It’s never easy to be drafted in with a brief of galvanising a side in free-fall and delivering immediate results.
To inherit the lowest scoring team in the league, a squad bereft of attacking quality that are alienated from that feeling of confidence and turning them into match winners poses an onerous challenge to any coach.
Following Paul Lambert’s departure, Villains chairman Randy Lerner turned to Tim Sherwood and boy, did he deliver.
With an objective of safety being the primary aim, Sherwood surpassed his targets in scintillating style by not only helping them retain their Premier League status comfortably, but also steering Villa to an FA Cup final in the process.
Although the Wembley showpiece ended in nightmare fashion after being put to the sword by a merciless Arsenal, the former Spurs boss had completed a remarkable recovery job that was unexpected by many.
The next step was to transform the Villains from regular flirters with relegation into a more consistent Premier League outfit.
[ffc-gal cat=”aston-villa” no=”5″]
However, with Lerner looking to cash in at every opportunity, the ideology of building your around team around your star striker was never a viable option to Sherwood.
And with the acrimonious u-turn departure of captain Fabian Delph, Sherwood was left with a major summer overhaul on limited resources, along with a bitter taste in his mouth following Delph’s betrayal.
Experienced Dutch defender Ron Vlaar also called time on his Villa career to leave Sherwood having to reconstruct the spine of his limp XI.
Despite being given little financial room to manoeuvre, Sherwood has been diligent in his transfer movement. In have come experienced defenders Micah Richards on a free transfer and boyhood Villa supporter Joleon Lescott for a cut-price £1 million from Midlands rivals West Brom.
With the price of English players being so astronomical, Sherwood has elected to go down the more economical route by recruiting from France, bringing in no more than four players from Ligue 1.
After scouring the market for striking reinforcements, Sherwood decided that Blackburn target-man Rudy Gestede was the most suitable replacement for the outgoing Benteke.
All seemed to be going swimmingly as the £6 million pound striker came off the bench to head home the winner as Villa’s season got off to a flyer with victory over newly-promoted Bournemouth.
Sadly for Sherwood, the opening day has been the pinnacle of their underwhelming league season to date.
Failure to beat an out-of-form Sunderland and a capitulation away to Leicester are matches which have sat uncomfortably with discontent supporters.
Once the boos rang out around Villa Park in the aftermath of Villa’s humbling at home to West Brom, the pressure of beating bitter rivals Birmingham City at home in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday became immense.
The first half of the Birmingham fixture was a continuation of the below par performance against the Baggies as Villa were unable to find any fluency in the attacking third and looked susceptible to Brum’s rapid counter-attacking style.
But everything changed once Sherwood unleashed his Jack in the box for the start of the second half.
Solihull born Jack Grealish was never given a chance to thrive under Sherwood’s predecessor Paul Lambert, with the former Spurs academy coach giving him the platform to express his precocious talent on the Premier League stage as Villa clawed to safety.
And on Tuesday, Grealish’s impact changed the whole complexion of what had up to that point had been a match deficient in quality. The boyhood Brummie toyed with Birmingham’s back four, who had great trouble in dealing with the threat he posed throughout the second period.
Gestede endeared himself to the fans by powerfully heading home from fellow signing Jordan Amavi’s standup cross and in that motion crisis was averted.
Now I’m all too aware that Villa will face much sterner examinations than the one Birmingham provided on Tuesday, but there’s no remedy for a lack of confidence than getting one over on your city rivals.
Furthermore, Sherwood has demonstrated that he is able to work well with youngsters and get them to perform at the top level.
His development of Tottenham’s academy graduates Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, Nabil Bentaleb and Danny Rose has showcased the affable Sherwood’s ability to get the best out of players.
So who better to nurture Grealish’s undoubted potential than the current man at Villa’s helm?
However, the harsh nature of the Premier League beast is that unless you get an instant success and maintain them consistently Sherwood will always be situated within touching distance of a P45.