LONDON’S football scene can be incestuous, rather like the Square Mile, where every leading financial operator is likely to know a very large percentage of his City peers.
Football’s intertwined fraternity was nicely illustrated in recent weeks when Tim Sherwood has been firmly linked with Harry Redknapp’s job at Queens Park Rangers. Harry managed Tottenham not so long ago where Sherwood was a coach, some way down the ranks.
Last winter, Harry’s replacement at Spurs, Andre Villas-Boas, became another victim of chairman Daniel Levy’s nervous trigger-finger.
Levy then tried to get his ducks in a row. He wanted Holland boss Louis van Gaal to become Spurs’ battle-hardened winner but knew he would have to wait until after the summer’s World Cup.
So Levy required a good stand-in; good enough to erase the hammerings under AVB and possibly even gatecrash Champions League qualification. He temporarily handed the reins to reserve coach Sherwood – while discreetly approaching club legend Glenn Hoddle.
Hoddle told Levy he would do anything to help the club he’s always loved. If Levy wanted a short-term minder, he would mind the shop until the summer. Levy was apparently delighted and Hoddle was so sure he had the job, he allowed himself to publicly drop his guard – just a little – on Sky Sports.
On matchday pundit duty for television coverage of Spurs’ trip to Southampton, the weekend after AVB’s dismissal, Hoddle agreed to talk about Tottenham. While never suggesting the job was in his pocket, Hoddle told the Super Sunday TV audience that he was prepared to help out his old club in any way. If they asked for him, he’d be there.
A couple of hours later, Spurs staged a fine comeback at St Mary’s, inspired by Emmanuel Adebayor’s two goals, to win 3-2. It was Sherwood’s first Premier League game in charge. And less than 24 hours later, Levy handed Sherwood an 18-month contract.
Privately, Hoddle was dumbfounded. And yet, not totally surprised. This is football, after all. And probably everyone, including Sherwood, knew the 18-month contract was no more than a device to guarantee him a payoff for six months’ work.
Spurs spoke at length to Van Gaal but did not get him (he eventually had bigger fish to fry). And so Hoddle, his appetite whetted by the mid-winter dalliance with Levy, decided to accept Redknapp’s August invitation to become QPR’s first-team coach, weaving it around his existing commitments to TV and elsewhere.
A couple of months on, with Rangers struggling, Hoddle finds himself mentioned as a possible successor to 64-year-old Redknapp. It may or may not be the right move for Hoddle – but guess who is likely to stand in his way? That’s right, Tim Sherwood.
The same Sherwood who played under Hoddle in the early 2000s and had plenty of (none too complimentary) things to say when the manager let him go. Incestuous? Sure. But 100 per cent football, and London football at that.