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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 23 October, 2019
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It was a disappointing day for Tim Sherwood but his reputation has been greatly enhanced

Not only did Villa stay safe, but Sherwood did it in style.

IN THE SIX months that Tim Sherwood was manager of Tottenham, he barely stepped foot in his luxury office at the club’s plush training centre.

His routine was the same every day. He would arrive at the training ground at 7am and spend an hour in the gym before meeting up with assistants Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey.

Before and after training, Sherwood’s base for the day would be in a corner of the canteen, nicknamed ‘the pub’ by Tottenham’s technical director Franco Baldini.

It is much the same now at Aston Villa and it seems somewhat appropriate for a manager who is perceived to rely more on man-management and instinct than tactics and meticulous preparation.

At Tottenham, Sherwood wanted to be open and transparent rather than spend the afternoon in front of his computer like his predecessor, Andre Villas-Boas.

He is a polarising character, the Marmite of Premier League managers.

On the one hand, there are those who appreciate Sherwood’s no-nonsense approach, his focus on empowering players and attitude that a simple game has been over-complicated by academic coaches.

They can point to Sherwood’s 59 per cent win ratio at Tottenham, when the Londoners finished sixth, and the instant impact he has made at Aston Villa since inheriting the relegation strugglers from Paul Lambert in February.

Not only are Villa safe, but Sherwood has done it in style. Before Sherwood, they scored just 12 goals in 25 league matches, but they have scored 19 in 13 matches since his arrival.

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On the other side are those who mock ‘tactics Tim’, the cockney chancer who has confidently blagged his way into two plum Premier League jobs but, ultimately, has managed only 43 matches.

On Saturday, Sherwood will ditch his infamous gilet and don a suit when he leads Aston Villa out at Wembley in search of the club’s first FA Cup triumph in 58 years.

If the 46-year-old can mastermind a victory over Arsenal, he will become just the second English manager to win the competition in the last 20 years after Harry Redknapp in 2008.

For all his media proclamations over the last 18 months, it will be by far the biggest statement Sherwood has made.

The former midfielder has always fancied himself as a manager, ever since he was appointed to Redknapp’s coaching staff at Tottenham in 2008.

During his time in north London, he rose to the role of technical co-ordinator and had the ear of chairman Daniel Levy to the extent that he was involved in the interview process when Villas-Boas was appointed to replace Redknapp in 2012.

He is also, though, someone who speaks his mind – and don’t we know it.

Part of the attraction of Villas-Boas was the way he spoke about promoting academy products. Sherwood, though, grew increasingly frustrated by the former Porto manager’s rash demands for unaffordable expensive signings while he ignored the youth team.

Sherwood pushed for the likes of Harry Kane, Nabil Bentaleb and Tom Carroll to at least be involved in Europa League and League Cup matches as he felt they were ready for first-team experience.

Soccer - FA Cup - Final - Arsenal v Aston Villa - Aston Villa Media Day - Day Two - Bodymoor Heath Source: Nick Potts

The tension with Villas-Boas grew to the extent that there was no longer any relationship between the first-team and the academy at Spurs, with an increasingly paranoid Villas-Boas fearing that Sherwood was a training ground spy for Levy.

Sherwood re-opened the line from academy to first-team in his short stint in charge of Spurs and that has been taken on this season by Mauricio Pochettino.

Sherwood considers the emergence of the likes of Kane and Bentaleb his legacy at White Hart Lane and is monitoring Spurs youngsters Carroll, Alex Prichard and Ryan Fredericks over potential summer moves to Villa Park.

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He knows he made some mistakes during his time as Spurs manager, not least in the media, although he was always fighting a losing battle with players he conceded saw him as a ‘supply teacher’ keeping the seat warm for someone else.

And he certainly won’t be inviting any Villa supporters to take his seat this weekend, even for some light-hearted ‘banter’.

Just as Sherwood was vindicated for calling for Spurs to trust their young players, many of the issues he highlighted as Tottenham’s main problems a year ago are exactly those cited by Pochettino now – a lack of intensity, desire, leadership and, in many cases, quality.

Source: Dan Baggott �/Vine

He can be economical with the truth. Fabian Delph, for example, was never on his list of transfer targets at Tottenham despite his recent claims.

But Sherwood is out to prove that he is more than a manager who plays 4-4-2 and tells his players to run about a bit.

He showed that when he outwitted Brendan Rodgers in the semi-final while Christian Benteke’s 12 goals in his last 12 games are a sign of the motivational qualities that made Sherwood a title-winning captain with Blackburn as a player.

If Villa win an historic FA Cup on Saturday, it will be a sign that Sherwood really is a manager worth paying attention to – even if he won’t have to worry about where to put any memorabilia in his office.

– Greg Stobart

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Will Walcott start and 4 more talking points ahead of the FA Cup final

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