After rescuing Aston Villa from what seemed like certain relegation Tim Sherwood gained the favour of much of the Villa faithful, and rightly so. Paul Lambert’s dour, unimaginative reign appeared to have doomed the club to a Premier League exit but Sherwood’s arrival parted the clouds and ensured that the sunshine of the top league in the country would shine on Villa Park for at least another season.
While the short-term catalyst of Sherwood was always likely to bring an improvement in Villa fortunes, question marks still remained on whether the inexperienced manager could cope in the long-term.
Last year the former Spurs boss promised that under his tenure that Villa would not be dragged into a relegation battle again, and he cited the fact that he was about to embark on his first ever full preseason and transfer window as evidence of brighter times at Villa Park. With the new season underway let’s take a look at how Tim Sherwood is faring in the Aston Villa hotseat.
New faces and Dead Wood
One area where Sherwood has kept his word is in clearing out the dead wood of the squad. Players who have been deemed as not good enough have been shipped out without delay. A whole raft of sub par players headed for the door and the only real failure in that regard was failing to offload a few high earners and has beens such as N’Zogbia, Senderos, and arguably Joe Cole and Kieran Richardson. Overall there are less duds in the squad then at the end of the 2014/15 season. A good start.
Obviously the space left behind by departing stars and snakes left a void to be filled and Sherwood wasted no time recruiting players. It’s been a mixed bag of those who certainly have shown ability and potential, and those who are yet to adapt to the standard of the league.
Of the former most would agree that Micah Richards, Jordan Amavi, Scott Sinclair, Adama Traore, and Idriss Gueye look like good buys. Early signs suggest that Joleon Lescott, the most recent arrival, will easily form a solid partnership with Richards at the back too.
Despite the distinct possibility and clear hope that they will adapt fast and give the squad a much needed lift, the jury is still out on the likes of Jordan Ayew, Jordan Veretout, and even Rudy Gestede (although his winner against Bournemouth has already put him in the good books of many fans.)
Points on the Board
Sherwood largely has his own squad now having culled many of Lambert’s buys, so Villa’s fortunes under him can now be scrutinised more closely. While his hand in last years great escape cannot be underestimated, Villa’s no show in the FA Cup final will take some time to forget. So how have this year’s matches gone? It doesn’t make for great reading.
Although few expected points against Man Utd, and games against Crystal Palace and in form Leicester were bound to be tough, looking at these games on paper along with the games against Bournemouth and Sunderland, it becomes clear that 4 point from a possible 15 is not good enough if we hope to remain well clear of the scrap at the bottom.
The team has certainly shown that they have more about them than most of the performances under Lambert. Flashes of serious talent and potential from Traore and Amavi have excited us and goals from fan favourites Grealish and Gil against Leicester were truly special. Unfortunately, these positive have been diluted by individual errors and lapses in concentration. Arguments that our many new players just need a bit of time to settle are fair, but also fail to take into account the dog eat dog nature of the league, and what it takes to survive.
Several of Villa’s direct rivals have made decent starts and if the Villans are to keep our distance from another bottom of the pile dogfight than they need to start getting points on the board now.
The opportunity to build more confidence and momentum against Birmingham in the Cup should be a welcome one, especially ahead of a difficult run that sees games against Liverpool, Stoke, Chelsea, Swansea, Spurs, and Man City (ouch).
Villa will need to learn to close out games when in favourable situations if we are to move up the table and the manner in which we failed to capitalise against Sunderland and Leicester must be addressed. Failing that, Sherwood is going to have to mastermind some serious scalpings of the league’s elite teams. Realistically we need to be securing more points against bottom half teams.
Click next page for Part Two of Tim Sherwood progress report and verdict