Time to go Dutch?

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Louis van Gaal

Tottenham appear to be in the midst of a mini-revival under new man Tim Sherwood. Having matched their best away run since the 60’s and boosted their hopes of Champions League qualification in the process, it now seems strange that the managerial question continues to rear its head.

Given their recent Premier League run it perhaps isn’t surprising that many Spurs fans are blinded by optimism. Sherwood was hardly the number one pick after AVB’s dismissal, but many having seen the change in style and ambition are happy to see how this new era pans out. The fact he is English and up and coming is just an added bonus, something which perhaps gives what Spurs are achieving an added shine.

But Sherwood knows this early form will count for nothing if he fails to finish 4th in May. Champions League football is what Levy aims for and what he grades his managers on; already having seen the likes of Jol, Ramos and AVB fall by the wayside because of it; you shouldn’t expect Sherwood to get any leeway.

The 18-month contract seems to have blinded a lot of fans, many thinking that these extra 12 months tagged on the end somehow guarantee his survival. All it means is that Sherwood will get a slightly larger pay cheque should he be removed in the upcoming summer, a bit of financial security for the Englishman.

Sherwood’s appointment does come as a bit of a U-turn for Spurs, having previously favoured experienced and usually continental coaches. Redknapp’s sacking was as much a clash of ideologies as it was a frustration with results, and for Levy to suddenly revisit this style of management you have to think that there was no one else available.

It isn’t that I have it in for Sherwood; in fact I hope he succeeds, but the reality is that his appointment just doesn’t stack up. An illuminating interview with Sky last evening with Dutch boss Van Gaal was pretty enlightening in this regard. As for whether he was considered for the Spurs job, Van Gaal was happy to confirm the approach:

“Everybody knows it so I can admit it,” he added. “I don’t do things in a double function (holding two jobs at the same time).”

“You have to give an example to your players that they have to focus on the national team and that is my ambition also.”

“I have refused (the Tottenham job) but maybe there will come another chance. That is the difficulty with coaching. When you are free, then maybe there are no vacancies. When you are working, then there are vacancies. It is always difficult.”

“After the World Cup I shall retire or, if there is a Premier League club, I shall think about it.”

The 62 year old very much fits the billing for Spurs; extremely experienced and well known for playing an exciting brand of football and being successful with it. Many regard his Champions League winning Ajax side as one of the best ever and certainly one of the more entertaining. He has experience of our game at this highest level managing both Barcelona and Bayern Munich in what has been an illustrious career to date; a tilt at the Premier League is certainly missing from his repertoire.

The headlines may read that van Gaal rejected Spurs, but from his interview you get the impression his hands are very much tied by his international responsibilities. Ask him again come August and I am sure you will get a very different response.

The fact Levy even asked him suggests he was a preference over Sherwood and that the Englishman is really nothing more than a stopgap. The Spurs Chairman would feel he has all bases covered here; if Sherwood’s successful great and if not he has an experienced ready made replacement waiting for him in the summer.

Maybe the cynicism when it comes to Levy has gone too far, but for me failure to achieve Champions League this term would make van Gaal an option not to be turned down easily.

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