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Tim Sherwood falls prey to Louis van Gaal and Spurs’ unrealistic expectations

Feb 24, 2014, 8:46 AM EDT

Tim Sherwood's Spurs are in danger of falling off the pace for a UCL spot, can they pick things up this weekend? Getty Images

Louis van Gaal spiced up a decidedly underwhelming Euro 2016 qualifying draw on Sunday by saying he would consider joining Tottenham after this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

“I will definitely not be in charge (of the Netherlands) for the Euro 2016 qualification campaign,” the legendary Dutch manager noted to Reuters following the draw. “I don’t know where I will go next. Normally I go with my pension and go to live in Portugal, but maybe there will come a new challenge.

“I have said before that a challenge should be a club in the Premier League. That’s a challenge. Maybe Tottenham are coming but, first, we have to go to Brazil.”

The comments are the latest hint van Gaal has dropped concerning his interest in taking over at Spurs. Following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas on December 16th, van Gaal emerged as a front-runner for the North London post after meeting with chairman Daniel Levy and admitting “I’ve always said I want to work in the Premier League” but would “never comment on offers.”

A week later interim manager Tim Sherwood was then awarded for his results by being named head coach on an 18 month contract. Under Sherwood the mood of the squad palpably changed for the better, and the results were promising – winning five of their first six league matches.

But the 5-1 home thrashing by Manchester City on January 29th set off alarm bells and the attention once again turned to van Gaal, who breathed life into rumors of his move to White Hart Lane by pondering, “Am I still in contact with Spurs? There will come a moment that I can talk about that.”That moment – and it was merely that, a moment – came Sunday when he outrightly named Tottenham as his possible destination following the World Cup. Following City’s demolition of Spurs, Sherwood did well to get the club back on track, drawing 1-1 away at Hull City before beating fellow European competitors Everton 1-0 and hammering Newcastle 4-0. But in the past week things began to unravel after Spurs lost 0-1 to Dnipro in the Europa League on Thursday before suffering the same fate yesterday at lowly Norwich City.

Van Gaal’s unscrupulous decision to name Spurs as a potential next stop in his career (again) not only comes at odds with the unwritten code of honor among professional managers but reeks of narcissism. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager should be focused on his job at hand – managing Holland in the World Cup. Certainly the KNVB can not be pleased by van Gaal’s eagerness to look beyond Brazil. His willingness to speak beyond issues of the national team – even if it’s so much as a mere mention of Tottenham as his next destination – is a slight to both Oranje and Spurs.

Perhaps van Gaal’s comments would be less objectionable if Sherwood was an interim coach. But he’s not. He’s a head coach with an 18 month deal who and has taken the club from 7th to 5th in the table during his tenure. For van Gaal to undermine Sherwood’s status at the club by issuing these comments is a disgrace. Imagine for a moment that van Gaal named Arsenal as his next potential career stop – can you imagine how Arsene Wenger, who’s contract ends at the end of this season, or the Arsenal community altogether, would react? It would be mayhem.

Sherwood has achieved success at Tottenham by inserting a confident, relaxed, free-wheeling attitude to the club that has helped the players shed the heavy mental strain that was the legacy of Villas-Boas. He’s also unearthed two considerable talents that were going unused underneath AVB – Emmanuel Adebayor and 19-year-old French international Nabil Bentaleb, both of whom have been fantastic in their play.

Yet putting blame on van Gaal tells only half the story. Because while the Dutch manager undoubtedly smells blood that’s only the case because Levy has been chumming Sherwood’s waters with the unrealistic expectations that come that final whistle on May 11th, Spurs will have secured a Champions League spot.