In Sherwood We Trust?
I must admit that when Tim Sherwood was revealed as Aston Villa boss back in February I let out a disappointed sigh. I have always had Sherwood pegged as a bit of a cowboy, talking a big game and enjoying the attention of the media, but maybe being a bit too smug or tactically limited.
While I agreed that a big change in attitude and approach was needed to cleanse the dour atmosphere that has festered during the end of Paul Lambert’s tenure it seemed like Sherwood may have been too much of a polar opposite to Lambert to be anything but a knee jerk reaction. Sherwood has had a solid start at Villa, and performed a near miracle in keeping us up. There were however a few signs that may have gone under the radar that he may not quite be the flawless messiah that some fans have over excitedly claimed.
I have to admit that the new Villa boss is doing a good job at winning me over but I maintain some serious reservations. For once I’m trying to look at all things Villa with my head. As a Villa fan following my heart too blindly has burned me all too much in recent years. Using our heads, let’s take a look some of Sherwood’s hits and misses so far, and look to the future of Tim’s Villa.
The number one thing that Sherwood deserves credit for is the obvious, he kept us up. Without this there would be no looking forward. With possible new owners on the horizon and the new TV money deal kicking in next season, simply being in the top flight gives us a chance to strengthen and stay clear of relegation for good.
Add to this achievement is the fact that Sherwood led our once hapless team to a big day out in the FA Cup final. Regardless of the result, reaching the final is a huge improvement on Lambert’s terrible cup record. When Tim first arrived there was a media circus around him, not around Villa. I was worried about this focus on Tim Sherwood as a character and not on the job that needed to be done. In the end Sherwood used this to his advantage. His presence and media flirting lifted the focus from the struggling team, allowing them to focus on their jobs on the pitch and not constant media pressure.
Another factor in Sherwood’s success so far has been his effect on the players.
Benteke couldn’t buy a goal under Lambert this season. Since the new boss came in Benteke has been the form striker in the Premier League. It wasn’t just the big Belgian who had their form turned around. Fabian Delph blossomed into an England regular and Tom Cleverley, who had been abject under Lambert, was a player transformed. Jack Grealish was finally given his shot at the big time and early signs are very promising from the lifelong Villa fan, though we must not heap too much pressure on his young shoulders.
The players have finally been given the freedom to play, to believe in themselves. Sherwood has promised to install a winning mentality at the club and his honesty that certain players simply aren’t good enough for a club like Villa is refreshing. He calls it like he sees it instead of recycling nonsensical soundbites as Lambert did in his final months.
Click to the next page for the potential pitfalls of Sherwood…