It’s has been about month since Tim Sherwood took over as the manager of Aston Villa after the team sacked Paul Lambert. With the Premier League entering the final phase, will Sherwood be able to save Villa from relegation and start building for the future?
Birmingham is the second largest city in England after London, but whereas the capital city can brag about having a number of really good soccer teams, the teams from the Birmingham area has been struggling, and none more than Aston Villa. Cross-town rivals West Bromwich Albion sits in 13th and although their season isn’t a success by any means, it has been a lot better than Villa’s. Sherwood’s side are in 16th right now, two spots from relegation, and they suffered a really tough 1-0 loss to Swansea on Saturday as Bafetimbi Gomis grabbed the late goal for Swansea and secured the three points.
If you just look at the Villa squad on paper, not many would predict that they would struggle they way that they have this season. With players like Christian Benteke, Joe Cole and Fabian Delph just to name a few, the hopes were much higher for this team coming into the season. Lambert was obviously not the right man to manage this team, and it’s now up to Sherwood to get the most out his players and avoid relegation. Benteke has been the biggest disappointment this season, as he was a success when he came to Villa in 2012/2013 in scored 23 goals in 39 games in all competitions. His tally dropped significantly last season as he only managed to find the net 11 times in 28 games. And the downward spiral continued this season, as he only has five goals in 21 league games.
The whole team has had a very difficult time finding the back of the net, and 19 goals in 30 games is the worst record in the league. With a goal difference of -20, there’s no wonder why the team is so far down in the standings.
Since Sherwood took over, the team has won two out the last five league games, including a 4-0 thrashing of Sunderland that has just below Villa in the table. They are also through to the FA Cup Semifinal after beating WBA 2-0. They will take on the winner between Blackburn – Liverpool who will meet up in a replay game in early April after the first meeting ended up in a scoreless draw.
So things are definitely looking up since Sherwood took over, but if it’s just the “new manger effect” or if Sherwood’s tactics is a better fit for the players remains to be seen. One positive for Villa was that both Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor scored twice in the game against Sunderland, and although they lost on a late goal against Swansea, the players shouldn’t get too down on themselves as they played a tight game to a team that’s well above them in the standings.
Sherwood will have some time with his players during the Euro 2016 Qualification break, and it’s much needed as the upcoming schedule for the Villans is a tough affair. First they go to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. Then three days later they host Queens Park Rangers before they travel to London to take on Tottenham Hotspur. After that they have another trip to Manchester to face off against Man City.
Then they have games against Everton, West Ham and Southampton before the closing day match against Burnley. Burnley are currently in the relegation zone, three points behind Villa. So this game could decide who stays and who goes down to the second tier Championship.
Sherwood has a tough road ahead of him to try and save Villa, and addition to the tough league schedule, they will have a FA Cup game to concentrate on as well. Aston Villa has been in the Premier League ever since the birth of the league in 1992 and it would be a shame if such a historic club would be relegated.