The claret and blue boss believes his squad is better-suited to European football than a scrap at the bottom of the table.
Tim Sherwood has compared his Aston Villa side to Premier League rivals Everton in an extensive interview with the Daily Mail, insisting the West Midlands club’s squad should be pushing for a Europa League spot.
Villa were competing for a Champions League place during Martin O’Neill’s reign, achieving three consecutive sixth-place finishes between 2008 and 2010, but their fortunes since the Northern Irishman’s departure have taken a considerable downturn.
After coming in 16th in Alex McLeish’s lone season in charge, the since-departed Paul Lambert failed to fare much better than his compatriot, with successive 15th-place finishes, before another relegation-threatened campaign saw him handed his marching orders last month with 13 league games remaining.
It leaves new manager Sherwood with a fight on his hands to keep the club from the drop over the final stretch of the season, but a 2-1 home win over West Bromwich Albion following defeats in his first two games in charge has given their survival hops a considerable boost.
Nevertheless, the claret and blue boss insists his team should never have been in a relegation scrap in the first place, claiming their squad was built more for a European adventure, and believes their struggles to adapt to life as an underdog is what’s contributed their recent poor run of form.
“We’re like Everton,” he explained. “I don’t think we’ve got a group of players who are cut out for a relegation battle. We can’t be the Crystal Palace of last year, or the West Brom of this year. Digging in, blood and thunder, lump the ball in, protecting a lead, that’s not us.
“Our squad is better on the ball, they’re more suited to pushing for a place in the Europa League.
“Still, they’ve found themselves at the wrong end of the table, so what can they do? I tell them: we do it our way. Go and get the ball. If you give it away, OK, get it back and we start again. I think it takes more courage to do that. It’s easier to destroy than create.
“The players have a duty, a responsibility, to fix this mess. I don’t want to hear crap about how difficult it is to play at home.
“Playing for a big club comes with pressure. Anyone can do it for a lesser team — but you have to have b******s to play for Aston Villa. This is a big club.
“The fans think they support a big club. They come here, they don’t want to be in the relegation zone. They’ve got the hump. It’s up to the players to spark them into life”