The managers of both Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa may be taking charge of their respective teams for the final time at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Tottenham (20-6-11) gave former youth team coach Tim Sherwood an 18-month contract after they sacked Andre Villa-Boas at the start of December, despite Sherwood not having the required qualifications to become a top-flight manager. Even with the length of his contract, there has always been a sense the former Spurs and Blackburn midfielder was only a caretaker.
Tottenham midfielder Sandro furthered those beliefs, revealing he fully expects Sherwood to have left the club by the start of next season - prompting a furious reaction from the manager in his pre-match press conference.
"If I need any information, I am better off asking the players," said Sherwood. "Sandro obviously has a knowledge of what is going on. I wish I knew. I don't know if the chairman has spoken to Sandro but obviously somebody has told him. The players look a lot at the speculation and it begins to be more than that. I have had a lot of players come to me and say to me: 'Our agents have told us you are not going to be here next year.' It's a very difficult situation.
"I am doing this job with a lot of uncertainty around my future. If you have a supply teacher who comes into your school, sometimes they are not treated with the respect that a headmaster is."
Aston Villa (10-8-19) have similar doubt over the status of Paul Lambert. Villa chairman Randy Lerner is expected to release a statement after the final game of the season, explaining the details of both his and Lambert's future at the club - with Lerner's status as uncertain as Lambert's.
"I'll say it once and once only: I don't know what the statement from the chairman is going to say," admitted Lambert. "I don't know when it's coming out. I know as much as you do at the minute. But I'll respect whatever Randy's got to say. I don't have one problem. My job is to keep this club up and protect everybody else and that's what I've done.
"Number one, I fully intend to be here next season. Number two, my directive was to keep the team in the Premier League. Number three, it's been the hardest season ever but it's never plain sailing in football management and that's why I say it's the greatest thing I've achieved. I won promotions at Norwich from League One to the Premier League but I still class this as the best thing I've done."
Tottenham have injury doubts over Nacer Chadli (groin), Mousa Dembele (ankle), Jan Vertonghen (ankle), Kyle Walker (groin), Etienne Capoue (ankle), and Erik Lamela (back), while Andros Townsend is out after undergoing ankle surgery that will also keep him out of the World Cup. Villa have concerns over the fitness of Marc Albrighton (groin), Gabriel Agbonlahor (knee), Gary Gardner (ankle), and Charles N'Zogbia (calf), while Christian Benteke (Achilles), Libor Kozak (broken leg) and Jores Okore (knee) remain out.
Spurs ran out 2-0 winners when these teams met at Villa Park in October. Townsend opened the scoring with a fortuitous overhit cross, but a beautiful move saw Roberto Soldado secure the points with 10 minutes remaining. That goal was one of just two from open play for Soldado all season.
Villa have lost four straight meetings with Spurs in all competitions, being outscored 12-0 in that run. A 1-1 draw in 2012 is the only time in the last eight the Lilywhites haven't beaten Villa.
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- Aston Villa
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Tim Sherwood
- Paul Lambert