Tim Sherwood was supposed to have only a watching brief on his first day as Aston Villa manager but his unexpected halftime pep talk made all the difference as they reached the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
Scott Marshall, Villa’s first-team coach, was in charge of affairs for the fifth round visit of Leicester City with Sherwood taking his place in the Villa Park stands less than 24 hours after his appointment had been announced.
Yet Marshall revealed that, with the match goalless after Villa had struggled in the opening 45 minutes, Sherwood’s impromptu visit to the dressing room had a significant impact before the home side went back out to win 2-1.
Leandro Bacuna and Scott Sinclair scored the goals that sent Villa into the sixth round for the first time in five years.
“Tim came in and made a couple of points to the lads, a couple of bits and pieces for everyone. I thought the boys delivered that in the second half and were very good,” Marshall told the club’s official website (www.avfc.co.uk).
“He was there and there was good information to the group, there’s a football knowledge there which comes with experience, a lifetime in the game.”
Sherwood, who has replaced the sacked Paul Lambert, had no input in team selection and watched the game with chief executive Tom Fox.
He had a nervous final few seconds after seeing Andrej Kramaric score for Leicester in stoppage time but the visiting fans were unimpressed with their team, chanting “what a load of rubbish” in the second half.
The result added to Leicester boss Nigel Pearson’s unhappy week, which featured reports he was sacked and reinstated after a bizarre touchline fracas when he grabbed Crystal Palace player James McArthur by the throat during a Premier League game.
“People are entitled to their opinions, it doesn’t matter what I think,” Pearson said of the jeers.
Now out of the Cup and bottom of the league, though, the pressure is building on Leicester and their beleaguered manager.
“We’re not making life easy for ourselves. We need mental resilience, absolutely,” conceded Pearson.