After meeting Tim Sherwood at Wembley after the FA Cup semi-final, MOMS’ Shelley Osbourne is increasingly impressed in how Villa’s new boss has invigorated a club after Paul Lambert’s failure.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ~ John Quincy Adams
Oh Happy Day
The first half against Everton could not have gone any better.
Aston Villa were in total control of the match as Christian Benteke thundered into the box and powered home a header from Fabian Delph’s cross on 10 minutes. Villa then doubled the lead when Benteke rifled home a close-range shot from Jack Grealish’s corner to make the score 2 – 0 shortly before half-time. Villa had teased and toyed with Everton as Delph, Cleverley, N’Zogbia and Grealish linked up beautifully with one touch passes behind the rampaging Belgian striker and were well worthy of a two goal lead as the teams trotted off at half-time.
The second half did not begin with the same level of intensity however.
In the 59th minute Ron Vlaar clumsily lunged for the ball in the penalty area and referee Mark Clattenburg awarded a penalty, which Lukaku coolly converted to make the score 2 – 1. Vlaar was clearly distraught with his error but the biggest reaction could be seen in the technical area, as Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood angrily thumped the roof of the dug out in frustration.
Villa fans sitting in the Trinity Road stand looked on in shock and amazement. It was not the sort of reaction they had become accustomed to when Paul Lambert had sat grimly in the dug out for the last three seasons.
Lambert was more likely to remain sitting in his seat with hunched shoulders in moments of adversity as he pushed his spectacles back up his nose. The most animated the former Villa manager became in his final season was when Jose Mourinho disdainfully offered a handshake shortly before the full-time whistle. A clearly annoyed Lambert primly tapped the face of his wristwatch irritably as he refused to accept Mourinho’s outstretched hand.
The Chelsea manager would later exact revenge in the return match as he commented: “I like their team. They have very good players and it is difficult to believe they are in the position they are.”
Mourinho’s comments were obviously designed to put pressure on Lambert, but they had some basis in truth as Tim Sherwood’s arrival has resulted in a dramatic upturn in individual and collective performances. This has led to the inevitable question – why? Were Lambert’s failings due to a lack of leadership and was the job simply too big for him?
Aston Villa supporters have unfairly gained a reputation throughout the Lambert and McLeish years for being fickle and demanding. Some voices in the media claimed that fans only disliked McLeish as he was a former Birmingham City manager and that Paul Lambert had done a good job under ‘constraints’. Neither accusation was credible when you consider the numerous short-comings of both men.
McLeish managed Aston Villa as if it were a small club and negatively asserted, “You cannot expect to go to elite clubs and win”, which fell on deaf ears as teams such as Hull and Wigan won at Arsenal. McLeish’s comments were never likely to win friends among an already hostile fan base as the team slipped dangerously towards the relegation places. Furthermore, McLeish’s small club mentality was also displayed in his football, which for the most part was unwatchable.
In contrast, Paul Lambert would focus more on ‘managing up’ to Randy Lerner than ‘managing down’ to the media, players and fans. If there was a Ballon D’or award for ‘managing up’ then Lambert would have won it easily as no manager could have been so handsomely rewarded for failure by their owner as him.
Lambert collected a list of negative club records as long as the Magna Carta and fans and players were driven to despair as Lerner continued to back the beleaguered Villa manager in supportive statements released on the official website.
To the relief of many associated with the club, Tom Fox brought an end to Lambert’s reign as manager with thirteen matches of the season remaining and appointed Tim Sherwood.
Sherwood has approached relationships with the media, players and fans in a different way. Where Lambert often viewed the local media as a threat to his position, Sherwood has been open and engaging and is often seen laughing uproariously with journalists during media days. Sherwood is still in a honeymoon period admittedly but he does not share Lambert’s habit of answering questions with bland stock answers such as “we go again”.
In respect of the fans, the simple act of showing emotion has helped Sherwood build a rapport with the fan base as he demonstrated that he is feeling the same emotions as them. The Holte End noisily demanded a wave from the new manager as Cleverley’s goal took the game away from Everton last Saturday and Sherwood responded by saluting fans, which had them in fits of giggles.
Passion is something that had been missing under McLeish and Lambert who were considered to be dour men by most Villa fans. Sherwood struggles to conceal his emotions and he was visibly seething with anger when asked to talk about the penalty incident after Villa’s recent 3 – 2 defeat to Manchester City.
Sherwood has also taken the FA Cup seriously, which Lambert always saw as a distraction. Throwing fans dreams of winning the FA Cup under the bus when you are manager of a club that has won the competition seven times was always a lamentable approach for Lambert to have taken.
McLeish and Lambert never seemed comfortable with the size of the club or its history and instead blamed the fans for having unrealistic expectations. Sherwood has vindicated fans belief that the club could dream of success in the FA Cup and could go to a place like the Etihad stadium and feel disappointed to have lost.
Click ‘Next’ for the second half and Sherwood’s biggest impact on the club