Ahead of Antonio Conte’s imminent announcement as Spurs manager, MyBettingSites caught up with former Tottenham and Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood. The pundit shared his thoughts on Nuno’s strange appointment, the success Conte will bring, and Spurs’ expectations moving forwards.
Sherwood felt as though the appointment of Nuno Espirito Santo was ‘strange’, with the former Spurs boss never being provided with a blueprint, which is a statement that plenty of the club’s supporters are likely to agree with.
“A lot of people in hindsight will say Nuno wasn’t the right appointment. But then again José Mourinho wasn’t the right appointment, based on what Daniel levy had said that Tottenham would get back to the old values of open attacking football.
“Nuno was never provided with that blueprint. He (Nuno) did a tremendous job at Wolves where he played a very pragmatic style of counter-attacking football, and that’s fine. I’m not criticising Nuno’s style, but this is what the chairman promised everyone when Jose Mourinho left in the summer.
“Paratici was instrumental in the appointment of Nuno as manager, as Director of Football, and he had only been in the job less than a month when the appointment was made. At that point, Paratici should have said that Nuno is not the man for this style, it was a strange appointment.”
Sherwood then went on to state that elite managers can’t always guarantee success, with luck being one of the main reasons why some succeed at top clubs.
“There are no guarantees with any manager in football, José Mourinho is one of the most qualified managers in world football. You can have managers with personality and experience to manage huge football clubs like José and Zidane, but it doesn’t necessarily work out for them. Often it is luck whether they are a good fit.
“Anyone that knows football knows that after listening to the statement from Daniel Levy regarding attacking football, Nuno was not the right for them. But, it doesn’t matter how you play, if you get results. Spurs started well with a great result against Manchester City, winning the opening three League games.
“José (Mourinho) was lucky there were no fans at the games, because they weren’t happy with the style. As soon as they were beaten by Liverpool, the wheels started to come off and many of the fans turned.”
One man that has had plenty of say at Tottenham Hotspur is Daniel Levy, and Sherwood called on someone to help Levy with some of his decision-making on footballing matters.
“I have been around Tottenham Hotspur for a long time now and I know the club. The fans want a prominent attacking style. Maybe Levy thought coming to Tottenham with better players that Nuno would get more out of Spurs.
“That’s up to Paratici to tell him that, he is the football man and Daniel Levy is the business man. If I had a business, I would want Levy to run it for me! But with football, he is always going to need some help in his decision-making.”
Brighton & Hove Albion boss Graham Potter was linked with the job at Tottenham, although a move never materialised for one reason or another. Sherwood issued his thoughts on the job that Potter has done with the Seagulls, and he was clearly impressed with that he’s seen so far from the Englishman.
“There are plenty of decent English managers around. Graham Potter has done a fantastic job [at Brighton] and plays a brilliant brand of football. He is clearly a training ground manager who works tirelessly on his team [and the way they play]. You only have to look at the contrast at Brighton from the previous manager, Chris Hughton, and his team that played counter-attacking football, compared to now, with a manager who wants to dominate and control football games. Graham Potter does that very effectively.
“We don’t know if he (Graham Potter) has or hasn’t been approached by Tottenham Hotspur [to replace Nuno]. Even if he has been, perhaps he may feel plenty of time ahead of him, and he’d rather continue with his current project.”
Antonio Conte could be appointed as Espirito Santo’s replacement, and Sherwood is confident that Conte can have a positive impact with Tottenham moving forwards, as he predicted success for his former club if the Italian was to take charge.
“I don’t know Antonio Conte personally but he has a reputation, he is demanding and he expects everyone at a football club to be accountable. That is not a terrible thing, in fact it’s a very good thing. He is not an Arsene Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson-type manager that will come in for an extended period. If they are talking about 18 months to two years, I can see that it could suit both Conte and Tottenham Hotspur.
“One thing he [Conte] guarantees you is that experience of winning. His relationship with Daniel Levy will be great, as long as the team is winning, I’m sure he would demand some signings though. Most of the clubs he has managed have spent money, then Conte has been expected to uphold his end of the bargain – to deliver trophies. There is nothing Tottenham want more at this moment in time than to win a trophy.”
Spurs are competing in the Europa Conference League at the moment, and Sherwood felt as though winning that competition is the best route for his former side to take if they’re to qualify for the Europa League next season, with places inside the top-six being fiercely competitive in the Premier League.
“If Spurs bring in Antonio Conte, I can see them winning a trophy this season. The Europa Conference League is there for the taking, the only other real competition is Roma. Tottenham have plenty of work to do in that competition, and aren’t sitting pretty. But, they have more than enough with the fixtures coming up to field a strong side and get the points to progress.
“With the right man in charge, they will win it, if they really go for it. They shouldn’t rest players, it is an easier route into the Europa League for them than their league position will be.
“Tottenham are a huge club with great facilities and talented players, and are only five points off of the top four. Champions League football is within touching distance if they put a run of results together. Looking at their fixtures, they have some great ones coming up. It is the perfect time for someone to come in with big games on the horizon, including the quarter-final against West Ham in the Carabao Cup who are flying high too.
“Things turned sour for Nuno very quickly. As a London team playing in London derbies, if you have not won one out of four it gets emotional for the fans. Even more so when you get beat convincingly in a North London derby as they were against Arsenal. The final straw was obviously losing to a manager that was under pressure in Ole Gunnar Solskjær. It was informally billed as ‘El-Sackico’ and it turned out to be just that. Manchester United got the win and unfortunately, Nuno has paid the price.”
With Conte being linked with the Spurs job, he could be the manager they need to take the club to the next level, and Sherwood issued an insight into what the former Chelsea boss would bring to Spurs if he was to be appointed at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the near future.
“Antonio Conte is very, very demanding. He (Conte) wants everyone to be accountable. That is what I like about Antonio Conte, he doesn’t care who likes him. He’s not there to be anyone’s friend, he is there to win. He is the perfect fit for Tottenham, he really is. He has charisma, looks the part, and certainly produces results, but he will of course not have the money to spend until January.
“Tottenham are going to back him in the transfer window if he does come in, otherwise they wouldn’t have brought him in to take the job. He has got enough to win the Carabao cup now that Man City are out, it’s there for the taking.. There are two trophies there for Spurs, and I know they are not the trophies the fans want long-term, but it is a start. They have not won a trophy for so long and he is a proven winner.”
Spurs have struggled for momentum at times in recent seasons, and Sherwood was keen to see the club win less reputable competitions such as the Carabao Cup, which could then lead on to winning bigger competitions such as the Premier League, and FA Cup in the future.
“Winning one of the so-called ‘smaller competitions’ can have a knock-on effect for Spurs. Sometimes you need low hanging fruit and take what is there. The Europa Conference League is in its first season and it is full of teams far below the level of Spurs.
“Roma are in the competition, and José Mourinho’s side took a hefty beating against Bodo/Glimt after putting the reserves out, but Spurs must win that competition.
“There’s four or five teams fighting for fifth and sixth place, and the easiest route into the Europa League is likely going to be to win this competition.
“They’d kill two birds with one stone; picking up a trophy and qualifying for the Europa League next season.
“Now Man City are out of the Carabao cup, it is wide open. The Tottenham fans want to be winning, qualifying for the Champions League again and possibly winning the Premier League in the future, but that’s a pipe dream at the moment. They want to win the FA Cup too, but it’s also not too long ago, Tottenham Hotspur were in the final of the Champions League.”
Harry Kane hasn’t been at his best this season, which has led to questions over the reasoning behind his goal droughts. Sherwood issued his thoughts on the subject, and felt as though the team have to provide the England international with better service, before stating that Espirito Santo wasn’t getting the best out of Kane with his tactics.
Kane has been linked with a move away from Spurs, and Betfair is offering odds of 4/1 for him to head to Manchester United this summer. Odds correct as of Tuesday 24th May 2022.
“Harry Kane does not lack interest, I know him very well. It’s just the style that is being played does not suit him, he cannot do it on his own and he doesn’t have a magic wand.
“Kane is an honest player and would admit that he has not been on top form, but he also needs some service and some support. Under Nuno, Spurs were not passing the ball forward early enough and he was having to come deep to find the ball.
“I’m not making excuses for him, but those are the facts. He has hardly had any chances to score and barely had any touches in the opposition box because the team was so deep behind him. You must get the best out of your best players and Nuno certainly was not getting the best out of Harry Kane, who alongside Heung Min Son are the best players at Tottenham.”
Another club that has had fans voicing their concerns over the managerial situation is Manchester United, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under increasing pressure, after an inconsistent run of results recently at Old Trafford.
Sherwood felt as though Manchester United would have already made a change in management before it got to this point, which is a claim that plenty of the Old Trafford faithful are likely to agree with.
“If Manchester United were looking to change their manager, then Conte would be in the frame, but I do not believe that they are.
“If you’ve been at Manchester United for three years and haven’t won a trophy but you’re still in the job, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s obviously there for the long long haul. If they were going to make a change, they would have made it long ago. This is a big week for them with Atalanta in the Champions League and then Man City at the weekend. If they lose, the pressure will come on him again.
“I believe that they’re not in the market for a new boss, and whether they should or shouldn’t be is not for me to say, time will tell. They’ve given him the tools to work with now, and fans can’t blame Ed Woodward anymore. Ole and the players must take responsibility. If they’re not blaming Ole, they’re blaming Cristiano Ronaldo, and that boy is a superstar. If they give him the chance to score, he will continue to, as he proved at the weekend. He can take criticism. They’ve given Ole players like Sancho and Varane too.
“Ole knows that if he does not win this season, he’s going to come under fire. The United board are clearly not ready to push the button. If they wanted to do that, they would have done so already.”
Sherwood concluded his thoughts on Tottenham, by claiming that his former club shouldn’t readjust their expectations anytime soon, and keep their focus on the top-four, as well as aiming to deliver their supporters trophies.
“Tottenham do not need to readjust their expectations; they should shoot for the stars. They were in the Champions League final under Pochettino not too long ago and were building nicely.
“It is a misconception that they (Tottenham) do not invest. If you look at the money Daniel Levy and Tottenham have spent, the issue is how they have spent the money. Recruitment has been poor, they don’t spend in the right areas, and they haven’t appointed the right managers over the last few years to get the best out of the individuals they have.
“But, if they get the correct man in charge, there will be some players who have been performing poorly who will suddenly be unrecognisable.
“They should be fighting around the top four. The Spurs fans know that Liverpool are so good, Manchester City are fantastic, and Tuchel’s done a brilliant job since taking over from Lampard at Chelsea. Manchester United are stumbling a bit, but they are in the fight.
“Brendan Rodgers and Leicester have overachieved with his group of players. Their first eleven are good to take on anyone, but their squad doesn’t have a massive amount of quality. That is good management, getting the best out of the group of players you have.
“Daniel Levy could look at managers like Graham Potter, who is also overachieving. This puts pressure on the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United when other, so-called ‘smaller’ teams have spent less money but are achieving more. That is not the fault of the Spurs fans, and they are right to aim high.
“If Spurs make the correct appointment now, they are only five points off the top four still in three competitions that they could have a chance of winning.”