Tottenham Hotspur's Christian Eriksen revitalised under Tim Sherwood

• Dane finally making an impact at Spurs after summer arrival
• 'We can play without fear against Manchester United'

Christian Eriksen is relishing the freedom Tim Sherwood has given Tottenham Hotspur since replacing André Villas-Boas, saying the players have been told to enjoy themselves by their new head coach.

Sherwood, who was given an 18-month contract last week following the dismissal of Villas-Boas a fortnight ago, appears to have had a liberating effect at White Hart Lane. There were concerns among the Tottenham hierarchy that the football was too negative under Villas-Boas, whose preference for a system that required one striker led to the team struggling to break down opponents, with 15 goals in 16 league matches a paltry return given the talent at his disposal.

Yet Sherwood has placed the emphasis on attack and at times his 4-4-2 formation has looked more like a 4-2-4. Emmanuel Adebayor has been reintroduced, partnering Roberto Soldado in attack, and Tottenham have picked up seven points and scored seven goals in Sherwood's first three league matches. Sunday's 3-0 home win over Stoke City moved Spurs three points behind fourth-placed Everton and Eriksen, who had made little impact since his arrival from Ajax last summer, is starting to thrive in a central role.

"He [Sherwood] says you have to enjoy it," the Danish midfielder said. "Play positively. For me it's only good. Of course it was a bit of a different role for me than the other games, a bit more attacking. I like that more.

"When we have the ball, of course for me it is easier if we play more attacking. We had the space to play like we should and I think we tried to use the space they gave. I tried to do what I could in the space.

"The coach is saying to play more free. We have seen that in the games. He said it looked like we were a little bit afraid. We shouldn't be afraid – just play and now you see we are good. If we dare, we have a really good team and really good chances.

"We have done our best, we have been fighting, we have had our chances in every game, I think. We created a lot, we just haven't scored. Now hopefully we will keep having the luck. I think it's only going to go better. The last few months have been ups and downs with everything and I think what you see now is how we should play."

Tottenham's next match is a trip to Manchester United on Wednesday and while this is Sherwood's biggest test yet, Spurs are unbeaten in their past three matches against the champions and won 3-2 at Old Trafford last season. A repeat of that result will take them above United and Eriksen believes it is important they continue to play without fear.

"I think just go there and play like we did [against Stoke]," he said. "I think we will still get the space and just have to take our chances. Of course it is a better team, full respect to them, we just have to be on our toes and think we can go there and have a good game.

"Just play free. I think if you go there the only thing you should be afraid of is the players. The crowd and everything, just forget them. If you keep them still you are doing a good job. We had the feeling, we were not afraid, we just played our own game. I think if we play our own game we can make every team have a difficult evening."


Jacob Steinberg

The GuardianTramp

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