Tim Sherwood: Early Season Report Card

After some below par results in the first time Tim Sherwood's started a season as manager, we look at how he's coping

‘Tactics Tim’

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.

Deja vu

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.

Final Score

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.


Follow Finn on Twitter – @FinnMongey

Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid


  1. Tim’s overconfidence in our passing ability is bordering on delusional, so you sit deep against liverpool and still expect the team to pass their way out from deep and not play counter-attacking football??

    The sort-of comeback against pool is the worst thing that can happen to us now, it’s masking tim’s tactical naivety…he’ll just think it’s all right, just need to tighten up defensively, but ironically, we conceded more by playing more defensive.

  2. I take issue with calling the latter part of last season as a great escape. When Sherwood took over we were level on points with QPR in 17th, and only 2 points off 15th. While Sherwood did a great job of freshening things up and instilling some confidence in the team, avoiding relegation was always very achievable, and as we’ve seen time and time again, the impact of a new manager invariably has a positive short-term effect.

  3. This article is bang-on. It saves me writing much here because it’s all said in the article! HOWEVER there is one issue which I can’t let go. Sanchez. We are so much better off without Sanchez; one of the most clueless footballers I’ve ever had to sit and watch week in-week out. I don’t understand why other Villa fans seem to like him?! It sickens me when his name is on the teamsheet, which is all the time at the moment. I don’t like singling-out players, but I’m 32, Villa through-and-through and I can’t think of a worse player to have pulled on claret & blue in my lifetime.

    Ps, how do you get to the forum on this site?!


    • I think you’re being a bit harsh on Sanchez, although at the moment he does divide Villa fans. I don’t think him and Westwood are effective together, but Sanchez might be better off playing as an out-and-out DM with Veretout & Gana in front of him. As for a forum, we’ve never bothered with one, since Facebook & Twitter takes care of the discussion bit. There’s something new in the pipeline though to allow readers to really get involved. Stay tuned for that. UTV

  4. Tim is a victim of Learner’s leadership. The plan for the last 4 years has been sell your best players, replace them with many average players hoping one will be good enough to make some profit on, keep the dead wood on loads of undeserved money who wont move to another club. Yes he has managed to get rid of a few, but how many of the recent buys, who are all gambles, will be the dead wood no one wants at the end of the season. Did he get any help with his first venture into the transfer market? I presume he has been instructed to follow the path of his predecessors. It is a strategy that makes us 2nd favorites for relegation. The first being Sunderland who we could not beat at home! You cant see the next 6 fixtures gaining anything more than 4 or 5 points, giving us a return of 8 from 12 games!!! Can you then see us being able to lift ourselves for the next must win fixtures against our relegation rivals?

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