Attention at the back! This weekend will bear witness to the latest addition to the class, as ‘headteacher’ Tim Sherwood will don his gilet for the first time as Aston Villa manager, with the managerial merry-go-round rumbling on.
Following the departure of Paul Lambert, Sherwood’s appointment is the fifth managerial change of the season, coming hot on the heels of former colleague Chris Ramsey’s elevation to main man at QPR. Ramsey, as first-team coach, assisted Sherwood when he was managing Tottenham during the second half of the 2013/14 season and now both find themselves at clubs in dire straits at the lower echelons of the table.
Sherwood, who after his proclamation of academic promotion (having previously referring to himself as a ‘supply teacher’), will be looking to hit the ground running with a home fixture against Stoke City. In fact it wouldn’t be a surprise if he starts hitting the changing room wall, like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, in order to fire up his troops, such is the desire and passion that he will bring to Villa, who are in need of motivation after limping through the season so far. One of the areas he will have to instantly address is Villa’s lack of goals – perhaps in keeping with Goldblum, he could do worse than stick his strikers in one of those teleportation booths with a Subbuteo figure of Cristiano Ronaldo (I’m sure CR7 has a couple of these spare), and see if a goal-scoring striker pops out the other side.
Sherwood’s record at Tottenham, where he progressed the likes of exciting prospects Harry Kane and Ryan Mason to the first-team, and implausibly got the best out of Emmanuel Adebayor, was impressive compared to Spurs’ other Premier League managers, so his appointment here may well give Villa fans some hope. Ramsey’s appointment at QPR is perhaps that much more of a gamble.
Ramsey has not previously managed in the top division, so this can be considered a substantial risk for Tony Fernandes, who had previously stated:
Think I have got my dream manager. Not what anyone thinks. Take a while. Still a bit to go but I’m very happy. Press all wrong.
— Tony Fernandes (@tonyfernandes) February 10, 2015
Before altering it to:
We found a great guy to manage us form next season a dream manager but actually we had a dream candidate right in front of us Chris Ramsey. — Tony Fernandes (@tonyfernandes) February 14, 2015
This is however a great opportunity for ‘Rambo’ Ramsey, who will be aided and abetted by (Kevin) Bond and (Kevin) Hitchcock and they will be hoping for a Hollywood end to the season. They even managed to put an end to their dreadful away record this season with a win last time out at Sunderland, who themselves face the ultimate in go to guys when the chips are down, Tony Pulis, when West Bromwich Albion visit the Stadium of Light this weekend.
Pulis, and all the power he keeps under his magic cap, has yielded instant success at The Hawthorns, with only one defeat in five league games since taking the managerial reins, as well as impressively dispatching West Ham last weekend in the FA Cup, to set up a quarter-final with none other than Sherwood’s Aston Villa – this game follows the league match between the Midland rivals and it should prove to be a feisty week, perhaps more so on the touchline than on the pitch. While it remains to be seen if Sherwood can replicate his short-term Tottenham reign at Villa Park, Pulis will be a good bet as a continuing rider at West Brom.
A manager who has avoided being pushed off the carousel, for now at least, is Nigel Pearson who was the protagonist in the most bizarre incident of the season so far, becoming awkwardly entangled in a game of Twister gone wrong with James McArthur, before refusing to let go of McArthur’s jersey and allowing him re-enter the field of play. This was subsequently followed by reports of Pearson’s dismissal, which were quickly rebuffed. Pearson remains at the helm, but for how long? Pearson’s Foxes were imperious in their triumph of the Championship last season and have certainly shown some signs of displaying the right attributes required to fight for Premier League survival in recent weeks, although this has not been backed up with results. Pearson, who was also caught effing and jeffing at a Foxes fan, can ill afford any more off-field shenanigans and must look to turn performances into positive results.
Opposing manager on the day of that incident was none other than Alan ‘pitbull’ Pardew – no stranger to touchline-player-violence, infamous as he is for squaring up to and head-butting David Meyler of Hull City last season, an inexplicable act although proof that managers are not immune to the pressure of the game. In both incidents, the victims can take some credit for not making more of it – perhaps they were stunned that a line had been crossed that no-one knew had even been drawn.
This weekend Pardew, who recently jumped from a bucking’ bronco in the North East onto a South London safer bet, welcomes (in the loosest possible sense) Arsene Wenger and his in-form Arsenal side to Selhurst Park for another clash, these two managers having previously crossed swords, when the pressure really rose. After Palace’s disappointment in their FA Cup exit at the hands of Liverpool, Pardew’s focus will now be solely on Premier League survival, and a chance to emulate the man who completed this same journey for Palace last season, namely one Tony Pulis.
A final note, don’t forget the forthcoming battle this weekend of the new comedy show ‘The Two Mourinho’s’ (the authentic ‘Special One’ and the Ginger one – remember, everyone needs a nickname!) These are two managers with sides in opposite scenarios in the league, playing contrasting brands of football, and yet are without question loved by their supporters, regardless of their league place and with very differing likely outcomes to envisage this season. You would expect neither to fall off the merry-go-round any time soon.