Sherwood hails Pochettino as Villa take fast Lane to safety
Tottenham 0 Aston Villa 1
Tim Sherwood hailed his successor at Tottenham Hotspur, Mauricio Pochettino, after a storybook return to White Hart Lane left in tatters his old club's hopes of reaching the Champions League next season.
Aston Villa celebrated long and loud a crucial victory that lifted them clear of the relegation zone, but no one had cause for greater satisfaction than their manager, who was sacked by Tottenham last May, despite finishing sixth.
Spurs are now unlikely to improve significantly on last year's placing but Pochettino received firm backing from Sherwood, who said: "He has done a good job here. He recognises good young talent and he's continuing their development.
"I have to give him a lot of credit for that. It's so easy to take the money and go and spend. If you are a young kid coming through, you can come to Tottenham or Aston Villa, two massive clubs where you've got managers who will give you opportunities to play."
True to his word, Sherwood gave Jack Grealish, 19, only his second start in an effective midfield diamond formation that cut off the supply line that has brought Harry Kane 29 goals this season.
Kane has intervened so many times on Tottenham's behalf this season but he was a peripheral figure on Saturday, upstaged by Villa's Christian Benteke, who delivered the visitors' first-half winner with a towering header, his eighth goal in six matches.
After a hat-trick in the midweek draw with Queens Park Rangers, the muscular Belgian is again looking like the man so feared by defences when he rampaged to 23 goals two seasons ago.
"Christian had been dropped when I came in," Sherwood said. "I've had chats with him and told him what I think of him and how everyone in Europe seemed to want him a year ago. That doesn't just vanish so let's get back to training properly and scoring goals. He's worked hard."
Villa also shone defensively, limiting Kane to just one shot on target, though they were grateful for Kieran Richardson's intervention when the England forward broke through moments after Benteke's goal.
Sherwood's one concern, with an FA Cup semi-final with Liverpool next Sunday, were the losses due to injury of Ciaran Clark and Gabriel Agbonlahor, and Carlos Sanchez, who received a second yellow card for a foul on Danny Rose in added time.
Pochettino's men have won once in their last four matches. "It's difficult, it's a very long season," Pochettino said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)