"We have 13 cup finals left in the league and hopefully another one at Wembley." - Tim Sherwood
|End of an era (Getty Images)|
It's been a rollercoaster ride at Aston Villa and it was by no means willing to slow down with this week being no exception. Last Saturday saw the team score their first goal in six games, however, it was followed by a 2-0 loss against Hull City on Tuesday night. This saw the end of Paul Lambert's Aston Villa career, a reign that spanned one hundred and one games, which only saw twenty five wins; including the heavy defeats to Chelsea and Arsenal. We all believed that Villa were establishing themselves, yet struggling to see what the club were actually trying to achieve. What is their style of play? Who can be their stand out performer? Many said we were over-reliant on counter attacking football, others said long balls were our 'speciality', whereas Lambert tried to make us into a version of Bayern Munich. However, we were the team that couldn't score goals and played boring football. A team lacking in confidence, passing balls sideways and backwards; it's all well and good having 62% possession but if you're not creating chances and players aren't making runs, there's no point in having the ball. The club was now a joke. "Aston Nilla" cried the papers. Fans starting to become agitated, angry, disgruntled, "Lambert out" ringing around the stadium after another winless run of five. It almost became inevitable even for Randy Lerner and Tom Fox to ignore.
Let's be fair though, Paul Lambert did give us some things to cheer about. There was the 6-1 win against Sunderland, wins against Chelsea and Man City at home, and Arsenal and Liverpool away, and that 4-3 victory over West Bromich Albion last season. He brought in Ron Vlaar, Carles Gil and Christian Benteke and helped Fabian Delph progress into the player he is today. He worked within tight constraints and managed to keep us in the Premier League despite having to hang on by finger
nails. And, we are still in the Premier League. He has left us with at least a chance of retaining that.
But now, there is a new beginning.
|New man Time Sherwood (Neville Williams)|
Tim Sherwood returns to football after being given a three and a half year contract at Villa Park. After leading Tottenham Hotspur to a total of thirteen wins in twenty two games in his six month spell at White Hart Lane, Villa can look forward to a young manager with passion, confidence and honesty. I'm sure he won't hold his tongue.
His first challenge is to keep Villa in the Premier League. He has thirteen games left, "13 cup finals" as Lambert put it. But he has enough players capable of avoiding the drop into the Championship. Yet, these players are low on confidence, lacking in self belief, so you could argue his biggest challenge is to galvanise these players into playing for him and the claret and blue shirt. One of those players is Christian Benteke - the player that single handedly kept Villa safe from relegation in his first season at the club. With a total of just twelve goals scored this season, the Belgium only adding two, he is a fundamental part to the squad that needs to start firing.
Aston Villa have a team that can stay up. We have the potential that needs to be fulfilled.
Aston Villa 2-1 Leicester City
FA Cup 5th Round
|Weimann, Delph and Cleverly celebrate with Bacuna (Getty Images)|
Villa secured their place in the hat for the quarter finals of the FA Cup on Sunday, when they put two past Leicester City thanks to goals from Leandro Bacuna and Scott Sinclair. New boss Tim Sherwood watched from the stands as Scott Marshall took control in the dugout, however his input was needed as Villa finished the first half 0-0 and his words made an immediate impact. They got bodies in the box, passed the ball round quicker and were more direct.
Villa's midfield will need to start chipping in with goals and they did so yesterday. Ron Vlaar, returning to first team football after being out since New Year's Day, found Bacuna on the left hand side of the pitch. The Dutch man then drove forward, taking on Danny Simpson with intent before unleashing a shot that nestled in the far right side of the net. Villa could have been in front one nil, had Benteke's not been offside when he put the ball neatly into the back of the net in the first half. But the Belgium striker made up for his straying nature when he set up Sinclair in the 89th minute for his first Villa goal. His lofted ball found Sinclair, who hit his shot towards Schwarzer's net. The goalkeeper should have done better, but he fumbled the ball into the back of his own net.
Now Villa are just one win away from Wembley. Here's to a good sixth round draw, up the Villa.