Playing for places at Spurs

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Tim Sherwood is a man on the warpath, and who can blame him. The Tottenham boss was scathing in his assessment of the capitulation last weekend, and in the build up to tonight’s match he doesn’t seem to have softened his tact.

Spurs’ Premier League top four ambitions are effectively over, and for Sherwood time appears to be running out on his fledgling managerial career. Whether or not Sherwood is simply keeping the seat warm for a more illustrious name at Spurs we don’t know, but clearly the Englishman wants to go down fighting.

Speaking ahead of tonight’s Europa League tie with Benfica he continued with the hard line approach:

“A lot of players here are playing for their future and I think they realise that now. I’m going to have a good look at the whole squad and see who I need to keep and who I need to bring in. They have that chance between now and the end of the season to prove they want to play for a giant club like Tottenham.”

“There will be changes, without a doubt. I want players here who want to play for the club and they have between now and the end of the season to show that they are playing for their club and not for themselves. I don’t think at any football club a player should think they are doing them a favour by playing for them.”

Sherwood may have taken the brunt of blame for recent performances, but if anything this mediocrity has been a trend throughout the season. The club spent big money on assembling a quality first team squad, and unfortunately too many have failed to repay the faith. Sherwood’s criticism of his squad may not do him any favours, but he is probably right here. A number of players came to North London carrying huge reputations, reputations that they just haven’t lived up to. There is a definite feeling amongst a worrying number that they are too good to be dropped, and that they simply don’t have anything to prove.

Fans can sympathise with players going through a bad run of form, but those that play poorly and simply don’t try are opening themselves up to criticism. I think this is what Sherwood is alluding to; against Chelsea too many just threw in the towel at 2-0; it was a performance worryingly devoid of fight. You may wonder can any defeat be glorious, what is the point of trying after a certain point? Players owe it to the club and its fans to fight on, you only have to look at Manchester City last night to see a side that fought on to the bitter end in a game they had only a slim chance of ever winning.

Sherwood went even further to suggest a summer cull was a definite possibility:

“At any club you see players who think they have outgrown the club and that can never be the case. Players owe the supporters to perform 100 per cent for the shirt. It’s not just this club, it’s every club, it annoys me when I see those players.”

“I’m planning for next season. There’s no point me planning if someone else is coming in. I’ve not asked for any assurances. I’ve an 18-month contract and I expect to be here a lot longer than that.”

Spurs are currently a club without a stand-out player; if you asked fans to name their best player you would get a host of different answers. In the past you had the likes of Modric and Bale who during their peak were almost safe from criticism, at Spurs current every player should be under the most intense of spotlights.

The player that epitomises the rot at Spurs is Jan Vertonghen, someone that is clearly so gifted but too often unwilling to give his all for the club. Even the best defenders make mistakes, but the biggest worry is when you have a player that doesn’t look like he cares and consistently trudges off that pitch looking as fresh as he was when he got on it.

The Belgian isn’t the only one, and if Spurs want to move forward they either need to find a way to motivate these players or else get rid of them.

Levy may be averse to selling players he only bought in the last few years, but it isn’t as if he will be selling at a loss. If anything the likes of Vertonghen will have gained some value, money that could be better reinvested in players that are willing to fight for the shirt they play in.

Whether Sherwood is around to make these changes we don’t know; but clearly the problems at Spurs run a little deeper than some are willing to admit.

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