London - Christian Eriksen deflected some of the spotlight away from Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood with two assists and a goal in his side's 5-1 hammering of relegation-haunted Sunderland in the Premier League on Monday.
With reports suggesting Sherwood's job was in jeopardy after recent woeful performances, Tottenham responded in style, recovering from going down to sweep aside a demoralised Sunderland who remain rooted to the foot of the table.
Emmanuel Adebayor scored twice with Harry Kane also on target at home but it was Denmark's Eriksen who was instrumental in reviving Tottenham's flickering hopes of finishing in the top four.
Victory lifted Tottenham back above Manchester United into sixth place although they remain five points behind fourth-placed Arsenal with five matches remaining and four behind Everton who also have a game in hand.
“I would rather talk about the game,” Sherwood, who was given an 18-month contract in December when he stepped up from coaching the Under-18s to replace sacked Andre Villas-Boas, told Sky Sports.
The channel had earlier suggested he would go at the end of the season.
“I can't comment on anything regarding my employment to be honest, you'll have to ask my employers about that, but as far as I'm concerned I set the team out well tonight and we outplayed Sunderland and done the job well tonight.
“We've got five games left and we believe we can win all five and we don't know where that could take us.”
Sunderland were gifted a 17th minute lead when Lee Cattermole shot home his first goal for the club in four years after a defensive mix-up involving Hugo Lloris and Vlad Chiriches.
It briefly raised hopes they could begin a great escape but by the end of the game the north east side looked resigned to their fate, seven points behind fourth from bottom Norwich City albeit with two games in hand.
With Eriksen - one of a raft of big-money signings for Spurs this season - pulling the strings in midfield, the hosts responded with Adebayor bundling in Eriksen's cross after 28 minutes to send the sides in level at halftime.
Kane put Tottenham ahead on the hour, stealing in to convert another lethal Eriksen delivery before Eriksen made the points safe with a shot that deflected off Phil Bardsley past Vito Mannone.
Former England and Spurs midfielder Sherwood was his usual animated self on the touchline and did not have the look of a man who was about to lose his job, particularly when Adebayor and substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson gave the scoreline a healthy glow with late goals.
“No matter what happens to the manager I respect him, I'm very happy to be back on the pitch scoring goals,” said Adebayor, reintegrated into the side by Sherwood having been banished by Villas-Boas.
“He has been a big part of my life, when everyone forgot me he brought me back in and gave me my life back. I hope he stays but I am not the chairman, I just need to keep focused on the job in hand and scoring goals.”
Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal has been linked in the media to the Tottenham job in recent weeks after thrashings against Chelsea and Liverpool in quick succession seemed to have scuppered the London side's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
The club dismissed reports that Sherwood was leaving his post at the end of the season as speculation earlier in the day and while there are clearly problems at Spurs, Sunderland's are far more acute.
Gus Poyet's team were not lacking endeavour but now look to be sliding into the Championship.
“I think the desire is there but we are missing a few things that are very important in football, the quality in certain moments be it scoring a goal or defending,” the Uruguayan said.
“There are plenty of things we could improve but there is nowhere to hide, I am the manager and I take responsibility.” - Reuters