Football management is a dog-eat-dog world but there will be genuine warmth in the handshakes when Queen’s Park Rangers’ manager Chris Ramsey meets Tim Sherwood, his Aston Villa counterpart, in Tuesday night’s relegation six-pointer at Villa Park.
Such is the respect between the pair – coaching colleagues first with Tottenham Hotspur’s development squad and then the first team during Sherwood’s time in charge last term – that Ramsey is tipping his old pal to keep Villa in the Premier League “without a shadow of a doubt”.
“If I was a betting man, which we’re not allowed to do, I would be putting a bet on him,” said the 52-year-old, who still speaks to Sherwood “every four or five days”.
Ramsey’s own hopes of a top-flight role beyond May received an unforeseen boost on Saturday with a win at West Bromwich, which meant Rangers fans spent Easter contemplating a resurrection. It was Ramsey’s first win since his appointment as interim manager six games ago; though still second bottom, his side will go level on points with Villa if they beat them.
Ramsey admitted 4-1 was a flattering margin of victory but said it delivered an important “statement” after five straight defeats. “People will look at it and think we have played a team notoriously difficult to get four goals against,” he said. “Hopefully, they are worrying about us a little bit.”
Ramsey has overseen a switch to a 4-4-2 formation, with a front two of Bobby Zamora – whose brilliant lob for the third goal was the highlight of the afternoon – and Charlie Austin, who had a role in Eduardo Vargas’s opener and Joey Barton’s injury-time goal, and in between headed Rangers’ second.
Afterwards Barton suggested Austin was worthy of England consideration. “Why not? He has scored 16 Premier League goals in a struggling side,” the Rangers midfielder and captain said.Reuse content