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Sherwood resigned to summer exit

John Brewin
April 8, 2014
Tim Sherwood speaks on his Tottenham future

"Business as usual," said Tim Sherwood before kick-off. For all the bluster, his words held some credence.

After all, the imminent removal of a manager is hardly unusual business at Tottenham Hotspur. Andre Villas-Boas was walking in similar shoes four months ago. This is a leaky club, where insider news travels fast. It was hardly unsurprising news, either. The club's suggestions that talks will take place at the end of the season are convincing nobody.

"The uncertainty's always been there," said Sherwood afterwards. "The speculation you cannot stop, it's up to the football club to answer those questions." It seems Sherwood himself was not convinced by the statement.

Back in 2007, Martin Jol was in the dug-out for a UEFA Cup game when the rest of the world knew that Juande Ramos would be replacing him the next day. Chairman Daniel Levy's sharp practice in the transfer market is even more cutthroat when it comes to managers.

Sherwood is not the first, and almost certainly not the last. He almost seemed happy with his lot, and especially once it was clear that Spurs would be presented little danger by a hopelessly doomed Sunderland.

"My future, I can't comment on that," he said after his team's 5-1 win. "You'll have to ask my employers about that. You just have to get on with it. All I was focused on was winning the game tonight.

"Nothing's changed. It don't affect me, I have an opportunity to manage this football club and I owe it to the players and the fans to do this job professionally."

Sherwood was far more relaxed on the touchline than usual. Gallows humour was employed. When one fan reminded him of his imminent fate, he clapped and nodded back with a knowing glint in his eye; the soon-to-be departed is trying his best to manage the situation to benefit himself. He could also console himself with the fact that he was not Gus Poyet, whose Sunderland team are heading fast for the drop. "We need a miracle," admitted the crestfallen Uruguayan.

Emmanuel Adebayor celebrated his second goal against Sunderland with Tim Sherwood © Getty Images
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There is a slight hint that Sherwood might even be putting himself in the shop window. Norwich City, the club where he made his name as a player, removed manager Chris Hughton on Sunday. Should they stay up, then it seems highly possible that his CV could be winging its way to East Anglia.

"It's been a great opportunity to manage this club and I am relishing it," he said of his current role. "My record here's second to none. My win percentage is higher than anyone, I saw that on the telly just before."

"You are never going to turn down the opportunity to get that job, like I never," he continued, lapsing into his Estuary English. "If you ask me if it was the perfect situation, then the answer is no, you'd rather have a pre-season, bring in your own players, but that hasn't been the case.

"I've just got on with it, I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. It's been a great opportunity and I am very proud to manage this football club."

At least one player will be sorry to see him go. "I hope he stays, but I am not the owner, not the chairman," said Emmanuel Adebayor, the striker who Sherwood brought in from the cold in December. "When everyone had forgotten about me he gave me back my life."

"Did he now?" asked Sherwood with a smile about the striker's words of approval. "He never played before I came here."

Louis van Gaal and Maurico Pochettino are the names linked with replacing him. The former is a veteran, the latter a flavour of the month. Few would be surprised to see either of them in a similar position a year hence. Sherwood's imminent demise is a surprise to few, least of all himself.

"I think every club would look to the next manager, it's like with players," he said. "I don't know if this club has been doing that, I have no idea. Any questions you have about that you'll have to ask my employers. I'm just here trying to prepare a team to win a game.

"I think Daniel's away," he said when asked if he had spoken to Levy about his future.

The same has gone for every Tottenham manager for the 30 years since Keith Burkinshaw resigned after winning the UEFA Cup with the parting shot, "there used to be a football club here". Lofty ambitions and diminishing returns have long been the nature of matters at White Hart Lane. Sherwood is just the latest victim, and seems accepting of his fate.

John Brewin is a football writer at ESPNFC. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnBrewinESPN

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