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Spurs coach: Sherwood hasn’t changed - although he’s looking a bit older!

PUBLISHED: 11:59 14 February 2014

Les Ferdinand (left) with head coach Tim Sherwood on the Tottenham bench

Les Ferdinand (left) with head coach Tim Sherwood on the Tottenham bench

EMPICS Sport

EXCLUSIVE: Les Ferdinand discusses Tim Sherwood’s progression from a Spurs player to the club’s manager, the dynamic of the coaching team and comparisons with Harry Redknapp.

Les Ferdinand (right) and Tim Sherwood Les Ferdinand (right) and Tim Sherwood

When Tim Sherwood was tearing around the White Hart Lane turf as a tigerish midfielder in 2002, few Spurs fans would have imagined that he would go on to manage the club, taking charge of a bid for Champions League qualification.

Sherwood has certainly enjoyed a meteoric rise at Tottenham. Having returned to the club to join Harry Redknapp’s coaching staff on a part-time basis in 2008, he impressed enough to earn the role of technical co-ordinator, managing player development.

When Redknapp was sacked, Sherwood survived and, when Andre Villas-Boas was axed, Sherwood was put in charge of first-team affairs – despite having no experience of management, let alone in the Premier League.

Les Ferdinand has been with him every step of the way. The pair played together at Spurs, they joined Redknapp’s coaching team at the same time and they were promoted to take charge of the senior squad together, along with Chris Ramsey.

‘Sir Les’ is therefore well qualified to discuss how Sherwood has changed along the way – but the fact is, he hasn’t changed a bit.

“He’s pretty much the same as he was as a player,” said Ferdinand. “He was always a winner as a player.

“That may sound strange because 99 per cent of players are winners, but he had this self-motivation and self-belief in himself, and he’s like that as a manager. He believes he can do it, and he’s proving that he can.

“He’s looking a bit older at the moment! But apart from that there’s been no change in him. We have the same banter that we were having before, I think that’s important.

“It’s not that he’s changed, a lot of people have changed towards him, with him becoming the manager – but he’s still the same. We have the same jokes, but we know it’s serious business.

“When we were in the development squad all that mattered was trying to develop players to make them professional footballers, whether they play for our first team or they go somewhere else and have a career.

“Now we’re in a position where we’re in charge of the team that has to win, so obviously there’s a difference in your approach there, but still with the same philosophy that you had before.”

Ferdinand added: “When we were with the development squad it can’t work the same way, but now the buck stops with Tim so he has the final say.

“We’ll give our suggestions and we tend to pretty much agree on what we believe in, but ultimately Tim’s the one who picks the side.

“He’ll always speak to us and say ‘what do you think?’ and we’ll give our opinions, and sometimes he goes with our opinion. Other times he doesn’t and sticks to his own.

“There’s no point having people around you if you’re not going to listen to what they say. He’s got total respect for what Chris does, what I do and how we do it, and we’ve obviously got respect for what he does. That’s important.”

The change from Villas-Boas to Sherwood has echoes of Daniel Levy’s decision to swap Juande Ramos for Redknapp in 2008.

There appear to be other similarities, such as the way that Sherwood has simplified the message to his players and his jovial relationship with the media – but Ferdinand rejects the comparisons.

“I think because Harry and Tim kind of speak in the same manner, people say ‘oh they’re very similar’ – and obviously Harry brought Tim and myself into the club so people are saying that,” he said.

“I think in his first couple of games we played with two strikers – people called it two strikers anyway – and everyone’s going ‘oh it’s old school, he’s gone back to 4-4-2, that’s what all the old English managers did’.

“Manchester City have played that way all season and scored 100-odd goals and I’ve not heard anyone say ‘oh they’re playing 4-4-2’, but that’s what you get.

“I think Tim will adapt the team to the opposition. Whoever we’re playing against, he’ll play the team that he thinks is going to win the game, whether that be 4-4-2, 4-3-2-1, 4-3-3 or whatever it may be.

“Systems don’t win you games, it’s players’ application when you put them out on the football pitch that wins you games.”

Follow me on Twitter BenPearceSpurs

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