I'll admit that when I heard that Aston Villa had officially signed Tim Sherwood as their new manager, I was a bit disappointed. Tottenham Hotspur fans had spoken so negatively about him that I found it pretty hard to see much upside. And this wasn't just your run-of-the-mill fans, either. The folks from Cartilage Free Captain (obviously biased, but equally obviously acute and intelligent observers of football) had almost nothing good to say about Sherwood. Graham MacAree, owner of one of the smartest football minds I know, called Sherwood a "dangerous maniac." And yes, I checked, he was being earnest and said he was not exaggerating. And even I had a dig at Sherwood, though really at his contract.
None of those views are stupid. The CFC writers were calm and not emotional about Sherwood. Graham knows what he is talking about better than most. And I still think that a 3 1/2-year contract was too long because I'm not convinced it was necessary.
But all day it's been nagging at me that what I've written here and on twitter is not really representing how I feel. I've got hope for Sherwood, and I think he could potentially do very well at Aston Villa. Many of the problems that people have taken issue with was that Sherwood was fond of the players he had coached in the Spurs youth system to a fault. It'll be hard for him to have that particular downfall at a club that he's never been involved with before.
Then there are the tactics. He throws attackers on and ignores the defense. He makes adjustments with seemingly no reason behind them, and sticks with things that didn't work far too long. In short, he manages like someone who has no idea what they're doing. And yet, he won 50% of the 28 matches he was in charge of at Tottenham. Sure, his "attack attack attack" strategy meant that he got very few draws, but at this point Villa need wins. They've been getting losses more than anything this year, so there's hardly much further they can go into the black hole now.
And for a club that has a solid defensive core (and a keeper who, despite a few shaky matches lately, is one of the best in the Premier League) and can't score to save their lives, perhaps an attack-at-all-costs philosophy could be helpful. Heck, look at Tuesday's Hull City match. The first half was characterized by possession that would get to the edge of the Hull box and just flounder. Players refused to move. It was as if the Hull area was made of lava.
This is a club who are, on paper, good enough to score plenty of goals. Christian Benteke alone has proven that he can score nearly 20 in a season. Add into that Fabian Delph and Carles Gil, along with some players who should be above-average at least (Carlos Sanchez, etc) and you've got a recipe for a team who have a much higher ceiling than they have shown.
I don't think Sherwood is perfect. He probably wouldn't have been the man that I hired. But I'm not as convinced as so many other that his hiring is fatal for Aston Villa. And heck, given the poor timing of the search, he very well could have been the best option available. I doubt he'll take this club to the Champions League, but I honestly do think that he can achieve exactly what we need now (survival) and perhaps push the club into having some semblance of an identity later.
And there's the part of me that wants to simply ignore all the smart people and the analytical side of my brain and say that Sherwood is going to lead us to glory. I love Aston Villa so damn much, and I want them to do well. I can see the makings of a great team there, and at this point all I've got left is hope. So there's no point in being too negative. If he ends up being terrible and taking us down, we were probably headed there anyways. There's potential in Sherwood, and at the very least there's entertainment. That's more than we've had for most of the season, so it's already an improvement.