Can Sherwood fire Aston Villa to safety?
With Aston Villa occupying 18th spot in the Premier League table last week, boss Paul Lambert's borrowed time finally ran out and chairman Randy Lerner pulled the trigger on his under-fire helmsman.
As the Scot departed, Tim Sherwood arrived to take the reigns at Villa Park. But can the former Norwich, Spurs and Blackburn man steer his troops from the murky waters and away from one of the more perilous positions in the Villans history?
Sherwood takes over the Birmingham club in the midst of one of English top-flight football's stalwarts and their staring down the barrel, embroiled in a relagation scrap. Seemingly at the very least.
The Lions sit within a select band of sides that could, realistically slide through the relegation trapdoor and into the Championship below. The fact thus far do not make for pretty reading and serve to underline the plight Aston Villa are in. In the 25 games played so far this campaign, Villa have won just five, of which three came in the opening four outings. More worryingly, they have lost 13 games, scoring just 12 times.
The time came for drastic action - perhaps later than expected - but does the new Villa boss have the time and ability to save his side? After Villa have flirted with the danger zone during the latter stages of the last two terms, is this their time to make the drop into the second tier, after establishing themselves as one of the founding members of the Premier League?
In December 2013, after Andre Vilas Boas left as Tottenham Hotspur manager, Sherwood was appointed first team coach after joining as assistant coach five years before. Sherwood had mixed results in his first foray into top flight management. He was a manager that did not shirk controversy. That was ultimately his undoing during his brief tenure at White Hart Lane as the captain of the ship, before he was sacked by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, less than six months after his appointment.
With reference to Aston Villas and with as bleak a picture as theirs' this term - particularly in the goal-scoring department - Sherwood's position as manager, nay saviour, should not be of particular concern to Villa fans.
Before Sherwood took over first team duties in North London pre-AVB, The Lily Whites had scored 15 goals in 16 games. In same amount of games in the following period, Sherwood's men scored 25 times - 10 more than under AVB - and whether a coincidence or not, Sherwood's attacking naunces, vested in his own style as a player, served Spurs well in the offensive third.
As we saw in the FA Cup fith round this past weekend, with Sherwood watching on from stands, his half time words were of clear motivation to his new charges as in the second period Villa seemed to exhude more of an attacking flair as they went on to topple fellow domestic strugglers Leicester City. Whether he can replicate that in the more pivotal league clashes remains to be seen.
The concern may lie in Sherwood and his on-field tactics but more pertinently his rotation policy.
Often favouring individuals of his own preference that weren't necessarily beneficial to his team, with particular reference to team balance and consistency. However, with Villa having little of the latter to speak of, the pressure should be off - at least in the short term. Sherwood has the tools to fire Villa up the table, in the underperforming Christian Benteke and Gabby Agbonlahor, but also in loan signing Scott Sinclair and Spaniard Carles Gil, who could give the Villans the width they are crying out for. Villa's best chance of survival is to get scoring goals again and then the defence in turn may also revert back to the stingy defensive unit, that they retained in the early weeks of the season. If Villa can throw the shackles off they can still push clear of trouble.
The more pressing occasions are likely to come after the cliched 'Honeymoon period'. For Aston Villa, that is likely to come in April, with away days at Manchester United, former employers Spurs and Manchester City.
If the West Midlands outfit are still mired in relagation anxiety at that point, it is these games where Sherwood will earn his corn. Not just for Aston Villa's Premier League status, but to exorcise the last few weeks he endured in North London and give himself a fresh start with the potential he has in managerial circles.