Tim Sherwood facing his biggest night at Tottenham 0

Tottenham’s game with Dnipro at White Hart Lane tonight is enormously important for Tim Sherwood and his hopes of remaining in the manager’s seat beyond the end of the season.

Sherwood may well be in possession of an eighteen-month contract, but in reality without significant progress in the Europa League his tenure is not going to look very healthy when it’s evaluated in the Summer.

There have been moments under Sherwood during which Spurs have looked very good indeed; they were excellent at St Mary’s, ruthless at The Liberty Stadium, and resilient at Old Trafford, but there’s still an undercurrent of general disappointment with the direction the season is heading out.

Liverpool are now six points clear in fourth-place, and given the way Brendan Rodgers’ side are performing at the moment it seems extremely unlikely that Tottenham will come close to Champions League qualification. Couple that with the defeats to West Ham and Arsenal in the League and FA Cup respectively, and there’s not a lot to be that enthusiastic about for the club’s fans.

Sherwood is rookie manager, and that shouldn’t be forgotten, but a club of this size can’t be sustained by fleeting good moments. Nabil Bentaleb’s emergence as a credible first-team option is pleasing, and Emmanuel Adebayor’s return has also been a welcome bonus, but beyond those isolated positives and the occasional good team performance everything has been rather up-and-down and haphazard.

It’s probably safe to work on the assumption that Daniel Levy will be using the second-half of this season as a probationary period for Sherwood, and will look to make some kind of decision about his future in May or June. The worry for Sherwood must be, then, that he doesn’t have an awful lot with which to make his case - and especially not if, as with the other two cup competitions, he exits the Europa League at the first time of asking this evening.

A case can be made for or against Sherwood, because there’s almost a perfect symmetry to the positives and negatives of his reign. That being said, Levy is probably going to need a tangible justification for getting behind him long-term, and that’s where European competition becomes extremely important - the Europa League is now, for all intents and purposes, Tottenham’s season.

Follow @premleagueowl

£50 free bet for new BetFair customers