Spurs chairman Daniel Levy yesterday gave Ajax coach Frank de Boer a sharp rap across the knuckles in a move that points even more strongly towards trying to lure Mauricio Pochettino to White Hart Lane as manager.
But Levy was angered when Ajax officials suggested that process had gone as far as a formal request for permission from the Dutch club to talk to De Boer.
An unnecessarily hard-hitting statement released on the club’s website yesterday morning insisted in capital letters no less that such reports are wide of the mark.
“Reports that we have made approaches to other clubs regarding coaching staff are wholly inaccurate,” it said. “We have NOT contacted any club regarding coaching appointments.
“We regret that a statement such as this is necessary, however we feel it is important to clarify matters.”
Confusion seems to have emerged after Tottenham began a very informal sounding-out process over the potential availability of De Boer as just one of a number of possible candidates to take over the project of lifting Tottenham into regular Champions League contention.
Certainly there was nothing in the tone of Levy’s statement to suggest it was a prelude to an approach and more likely Southampton manager Pochettino will be the first port of call when the season is finally underway.
The Argentine is not quite the cheap option Spurs fans are accusing Levy of pursuing; the Daily Express can reveal he is actually on £2m-a-year, twice the salary many people believe.
And a curious wrinkle of his current deal which expires in 2015 is that Pochettino must personally pay the outstanding amount if he breaks the contract early.
The south coast club are hopeful he will put pen to paper on a new contract at the end of the season but a lot depends on whether star players will continue to commit to the cause.
With Adam Lallana reported to be Merseyside-bound that looks unlikely, and the worry for Pochettino is that having over-achieved in his 18 months at St Mary’s, he can only damage his reputation as one of the game’s brightest managers if he remains at the club.
Certainly, Tottenham could take care of any outstanding Southampton contract as part of the terms of Pochettino’s employment and Levy is more concerned about a different compensation issue.
As part of his discussions with Sherwood he is likely to offer the 45-year-old continued employment in his previous role as technical co-ordinator in the academy.
That means Sherwood might have a fight on his hands to secure a pay-off if he prefers to chase a career in management elsewhere – yet another reason for Levy to make it clear in yesterday’s statement that nobody is looking prematurely to shoe-horn him out of the door.
But Sherwood said: “When clubs come out – and managers too – it’s disappointing. Somewhere along the line someone is telling porkies.”