Spurs sign off in style
5:31pm Sunday 11th May 2014 in © Press Association 2014
If this was to be Tim Sherwood's final game in charge at Tottenham he left with a flourish as Spurs eased past Aston Villa 3-0 to finish sixth in the table and secure qualification for next season's Europa League.
The victory will do little to ease the disappointment of a fourth failed attempt at Champions League qualification but Tottenham at least gave their fans some cause for optimism thanks to first-half goals from Paulinho, Nathan Baker's own goal and Emmanuel Adebayor's penalty.
Sherwood, whose name was not included once in Daniel Levy's pre-match programme notes, seems to have revelled in an air of defiance since taking over at White Hart Lane in December and it was difficult not to see this rout as a final act of insolence towards his reportedly dissatisfied employers.
For 45 minutes, Aston Villa seemed more than happy to let Sherwood go out with a bang and the away fans expressed their anger at the full-time whistle, with an uncertain summer also lying ahead at Villa Park.
Tottenham enjoyed a positive start to the contest and created the first chance in the 10th minute when Adebayor slid a pass into the near post for Harry Kane, but the young striker's shot was blocked by Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Villa were struggling to establish a foothold as Spurs continued to pile forward and in the 14th minute the hosts broke the deadlock.
Christian Eriksen's quick pass allowed Gylfi Sigurdsson to feed Paulinho who saw his first shot saved but the Brazilian pounced on the rebound for his eighth goal of the season.
Paulinho should have doubled the lead a minute later as Kyle Naughton picked the ball up on the right and fed the midfielder inside the box but he skewed his shot wide with only Guzan to beat.
Villa were chasing shadows in defence as Eriksen and Sigurdsson continued to find pockets of space behind the Spurs front two.
With 35 minutes on the clock, the home side doubled their advantage as Eriksen's cross fell to Danny Rose who drove the ball to the near post and Baker, under pressure from Adebayor, turned the ball into his own net.
The home fans had barely ended their celebrations before Tottenham were in again as Eriksen played Kane through but just as the striker was about to pull the trigger, Fabian Delph slid in to make an excellent block.
Villa's misery was compounded though two minutes later when a penalty was awarded as Sandro's long-range shot struck the lifted arm of Gabriel Agbonlahor in the area and Adebayor stepped up to convert his 14th goal of the season.
Michael Dawson could have even made it four before half-time but his header was saved by Guzan, who was perhaps the only Villa player to leave the field with any credit at half-time.
The visitors started the second period with a greater determination to shut down Tottenham's space, pressing the ball with far more intensity than they had in the first half.
Delph went close shortly before the hour as he latched on to Agbonlahor's cushioned header but drove his half-volley just wide of the post.
The match drifted into the final 10 minutes with both sides seemingly happy to play the game out as chances dried up at both ends.
One of the loudest cheers came when Sherwood gave a vocal Tottenham fan a club jacket and a place among the team coaches for the final five minutes of the match.
Spurs fans will now wait to see who will be sitting on their bench at the start of next season.