him in my book. It isn’t fair to put so much pressure on a young kid like Harry.
It’s coming up for two years since I was appointed manager of Spurs. A lot has happened since then, but it still feels like yesterday. I sometimes wonder, “would Tim Sherwood tell Tim Sherwood to do things differently?”
Hindsight is 20-20. All I’ll say it this. When I do something, I do it at 110 percent.
Would Tim Sherwood rather still be at Hotspur Way than Richard Keys’ house in Doha? Of course I would. But I’ll be back — I still believe in myself 200 percent. There’s always a need for people who really understand the game.
I need to stop here: someone named “Mike Rigg” is calling.
For more instalments of the Tim Sherwood diaries, and other random musings on Spurs, please follow me on Twitter.