The claret and blue boss insists that people will be lauding Jack Grealish in the same manner as the Tottenham Hotspur striker in the future if he shows the same desire moving forward.
Grealish, 19, looked set for a significant role in the since-departed Paul Lambert’s side after making his first-team breakthrough at the start of the season, but the promising winger instead found first-team opportunities limited over the following months, much to the chagrin of fans.
With just 10 fleeting top-flight appearances prior to Sherwood’s arrival, a Championship loan stint had been mooted, but the new boss has since been quick to rule out such a scenario.
The Birmingham-native showed clear signs of his potential earlier this week in the last-gasp 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion, appearing as a 59th-minute substitute to help change the tide of the match, and Sherwood admits he’s a huge admirer of his talent.
However, the former England midfielder has revealed how he’s been stressing to his star prospect that, for all his gifts, he will get nowhere unless he keeps showing the desire to make it to the top of the game.
“I’ve had lots of chats with Jack. He knows what I think. I tell him: “I will take desire over ability every day”,’ he said.
“Obviously, the ability can’t be too low. But if you have the ability — and he has — you’ll make it if you have desire. I’ll guide him along a path, and if he follows that path, in years to come Aston Villa will be trying to hold on to him as Tottenham are trying to hold on to Harry Kane now.
“I like players. I know players. I’m not a Smedley Side-Parting.”
Having received widespread plaudits for his work on the development side during his time at Tottenham Hotspur, Sherwood’s arrival has been seen as good news for the up-and-coming members of the Villa squad like Grealish, and the ex-Spurs boss explains how now is the perfect time to leave a lasting impression.
“I’ve told the players, if you’re not in the team, I can find an excuse for why you’re not playing,” he added. “But you want the truth? The other 11 are better than you. If you train properly, next week it might be your turn. If you don’t, you’ll never get the chance to show me.
“I’m honest. I won’t bluff them. I say to the kids: make a lasting impression. I want to be asking Gordon Cowans [Villa’s Under 21 coach] about you. I don’t expect them to always be fantastic, but I need to notice they are there.”