Sherwood looks to Spurs to show mettle in Europa League
Tottenham Hotspur's coach Tim Sherwood, seen prior to their UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg match against Dnepropetrovsk, in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, on February 20, 2014 - by Anatolii Stepanov
Spurs went down 1-0 to Dnipro, coached by their former manager Juande Ramos, in last week's first leg. and while qualifying for next season's Champions League remains the priority, Sherwood wants a marked improvement in their performance.
Sherwood, who was surprisingly given the Spurs job full-time after Andre Villas-Boas was sacked earlier in the season, will be mindful that for some English clubs the Europa League has proved an unnecessary distraction, coming at the expense of their domestic form.
However, Spurs have a far larger squad -- bought at greater expense -- than most of those sides who have found that competing in the Europa League has left them fighting for survival in the far more lucrative Premier League.
"We're going to need to be spirited to bounce back," Sherwood said after the 1-0 defeat to his old club Norwich, which significantly dented Spurs' Champions League ambitions.
"We have to tighten up our entire performance. We have to show the character that we can bounce back."
While Sherwood is looking to a general improvement to see off Dnipro, some of his players are seeking to set the record straight with Ramos.
While he delivered them the League Cup in the 2007/08 campaign, Ramos was sacked the following season after Spurs garnered only two points from their opening eight league games.
And Ramos, who had a good record in the predecessor to the Europa League, winning the UEFA Cup twice as coach of Sevilla, has angered several of the players who remain at the club from that time with remarks that when he took over there they were fat and the staff canteen was like a wedding buffet.
"We trained not far from a McDonald's and we'd (the coaching staff) see them (the players) in there eating hamburgers, drinking Coke," said the 59-year-old Spaniard, who is in the last year of his four year contract where he earns a reported $3-4million.
However, central defender Michael Dawson cast doubt on the Dnipro coach's anecdote.
"It was interesting reading there was a McDonald's around the corner in Chigwell (where the training ground is). I live not far from Chigwell and I am not sure where that McDonald's was!," said the 30-year-old.
Spurs fellow-Premier League side Swansea are a case in point in finding a domestic campaign and a prolonged Europa League run debilitating both in playing resources and results.
The Welsh side, who made the Europa League on the back of their success in the League Cup, will travel to Italy to take on Serie A side Napoli all square after the 0-0 draw in the first leg.
They followed that a few days later with a thrilling 4-3 defeat away at Liverpool, which left them just four points above the relegation places.
However, their captain Ashley Williams said they would not sacrifice their game against Napoli in order to focus solely on survival.
"We know it's going to be a different game in Napoli to the one we played the other day (the first leg) and it will be tough for obvious reasons," he told the South Wales Evening Post.
"We feel like we need to go there and enjoy it. To play in an atmosphere like that is something that maybe we're not used to.
"But we want to progress in this competition and we feel that we've got enough quality in the team to do that."