Tim Sherwood has hailed Arsene Wenger as he tries to shock his rival in the FA Cup final and create a new era at Aston Villa.
The Villa boss believes the Frenchman’s critics should lay off ahead of Saturday’s final against Arsenal.
The Wembley showdown will be just Sherwood’s 44th match as a manager while Wenger has taken charge of 1,065 during his 19-year Gunners reign.
The holders face Villa aiming to defend the trophy they won last season to end a nine-year drought and Sherwood believes Wenger remains one of the best.
He said: “You have got to be careful what you wish for as a fan. For me he’s done a tremendous job. If you line up the chairman and every director in a football club they all want a Wenger.
“Maybe Chelsea and Man City might be an exception because they’ve got gazillions of pounds to keep throwing at it. If you want a sustainable business and someone to run it through, I think Arsene Wenger is a great model of that.
“It does drive me mad if someone has never stepped into that technical area and claims to be the expert.
“That is a little bit gruelling. They don’t know what it’s like. It’s impossible for them to know.
“When you first step in the technical area it’s a whole expectation of the football club.
“I don’t think anyone should be criticising Arsene Wenger. You can criticise Tim Sherwood all you want. I think it’s a bit rich criticising Arsene Wenger. I think he’s an incredible manager.”
Villa have not won the FA Cup since 1957 and have not claimed any major silverware since 1996 when they clinched the League Cup.
Four straight battles against relegation have seen them slip away from the top with Sherwood replacing Paul Lambert in February.
They survived by three points this season and Sherwood wants victory on Saturday to create a new dawn at Villa Park.
“It’ll be the same for most clubs. We know we are huge underdogs going into the game but every time we’ve been underdogs this year I’ve asked them for a big performance and we’ve produced it,” he said.
“They ticked the boxes in all those games. They can rise to the occasion, they just need to do it one more time. It’s a great opportunity for everyone involved to give the club a platform to move on.
“There’s no getting away from the fact it’s got a losing mentality, people keep looking at the players saying this group of players shouldn’t be where they are.
“You are there for a reason and four years on the spin is because something is wrong with the mentality. Losing becomes a habit and we have to make sure winning becomes a habit.”
Jores Okore (knee) and Shay Given (groin) could return for Villa while Kieran Richardson (calf) and Aly Cissokho (groin) are also fit.
And Sherwood’s family will return from holiday early to support him at Wembley - even if he admitted some were keen to miss it.
“The family’s away, the kids are off school. My little girl went to the semi-final and said, ’I hope you lose because then you can take me swimming,”’ he said.
“If we don’t win she knows she’ll be getting that [pretends to dunk a head under the water]. They will be there. They’re coming back a day earlier. My missus isn’t a big football fan. She booked a holiday abroad before the cup final.”