After last season's 17th-place finish, the Villa boss believes his revamped side can recover from the summer losses of Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke to surprise a few people this term.
Sherwood has been forced to revamp his squad this summer after seeing captain Delph leave for Manchester City and the free-scoring Benteke lured away to Liverpool for a combined £40.5 million, spending around £42.5 million on nine signings.
Nevertheless, with four of those arrivals coming from Ligue 1, there is a widespread belief that the club are taking a big gamble in their efforts to better last term’s 17th-place finish.
Without proven top-flight commodities to replace their since-departed star men, the claret and blues have been named among the bookies’ favourites for the drop but, while Sherwood is just looking for improvement at this point, he insists his side could cause a few shocks over the coming months.
The former Tottenham Hotspur head coach witnessed Southampton confound predictions last season in securing a seventh-place finish after the summer losses of Rickie Lambert, skipper Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw and manager Mauricio Pochettino, and he believes his overhauled squad could do something similar if the new signings gel as hoped.
“They [Southampton] did very well but it is a balance – you can’t change them all,” he said. “We brought in a lot of new players here and we’ve also lost a couple of very important players to our team, so it was needs must.
“We’re looking to gel them in as quickly as possible and hopefully then we can have a campaign like Southampton’s.
“I’d like a little bit more time to get these new players to gel but the new season is upon us and now and we have to go at it,” he continued. “We’re looking good and we feel confident that we can compete in this league and make a better fist of it than last time.
“It won’t be hard to improve upon last season – we were the worst team left in the league.
“Obviously we want to remain in the league and we’ll set our sights as far as we can go. We’re not going to get scared if all of a sudden we’re in the top four or top five and, likewise, we won’t panic if we’re bottom of the league after five games.”
Former Manchester City men Micah Richards and Scott Sinclair, who already spent the second half of last season on loan at Villa, are the most familiar faces to arrive at the club this summer, alongside backup goalkeeper Mark Bunn and versatile defender Jose Angel Crespo.
The towering Rudy Gestede has also been signed from Blackburn Rovers to play Christian Benteke’s old role up top, while midfielder Idrissa Gueye, left-back Jordan Amavi, striker Jordan Ayew and midfielder Jodan Veretout have all come from the French top-flight.
It remains to be seen how many of the new boys will be in the line-up for Saturday’s Premier League opener at Bournemouth but Richards’ spot looks assured, having been named the club’s new captain this week after starting at centre-back in all six pre-season fixtures.
Sherwood had also been hoping to secure a deal for Tottenham Hotspur’s Emmanuel Adebayor, who bagged 14 goals in 24 games under his stewardship at White Hart Lane, but the proposed transfer now looks to be on the rocks after talks with the striker broke down.