Sherwood cranks up pressure on Villa
The usual approach for a fixture described by Tim Sherwood as the biggest both of his and many of his players' careers would be to find a way to calm nerves and make things seem as normal as possible.
Sherwood, though, rarely does conventional, and so instead chose the eve of the match against Queen Park Rangers tonight to question the character of his Aston Villa squad.
"We've got different types of players," he said. "You look through QPR's side and they've got a lot of players who are men with a lot of experience. We've got a few men in there but we've got a lot of pretty much 'icing-on-the-cake' players.
"I'm trying to get that mentality into them to start digging out results. It's not what we're cut out to do."
Sherwood's theory is that the Villa players will actually benefit tonight from a ramping up of the tension. His rationale is founded on the performances in the recent derby victories against West Brom as well as the 4-0 win at fellow strugglers Sunderland.
"That is why it is not always the right idea to shield players from the pressure," Sherwood (below) said. "They have to realise that this is huge for us and I put it on them because when I've put it on them before they've always responded well.
"They know the severity of the situation. If I could hype up the pressure even more I would. I think this is the biggest game that a lot of these players have ever played for this football club."
The table looks rather less comforting for Villa than before the weekend. Lose tonight and they will drop into the relegation zone. Sherwood is adamant that he never expected his players to "kick on", even after the emphatic Sunderland win.
The big subplot will be Sherwood facing QPR manager Chris Ramsey. They were colleagues at Tottenham for six years, culminating in leading the first team before their departures last summer.
Sherwood had been expected to join Ramsey at QPR once Harry Redknapp resigned in February, but both men think they will again work together in the future. (© Daily Telegraph, London)