In football, as in life, there’s such a thing as moving on. Regardless of whether an individual has a triumphant or regrettable past, it’s nearly always advisable for them to keep their mind in the present and their focus on what lies ahead of them.
Today, Tim Sherwood brings his Aston Villa side back to White Hart Lane, the stage on which he first danced the press-pleasing, supporter-irritating jig that much of his reputation has been built upon.
It won’t be a happy homecoming; the reaction to Sherwood’s presence on the touchline this afternoon will be distinctly hostile and, ultimately, that will be something for which he is entirely responsible.
Spurs fans get a tough press for their relationship with Sherwood. The endless prodding and belittlement which punctuates social media to this day is, to some, seen as an oddity and a bizarre response to something which should, by now, be a distant memory.
His time in North London was fractious. There were good results, bad results and mediocre results, but above all of that there was noise, lots and lots of noise. Sherwood is someone who likes to be talked about and who was - and remains - infinitely more concerned with perception than reality.
That lingers to this day. Whilst often viewed as a managerial anachronism, Sherwood is actually a thoroughly modern character who fits perfectly into the contemporary football-as-soap-opera world. Rather than tactics and results, the game is a series of controversies, storylines and talking points and, whilst once a novelty, bullshitters and blusterers now litter the landscape.
Rather than being simply residual, the bubbling acrimony between Sherwood and the White Hart Lane regulars is the consequence of his need to play a role. Having been fortuitously handed the Spurs controls by Daniel Levy, he managed to convert a tiny managerial sample into a lengthy contract at one of the most storied clubs in the country.
Nobody resents that. They should, given just how easily and unjustifiably he’s been able to leapfrog his more experienced peers, but they don’t.
Instead, they resent his hypocrisy. Sherwood has cast himself as a put-upon victim and as a benevolent force who was undeservedly shunted out of North London to make room for a flavour of the month. He presents himself as the long-term choice in a short-term world, the footballing depth beyond all the shiny veneer.
Ironically though, he represents everything that he appears to rage against. He is the fashionable choice, he is the fast-tracked ingrate, he is the spiller of unfiltered rhetoric.
And, still, he keeps jabbing away. He can’t do an interview or appear on television without referencing his time at Tottenham and without taking ownership of a success which doesn’t belong to him. Despite nominally being the manager of Aston Villa, an unhealthy amount of his working-week is still spent perpetuating half-truths about his previous employer.
His actual time at the club amounts to little more than an irrelevance now. He oversaw an acceptable run of form at the tail end of a season which was, for all intents and purposes, a write-off. He didn’t damage the side or leave it at a disadvantage and, subsequently, he should be an afterthought, nothing more than an emotionless recollection.
But he doesn’t want to be - and he’s done everything he can to be as antagonistic as possible.
He is the TalkSport presenter, the Daily Mail columnist: he who abandons veracity for the sake of notoriety and whose image is entirely built from mind-tricks.
The Tottenham fans still venomously hate him? Of course they do; he’s less a football manager and more an habitual deceiver, a mess of contradictions and a blowhard who is determined to write his own history.
He’ll deserve those jeers this afternoon, he is an irritating symptom of football’s disfigurement.
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