Our failure to see out whole games successfully has come hand in hand with another worrying habit from Sherwood, that of his decision making during games. Against Crystal Palace the manager chose to withdraw Carlos Sanchez who had been Villa’s key man both at keeping Palace at bay and maintaining the team’s solid structure. It’s no coincidence that Villa collapsed after he was taken off and few would argue that Agbonlahor was borderline non existent and should have made way. More surprising is that the visibly tired team was given no support from further substitutes as the manager kept fresh legs seated in the dug out.
While this could have been put down to a one-off, later games showed Sherwood making further errors in judgement. Against Leicester, Sherwood again made a questionable call in replacing the influential Carles Gil with a striker, Jordan Ayew.
At 2-0 Villa no longer needed to take risks and clearly the addition of another midfielder or even defender would have given Villa a better shape to hold out. Instead the team seemed lost and eventually so was the game.
At times Sherwood’s hand has been forced by injury, illness, and new players bedding in, but he will need to improve in his in-game management if Villa are to secure vital points week-in, week-out.
Sherwood promised improved fitness and a winning mentality but rarely have Aston Villa’s line ups performed at an acceptable level for a whole game this season, and they certainly have yet to show a winning or killer instinct, even when on top in games. The boss has built a squad with multiple options and he needs to start using them, both to keep players fresh and to get the best out of our talented group. A work in progress is one thing going into a pre season but when the season in over a month in, fans need to start seeing results.
On paper and in sporadic intervals on the pitch Aston Villa certainly look like a team with more ability to play football and survive than last years strugglers, but when it comes to the cold hard practicalities of life in the Premier League, there is much to be improved on.
Soundbites about putting relegation worries behind the team are great but points and wins speak louder than any words or claims. Villa have some real gems in the team but improvement is needed and there’s no better time to start than the present.
Sherwood could go a long way towards appeasing the fans by addressing some all too familiar issues in this year’s team. First of all is the horrendous standard of set pieces from the club. Whether it’s banning Westwood from going within 10 feet of a dead ball or just working on set pieces in training, something needs to be done.
An additional riddle that has long needed solving is that of Aston Villa’s midfield. For too long the club’s front players have been starved of quality service and creativity from those in the centre of the park. The return of Gil and Grealish should help but Sherwood will have to decide on the best combination of Sanchez’s strength, Gana’s industry, and Westwood’s playmaking, and when is best to use each. One solution may be to find a way to finally unleash Jordan Veretout, who hasn’t looked ready but on form would bring both energy and creativity to the side.
The season is in full swing now and Villa need to take things up a gear. Tim Sherwood has improved the squad and hope at the club but the comfort zone created in doing so can only remain if points are put on the board, and early mistakes are learned from.
It’s not time to turn against the manager, quite the opposite, but he will need to repay the faith of the fans by orchestrating some wins from his slowly developing squad.
So far it’s been uninspiring albeit with glimpses of a potentially good team. The still learning Tim Sherwood needs to do more to remain top of the class in the eyes of the Villa faithful and judgement of his reign so far must reflect this. For now I’d score him as follows:
GRADE: C – Some improvement, must do better
How would you grade the Villa boss so far? Let us know in the comments below.
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