Tim Sherwood: 'Escape the drop and I’ll make sure Aston Villa do not suffer this again'

Sherwood has begun his reign with narrow defeats to Stoke City and Newcastle United but Villa can escape the bottom three with victory tonight

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The Independent Football

He is still seeking his first points as Aston Villa manager but Tim Sherwood is optimistic that his relegation-threatened team will “not look back” if they can end a seven-match losing streak with a derby win over West Bromwich Albion tonight.

With the West Midlands rivals meeting again at Villa Park in an FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday, Sherwood sees this double-header as a potentially “massive” springboard for his side.

“If we win the two games it’s a huge shot in the arm for confidence and a much-needed boost for the fans who have been in the doldrums for a few years now,” he said.

Sherwood has begun his reign with narrow defeats to Stoke City and Newcastle United but Villa can escape the bottom three with victory tonight and the manager pledged that “if we can get ourselves out of it, we won’t ever be in this situation again”.


He added: “If we get out of this situation this season, we aren’t going to be in it next year because I will have the opportunity to build something. 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.”

Tonight’s contest holds extra intrigue for the fact that the 46-year-old was close to taking the Albion job both in the summer – prior to Alan Irvine’s appointment – and in January before Tony Pulis took the job. Sherwood, when asked if there were any hard feelings, replied: “Not at all, it’s a good little club, it just wasn’t right for me and it wasn’t right for them. I’m delighted I’m at this massive football club now.”

Villa may be the bigger club but Albion are one of the top flight’s form teams and profiting from the greater experience of Pulis, who has lifted them to 13th after a run of one defeat in 10. Sherwood has had less time to make an impact – he admitted it was “impossible” to know his best starting XI yet – but insinuated that the Welshman’s squad was better equipped for a scrap.

“With the players available, I don’t think we can do that,” he said of Pulis’s battling approach, adding: “If there wasn’t a confidence issue, I think Villa [would be] more capable of challenging towards the top half but we’re not in that situation. Who is best equipped to get out of a relegation battle? That’s something I’m still trying to decide.”

Sherwood, who hopes to have Ron Vlaar back in central defence, could do with two in-form forwards like Albion’s Saido Berahino and Ideye Brown – both due to undergo late fitness tests – against a visiting defence unbreached in four matches. He will ask his players to be bold and “show their ability in the final third and get their shots off” but above all, he wants to know which ones can handle the pressure.

“They’re at a big club, wrong end of the table – that’s pressure [and] I’m trying to flush them out, find out who have got the big [balls] to go and do the job,” he said.

Tonight could provide some telling answers.