Last week, while the media hyped up the Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao fight, Aston Villa Football Club’s fight against the dreaded drop to the Championship continued. On Saturday afternoon, the Villans certainly provided more entertainment than the boxers did later that night.
Tim Sherwood has instilled fight in his players, who seem to be reformed characters with a ‘never say die’ attitude. During our own winter of discontent, who would have thought that Villa fans would be disappointed by not gaining at least a point at the home of the then reigning champions, Manchester City, at the end of April? A few months ago, fans may have already been planning trips to Leeds, Huddersfield and Nottingham since it seemed the Championship was where the club was heading under Paul Lambert. Now that Tim Sherwood is at the helm, fans are looking up the table and are starting to look forward to the FA Cup final against Arsenal.
However, Tim Sherwood’s focus is on survival, as it should be. He wants his players to stay focused on keeping this club in the Premier League rather than worrying about who could be on the team sheet on May 30th, saying, “We could be a Championship side by then and we aren’t going to be happy if that happens.”
Brigada 1874 created a banner containing the words “Fight Like Lions” to try to spur the team on. These words have been adopted by the club as a tagline and the hashtag has been used by the players on various social networking sites, which shows the belief inside the Aston Villa camp.
Tim Sherwood recently talked about how he is getting the best out of the club’s players and his formula is a simple one – playing the players in their favoured positions. The former Spurs boss deems Leandro Bacuna a full back rather than a winger. The versatile player is starting to find his bearings in that role and does extremely well when he commits forward, as we have seen. In the past few weeks his final ball has improved significantly. The ball from Bacuna for Cleverley’s goal was Cowans-esque: the pass was perfectly dispatched and warranted an eye-catching finish. Bacuna has also played a part in the recent development of Benteke’s performances, as Bacuna likes to whip crosses in – crosses that Benteke thrives on.
Tim Sherwood has allowed players to commit forward, which has led to the recent improvement in the form of Tom Cleverley. The Manchester United loanee has now netted twice in successive games – a feat he last matched in 2010 while playing for Wigan Athletic. A couple of months ago, many fans would have criticised the signing of Tom Cleverley on a permanent deal but this deal is now one the majority of fans are eager for the club to press on with in the summer.
Tim Sherwood has brought a new atmosphere to the club and has filled everyone associated with Aston Villa with confidence, which was incredibly low under Paul Lambert.
Hopefully, the fans and the players match their performances against Everton, when the fans proved to be the twelfth man. It is incredibly important that the atmosphere is just as special against West Ham at the weekend when the Villa boys will battle for more valuable points in their bid to ward off the threat of relegation.