Precarious. That’s the only word to describe Tim Sherwood’s position as Aston Villa, just nine games into the Premier League season, after a sequence of seven defeats in their last eight top-flight fixtures.
Villa were always taking a gamble when they appointed Sherwood, eight months ago now. He had a good prior spell at Tottenham but with a better quality of player, and his current problems may come down to that.
Over the summer the team’s spine – striker Christian Benteke, midfielder Fabian Delph, and defender Ron Vlaar – was ripped out, and it’s hard to see who the characters in that dressing room are now.
It’s a fairly average group of players with no stars or leaders and that combination, allied to a dreadful start, has left them shot of confidence and in a dire situation.
Aside from the signing of forward Rudy Gestede, who seems to have the required appetite and has done alright with the few chances served up, an extensive summer of recruitment has taken the team backwards.
There has been debate about whether Sherwood or others at the club have chosen the new arrivals. I’d think that he’s had great input into that process; otherwise Villa would just be giving him excuses for failure.
Clubs will now look at Villa and fancy they can turn them over. They are struggling to score goals and in danger of being bullied. The hope will be that they get to Christmas without being adrift at the bottom.
I wonder how popular Sherwood is with his players. He shoots from the hip but sometimes says things that don’t do him favours – for instance, that Benteke would keep Villa up if he had stayed.
He has talked about not changing his style but it’s not winning matches, and unless that changes on Saturday against Swansea, who are without a win in five league games, then I think he may well be sacked.
There’s a reason why the likes of Tony Pulis at West Brom and Sam Allardyce, now at Sunderland, keep getting jobs; they know how to dig in and get the results needed to stay up.
Victory at the weekend is far from beyond Villa, but if they fail again and they dispense with the relatively inexperienced Sherwood then I don’t think he can have any complaints.
Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who has played at two World Cups and two European Championships. He now works as a media commentator.