ESPN Blogs
  • Premier League

Was an English chancer really the best Villa could do?

Alan TyersFebruary 16, 2015
Hislop: Sherwood has plenty to do

There is a school of thought among some English ex-footballers, pundits and managers that English managers don't get treated with the same respect that foreigners do: the Sam Allardici argument.

This has always flown in the face of all the evidence, and the career of Tim Sherwood is the clincher.

If a foreigner had Sherwood's record, there is no way on earth that he would be getting the job at Aston Villa. Sherwood was manager of Spurs - in itself a position he would never, ever have got if he came from Buenos Aires rather than Borehamwood - for just 28 matches. And then he got sacked. Now he's the best man to save one of England's greatest (and most screwed-up) clubs from relegation? Seven League Titles, seven FA Cups, a European Cup… and this is the best they could do?

Every chancer needs a gimmick... Sherwood's is the gilet © Getty Images

Sherwood's job will be made the harder because the Villa chief executive Tom Fox is also inexperienced; and the club are currently advertising for a director of football operations. Will that person be working above or below Sherwood? If it's below, what sort of experienced operator would choose to be under Sherwood? He is also, at time of writing, looking for an assistant.

At the absolute minimum, it's a big gamble. So why have Villa taken it? What does Tim Sherwood bring?

Sherwood has become something of a totem for ex-players in England. What he has, in spades, is a bunch of noisy and high profile mates in the media. Alan Shearer, Paul Merson and Jamie Redknapp are just three who have been touting him.

The press are keen for him to get the job because he's permanently peeved and angry; and likely to do and say things he shouldn't. That wins every time over a sensible technocrat. He also gets how to talk to the media, in a way that the man he replaced at Tottenham, Andre Villas Boas, never did.

Shearer was stating Sherwood's claims on the BBC yesterday. "We saw at Spurs that he is not afraid to ruffle feathers and upset people," said the England great. Translation: he shouted at the fancy foreign types and kicked them in five-a-side matches where possible.

Football has made vast leaps in terms of conditioning and preparation over the last few years, but for English players and indeed fans of a certain vintage, there's just nothing better than yelling at some Portuguese glove-wearing poseur in the Queen's English. They don't like it up 'em.

The boys in the studio will be hailing him for England manager within a year

This is not to say that getting in people's faces is Sherwood's only skill. Far from it. Professor Merson had also done his homework on the debate, commenting: "Tim doesn't mind throwing younger players into the team, as we saw during his time at Spurs."

"Selecting slightly younger players" might seem like a bit of a thin basis for a professional reputation, but if it's good enough for Merse, then who can argue with that? If only the likes of Ancelotti, Van Gaal and Mourinho would cotton on to the idea of picking young players, they could really go places. Come off it, Merse,

In addition to having a sizeable cheerleading squad in the world of punditry, Sherwood is a determined and disciplined self-publicist. His method so far has largely involved staring at the camera as if he is about to chin it, and telling everyone who will listen how good he is at managing. Sunday's game with Leicester was a case in point, when a few half-time pearls of wisdom in an advisory, popping-in capacity apparently won them the game.

If you're a chancer, you need a good bedrock of support, which Sherwood has. You need a gimmick, like the gilet. You need a bit of charm and a knack for the grand gesture, which he showed he definitely has, with the Adebayor salute. You also need a message that is simple and alluring and anyone can grasp. In Sherwood's case, that's a back-to-basics get stuck in, hit the big man and don't take any prisoners. The boys in the studio will be hailing him for England manager within a year, I guarantee you.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd