It’s been an interesting last 10 days for the relationship between Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa.
After yet another League defeat — this time at home to Stoke — the manager turned to the press to air his grievances about the squad.
That’s a problem, because the grievances Tim’s had can easily be rectified… by the manager himself.
First, he called on the team to be "less boring."
Idea: Hey Tim, maybe you shouldn’t play five defenders at home against Stoke City, while leaving Jack Grealish and Carles Gil on the bench if you want to be "less boring."
Actually set up to win and attack, and maybe you won’t be boring.
Or, you know, you could build your attack around your dynamic players in the squad — Grealish, Gil, Scott Sinclair, Adama Traoré, Jordan Ayew — instead of around a striker in Rudy Gestede, who does one thing particularly well: and it isn’t being "not boring."
Then he talked about how the Villa squad isn’t fit, and how the club were going to spend the international break rectifying that.
Fitness shouldn’t be a concern at this stage. With the season starting early this year, every other club in the league had a short offseason — a squad’s fitness or lack thereof isn’t an excuse for a poor start.
If there’s anyone to blame for the squad not being "fit" enough, it’s Sherwood himself. Why are other clubs more fit to play League matches than Villa? Could it be that their managers have properly trained the squad?
And then there was the silly stuff about foreign signings not being able to cut it in a scrap or whatever, as if there isn’t relegation in France.
Adam did a really good job of taking that idea apart, so I won’t talk about it too much more — read his take.
And then we started down the rabbit hole of who was actually responsible for Villa’s signings this summer…
Sherwood (supposedly) not responsible for all of Villa's Summer signings. (Pic Via @issassin) #AVFC pic.twitter.com/dVPSoHuBwY— Heart Of The Holte (@HeartOfTheHolte) October 12, 2015
Let’s work under the assumption this list tells the truth — while it may or may not, it’s likely there’s some underlying tension happening.
But if that list is true, it’s explaining a lot — why we’re not playing Ayew after a solid performance, why Ilori hasn’t gotten a look-in yet, why Veretout has struggled to get on the pitch sometimes after putting in good Cup performances.
Oh yeah — and why we’re playing to the strengths of a striker who’s probably not getting any better, and is nearly worthless with his feet.
It’s radically different from what we expected out of Sherwood when he came to Villa Park: A manager who’d play youthful, attacking football and never back down from it. That’s what the promise was, right?
Boil it all down, and the last week and a half seems to indicate there’s something brewing under the surface at Villa, and that perhaps Tim’s great slate of summer signings wasn’t his at all — which would explain pretty well why they’re, by and large, not getting a chance in the side.
There’s an issue with where Villa are: Very few managers will spend an extended period of time at B6.
If a manager has success at Villa, he’ll go on to a bigger job, at a club like Spurs, Liverpool or one of the other big clubs. If he doesn’t, he’ll be sacked in a pretty short timeframe.
The shelf life of a Premier League manager is short, which is why it’s important to have an overall philosophy, rather than one tailored to each manager. Changing how the club plays, and operates, every time a new manager is in prohibits progress of the club, and keeps Villa from having any chance of returning to past glories.
But it’s becoming more and more clear Sherwood is just like most managers — more concerned with protecting his own job than furthering the club itself. He’s shown this in his team selection, trying to grind out points now, falling back on "his" signings rather than the club’s.
So if Tim Sherwood isn’t on board with furthering the club in the way management wants him to, and he’s not getting results, why the hell is he still here?
Generally speaking, I think the continuity argument is pretty worthless at this point — it’s clear Sherwood isn’t trying to develop his young players right now, and the results to make that even remotely alright aren’t coming.
Media reports indicate both Brendan Rodgers and David Moyes may have some level of interest in the Villa job. If either does, you make the move.
A lot of people will boil Rodgers’ success at Swansea City down to an overall philosophy the Welsh side has — and if that’s the case, I’m still perfectly fine hiring him: Villa need to develop their own footballing philosophy (developing young, fun, attacking talent), and Rodgers has worked well in a similar machine at Swans.
Moyes had success for years at Everton working on a smaller budget — he would be, in my opinion, a solid fit for the Villa.
Regardless though, if results aren’t coming in, the Villa board need to look out in the best interests of the club philosophy.
That philosophy, through Tom Fox’s recruits, has pretty evidently become focused around developing young talent, players that can be developed and sold on for a higher fee.
A manager who’s willing to support that is necessary. The squad is more than good enough to be where Villa are right now.
Just get rid of Tim and move on. It’s not going to work out.
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