Tim Sherwood's Aston Villa in-tray: The five most pressing issues

Under Lambert, Villa suffered from a lack of identity, not helped by regular changes in personnel and in the way they set out to play

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The Independent Football

Tim Sherwood is the new manager of Aston Villa after agreeing a three-and-a-half year deal with the Premier League club.

Instil some self-belief

After just 12 goals in 25 Premier League matches, two wins in 21 league games since mid-September and five straight defeats, Villa have slipped into the bottom three and the mood in the dressing room, to use Paul Lambert’s phrase after Tuesday’s loss at Hull, is “as flat as it can be”.

Define Villa’s playing style

Under Lambert, Villa suffered from a lack of identity, not helped by regular changes in personnel and in the way they set out to play, with tactics becoming increasingly conservative. With games running out, it may not be a time to give players freedom of expression but a clear approach is essential.

Get the best from Benteke

Sherwood managed to rally Emmanuel Adebayor in his brief tenure at Tottenham last season and needs to work similar magic with Christian Benteke. The Belgian was a massive hit in his first Premier League season, when he scored 19 goals, but has only three this term and looks devoid of confidence.

Appoint an assistant

Failing to replace Roy Keane as his No 2 almost certainly contributed to Lambert’s demise and Sherwood will need to find a right-hand man for the tough months ahead. He knows it cannot be Chris Ramsey, who worked with him at Tottenham but is staying at Queen’s Park Rangers at least until the summer.

Win friends on the Holte End

Villa’s “12th Man”, as the sign adorning the hotbed of Villa support describes the famous stand, became increasingly subdued during Lambert’s time, clearing its collective throat more often to express dissent than support. The new manager needs them onside from the outset, starting with Saturday’s home match with Stoke City.

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