In Sherwood We Trust… is it Well Placed Optimism?


For all the great work that has been done since the former Spurs bosses arrival there have been a few red flags. It was put to me recently, by an objective party, that he feels that the ‘Tactics Tim’ effect is simply a dead cat bounce, new manager syndrome.

Sherwood has not been a manager long enough to see whether he can have a more long-term effect on positive results and organisation. Despite a positive start, the end of the season was still worrying. While the demolition against Southampton could be put down to post safety experimentation with a high line, the manner of the defeat is still unacceptable.

The following week against Burnley Villa never really showed up and lost 1-0 to the already relegated team. Yes, we were safe already but with two weeks to go in the season, Villa looked like they could finish as high as 15th. We finished 17th. Just one place above relegation. Maybe the players had one eye on the FA Cup final but it is the manager’s job to focus the players and to avoid complacency. If the players were saving themselves for the final it didn’t show.

Wembley Misfire

The big day came and while Arsenal were admittedly a class apart at Wembley the failure to challenge or create a single chance is not good enough, regardless of the opponent.

The tactics were all wrong too, sacrificing any width at all isolated Benteke up front, and substitutions such as bringing on defensive midfielder Carlos Sanchez at 3-0 down are hardly inspiring. Sherwood dropped the ball big time on this one.

While Sherwood lauded his own decision to identify Liverpool’s weaknesses and deploy two number tens in the semi-final, his lineup in the final showed some serious tactical naivety. Wenger simply sat his midfield back a little deeper in the opening 20 minutes to blunt any early exuberance from the opposition that almost unhinged his team in the previous season, then they simply took Villa apart.

To simply put it down to being beaten by a better team would ignore some glaring issues that need to be recognised and addressed. Villa managed no shots on target and didn’t even force one corner from Arsenal.

Getting to team to the final deserves praise and it gave the players and fans a lift, but becoming showpiece whipping boys has the potential to negate all of the positives of a good cup run.

It may be a blessing in disguise as the team is not currently equipped to balance Premier League and Europa League campaigns next season, but it’s difficult to celebrate such high-profile misfiring as the cup final demolition by Arsenal.


Player Problems

For all the good the new boss has done with Grealish, Delph, and Benteke, there are other players who he hasn’t dealt so well with.

Against Arsenal it was not just the tactical selection that were wrong but the personnel too. There have been games where selecting certain players has seemed to be obvious decisions to fans but Sherwood has decided against changes. The best example of this has to be Carles Gil. Gil was one of the few bright sparks under Lambert, his energy and preference for taking on players was, and is, something Villa sorely miss.

There is a feeling that this may be a political statement from the new boss, hanging Gil out to dry as a metaphor for erasing the memory of Lambert’s team. Sherwood suggested that some players just weren’t capable of the commitment necessary on the pitch. To anyone watching Villa it is clear that Gil brings a lot more effort and industry to games than Charles N’Zogbia, who Sherwood has regularly started in place of Gil or Sinclair.

Now that the season is over, and we are still in the dark over any definite movement in regards to new owners, there is only one thing we can focus on as a signal of next seasons intent, transfers. One of Tim Sherwood’s big selling points in the last few months, in his own opinion, is how well he has done in his short managerial career without ever even having a pre season or transfer window. There is an argument that this may in fact have worked in Sherwood’s favour, that he hasn’t had the chance to make any bad transfers.

Many Villa fans are worried that our recruitment this season will consist of a number of ex-Tottenham players who didn’t quite make the grade. This may prove unfair.

So Far, So Good

It’s early days but despite there being a few ex-Spurs boys mentioned, it seems like Villa are being linked with players who will fit the mould of improving the squad’s quality and desire. Micah Richards in and the likes of Weimann, Lowton and Sylla heading out, have certainly been proof of that. There could be cause for some real optimism next season, and not another false dawn that Villa fans have had to suffer too often in the past.

I’m still reserving complete judgement on the success of the Sherwood project until next season, but so far I have to admit that it looks promising. However, Sherwood’s lack of experience and end of season gaffes mean that we should be cautious.

While I might not have the same confidence in him as he does in himself, Sherwood has at least earned a chance to try take this club to the next level (regardless of the owner). Best of luck next year Tim, and please keep proving my initial hunch wrong. UTV

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  1. You have to like him! He saved us from a 100% certain relegation, didnt he? … Please dont say he never! … And i will be very happy to lose games when watching an attacking, no fear attitude from our side … [attack is the best form of defense]

    Okay lets mention ‘IT’ [wembley] … Yeas i agree, that has sent a dark cloud over his credentials and his team … [oops sorry!] … Lamberts team … At the end of the day we bought lower premiership players, and thats exactly what we got! simples!

    Let me reiterate TS comments about, he has inherited a totally imbalanced squad [i agree]. But lets look at his initial reactions …. Sinclair in! [a desperately needed winger] … And decent versatile defender with Mica Richards! … Need i say more? … more please!

    Personally i think we need another 5 in. And time to say good bye to them square pegs, misfits and the ‘could be’s’ … See ya Charles N’igma … to name but one..

    TM is a breath of fresh air to me, especially after the numbing effects of the last 2 managers .. Hopefully its back to the ‘nuts ‘n bolts’ .. 4-4-2 … *with wingers! …. Cant wait to see Benteke line up with Kozak. How many balls would we win from the air!!!! … especially with decent wingers.

    P.S. pissed off with the sale of Weimann [never had a chance on wings] …. Dont like the disrespect of Guzan … [didnt he alone save us last year? is that the same person who saved 5 penalties in one game?!] .. tut tut … Oh well. One thing i have learned is that, ‘you will never agree all the time with a manager’.

  2. The Gil position sums up TS. I think he lost the dressing room after the Saint’s game. Look at the Burnley game a shambles. The final I’m still having nightmares. No, I think TS is a jack the lad. Hope I’m wrong.

    • What Gil situation is that ? It would seem some fans make up their minds and then create a scenario to fit it . Gil impressed when he 1st played but he’s not a fighter which is what Sherwood needed so it made sense not to play him is that difficult to understand ?

  3. the last 3 games has affected a lot of peoples opinion about sir tim,,,
    and people just have to remember how bad things had become under lambert
    we were finished, punch drunk, down and gone,,,, it was bye bye time

    the confidence had totally gone,, and although sherwood dragged us back from the brink of disaster the game against southampton showed again how we are a fragile side,,,with too many fannys,,,, that defeat finished us mentally,,,,, again,,,,,,,, and there was just not enough games to recover the form prior to the final,

    granted though he got the tactics wrong for the final,, but if the team had have been confident they may have been more effective, in stead any remaining confidence was cruely sucked out of them by the unbelievable second goal,,, and we just crumbled,, but in truth there was only going to be one winner,,, to beat arsenal we needed to crowd the midfield and sit deep and just hit on the counter,, like when we beat them 3 1

    wenger has our ticket,,, he knows where we are weak so next time we just go for a bore draw and try to pick of any chances we get

    my opinion of sherwood has not changed, i think he will prove to be a very good manager for us,, and we have to remember sometimes he will get the tactics wrong or get out thought,,,, after all he is still learning,,,,,,

    but he is right about the team not being a team of winners,, we are a fragile confidence team and sherwood needs to address this,,, and cleverlys loss is tempered by the fact he too was a giant fanny,,,,,if you know what i mean
    we need some steel in midfield and the players in midfield need to be more ruthless around the goal
    delph being just to cautious,,, he could be a really top player but around the box its like he becomes scared,, rabbit and headlights come to mind,,,

    and finally i end my thaughts as to one mr gil

    he is weak defensively,,, but if you wanted to rest or replace grealish then surely he would have been worth a shout,, in that position,,,

    and i cant see why he never tried it,,,, and thats a shame

    this coming season is about building a team that can hover comfortably mid table,, and developing
    tactics,,,,a plan a b and c with the new side,, then if we are doing ok blood some of the youngsters so that next season with one or two good buys we can push towards a euro place

    • Obviously Tim Sherwood has it all to prove, but the task of getting Villa mid-table isn’t the hardest of tasks. The challenge is getting them top half and challenging. My worry is after the last five seasons, some fans will consider mid-table success!

  4. trust is totally irrelevant to football managers. They do a job. If it goes for them, fine. But this is the hardest job in English football.

    Name any manager since Joe Mercer who has done well after leaving Villa

    We judge on performance, and back the man in charge till he fails. No other way to proceed.

    O’Neill walked on water till he sank. C’est la vie

    trevor Fisher

  5. I’m reserving judgement until I see what positive changes are made to the squad for the league . So far it’s 2 out and 1 in as I don’t count those on loan as they are not amongst the 25 who injury permitting are available for selection on match day . And what I don’t want to see is a long list of sicknotes or players who only perform when the mood takes them to do so . And as yet it’s too early to see who will turn up for preseason or later as will be the case for those who have been on International duty

    • I think the writer thought we’d got relegated. He was very happy when I told him we were in fact playing in the Premier League next season! 😉

  6. In answer to your question, yes, in Sherwood I trust.

    My question, is there such a thing as a perfect manager? I think not.

    It’s so easy to pick holes in any new manager, at least you highlighted the positives, where some wear blinkers in their weighing up.

    I had no idea what to expect from him when arriving at Villa, but I wasn’t full of pessimism, mainly because of the way his short reign at Spurs panned out.

    He has his flaws, as all managers do, but unlike some managers, I’m sure he’ll learn from them, and will produce the goods when he’s built his squad.

    I know there are some just waiting to jump on any mistake he makes, because he wasn’t the man they wanted in charge, that’s always the way with football supporters, but give him a chance, and I’m sure this time next year, we’ll all be happy with what we’ve seen. UTV

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