Following the defeat to Newcastle United at the weekend, Aston Villa have just 11 games to get the six wins Tim Sherwood says that he is targeting to keep them in the Premier League.
The former Spurs manager came to the club boasting an amazing win percentage of 59% from his days at Spurs and will need to near enough match that if he is to prevent the Villans from sliding out of the Premier League trap door. Here are three things that Sherwood will need to focus on if he is to keep Villa up.
Villa are comfortably the lowest goalscorers in the Premier League, managing just 13 goals in their 27 games so far this season. The lack of goals has been a constant embarrassment to the fans and massively contributed to Paul Lambert's downfall.
Last season Villa were too reliant on Christian Benteke to score their goals, with the Belgian scoring 10 out of 39 total goals and winning 10 points for Villa; it's no coincidence that his downturn in form has led to the Villans' downturn in fortunes.
If Benteke can't recover his form then players like Scott Sinclair will need to step up. Newly signed on loan from Manchester City, Sinclair has had a good start to his Villa career scoring twice in his first five appearances and he will need to continue that fine form to take the pressure off the Belgian striker.
Villa have conceded too many red cards this season, with six players being sent off in Premier League games contributing to four defeats. This lack of discipline from the squad has meant that players have had to serve suspensions, forcing them to sit out vital games and further diminishing what is already a fairly small squad.
Sherwood demands passion and energy from his players and, while aggression isn't necessarily a bad thing, he needs to stamp out the niggly fouls caused by the frustration in the players. Ron Vlaar's red card against Stoke in Sherwood's first game in charge was a case in point; although Villa were only drawing, there was no need to pull down Victor Moses in the area and that moment of madness cost Villa a much-needed point and the services of their captain for a game.
It is no coincidence that morale is low around Villa bearing in mind the way the season has panned out, but problems at Villa Park are much more complex than just a loss of form. Randy Lerner has put the club up for sale and his disaffection has caused issues to linger longer than they had to; investment in the team has not been forthcoming and there is a feeling of stagnation around Villa Park.
For this reason Sherwood is probably the best hire Villa could make. Villa need a manager who is going to inject a sense of fun back into the game, whose press conferences will be sparkier affairs than his dour predecessor and who will show the heart and passion that fans demand from their club.
If Sherwood can lift the morale of the fans as well as the team then there is no doubt that the atmosphere at the games will be better - and that in itself could massively contribute to better performances. Villa fans haven't had much to cheer lately and getting them back onside will be key to the longer term future of the club as it will make it an even more attractive proposition for a buyer.