Tim Sherwood says Gareth Bale's departure made a top-four finish for Spurs unlikely

Last Updated: 19/05/14 8:41am

Tottenham were unrealistic in their expectations of a top-four finish this season, Tim Sherwood told Goals On Sunday.

Spurs ended their Premier League campaign in sixth place, once again missing out on the coveted Champions League places, and Sherwood - who had taken over from Andre Villas-Boas as manager in December - was sacked as a result.

"I went with the players I felt were fighting for the cause all the time, not just when they fancied it."

Tim Sherwood

However Sherwood says, following the sale of top-scorer and talisman Gareth Bale last summer, it was highly unlikely the club would finish in the top four this term - and reckons Spurs actually had a good season, finishing just three points shy of their record tally.

"At the beginning of the season the aim was to be in the top four and it always is for Tottenham," he said.

"But when you actually analyse the season, taking out Gareth Bale with 21 goals, Jermain Defoe with 10 Premier League goals, Clint Dempsey with seven and replacing it with a very good goalscorer in Roberto Soldado who has never played in the competition before and six other players who'd never played in the competition before, realistically the expectations of finishing in the top four was far too great.

"To actually finish on 69 points, just one win short of our record number of points of 72, which we finished with last season, without one of the best players in the world in Gareth Bale, it wasn't a bad season."


Despite perceiving the campaign to be a good one, Sherwood had some harsh words about the position the club put him in and the attitude of some of the Spurs players during his time in charge.

The former White Hart Lane midfielder signed an 18-month deal when he took over from Villas-Boas but throughout his tenure there was continued speculation about his future as Spurs boss, with Ajax claiming Tottenham had enquired about Frank de Boer as a replacement.

He says that affected the players and reckons his scathing remarks about the mentality of some of his squad members following the 4-0 thrashing at Chelsea highlighted the difficulties he was facing.

"To be fair I think we did get the respect but that was largely down to our personalities more than the situation. If we'd been lesser characters I think we'd have had more dissenting voices," he said.

"When I gave them bad news they probably thought 'you're not going to be here next year so I haven't got to worry' and bit their lip a little bit.

"We always worked in the best interests of the football club, though, and never criticised anyone publicly.

"The criticism I gave after the Chelsea game was needed because the capitulation wasn't for the first time. They'd been doing it prior to our management and I felt they needed to be outed and shown they weren't pulling in the correct direction for the football club.

"The only ones who took exception to it are the ones you don't want because they know I'm pointing it at them, even though I never named names.

"It galvanised the ones I wanted and the ones who weren't pulling their weight for the badge, which I can't tolerate, especially at a club like Tottenham, never played. Whether that was due to injuries or I left them out, I went with the players I felt were fighting for the cause all the time, not just when they fancied it.

"We had a lot of players talking about 'if we're not making the Champions League perhaps I have to look somewhere else'. Well, good luck going to find a Champions League club. You have to be performing for the club you're playing for and for anybody to think they've outgrown Tottenham Football Club is wrong in my opinion.

"Three or four players came to me and said the individuals I dug out needed it, well done. My reaction was 'why didn't you tell them?'"


Sherwood's assistant at Spurs, Les Ferdinand, was also on the show and he also had strong words about the mentality of some members of the squad.

The former Tottenham striker believes the feeling that Sherwood would be dismissed this summer had a negative effect on people in all departments at the club, from players to support staff.

"If your mentality is 'a new manager is coming in', whatever the current manager is shouting about you're not going to listen to him are you"

Les Ferdinand

"When we talk about top four, the problem with Tottenham at the moment isn't the players' abilities - I think you're looking at the mentality," he said.

"You don't get beat fours and fives by people in the top four if it isn't about your mentality. When you go to those teams in the top four you need to have a bit of swagger about you. Tottenham need to find that.

"They also need some continuity. The difficult thing for us is that you're at the club and you've got five months to prove yourself but if people realise you're not going to be there at the end of those five months they no longer need to impress you. They're going to wait for the next manager and make sure they're right to impress the next manager.

"That goes to the support staff as well. I'm not saying anyone let us down but if your mentality is 'a new manager is coming in', whatever the current manager is shouting about you're not going to listen to him are you?"