Tottenham chief Tim Sherwood rues first big setback at Norwich City
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Tim Sherwood admitted Tottenham's hopes of a top four Premier League finish are fading after his former club inflicted the first real setback of his young managerial career.
Spurs left Carrow Road six points behind Liverpool in the race for the final Champions League pre-qualifying spot next season after the Reds had earlier in the afternoon won a breathless home encounter 4-3 against Swansea.
'I was aware of the Liverpool result but it had no bearing on how we went about things,' said the ex-Norwich City midfielder. 'We just had to go out there and take care of business. You can't go out relying on others to lose games - not when you are fighting for the Champions League. It looks a big gap now, it is a real blow but we have to bounce back. We have two key games this coming week. We have the Dnipro return on Thursday in the Europa League and then Cardiff at home. I am looking for the characters in my dressing room to come to the fore and lead the fight back. This is the first real setback I have had, the first major one, and we are going to need to be spirited and show what we are about.'
Sherwood refused to hide behind excuses after a gruelling midweek trip to the Ukraine, with the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Hugo Lloris restored to his line-up against the Canaries following their absence from European duty.
'No, I wouldn't use that as an excuse. You could see if anything we got stronger in the second half so that would suggest it was nothing to do with midweek,' he said. 'We looked dead in the first half but I felt we were far better side in the second period. The result was very disappointing. If you don't take your chances, like we had, then you are not going to win football matches unfortunately. It is as simple as that.
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'We have done that in quite a few games - started slowly. We didn't against Newcastle and you saw what we were capable of and the rewards we got. It was sluggish from us.
'It was a nothing game in the first half. They did nothing, we did nothing so you are happy to come in at 0-0 and hopefully we could respond but we took a real blow going behind so early after the restart with a sloppy goal.'
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Spanish international Roberto Soldado was culpable for two second half misses during Tottenham's ferocious response to Robert Snodgrass' strike, following his introduction from the bench. Sherwood, however, has backed the 28-year-old to come good over the run-in with Tottenham's £26m signing now having scored only once since mid-December.
'I felt we would be more a threat with him on there and it looked that way,' said Sherwood. 'We are waiting for him to take one and all that confidence will flow back. He just needs to take an opportunity. In training he is a good lad who works hard but it is all about scoring on the big stage. We know he can do that because he has done it down the years and we are just hoping it is sooner rather than later; that is what happens. Strikers have lulls and Robbie needs to get out of this one. It might take one just hitting him and going in. He had a couple of chances but there were a few other glaring misses - not just him.'
Sherwood took little solace from the fact Chris Hughton profited from his own miserable afternoon, after previously working with the Norwich boss during his time as a player at White Hart Lanm.
'It is a great win for Chris,' he said. 'He would not have perhaps expected it with a big club like Tottenham coming to Carrow Road but a lot of other big teams have come and slipped up and dropped points here. We are another you can add to this list. He is under pressure but so is every manager in the Premier League.'