After losing Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph to Liverpool and Manchester City respectively over the summer, Sherwood has had the heart of his team ripped out. With plenty of new additions from France’s Ligue 1 who are talented, but unproven in the PL, expect another season of struggle for the Villans. Last season’s run to the FA Cup final provided brief respite for the Midlands club, who are openly on the market as American owner Randy Lerner looks to sell.
The Birmingham-based club have a rich history, winning seven league titles in their history and a European Cup in 1982, but relegation battles have been commonplace in recent seasons although Villa are one of seven clubs to have never been relegated from the PL. Villa’s arch rivals are Championship side Birmingham City, but their local foes in the PL include West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City.
Best possible XI:
—– Guzan —–
— Hutton — Richards — Clark — Amavi —
— Westwood —– Gueye —
—– Bacuna —- Grealish —- Agbonlahor —-
—— J. Ayew—–
Transfers In: Scott Sinclair ($4 million, Manchester City), Micah Richards (Free, Manchester City), Mark Bunn (Free, Norwich City), Idrissa Gueye ($15 million, Lille), Jordan Amavi ($15 million, Nice), Jordan Ayew ($15 million, Lorient)
Transfers Out: Christian Benteke ($49 million, Liverpool), Fabian Delph ($12 million, Manchester City), Ron Vlaar (Released), Shay Given (Free, Stoke City), Matthew Lowton ($1.5 million, Burnley), Andreas Weimann ($4 million, Derby County), Yacouba Sylla (Undisclosed, Stade Reannais), Antonio Luna (Free, Eibar), Nicklas Helenius (Free, Aalborg BK)
Last season: 17th in PL, Runners up in FA Cup – Villa struggled massively and Paul Lambert was fired in February with the battle against relegation looking grim. Sherwood arrived and helped steady the ship and got the best out of Benteke, Delph and found a gem in Jack Grealish to lift them up the table with some crucial wins at the end of the campaign. They survived. Just.
Star player: Idrissa Gueye – The holding midfielder from Lille comes with a huge reputation and his displays in preseason have drawn rave reviews. Gueye, a Senegalese international, will be in the thick of the battle week in, week out for Villa and is likely to be influential if Sherwood’s side can kick on and move towards the top 10 this season.
Coaches’ Corner: The nickname “Tactics Tim” is perhaps a little harsh on Sherwood as he motivated Villa last season and did what he had to do in order to save a team, which was severely lacking in confidence, from the drop. Losing Benteke and Delph will hurt his chances of succeeding this season, but the board have given Sherwood money to spend and this will truly be his Villa side. A top 10 finish would be a great achievement, but expect Sherwood to be one of the favorites for the sack if they struggle at the start of the season.
PST predicts: Another season of struggle beckons for Villa, but they might just surprise a few people. Sherwood is a young, energetic manager and his side is full of players who have yet to taste the PL or are looking for a second chance to prove themselves. Villa should stave off relegation, but it may not be pretty.
All week at ProSoccerTalk we are reviewing the dramatic 2014-15 Premier League season. From dishing out awards to looking back at the highs and lows in the 380 games as 20 teams battled it out, we’ll have every angle covered.
For the full archive of our review content, just hit the link above. Now, the marks are in and it is time to dish out the grades for each team in 2014-15.
Swansea City:Nobody expected Monk’s men to get a record points tally. Superb season which deserved a top six finish. Sustainability is the key for the Swans going forward and this could only be the start.
Southampton: Same could be said for Koeman’s Saints. After the mass exodus last summer the Dutchman worked miracles. So many highlights including 8-0 and 6-1 wins. A Europa League campaign next season would be a great reward.
Chelsea: Mourinho’s men marched to the title with four games to go and Hazard led a sublime team. In the second half of the season they lost their attacking panache. That’s the only reason they don’t get full marks.
Arsenal: Wenger is progressing this side. A third-place finish proves that and if they can keep everyone fit next season and add 1/2 star players this summer… Watch out.
Stoke City: Mark Hughes is doing a great job at the Brit. A record points tally for Stoke and when they are on form and firing on all cylinders, few can match them.
Crystal Palace: What a second half of the season it was. As soon as Alan Pardew replaced Neil Warnock, Selhurst believed again. A top 10 finish is the stuff of dreams for Pards and Palace.
Leicester City:Just four wins in the first 29 matches and then… BOOM! Nigel Pearson is unorthodox but got his boys playing late on as seven wins from their last nine suggests. One of the greatest “great escapes” in PL history.
West Brom: Alan Irvine was fired in January and Tony Pulis arrived to do his best Harry Houdini impression once again. The Baggies survived comfortably in the end and bagged big wins vs. Man United and Chelsea.
Tottenham: An up and down year for Spurs as Pochettino will be happy enough with his first season in charge at the Lane. Harry Kane’s emergence was a pleasant surprise and fifth place shows progress.
Manchester United: The Red Devils made hard work of making the top four, didn’t they? Louis van Gaal had mixed results to start with but a strong Spring carried them through. Now, time to spend the big bucks wisely and assemble a title-winning squad. Slow progress so far.
Manchester City:The Citizens had a down year but still finished second behind Chelsea. If Manuel Pellegrini remains he will likely make plenty of changes this summer. Fresh legs are needed but City aren’t far off. Some of the stuff they play is sublime.
West Ham: Fourth in December, a potentially special season unraveled as the Hammers finished 12th. Sam Allardyce has now left as a new era begins in east London.
Everton: A season to forget for the Toffees who suffered from their Europa League exploits and injuries to key man Lukaku and Barkley. Roberto Martinez knows Everton must do better.
Newcastle: They stayed up by the skin of their teeth. John Carver took over on an interim basis in January when Pardew left and the Magpies lost eight-straight, only saving themselves on the final day. Surely they’ll be better next year?
Burnley: Yes, they were relegated. But Sean Dyche can be extremely proud of his players. That stuck in close in so many games and had Danny Ings found his goalscoring touch after Christmas, it may well have been a different story. Down, but their heads held high.
Aston Villa: Paul Lambert was fired and his replacement Tim Sherwood saved Villa after restoring some attacking intent. They’re in the FA Cup final too but a rebuild is badly needed.
Sunderland: Dick Advocaat took over from Gus Poyet and saved the Black Cats but it was far from vintage stuff. Another team who needs a huge rebuild, but on their day they can give anyone a game. Season to forget.
Liverpool: This may seem a little harsh, but the drop-off from the Reds was alarming this season. After spending $150 million in the summer, it’s hard to see where that went. Losing Suarez hurt. Plus Sturridge being injured. But Rodgers is walking on thin ice after a sixth-place finish.
Hull City: The Tigers went down on the final day and a severe lack of goals (just 33) haunted Steve Bruce’s side. Expect plenty of players to leave this summer. From an FA Cup final to relegation in 12 months. Ouch.
QPR: The less said about this season the better. After Harry Redknapp left in Feb. the reins were handed to Chris Ramsey and he did his best but the defense was shocking. Can QPR keep their yo-yo club status going and bounce back?
Two games to go: Here’s how the Premier League relegation picture looks
Burnley – Bye, bye, Burnley. The Clarets went over 10 hours without scoring a goal before Danny Ings struck in the second half at Hull on Saturday to bag them a 1-0 win. It proved too little too late for Sean Dyche’s side as little Burnley haven’t spent big this season but have been well-organized and tough to beat. That extra touch of class in and around the box had just been missing as they’ve been relegated straight back down to the Championship after just six wins from 36 games.
QPR – The R’s will join Burnley in being relegated unless they beat Manchester City away from home on Sunday. So yeah, Chris Ramsey’s side seem doomed to go straight back down as their life a a yo-yo club continues. QPR’s Achilles heel has been shoddy defending all season and Harry Redknapp leaving in February did them no favors at all. 22 defeats from 35 games says it all. Big question marks regarding their status in the Football League next season as Financial Fair Play issues may hit them hard. Expect a clean out of an ageing squad.
Battling for their lives
Hull City – Dear, oh dear. Steve Bruce’s side slipped into the bottom three after losing at home to Burnley on Saturday and all of that momentum they earned from beating Crystal Palace and Liverpool in April has evaporated. Against Burnley they twice hit the crossbar via free kicks but at pivotal moments of the season they just haven’t had the goals to win games. The Tigers now face Tottenham and Manchester United in their final two games knowing they need at least a win, probably more, to survive.
Newcastle United – The Magpies snapped their horrendous eight-game losing streak on Saturday but only managed to grab a point at home to West Bromwich Albion. Hardly awe-inspiring but they have stopped the rot. John Carver’s men sit two points and one place above the bottom three but they have the easiest schedule remaining out of the five teams fighting for their lives: West Ham United away and QPR at home. Three points, or maybe even two, could be enough to keep them up.
Sunderland – Man, the Black Cats got lucky on Saturday. Their manager Dick Advocaat knew it too. Two deflected goals in the second half sealed a smash and grab win away at Everton but it doesn’t matter how you get the points. Sunderland has now won two on the spin and is unbeaten in three. Could it go down to the wire with their north east rivals Newcastle in the race against relegation? That would be incredible. As for their remaining games they host Leicester City in their next match (massive) and then finish the season with two away trips to Arsenal and Chelsea. The Mackems have a game in hand over their rivals but they have to beat Leicester next weekend ahead of two tough away games.
Leicester City – The Foxes have won six of their last seven and that run has been hailed as “phenomenal” by their manager Nigel Pearson. Leicester looked dead and buried on Dec. 26 as they were rooted to the bottom of the table and were six points from safety. After their incredible run they now sit in 15th place, three points above the bottom three with two games left. That game away at Sunderland next weekend will define their season. As for their final match they have QPR at home which is another winnable game. If Leicester can finish things off, Pearson has masterminded one of the greatest of “great escapes” the PL has ever seen.
Aston Villa – Tim Sherwood has revitalized Villa since replacing Paul Lambert. The Villans have won four of their last eight matches and look a completely different team as Christian Benteke and Tom Cleverley are banging in the goals. Villa is 14th on 38 points, four points clear of the drop, and has an away game at Southampton followed by a home match against Burnley to finish the season. If they can beat Saints next weekend and other results go their way then the Villans will be safe and Sherwood can kick-start his rebuild. Plus, they have the bonus of an FA Cup final to look forward to.
Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood nearly missed out on the job. At least, that’s what he told 6-year-old Charlie Pye.
The young Villa fan applied for the job in an adorable letter to club executive Tom Fox when former manager Paul Lambert left the club, but Villa ultimately went with Sherwood to replace him, just edging out Pye, who had a winning mentality and far lower demands.
Clearly with a little help from his parents, Pye penned the letter that outlined his plans for team improvement, what he would bring to the team, and what compensation he would as for.
“I think my team talks would be very good and my tactics would be excellent. We need to stop the goals by getting in the way. We need to score more by shooting on target. This is a winning formula, so my dad says. As for payment on taking the job, all I ask is for a signed claret and blue football, a WWE wrestling figure and some sweets. As a win bonus each week, I would want a Twix. I would appoint my mum and dad as assistant managers so they can drive me to the training ground each day. My mum is also very good at making bacon sandwiches for the players if that helps. If I am successful, I would also need you to tell my school that I don’t need to attend anymore as I have a job.”
Honestly, the kid had me at bacon sandwiches.
Unfortunately, Pye was not selected for the job, but Sherwood sent the boy a personalized letter explaining that he narrowly missed out on the position, and that he might be in contention in the future should the former Tottenham manager not work out.
It explained to Pye how “it is clear to see that you would indeed be an ideal candidate for the job” and “I’m informed that I just managed to pip you to the post so you were very close to being offered the job.” Sherwood asked the boy for his permission to “keep the letter on file just incase” things should not work out with Sherwood’s managerial tenure.
As far as publicity stunts go (which this obviously is), it’s an A+ for Aston Villa.