Tottenham’s season is now all but over following last night’s Europa League exit to Benfica, but Tim Sherwood is fighting to keep his job as the club starts to look ahead to next season.
Spurs have endured a tough season, and with just eight games to play and just the league to focus on, it is time for the club to start planning for the next campaign.
The direction that the club is heading in is far from clear, with several players likely to depart in the summer, and the continuous speculation about a new manager is not making Tim Sherwood’s job any easier.
Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal is the favourite to replace Sherwood at White Hart Lane, and he added to the speculation on Wednesday by once again stating his desire to manage in the Premier League.
“My ambition is to coach a top team in the Premier League. I have never experienced the atmosphere in England,” van Gaal told German newspaper Bild.
Tim Sherwood responded to the latest comments made by van Gaal by saying: “Van Gaal has got a good track record, he is a good manager and I'm sure he'll get his opportunity. He's been shouting loud enough for it.”
The former Tottenham midfielder inspired the side when he took over from Andre Villas-Boas in December, as Spurs picked up 16 points from a possible 18 through his first six Premier League matches.
But that momentum has come to a halt, with the team without a win in four matches now. Last night’s 2-2 draw with Benfica prevented Spurs from suffering a four-game losing streak for the first time in 10 years.
Sherwood has a contract with Spurs until the end of the 2014/15 season, and has claimed that he is already planning for next season despite the mounting speculation that he will be replaced.
“It's out of my hands but I believe I'll be here next year,” said Sherwood. “I'm planning for next season. The players are playing for their futures.”
He also made it very clear that he will be in full control of transfer activity if he is to remain in charge: “I will sign the players. Nobody else will come in unless I sanction it.”
Sherwood has to be respected for his passion and ambition, and is refusing to be the “yes” man under Daniel Levy, though he may have angered the Spurs chairman with his recent comments.
After the side's 4-0 thrashing at Chelsea on the 8 March, Sherwood accused his players of “lacking guts” and challenged them to respond.
They have shown improvement in the last two games, but have been unable to win either, as Arsenal held on to a 1-0 win on Sunday before the draw with Benfica last night.
The remaining eight games will determine whether or not Tim Sherwood is the right man to take Spurs forward, if it has not already been decided.
Spurs must continue to fight like they did against Arsenal and Benfica and put in some encouraging performances to build upon next season.
The players seem to be behind Tim Sherwood, and it is now a case of the club giving the manager the patience that he so desperately requires.
“The building process has to start in pre-season,” said Sherwood. “Liverpool took a step back to move forwards. It requires patience.”
“Whether Spurs want to do that I don't know. Whether they want me to be the person to do it remains to be seen.”