Spurs’ fixture list indicates Sherwood can be more O’Leary than Shearer
The general feeling about Tottenham appointing Tim Sherwood as manager on an 18-month contract is largely that of disbelief and astonishment.
After all, this is a coach who may well have strong knowledge of the club and its players, but has no first-team managerial experience.
Jokes have already started doing the rounds of celebrations on Merseyside given the greater opportunity of Liverpool or Everton qualifying for the Champions League at Spurs’ expense, with Tottenham’s odds currently 7/2 to finish in the top four.
However, although Alan Shearer’s failed eight-game stint as Newcastle manager will be most immediately remembered as an example of a club appointing a manager with no prior experience, more successful cases do exist.
Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and even Andre Villas-Boas are among the examples, but perhaps most like Sherwood is David O’Leary.
The former Republic of Ireland defender clearly wasn’t the first choice to step up from the role of assistant boss at Leeds in October 2008, but when other paths resulted in dead ends, he was appointed as the successor to George Graham.
Leeds had finished in fifth in the season previous and looked capable of challenging even higher up the league. Therefore, appointing a rookie from within the club over a more experienced head had its doubters.
O’Leary took the job permanently after a goalless draw with Chelsea, with Leeds just about in the top half of the Premier League standings, after sitting in the top three in the earlier rungs of the season. Ring any bells?
Not only did Leeds improve to eventually finish fourth and reach the semi finals of the UEFA Cup, O’Leary also managed to bring through some of the club’s youth talents, with Paul Robinson, Jonathan Woodgate and Alan Smith all gaining opportunities under his stewardship.
Sherwood has already trumped O’Leary in the sense of winning his first Premier League game in the dugout and stamped his own mark on the squad by bringing Emmanuel Adebayor back from the wilderness to good effect, alongside returning to the more attacking 4-4-2 formation that may sit better with supporters.
With three points gained from a tricky trip to Southampton, Sherwood almost couldn’t have asked for a better fixture list for the Xmas and New Year period, with three of Tottenham’s next four games at home.
Leaving out the visit to Old Trafford on New Year’s Day, Sherwood really should be expecting a perfect nine points from the White Hart Lane visits of West Brom, Stoke and Crystal Palace.
West Brom haven’t won at White Hart Lane in the Premier League era and Spurs are unbeaten in seven top-flight outings against the Baggies, who have also taken just three points from the last 21 available this season.
Stoke are performing much better with only one defeat in eight in the league, but they haven’t beaten Spurs in three meetings, while no team has taken fewer road points than Crystal Palace in the Premier League this campaign.
Tottenham’s odds are 1/2 to beat West Brom next on Boxing Day and maintain Sherwood’s 100 per cent-winning record in the Premier League.