Tottenham manager, Tim Sherwood and his Brazilian World Cup midfield star, Paulinho, have been airing their views on the player’s lack of playing time in recent months.
Paulinho arrived at Tottenham last summer for a then record fee of £17m having been one of the outstanding players for Brazil in the Confederations Cup. He is a regular for his national team but in recent weeks has failed to get into the starting line-up for Spurs. There are extenuating circumstances, in that Paulinho was sent off against Liverpool in Andre Villas-Boas’ last match in charge and had to serve a three match suspension. When available, he returned to the Spurs team and impressed in the first half of the match against Stoke.
Tim Sherwood had words of praise for his skill in that game but unfortunately, a Charlie Adam challenge early in the second half put the Brazilian on the injured list for a number of weeks. Sherwood said,
“I didn’t realise Paulinho was that good,”
Since returning to fitness at the beginning of February, Paulinho has been unable to command a place in the team with Sherwood’s formation and selection constantly changing. He scored in that match at Hull in in the win at Newcastle but only started two games at the beginning of March, missing out on the big games against Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.
In an interview in the Guardian, Paulinho spoke of the difficulty with ‘rotation’ in the squad and is quoted as saying,
I respect this culture but it is instinctive for me to get annoyed if I don’t play every game. I always want to be on the pitch, much as I know it is my first season here and how difficult it is for a South American player to adapt to the demands of the Premier League.
Paulinho is feeling the frustration of not playing in every game and like all players with ambitions of playing in the World Cup Finals in the summer, he is concerned that his lack of games could result in his missing out on selection for the squad. He admitted that it was hard for him when AVB left as he had been the coach who had signed him.
It was hard to see André go. He was the guy who asked the club to sign me, so you have to be disappointed when that happens…The manager changes and you just have to make sure you show the guy you mean business.
Under AVB: 20 app (2 subs) 4 goals
Under Sherwood: 7 app (2 sub) 2 goals
I pick players on what they are doing in training, not on reputations and price tags. I can’t be worrying if the Brazil national manager wants him to play every week. I am going to do what is best for Tottenham, not any national manager.
In response to the challenge from his manager, Paulinho said,
Sherwood is in charge and every manager has a style. It’s his call if he wants to publicly criticise the players. It’s up to each one of us to have a clean conscience about what they are doing for the team. I am very comfortable in saying that I have been working hard and trying to do what the club signed me for.
Paulinho has acknowledged that Spurs should ‘not have been routed in those games’ and agrees that for the final weeks of the season, he will have to keep his head down and work hard. He is aware of the expectations at Tottenham saying,
I can assure you nobody at the club will be happy if we fail to qualify for the Champions League. One of the reasons I came to this club was to help them play at the top level.