Sherwood: Spurs miss Modric’s qualities, but Carroll could be the answer
11:59 29 April 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Tim Sherwood believes Tottenham have failed to replace Luka Modric, the pass master who “assists the assister”, but he feels Tom Carroll could be the solution.
Spurs’ best side in recent memory featured Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart, who all played their parts as Harry Redknapp’s side reached the Champions League quarter-finals in 2011.
And, while much has been made of Bale’s absence this season, Sherwood thinks that Modric’s talents were similarly vital.
As a disappointing season comes to an end, Spurs’ head coach feels the Croatian’s creative qualities are missing from the midfield.
However, he believes that 21-year-old Carroll, who is nearing the end of his season-long loan with QPR, could fill that void at White Hart Lane – and he admits he tried to recall the England Under-21 international in the January transfer window.
“I could go on for ever about this, it’s just about having a blend in different areas of the field and different types of players in different areas of the field, and I just think the squad misses that a little bit,” said Sherwood.
“Sometimes you can turn around and look to make a change, and it’s not always a like-for-like change that you want to make.
“Sometimes you want to bring someone on to make a difference, a different type, and I just think the blend’s not fantastic. But that takes time to work with and it’s also in the recruitment process of the club.
“Sandro and [Etienne] Capoue are similar, in stature and in the way they break up the game. I think Paulinho’s a little bit different, he likes to break forward into the box.
“But we miss that player - I’m not saying [Mousa] Dembele can’t do it because he can pick it up and he can dribble – but we miss someone who moves that ball and passes it between the lines very quickly, and he assists the assister.
“Gareth Bale needed that ball very quickly and I think Luka Modric got it to him very quickly. I think Tom Carroll was that player - he can do that, absolutely. I tried to bring Tom back [in January], it just wasn’t possible.”
So was that the reason for Nabil Bentaleb’s rapid promotion at Spurs? Was Sherwood hoping that he could provide the necessary verve and incision in the midfield?
“No, he’s a different type of player,” said the head coach. “I think he’s got a bit of everything, Nabil. I think he can get up and back, and he can also score.
“We haven’t seen that because he’s not had that freedom to get forward in the games he’s played.”
Bentaleb featured in 19 of Sherwood’s first 22 games in charge at Tottenham, including nine successive starts.
However, the 19-year-old has not appeared since the 4-0 defeat at Liverpool on March 30 and has been an unused substitute for the last four games.
“Really I’ve protected him by taking him out of the spotlight,” said Sherwood. “We’ve been talking about our homegrown players, and I took him out of it.
“He’s been unlucky not to be playing, but I’m trying to protect him – and I think Manchester United did the same with [Adnan] Januzaj. He’s not featured in the last month or so.
“Sometimes a young boy can’t go in and stay in forever. It’s an art of when to put them in and when to bring them back, but he [Bentaleb] isn’t shying away, and he wants to play more than anyone.
“He has his head in his hands when I name the team and he isn’t in it, but unfortunately I’m doing it for his own benefit. You’ve got to be cruel to be kind in the long run.”
Asked if he feels the Spurs fans weren’t appreciating Bentaleb, Sherwood replied: “It’s a bit of that, and a bit of the fact that I think he needs a rest and someone else needed to come in there and do the job.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs