I'm not sure if you all know this, but Tottenham Hotspur play Aston Villa this weekend. I know! Shocking, isn't it? In case you've forgotten, Villa are currently managed by a Mr. Timothy Alan Sherwood, who used to work for Spurs as youth coach or something. Anyway, old Timothy doesn't really have an axe to grind with Tottenham, so the build up to this match has been pretty tame. It made this Q&A with SB Nation's Aston Villa blog, 7500 to Holte, really difficult.
In advance of this match, I spoke with Robert Lintott, managing editor of 7500, and did my very best to not ask him any questions about Tim Sherwood (Spoiler: I failed miserably at that).
Cartilage Free Captain: Hey Robert! Remember how last time we talked you guys had just lost to QPR? At least this time you guys earned a draw.
Robert Lintott: Grumble.
CFC: So, before we really get going, do you have an update for us on Tim Sherwood's win percentage? Is it still second to none?
RL: It's certainly not second to Paul Lambert's! The old gaffer had 29.57%, but good ol' Timmy has 37.5%. Heck, if Villa had done that all season and literally lost every other match, we'd be seven points better than we are now and in 13th.
Holy crap, you've just depressed me.
CFC: Speaking of Tactics Tim, how do you and the rest of the Villa faithful feel about him now that he's been in charge for a few months?
RL: Gah. Um. Mixed? Is that fair? It's been a weird few weeks, vacillating between the highs of beating West Bromwich Albion twice in a week (and bringing down Western Civilization by invading the pitch like a bunch of heathens) and the low of one point from our last three. So I can't really speak for lots of Villa fans because I'm pretty sure we fall everywhere on the spectrum.
But for myself, I still like the guy. A lot of what you guys warned us about is probably true. He seems to be constitutionally incapable of adjusting his tactics in the middle of a match. We saw that on Tuesday against QPR. When Ramsey switched to three at the back and flooded the midfield Sherwood looked at his narrow diamond midfield with Kieran Richardson and Leandro Bacuna at the wings and thought "this is fine."
So that stinks. But we're scoring. We're playing far more watchable football. We're scoring. We actually feel like we have a chance. And did I mention that we're scoring? Before Timmy came along we had 12 goals in 25 league matches. We've had 11 in the 7 since. I mean, as a fan, that is enough to make me love him forever.
CFC: At least you're probably not going to get relegated, right? I mean, you could get relegated, but you won't...will you? It Sherwood be nice if you stayed up.
I hope we crush you this weekend.
As for relegation, I think we'll survive but only through the grace of incompetence bestowed upon other teams. There is a lot of bad in the league this year.
CFC: Say what you will about Sherwood, but he has clearly opened up Aston Villa's attack. Do you think it will take him long to start claiming credit for Aston Villa's European Cup?
RL: I don't think anyone's going to believe him if he takes claim for something we won in 1982. But it would be far more believable than if he'd tried to pull that at Spurs. I mean, at least we have a European Cup to claim. (Editor's note: Oy! Spurs were the first British Club to win a European Trophy, m8....Even if it was just the Cup Winner's Cup.)
CFC: Speaking of the attack, Christian Benteke has, as he does every year, improved in the second half of the season. That's mostly Sherwood's doing, right?
RL: You snark, but I'd say yes. Sherwood has the team playing an attacking style of football that routinely gets Benteke the ball. It's hard for him to score when he doesn't have the ball at his feet and that was a consistent problem under Paul Lambert. His hat-trick on Tuesday exposed a new facet of the Beast that we didn't know before: he can take free kicks! But yeah, I honestly think a lot of the offensive improvement is down to the style of football Sherwood has us playing.
CFC: What did you do to Ron Vlaar? Can it be blamed on Sherwood?
RL: Not Sherwood's fault. Ron Vlaar is made of porcelain and the dreams of Spurs fans: things that easily shatter. He's only had a couple of appearances under Sherwood, so I think it's safe to say that he lost his World Cup form somewhere under Lambert. Luckily we've got Jores Okore and Ciaran Clark (if Sherwood plays them) who could be the core of a solid back line for years to come. Clark is only 25 and Okore is a wee baby at 22. We were worried when injuries forced them into regular starting, but they've somehow formed a great bond and play incredibly well together. Their youth leads to mistakes of inexperience sometimes, but as a general rule there is no spot I am happier with for Villa than the central defense.
CFC: Because narrative, by how many goals will Villa beat Spurs this weekend? Will Tim Sherwood's insufferable arrogance then reach critical mass?
RL: I hope it's by five. My biggest reason for loving Sherwood is out of spite for the Spurs fans who hate him so and are so eager to say "we told you so." If he fails, that's going to happen. And we as fans all knew it. Yes, we embraced Sherwood. But that's what you do as fans. I think all of us know he's crazy. So when the "we told you so" happens, we'll be forced to take it even though we'll be muttering "yeah, we knew." But if Sherwood proves y'all wrong? That would be absolutely, utterly, glorious. (Editor's Note: No. No it would not be.)
It sucks to watch bad decisions be made around your team, but if they pan out it can be amazing. And it'll be even more so for shutting up the rest of the footballing world.
But in reality, as Jack and I said on our podcast this week, Harry Kane is probably going to destroy Villa and Sherwood will spend the post-match press conference talking about how he made Harry Kane the player he is.
Thanks to Robert for answering my questions. I answered some questions from him, which you can find here. If you thought Robert was funny and you don't mind hearing about Tim Sherwood even more than on our site, you can follow him on twitter at @7500_Robert. You can also follow 7500 to Holte on Twitter too.