Tuesday’s Midlands derby clash between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion (Watch live online via Live Extra, 2:45 pm ET) will go a long way toward determining whether or not the former, led by new manager Tim Sherwood, can achieve Premier League survival.
[ TV SCHEDULE: Tue./Wed.’s PL action ]
No one knows it more — and no one is heaping more pressure onto his team — than Sherwood. Speaking to reporters in his day-before press conference, Sherwood was happy to point out how important Tuesday’s game, between 19th-placed Villa and 13th-place-and-surging West Brom, is for the Villans’ Premier League future. In his mind, win Tuesday and it’ll spur Villa to PL survival.
“Beat Albion [Tuesday] night and we’ll never look back.”
“It’s no laughing matter now and you can’t tip-toe around the situation.
“The reality is we’re in it (a relegation battle) but the reality is we’ve got an opportunity to get ourselves out of it. If we can get ourselves out of it, we ain’t never coming in this situation again. Never.
“If we get out of this situation this season, we ain’t going to be in it next year because I will have the opportunity to build something and I won’t let that happen again. I think there is enough to work with over a long period, I’m just hoping I’ve got enough time here to save the situation.”
Nothing can galvanize a team — or a fanbase — quite like a massive derby win at home, so Sherwood’s right in saying Tuesday could be the ultimate turning point in Villa’s season. On the other hand, it’s entirely conceivably that West Brom, who have lost just once since Tony Pulis took charge on New Year’s Day, could walk out of Villa Park with all three points.
Then, what for Villa? Putting all of his eggs into one basket is a brilliant strategy, if they win, but if Sherwood moves to three losses in his first three league games in charge — and Villa to their eighth-straight PL loss — the potential for the Villa players conceding defeat three months early becomes very real.