Tim Sherwood broke ranks over priorities at White Hart Lane by admitting he would rather win the Europa League than qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Tottenham flew into a country riven by internal strife yesterday after landing at Dnipropetrovsk Airport and finding Ukraine was preparing itself for a day of mourning following riots in Kiev that have so far claimed more than 20 lives.
There were reports Ukraine’s president had decreed no sporting events could take place during today’s 24-hour shutdown, but Tottenham insisted they had received no notification tonight’s tie with Dnipro might be in danger.
With the Ukraine capital around 250 miles away from this south-eastern city, Sherwood remained unperturbed by any trouble and was adamant no extra security had been taken.
He took exception, however, to suggestions he may field a weakened side against Juande Ramos’s Dnipro and save Tottenham’s best for the more pressing objective of picking up Barclays Premier League points at Norwich on Sunday.
Asked whether a Europa League triumph or top-four finish would look better on his c.v, the Tottenham manager had no hesitation in replying: ‘On the c.v. of a manager? To win a trophy would look better. We’ve seen it over the years, the number of managers who have won this trophy and gone on to bigger things.
‘The priority of the club is to achieve both and I believe we have a big enough and good enough squad to do that.
‘Of course, it is never great to see scenes of violence in any country, but we have to focus on playing football and getting the job done. Hopefully that will be the case and we will leave here in a happy frame of mind.
‘This is the only cup competition we are left in, the only chance of silverware and we aim to prove we have enough strength to keep progressing.’
Sacked after a year in charge as Tottenham boss, Ramos raised eyebrows at White Hart Lane last month by claiming burgers, cakes and pastries were among the food of choice for most players. Michael Dawson found himself out of favour under the Spaniard, but insisted it had nothing to do with a liking for junk food.
‘It was quite funny to read that,’ said the defender. ‘When he took over, he changed a lot of things and diet was certainly one of them. He said we were all overweight and, to be fair, a lot of the lads did shed a good few pounds. But it’s what happens on the pitch that’s most important and the simple fact is, we weren’t performing at the time he left.
‘I had a hard time under him. But what happened is history to me. I was a young kid who was perhaps not performing as I might. You have to take responsibility for that, as a player, so I’ve got nothing against him.’
Hugo Lloris, Emmanuel Adebayor, Aaron Lennon, Kyle Walker and Mousa Dembele all stayed behind with minor injuries, but are expected to be fit for Carrow Road. – Daily Mail