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Aston Villa

The Tim Sherwood effect

The Boot Room

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As the second youngest manager in the most competitive league in the world, you would think Tim Sherwood would be fazed by his limited experience compared to the other Premier League managers.

This is the complete opposite to how he portrays himself. He appears to be a manager that does what he believes is best and does not backtrack on his views and opinions, even when they offend others.

A key example of this is when he was when he took over at Tottenham in December 2013. He replaced Andre Villas-Boas initially on an interim basis and then full-time until the end of the season.

His time at Tottenham ended in May 2014. During that time, Sherwood had many memorable moments. One that was particularly of note was when Tottenham lost 4-0 to Chelsea.

If your team lose and they try their best, then there can be no complaints because they have done all that they could have to win the match. But this was not the case when Tottenham lost to Chelsea.

Tottenham were at fault for the first two goals, but usually the manager of the club would still make excuses about and defend the team’s performance and that would be the end of it. Not Tim Sherwood. He publicly criticised his players for their abysmal display.

For some unknown reason, this is frowned upon within football and it is an unwritten rule that managers do not berate their players in public. Tim Sherwood doesn’t adhere to such rules and he made sure his players knew about it.

Sherwood is not into mollycoddling players, which seems to be the norm now, because they are grown men, not babies. The reason why managers tend not to criticise players is because the players are the ones on the pitch every game, and if they decide not to play the manager’s job could be on the line.

Tim did not have time to think about all of those complications, but even if he did, I don’t think for one moment that he would have changed a thing about his damning assessment of the team’s performance.

When Gary Lineker made his opinions known about the way Tim Sherwood had addressed his players, Tim responded by saying that he didn’t really know Gary Lineker and that Gary was entitled to his opinion. Sherwood also went on to say that if he lost players due to the comments he made, they were probably not the type of players he wanted anyway.

Sherwood wasn’t trying to be rude and aggressive, he was just being honest. He assessed the situation and gave his verdict. It’s the same thing that all managers do, but Tim just wasn’t economical with the truth and it won him many supporters.

As an Arsenal fan, Tottenham’s greatest rivals, I found it hard, at the time, to admit that I really liked and respected Tim Sherwood. Now that he is the Aston Villa manager, I am more than happy to sing his praises.

The other main thing that Tim Sherwood seems to be immensely talented at doing is getting the best out of players who others had started to give up on. My three examples to support this point are Emmanuel Adebayor when Sherwood was at Tottenham, and Christian Benteke and Tom Cleverley when he took over at Aston Villa. Emmanuel Adebayor came to life at Tottenham when Sherwood started to show some belief in him. Thanks to Tim Sherwood, Adebayor was recalled to the first team line-up for Tottenham’s Capital One Cup clash against West Ham on December 18, 2013 and he went on to appear in 24 of the last 28 matches in all competitions.

In addition, he scored 11 goals in 20 games for Tottenham under Sherwood, having only played one game prior to that in the 2013/14 season. Sherwood believed in Adebayor and it was a gamble that payed off.

Now to Benteke. When Sherwood arrived at Aston Villa in February 2015, Benteke had just recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon and the question on everybody’s lips was whether he would be able to regain his form. This question was soon answered.

Before Sherwood’s appointment, Benteke had started 15 games and scored 3 goals. Sherwood became Aston Villa’s manager in February and by April; Benteke had started 10 games and scored 9 goals.

Just like he had done with Adebayor, Sherwood released the inner beast in Benteke and brought him back to life. Benteke owes a great deal to Tim, because it is highly likely that Sherwood’s immense belief in the Belgian enabled him to secure a £32.5 million move to Liverpool.

The third and final player is Tom Cleverley. Under Tim Sherwood, Cleverley was reinvigorated. His time at Manchester United seemed to be up and he went to Aston Villa on a season-long loan. Since Sherwood took over from Paul Lambert, Cleverley was transformed.

Towards the end of the season, Cleverley scored in each of three of Villa’s matches against Manchester City, Everton and West Ham United. Before this, he had failed to do so in his last 31 appearances. Cleverley himself said that he had to give Tim Sherwood credit for getting him where he was.

Cleverley will be in the blue of Everton this year instead of Aston Villa’s claret and blue, but once again, Sherwood was influential in his transfer. He picked Cleverley up when he was down and instilled confidence in him again.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, Tim Sherwood does what he feels is best, not what everybody else thinks he should do. A clear indication of this is his touchline antics.

He screams at his players when they aren’t performing, he cheers and pumps his fist in the air when they score a goal or win a match. No other manager in the Premier League shows as much emotion as Tim and as a fan, it is fantastic to watch.

Sherwood was interviewed by Martin Samuel for the Daily Mail in March this year, and when asked about his touchline antics, he simply replied “I could try acting. I could sit down and make little notes and everyone would say I’ve matured. But I know that’s impossible.”

He also couldn’t understand why the other managers aren’t as “emotionally involved” as he is. Maybe they are on the inside. But from what I have seen of Tim Sherwood since he took over at Tottenham in December 2013, what you see is what you get. He doesn’t make excuses or shirk his responsibilities.

I think he has unique qualities that will elevate him and any teams he manages in the future to the highest level. You can’t fake passion like Tim’s and hopefully he can make a complete success at Aston Villa in his first full season in charge.

Managers like Tim Sherwood don’t come along very often and if he hadn’t been in charge of Tottenham, I would definitely want him to be the next Arsenal manager. He has my full support for the 2015/16 season. Well until Aston Villa face Arsenal, then he’s on his own!

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s play-off final is vital regarding the future of Jack Grealish

The 22-year-old has matured significantly under Steve Bruce this season.

Josh Kerr

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Photo: Getty Images

Aston Villa’s day of destiny awaits, and the future of Jack Grealish could also hang on this crucial Wembley fixture.

The 22-year-old has been in wonderful form for The Villans this season, and he showcased his talent in the play-off semi-final over two legs.

Villa edged past Middlesbrough 1-0, with Grealish playing a starring role over and club’s supporters will be desperate to keep their star man.

However, the future of the Solihull born youngster could hinge on whether Steve Bruce’s side gain promotion to the Premier League with a number of clubs set to swoop if Villa don’t reach the top-flight.

According to the Birmingham Mail, Grealish was recently offered a big money move to Leicester but opted to instead stay at Villa Park.

However, if Aston Villa were to fall at the final hurdle at Wembley then it may be difficult for Grealish to focus on another year in the Championship especially if the Premier League comes knocking once again.

The attacking midfielder has blossomed under Bruce this season and has been central to the club’s promotion hopes.

He has really matured over the year and his performances on the pitch have continued to impress those who once doubted whether he would fulfill his potential.

According to reports from the Mirror, Villa will need to cut costs if they fail in the play-offs and Grealish would be one of the club’s more saleable assets.

Grealish would be a huge loss to Villa, but the Midlands side will be full of confidence going into one of football’s richest fixtures.

They will know full well that a win could be the factor that ensures the club are able to withstand elusive offers for some of their top players.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s James Chester comes back to haunt former manager Tony Pulis

The Welsh defender came back to bit his old boss in the play-off semi clash.

Max Cohen

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James Chester
Photo: Getty Images

Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough side were expertly stifled by Aston Villa in their play-off semifinal, as the Villans held Boro to 180 minutes of scoreless football.

Villa centre-half James Chester was a constant rock at the back, revealing to Pulis that his former boss was wrong to sell him when the two were together at West Bromwich Albion.

Chester signed for the Baggies from Hull City in the summer of 2015, after five impressive seasons for the Tigers. The fee was reported to be in the region of £8 million and many expected the Welsh international to excel in the back four under Pulis.

Yet, frustratingly for the centre-back, Chester made only 13 league appearances for the Baggies in the 2015/16 campaign. The Welshman started just nine Premier League matches all season, as Pulis clearly did not consider him as first-choice at the Hawthorns.

After just one year at West Brom, Chester was sold to Championship side Aston Villa in 2016.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

In the following two seasons at Villa Park, the centre-back has enjoyed tremendous success, making over 75 appearances and establishing himself as an indispensable presence at the back.

This season, Chester has struck up a formidable partnership with former Chelsea captain John Terry.

The airtight defensive combination was on full display during the two matches against Middlesbrough, as Chester and Terry stifled the high-octane Boro attack.

Featuring the likes of Britt Assambalonga, Adama Traore, Stewart Downing, Patrick Bamford, and Rudy Gestede, the Teesiders’ star-studded frontline was held scoreless due to Villa’s superb defense- led by James Chester.

As Tony Pulis watched his side run out of ideas and fall to a 1-0 aggregate defeat, he will surely be ruing his 2016 mistake.

Allowing James Chester to be sold to Aston Villa truly came back to haunt the Boro boss, as the Welsh international delivered Pulis a dramatic reminder of his abilities and cost the Teesiders a spot at Wembley.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa should at least take a look at Carles Gil this summer

The Spaniard spent the season out on loan from Aston Villa at Deportivo La Coruna.

Mathew Coull

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It looks as though Carles Gil will be leaving Aston Villa this summer. The Birmingham Mail reported this week that the Spaniard has no future at Villa Park, with the club looking to offload him in the summer.

An apparent obligation on the part of his current loan club Deportivo La Coruna to bring him in permanently has now been denied in the Spanish press. Marca now claims the permanent deal is void, after Depor’s relegation from La Liga.

It comes after a difficult season for Gil, in which he suffered a hernia problem and was eventually frozen out by new manager Clarence Seedorf.

But ask any Aston Villa fan and they will tell you that Gil is immensely talented. In fact, many would like to see him get another chance in England.

So should he?

Aston Villa paid Valencia a fee of around £3.2 million for the player, according to BBC Sport. It came after two excellent seasons out on loan at fellow Spanish club Elche.

Therefore, retrieving such a fee for the player would surely not be a difficult task for the club. But he clearly still has something to offer, especially if Villa remain in the Championship.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Gil was one of only a few players to come away from Aston Villa’s relegation campaign with any semblance of dignity and in his first half season at the club looked a real talent.

At just 25-years-old there is also still plenty of scope for him to improve. If Villa stay down again this season then major investment in recruitment is bound to diminish. So having a player with the talent of Gil still around at the club could be like a new signing for Villa.

It certainly seems as though Tony Xia and Steve Bruce want to banish any memory of that awful Aston Villa side that was relegated to the Championship. However, Gil might be one of the very few from that squad with redeemable qualities.

At the very least, it is worth keeping him through pre-season and seeing what he can do. If Bruce does not like what he sees, he can give Gil the boot before the transfer window shuts.

But if he does? Well, Gil could easily resurrect himself a decent career at Villa Park.

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