Things are bad right now. Aston Villa are in a pretty major funk and even thinking about this club isn't very fun. We need to get out of this soon. But how?
Q: After the loss to Liverpool, Aston Villa now find themselves in the relegation zone. So uh, what should they do now?
I'm pretty much on the Sherwood Out bus already. After an early stretch of relatively kind games, in which our general level of play and quality should have seen us with at least 9 points, we instead have 4, almost directly due to his tactical decisions. We can't afford to keep losing while he learns on the job, and I have no faith he will learn. The club should already be reaching out to possible alternatives.
If the management isn't ready for that kind of step, they need to looking for some kind of specific tactical help in the coaching team. It seems Ray Wilkins isn't the man for that but we need someone in there.
I'm not fully in the 'Sherwood Out' camp just yet, but it's becoming harder and harder to ignore his mistakes.
Tim has a team that is in touching distance in terms of quality of his previous Tottenham team - a squad which should practically guarantee a top ten finish every season. For some reason, Aston Villa have capitulated in every single game so far aside from 3 matches.
If you look at Watford and Crystal Palace; you'll see two teams set up like Aston Villa. Both are arguably doing a lot better than AVFC and this is more than likely because their managers intervene for the better.
Going back to Sherwood's mistakes actually gives me a strong headache. His errors aren't football manager errors - they are more closely related to the time I left a match on Football Manager 2010 running whilst I went to make a drink, only to be surprised that I'd lost the game 4 - nil because Galatasaray had effectively combated my simple attacking side complete with tactical laziness.
It's scary that Tim Sherwood mirrors me leaving a game of Football Manager on. You can't simply plug and play a formation each game and hope it wins. It's not 1972 where you could win games on grit. It's not 2002 where a cheeky bit of experimentation might win you a match. Villa need a system and they need to work with the tools they have, rather than shoehorn players into roles they aren't comfortable with.
Set up simple, Tim. You're too far into the deep end to learn how to swim.
Sherwood bought himself time saving Villa from relegation last season. He did good business in the transfer market this summer. I've made the excuse for him that he hasn't had enough time to see where these players are best used, but it's almost October. That time is over. Figure it out Tim. We have a brutal slate of fixtures coming up, but some of them must end in three points for Villa. He's got 'til Christmas.
Ugh. I don't want to say "switch managers" because we've done that four for-real times and a few others if you count interims since MON left and look what good it's done us. But it's becoming increasingly hard to envision Tim Sherwood being successful at Aston Villa. He did so well to motivate the club and get them just above relegation last year, but the run to the FA Cup final and the result of avoiding relegation help us to gloss over the fact that the 5-1-7 record he compiled is still not great despite being leagues better than what we had under Lambert.
And a 1-1-5 start to this season is even worse. Combine those and in his time at Villa (35% of which has been with "his" players) Sherwood has amassed a 6-2-12 record. That's a point per match exactly, and that's the sort of record that can see a club relegated easily. It hasn't in the past two years, but we've also been massively lucky.
So maybe it's time to start looking again. I really honestly think these are good players we have right now. And not good in the Paul Lambert sense of "oh, they might work if you squint and the planets align" but good in the traditional sense of the word. Sherwood did a fantastic job using his money this summer. The problem is he's not using the new people well. He bought a new set of LEGO and is wondering why they're so rubbish in helping him complete his colouring book. It might be time to get someone who actually knows how to use our toys.
I don't want to say sack Sherwood, but it would be the best time to do it if we lose to Stoke. The international break would give the club a little bit longer to appoint a new manager, and work from there. Preferably, Tim makes it work against Stoke and Villa push on, with a tactic that fits the squad, unlike most of what we've seen this season so far.
I feel like I'm really naive by remaining optimistic about this team right now, and I've gotten to the point where I accept relegation as a realistic possibility this season...but still, at this moment, I don't want any sweeping changes to be made.
Yes, it's bad that Villa are in the relegation zone with a daunting set of fixtures coming up. But it's not like this team isn't competitive; all of Villa's losses have come by one-goal margins. I honestly still believe Sherwood has huge potential as a manager, and I'm not going to give up on that after two months of a season where Villa have been terribly unlucky and could easily be in the top half. If things are still really bad at Christmas, then yes it's desperation time and a change will be needed.
But at the moment, Aston Villa have a deep squad with lots of high-potential players and a driven, high-potential manager that wants more than anything else to do well. And I'm not ready to give up on that because of seven matches where Villa have struggled for results.
I have plenty of concerns with Sherwood, but the reality is that those larger questions can be addressed after the weekend's match. We NEED to win the match against Stoke. In any way possible. Those three points are absolutely vital, especially since our fixture list after the international break is less than favorable. If Sherwood can manage a result against Stoke, he'll ease the pressure a tad. He'll still have questions to answer, but it's much easier to do that after a win. If he loses, or even draws, it could be a long time until Villa have another realistic chance to grab three points, and I don't think he has that much time. We left Lambert in much, much longer than he should have been - I'm not going through another dreadful season waiting for our manager to turn it around, wearing out the "the points will come" excuse every weekend.
I don't really want to be, but I think I'm a Sherwood Out person. It's weird because, I held on to not calling for Lambert's head way longer than most Villa fans, but I find myself in the opposite camp now. With Lambert, it was boring, it was awful, but he got us over the line. (Probably wouldn't have last season, I fully admit.) But with Sherwood, yeah, it can be good at times, but the inability to adjust is actively costing us points on a weekly basis. In match adjustments probably are something that will improve with experience, but I'm not sure it will enough by the end of the season. And by then, it may very well be too late for Villa. I get that it's not really healthy to change managers as soon as something goes wrong, but Sherwood isn't someonewith a proven track record. He's someone we took a chance on and it paid off last season. But I think most of us knew the potential was there for things to go wrong. Over the summer, we saw the might of the Premier League money. Villa splashed out and a lot of nice signings. I'm not really sure we can then afford to lose the money and go down because we gave too long a leash to an inexperienced manager.
It's not the most fun thing to discuss, but we want to hear from you. What should Villa do now?