Tim Sherwood was naturally delighted on Saturday when his Aston Villa side returned from White Hart Lane with three previous points.
Sherwood was sacked by Tottenham Hotspur at the end of last season just six months into an 18-month contract, and this was his first return to the club following his appointment by Villa in February. Whilst the 46-year-old has led the Midlands giants to an FA Cup semi-final date with Liverpool next week, his main objective is to steer the team away from the relegation zone.
And following a Christian Benteke goal on 35 minutes – the Belgian has now scored eight goals in his last six matches – Villa are now six points clear of the bottom three, with just five matches left to fulfil. Sherwood admits he fancies his side’s chances of avoiding the drop into the Championship, and has paid tribute to the commitment of his players over the past few weeks.
“There is still a lot of hard work to be done but we fancy our chances of staying in this division. That’s the idea,” said. “Christian’s been very, very good. I think Gabby (Agbonlahor) also. Carlos Sanchez today he knows (if) he gets sent off he misses the semi-final, he’s probably never played at Wembley before but he’s sacrificed himself for the club and I want characters like that to be honest.”
Sherwood revealed in the build-up to his return to Tottenham that he had no hard feelings towards Daniel Levy, the chairman who issued him with his P45, or the club as a whole. However, he couldn’t deny that leaving White Hart Lane with a win sweet: “The win is the most important thing but it is a sweet victory, you always want to do well when you come back to your old club.”
Due to their involvement in the FA Cup Villa have just one more Premier League match this month, when they travel to Manchester to face champions City. After this they only have one more away game, against Southampton in the penultimate round of fixtures, with home matches with Everton, West Ham United, and on the final day of the season, Burnley completing their programme.
As for Tottenham, their chances of making the top-four now appear all but over. Having played a game more they are seven points behind fourth-place City and a further one behind third-place United, who meet in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. Head coach Mauricio Pochettino told Sky Sports: “We are in a very tough moment. We’re finding it difficult to score.”