‘Tinkerman’ The Master v Student
Sunday’s defeat at Leicester City saw Tim Sherwood rotating our new crop of players and pitting his wits against the original and master, ‘Tinkerman’ Claudio Ranieri.
A fascinating first half line up saw Jack Grealish and Carles Gil deployed in wide roles, left and right respectively, with Ashley Westwood and Carlos Sanchez as the holding midfielders. Scott Sinclair played in behind the returning Gabby Agbonlahor and there was a debut for Joleon Lescott at the expense of Ciaran Clark.
The travelling contingent were rewarded by an entertaining first half display that saw a buoyant Grealish notch his first strike for the club he loves.
The picture changed at half time. ‘Tinkerman’ Ranieri whose success so far this season has been built on a settled side bought on Nathan Dyer for his debut and tactically ordered his team to defend higher. The resulting change in momentum had us immediately on the back foot and despite taking a two goal lead through a wonderful piece of skill from Carles Gil it was Leicester that always looked most likely to take the spoils.
Such a turnaround has led to the tactical nous of Tim Sherwood being widely questioned and in particular why substitutions were not made to shore up the Villa lead. It is obvious that Sherwood, with a large squad at his disposal will chop and change the squad to ensure that there is a ready supply of fresh legs and tactical variation. The notion of winning titles with 14 players after all belongs with gas light.
What we learnt from Sunday though is that whilst Sherwood can design and employ a system from kick off unlike his Leicester counterpart and indeed his opposite number in the Sunderland dug out in the previous game, he is less adept at flexing the formation and personnel and putting a plan B into action.
Indeed only two ‘in game’ transformations from Tim’s tenure spring to mind; the FA Cup tie at Villa Park last season against Leicester when he elevated himself from being a Trinity Road spectator to dressing room fixer and the opening day introduction of Gestede from the bench to take all the points at Bournemouth.
What can definitely be said of Sherwood is that he wears his heart on his sleeve, going so far as to declare on the BBC after Sunday’s reverse that he had ‘never felt this bad’ after a loss.
It may be therefore, that his strong emotional attachment to developments on the field is capable of clouding his judgement at crucial times during matches – a dangerous trait if you aspire to be a ‘Tinkerman’.