Brighton, Norwich or West Brom: Where does Tim Sherwood fit best?
“I’ve seen wins, defeats and draws and I’ve seen a few tantrums – and the sack, which I didn’t want to see. Would I do anything different? Probably not,” said Tim Sherwood typically, when asked about his five-month tenure at Tottenham.
The salient point from his recent television interview is the 45-year-old wants a swift return to the dugout, and he has been linked with three interesting vacancies. One is at a club that did just enough to retain Premier League status, another was not so fortunate but counts itself among Sherwood’s old sides, and the third have suffered Championship play-off pain for the second season in succession.
Coral experts assess his options, what Sherwood can bring to these prospective teams and any issues he may have to address if put in charge.
West Bromwich Albion – 4/1
Second-favourite behind Dave Jones (at the time of writing) to take over at The Hawthorns from the departed Pepe Mel, Sherwood would inherit a squad that has three central defenders over the age of 30 in it.
While Diego Lugano, Gareth McAuley and Jonas Olsson bring a wealth of experience to Albion, the Baggies’ backline kept just seven clean sheets in 2013/14. Defence and attack both need freshening up as forwards Thievy Bifouma and Matej Vydra are returning to their parent clubs.
Sherwood would also have to decide whether to exercise buying options on Macedonian left back Goran Popov (Dynamo Kiev), Marseille midfielder Morgan Amalfitano and Manchester City winger Scott Sinclair.
What of the futures of five out of contract West Brom players? This list includes club captain Chris Brunt, right backs Billy Jones and Steven Reid, veteran Hungarian midfielder Zoltan Gera and defender Liam Ridgewell.
In short, a great deal of work needs to be done at the West Midlands outfit and, because Albion chairman Jeremy Peace has developed an itchy trigger finger in recent years, Sherwood should steer clear of this job.
Norwich City – 8/1
Although he played for the Canaries between 1989 and 1992, there is another former Carrow Road favourite that looks much more likely to be in the East Anglian outfit’s dugout than Sherwood. Malky Mackay, sacked by Cardiff City over the Christmas period, is odds-on at 4/6 to take over at the recently relegated club.
The Canaries’ cutting edge was markedly absent as a three-year stay in the Premier League came to an end under managerial novice Neil Adams. Delia Smith and other Norwich shareholders may be wary of appointing another inexperienced boss like Sherwood.
If they do take a punt on him, then addressing those issues in attack is top priority. Battering ram centre forward Grant Holt was never properly replaced, so Sherwood should be looking for a proven Championship goal-scorer to ensure the Canaries challenge for promotion at the first time of asking.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel might be better off at being sold for a loss, but retaining Gary Hooper, so prolific at Celtic, and finding a foil for him up top is essential for Sherwood. The jury is out on what the future holds for fellow Dutch flop Leroy Fer.
Keeping hold of Scotland winger Robert Snodgrass would also be a major task. He was one of the few Norwich names to emerge with a crumb of credit from a dismal campaign. Sherwood played 4-4-2 at Spurs, so width would definitely be part of his plans.
Brighton and Hove Albion – 11/10
The Seagulls have taken over from Cardiff as the Championship’s choke artists. Two play-off campaigns in a row have ended in semi-final failure. It proved too much for Oscar Garcia, who offered his resignation – and the Brighton board called his bluff by accepting it.
Attractive football at the Amex may now be something that could be sacrificed for promotion. Sherwood is the current favourite to take the job on at the south coast club and would be working to one simple, but tough brief – get Albion up into the Premier League.
This would be a challenge he should relish. How continental footballers, like right backs Bruno Saltor and Inigo Calderon, would react to a change from playing 4-3-3, may make or break Sherwood’s shot at getting Brighton back into the top-flight for the first time in over 30 years.
Polish stopper Tomasz Kuszczak, midfielder Andrea Orlandi and forward Will Hoskins have all been released in the wake of the two-legged defeat to Derby County. These are all names that would make the task of earning promotion easier if they were to remain at Albion.
What is encouraging is ex-England defender Matt Upson is in talks about a new deal, while winger Kazenga LuaLua has been offered a contract extension. Brighton need backup to Scotland striker Craig Mackail-Smith, who has just returned from a lengthy layoff. With the potential to come again, the Seagulls are Sherwood’s (and your) best bet.