Tuesday 27 September 2016

"Jack Grealish could be right up there with the very best" - Tim Sherwood

Published 19/04/2015 | 18:52

Aston Villa's English midfielder Fabian Delph (C) celebrates with Aston Villa's English midfielder Ashley Westwood (L) after scoring during the FA Cup semi-final
Aston Villa's English midfielder Fabian Delph (C) celebrates with Aston Villa's English midfielder Ashley Westwood (L) after scoring during the FA Cup semi-final

Jubilant Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has predicted a bright future for Jack Grealish following the Irishman's man-of-the-match performance in today's FA Cup semi-final win over Liverpool at Wembley.

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Grealish was instrumental for the 84 minutes he was on the pitch and had a hand in the two Villa goals as Sherwood's side destroyed Steven Gerrard's "fairytale ending" with the Reds.

Sherwood was understandably in bullish mood after the landmark victory in only his 10th match as Villa boss and when asked how much he is enjoying life in the Midlands he replied: "Well it's going all right at the moment.

"We're delighted with that obviously. We were the underdogs today but we believed in there that we could win it and I think we outplayed Liverpool to be honest.

"We kept the ball off them, created lots of chances and they resorted to lumping the ball into our area in the last 10 minutes so you know you are doing something right when they're doing that."

The former Tottenham boss, who played a key role in the development of Harry Kane, reserved special praise for 19-year-old winger Jack Grealish.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard (R), Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel looks dejected at the end of the match
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard (R), Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel looks dejected at the end of the match

Read more: Five things we learned from Aston Villa's FA Cup semi-final win over Liverpool

He was a constant threat down the left for Villa and was involved in the build-up play that led to Delph's winning goal.

"He could be right up there amongst the best of them. The ball is his friend. He likes to receive it he doesn't look at it, he knows where it is, he shifts it, he's got a turn of foot, takes a lot of knocks, but he can take it. He's a big lad," Sherwood said.

"He's Aston Villa through and through. He lives a couple of miles from the ground, he just wants to play for the club and I want to give him the platform to do that because he's earned the right."

Aston Villa matchwinner Fabian Delph was left pinching himself after booking his side's place in the FA Cup final at the expense of Liverpool.

Villa skipper Delph set up Christian Benteke's equaliser after Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring for the Reds and then rounded off a superb afternoon by sweeping home nine minutes into the second half to secure a 2-1 victory.

Delph's strike means that Tim Sherwood's charges will return to Wembley to face holders Arsenal in next month's showpiece and the former Leeds midfielder says it will be a dream come true.

"I can't wait for the final. To walk out as captain is going to be the highlight of my career. So happy days, I'm happy for the boys," he told BT Sport 1.

Aston Villa's Shay Given celebrates at the end of the match
Aston Villa's Shay Given celebrates at the end of the match

The 25-year-old England international reserved special praise for Sherwood for the job he has done since taking over in February when the club looked to be in deep trouble in the drop zone.

Big wins over West Brom, Sunderland and Tottenham in the league, as well as the cup run, since then have lifted the mood around Villa Park and Delph feels Sherwood deserves a lot of credit for the remarkable turnaround.

"The gaffer (Sherwood) is brilliant. He's positive with everybody. He doesn't panic. He's got a game plan and we stuck to it and there were a lot of young lads in the team," he said.

"Young Jack (Grealish) has come in today and done fantastic and we're just happy. We're thrilled for the fans."

Delph now feels they can use their cup run as a springboard to secure Barclays Premier League survival and is not worried the final will become a distraction.

"We're confident we'll come through it. We'll put that aside for today and honestly the next game we've got to think about is one in the Premier League," he added.

For Liverpool the defeat means all they have to play for now is the faint hope of Champions League football, given they are now seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, and at least securing Europa League qualification.

The loss also ends the dream of a glorious send-off for long-serving captain Steven Gerrard, who turns 35 on the day of the FA Cup final on May 30, but Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers had few complaints.

"We were very disappointing. I thought Aston Villa were much better than us today and that's the overriding feeling after the game," he said.

"We didn't play today, we looked very nervous for some reason. We're a team that's built on passing and playing it quickly but we were very disappointing in that aspect and they were much better than us."

However, Rodgers was angered that Mario Balotelli saw a late effort chalked off for offside when replays showed he was clearly not.

The manager said: "It was very clear, it was a very poor decision by the official because he's looking right across the line. He should be able to see that the full-back's keeping him at least a yard onside.

"It was a terrific ball in, he's got a good touch so he's in on goal and, like you say, he took it through and finished it, so you need that to go for you."

Read more: Jack Grealish instrumental as Villa beat Liverpool to book place in FA Cup final

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