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May 10, 2014

One more game before Spurs can dream again

Tim Sherwood has attracted ridicule for comparing himself to a supply teacher who struggles to control his unruly pupils while the headmaster is absent.

The thing is, he’s right. Sherwood so often says odd things in news conferences that expressing outrage at his comments has become a habit that's difficult to break. But as ‘I’ once said of Withnail, even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. Sherwood was always on a hiding to nothing once he was given an 18-month contract. The unusually short length of the deal hinted that he was on borrowed time, and he quickly proved it to be true with almost everything he said and did.

It’s human nature for people to let their standards slip when they know there is no consequence to their actions, and professional footballers seem particularly prone to downing tools once they figure out that the man in charge will have little say in their future. Sherwood has cut a desperate figure in recent news conferences. His eagerness to be honest with the media in his early days as Spurs boss has made his life all the more difficult as results have made it clear that his future lies elsewhere. The truth is no longer a virtue when difficult questions get asked.

- Sherwood: Players disrespect me - Crace: Paulinho on autopilot

Sherwood looks ready to be put out of his misery. The good news is that this is likely to come in the next few days, after Tottenham’s final game of the season against Aston Villa and the most important match of the season -- Ledley King’s testimonial.

It’s Tim’s last chance to impress future employers and, given the fact that he was given less of a chance on centre stage than your average "X-Factor" auditionee, this was always going to be his chief consideration. Sherwood seems to have settled on a 4-4-2 formation. This has given a welcome opportunity for Harry Kane up front, but Roberto Soldado has been frozen out since the 4-0 defeat to Liverpool, with Emmanuel Adebayor preferred.

This is another issue that has arisen from Sherwood’s temporary status. In an ideal world, an expensive signing such as Soldado would have been given a run at the end of the season to build some confidence. Unsurprisingly, Sherwood isn’t particularly interested in Soldado and Spurs’ future, as he knows he’ll be working somewhere else.

The midfield looks set to feature Aaron Lennon on the right and Christian Eriksen cutting in from the left, but the central area could see a change. Paulinho and Gylfi Sigurdsson started against West Ham, but will the Brazilian lose his place after his role in the Hammers’ second goal? He deserves to be dropped, but that might mean bringing back Sandro, with whom Sherwood also has fallen out. Don’t be surprised if Nabil Bentaleb gets a start instead.

Younes Kaboul is suspended, so it’s a toss-up between Vlad Chiriches and Zeki Fryers to start alongside Michael Dawson. Chiriches’ form has dipped in recent weeks, so again it could be the youngster who is preferred, with Kyle Naugton at right back and Danny Rose on the left.

Behind them will be Hugo Lloris in what could be his last game for the club. Plenty of rumours already are circulating that Lloris wants out, and we can only hope that the new manager -- whoever that is -- has a persuasive nature. The game doesn’t seem likely to be a classic against a dour Villa side, but at least it brings an end to this frustrating season. By Sunday evening, Spurs fans everywhere can get back to what they do best. Dreaming of a successful future.