Napolean Bonaparte famously said that he would prefer a lucky general to a great one, but then qualified the remark by suggesting that “luck” comes to leaders who recognize an opportunity, seize it and react accordingly.
When Tim Sherwood was appointed as Head Coach many considered him to be a lucky man, there were plenty of other better qualified candidates but Daniel Levy chose – for once – to appoint from within the club.
It was clear that Levy was impressed by Sherwood – he saw the opportunity to rise to the top and rise he did, he took his chance and impressed.
Tim´s two immediate predecessors as managers at White Hart Lane had some success – if not in actually winning anything – but in getting points on the table. Yet both were sacked.
Harry Redknapp inherited a team that was bottom of the pile yet within two seasons was playing in the Champions League. He twice finished in the top four yet was still shown the door. Was he unlucky?
As Andre Villas Boas took control, the heartbeat of the club – Modric and Van de Vaart – were sold from under him. He had an aging team in need of reconstruction yet managed to get the most points we have ever achieved in a Premier League season.
The aging team was dismantled – Parker, Gallas and Dempsey departed along with others – and replaced by a host of young talent. That our brightest spark also departed was a misfortune that may ultimately have cost the manager his job. The sale was out of his control, he probably did everything he could to keep him.
Gareth Bale scored the important goals last season to keep us on course and finish just one point short of another fourth place. Without him this season we have created more but patently failed to convert those chances.
Losing crucial games – West Ham, Manchester City and Liverpool – all by hefty margins was what ultimately cost AVB his job – not our position in the League or the points we had attained. At the time of his departure he was on course for even more points as we had a higher total than at the same time a year before.
As Tim Sherwood took control – we were still in three cup competitions yet within barely three weeks we were out of two and have just surrendered our 100% record in the Europa League. Hardly an auspicious start but League results were better.
Unlike Redknapp he inherited a team on form – if not actually displaying it. Unlike AVB he inherited a youthful squad but with plenty of experience. In both respects he was in luck.
He also inherited a lengthy injury list meaning his resources were limited and virtually anyone could work out what our starting eleven should be. Yet he brought in two new players. Adebayor had featured for just 45 minutes under AVB and is now a permanent fixture while few had heard of Bentaleb yet he too is now a regular starter.
Initially throwing out the old formation and restoring a two pronged attack seemed more like the tactics of a desperate man but – cup games apart – the system worked. But, instead of always playing the same formation, he chose to chop and change. Unlike his predecessors he didn´t just have a Plan A, he had a Plan B, C and probably even Plan D.
The goals flowed, the wins and the points mounted – we even won at Old Trafford for the second year in a row – things were seriously looking up.
In his first ten League games he won seven, drew two and lost just once – and that was more down to poor refereeing than anything else. This was the best League debut by any manager of Tottenham Hotspur – ever.
Was he really our saviour or was it just luck?
They say a week is a long time in politics but it can be even longer in football. Ten days ago we were all applauding the performance at Newcastle – no semblance of luck there – but two consecutive 1-0 away defeats and suddenly the wheels seem to have come off the well oiled caravan.
In recent seasons we have endured a torrid February – this year it was all going so well. A win at Norwich and Tim would have overseen three wins and one draw in the month and quite possibly been nominated for Manager of the Month. Today´s defeat has put paid to that –and quite possibly saved Chris Hughton´s job into the bargain.
Two defeats is not the end of the world, we can still progress in the Europa League, we are still fifth – now 6 points adrift of Liverpool – but we face much sterner tests in the League next month.
If Tim is indeed the “Lucky Man” then he will need all of his luck when we face Chelski, Le Arse and Liverpool all within the space of 23 days towards the end of March.