Tim Sherwood gears up for first full season at Villa Park
Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood has told Sky Sports that he is confident of a successful first full season in the Midlands.
Sherwood, 46, had a brief spell in charge of Tottenham Hotspur before he was sacked by chairman Daniel Levy, despite having the best win ratio of any Spurs manager before him.
The three-time England international was out of a job for around nine months before being chosen as the successor to axed Scot Paul Lambert at Villa Park.
Former Norwich manager Lambert had left The Villains in a precarious position and was sacked after the team dropped into the relegation zone following a defeat to relegation rivals Hull City.
Sherwood took over from Lambert and steered the club to safety by three points. The highlight of Sherwood's short time in charge of the team thus far, however, was reaching the Final of the F.A. Cup, beating Liverpool and local rivals West Bromwich Albion along the way but eventually they were pushed aside by defending champions Arsenal in a 4-0 loss.
With the season now over, Sherwood seems to have one big problem and that is the future of Belgian striker Christian Benteke, who has told the club he will not be signing a new contract amid reported interest from Liverpool.
The club have already expressed that they do not wish to sell Benteke unless his £32.5m release clause is met but Sherwood has now told Sky Sports that they may come down from their asking price if a suitable replacement is found.
"In an ideal world, Christian would stay with us. But that's not looking likely right now. He is under contract for a few more years but the thing that is plaguing my mind is whether he'll be able to give his all in every game if his heart isn't really in it.
He's obviously a great player and he has ambition. We failed to meet his ambition by losing to Arsenal last year and he wants European football. His agent is looking to get him a move away from the club, and I think that it may be better to sell for a good price and bring in a striker who is capable of replacing Christian.
If we can do that then I'm confident of this season being a success for the club. I'd really like to get the situation sorted out sooner rather than later so that the club and the rest of the squad isn't affected too much."
When asked about his aims for the season, Sherwood told Sky Sports: "To finish in the top half in my first full season with Villa would be great. I think we've got the players to do that, and the new additions to the squad will really benefit us. Top half is definitely my aim and I am really confident it can be achieved if we all put the work in."
Villa have already made three signings so far during this pre-season, with Scott Sinclair, Micah Richards and Idrissa Gueye all joining the club.