By Mike Collett
LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - Tim Sherwood has warned his Tottenham Hotspur players they are playing for their futures at the London club following their capitulation in Saturday's 4-0 defeat at Premier League leaders Chelsea.
After the match Sherwood spoke of his players being "too nice," and lacking guts and commitment after they conceded four times in the last 30 minutes in a loss that harmed their chances of a top-four finish and Champions League football next season.
He continued his theme at a news conference on Wednesday saying: "I want players here who want to play for the club and they've got until the end of the season to show they are playing for the club and not for themselves."
Sherwood, 45, a former Spurs player in his first managerial job, was given an 18-month contract at the club in December after the sacking of Portuguese coach Andre Villas-Boas.
He did not mince his words on the eve of Tottenham's last 16 Europa League firt-leg tie against Benfica at White Hart Lane.
Sherwood has demanded a vast improvement for that game and for Sunday's north London derby against arch-rivals Arsenal.
"I don't think at any football club, a player should be doing a club a favour by playing for them," said Sherwood.
"You'll see a lot of players all over Europe and the world, sometimes they think they've outgrown the football club, but people pay a lot of money to watch their clubs and it's in their blood and players owe it to them to perform 100 percent for the shirt."
He added: "I will see who I need to keep and see who I need to bring in. They've got that chance between now and the end of the season to prove that they want to play for a great giant of a club like Tottenham Hotspur.
"Over a period of time there will always be changes - you're going to need new personnel, you're going to have players who perhaps want to move on.
"I want players here who want to play for the club - and they've got from now until the end of the season to show that they're playing for the club and not themselves."
Sherwood has generally improved Tottenham's results since taking over from Villas-Boas with only three defeats in his 13 league games in charge, but those losses were costly.
As well as the thumping at Chelsea, where they have not won in 24 years, they were also thrashed 5-1 at home by Manchester City at the end of January and put in a poor display in a 1-0 defeat at lowly Norwich City on Feb. 23.
On the plus side, they won 2-1 at Manchester United on New Year's Day and showed real fighting spirit to come from 2-0 down on aggregate to beat Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 3-2 over two legs in the Europa League last 32 two weeks ago.
Despite Sherwood signing a deal in December, speculation has been rife that chairman Daniel Levy would prefer an established European manager like Louis van Gaal to manage Spurs, a rumour the Dutchman has not denied when asked about his future.
However Sherwood downplayed that talk on Wednesday.
Asked if he felt he had the chairman's full support, Sherwood said: "I think so. I see him every day and I am planning for next season. It's no good me planning for next season if someone else is coming in." (Reporting by Mike Collett; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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- Tim Sherwood
- Tottenham Hotspur