Leeds came for a point and got it, although once they took the lead they looked like they were going to rob Villa of their unbeaten record, until a moment of madness threw it away. In a frantic last ten minutes the game could have gone either way. But after yet another abject performance, Villa will be thankful for the point.

It needed Steve Bruce to once again throw on the cavalry from the bench to spark the team into life in the closing stages, which begs the question – what exactly is his Plan A? Whatever it is, we’re not getting promoted until he changes it.

In the meantime, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as an Aston Villa supporter…

1.Unbeaten at Villa Park

Hallelujah! the run continues to be one of the regular five reasons. The visit of an inform Leeds who have been on a hot streak away from home in recent weeks was always going to threaten it, but we just got over the line.

In many ways it reminded me of the Newcastle game, where Villa did little to earn any points until the closing stages of the game, where they could have even nicked all the points.

2. Finally a Decent Decision in the Championship

Villa’s penalty was a penalty, although the closest official to the handball incident, referee Roger East, almost continued the standard of Championship referring by not giving it. Well played the linesman who was wise to the matter.

 

3. Ten Minutes

Lets be honest, once again, the football and experience of watching Villa was dire up until around the 80th minute mark, then suddenly we had end-to-end excitement.

As Villa supporters we don’t normally have the luxury of many exciting passages of football nowadays at Villa Park, but the closing minutes of Thursday night made a refreshing change.

Excitement, teams attacking each other with purpose, this is why we watch football in the first place. Those fans who have convinced themselves that they are happy grinding out results with terrible football against the poorest teams in the division, either a) don’t actually suffer the game live, or b) are deluding themselves.

I can tell you this now – Villa will not get promoted with sloppy passing and marking, not running off the ball to create opinions and opportunities, and also by being greedy in front of goal, when there is a teammate unmarked in a better position.

Bruce needs to sort out his game plan. Setting up to be hard to beat is one thing, but Villa’s sloppy defending at times almost undermined that. More forward-thinking is needed.

4. ACON Silver Lining

In many ways the African Cup of Nations may help some Villa players stake their claim and make selections more straight forward for Bruce.

Albert Adomah’s not going and on the evidence of the Leeds game, needs to start to be a legitimate out ball and creative threat on the right. Stop messing about with him and let him play!

Jordan Ayew absence is a blessing in disguise in my book. He breaks up the flow of play with his selfishness, especially when he hasn’t been able to play as a central striker. He’s not an out-and-out winger who provides cross after cross, because he rarely looks to deliver the ball to teammates.

Jonathan Kodjia, while scoring vital goals is no Christian Benteke at the moment. Benteke knew when to pass it and lay on his teammates (see the games against Liverpool). Kodjia has a little of the Ayew’s in him and with more awareness against Leeds, may have helped pulled a win out the bag.

 

So, step forward Ross McCormack. A player who scores over 20 goals in three different seasons (including 28 for Leeds) for pretty average teams, does not lose this ability over night. With the Scot able to link-up play and bring players into the game, this should create a more varied attack.

Sometimes less options makes life easier for a manager and also forces them into trying something that they have stubbornly resisted. Throw in a new midfielder or two and hopefully Villa’s play will improve.

5. It’s almost 2017

While I can offer no guarantees 2017 will be better than 2016, it will be good to see the back of 2016 as a Villa supporter.

A lot has been said about the amount of deaths of the likes of David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen to more recently, Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher, but 2016 was hardly 1916 in terms of loss of life and tragedy.

The first part of 2016 was one of the most dire in Villa’s history with relegation from the Premier League, just before the TV money got really serious. New ownership brought new hope, but despite the new owner’s charismatic social media presence, the revival still hasn’t started in earnest yet.

Hopefully in 2017, things can get going for real and promotion becomes a reality rather than a mirage on the horizon.

UTV

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16 COMMENTS

  1. If people. are honest enough to say we’re shite( an opinion were All entitled to )that’s fine by me I think for a club of this standing hoping for a play – off place shows how low standards have become and when you’ve seen players play for this greatclub who would walk into any premier league team in history and then see what 70k a week gets you I have a right to be pissed off with performances like the last 6 or so games we should be aiming to win this league in a canter not struggling for a play off place and if football this shite pleased me I’d become a blues fan no thanks I have more ambition than that I want fa-cups and champions league football sooner rather than when I’m dead I pay good money to watch this club week in and week out so I will have my say if it offends anyone tough shite life don’t work like that so man up

  2. Moan moan moan. Little positivity from people commenting and writing at this site. We’re a damn set better than last season. Slowly improving.

    Yes it’s not perfect but unbeaten at home, 5 defeats all season, 6 points off playoffs and playing not great but winning & not losing.

    There’s always a snidey tone about 5 reasons…even when we win, we’re not “playing dazzling football” so should be ‘losing’ games and now saying “Playoffs won’t happen under Bruce”.

    If you have nothing good to say about our current very positive season at our halfway point, say nothing. Begrudging know-it-alls.

    • It’s called looking at things objectively.

      Maybe it’s escaped your noticed that we got relegated last season and have been shite for a good number of seasons, so finding five reasons to be cheerful every week is a challenge to say the least. So a lot of the time, there is a sprinkle of irony. Maybe you didn’t grasp that? We’re actually currently not that better than last season considering we’re in a lower league and have mainly only beaten the bottom six teams – despite spending tens of millions more than the rest of the league bar Newcastle.

      BTW – quotation marks “” are for things people have said. MOMS never said anything about “playing dazzling football” – you’re completely exaggerating there. It’s not a case of playing incredible football, it a case of not playing such poor football and getting the basics right (passing, marking, supporting teammates etc).

      Never said “playoffs won’t happen under Bruce” – again this is you making it up. If the club don’t improve and they continue to play so poor they will not make the playoffs whoever the manager is. FACT.

      It’s called telling it as it is. If you can’t handle the facts or truth, read some sycophantic site instead or stick to the official site.

      If you think this a “very positive season” so far, you have very low standards. I have higher ambitions for Aston Villa. We’re trying to get promoted here and not mess around.

  3. Can’t see villa going anywhere with Bruce in charge we have been lucky to have as many points as we have anyone who picks deadwood. and bacuna over tshibola proves they ain’t got a clue half these clowns got us relegated they don’t posses the skill to get us promoted grealish is so over-rated it’s a joke amavi well that’s a liability if I’ve seen one kodija no skill what so ever ayew waste of oxygen not one player can pass or play with both feet this lot couldn’t beat the worst team in premier league history (villa2015-16) I’ve been to every game this season and the performances under Bruce (except brighton) have been the worst in living memory god help us a long stay in championship watching Sunday pub league football at villa park is all we have to look forward to for the foreseeable future I think what a shame

  4. Sorry spell check off. That’s tactical awareness. Next up Cardiff. Lets see what Tshibola can do!

  5. Agree with all of the comments above. Really happy that Brucie had turned things around results wise, but really worry why the performaces continue to be so poor! I don’t understand why he can’t get them playing as a Team. There doesn’t seem to be any plan or playbook, even for set pieces. I think Bodymoor H is a myth or HS 2 has already run through it. The only attacking consistancy we have is running down blind allies with absolutely no awareness of where team mates might be. Lucky to get one decent cross a match. Having said that, we do have talent up front, just need to get them playing as a team. Defence is just about ok, but we need a right back. Its midfield is the nightmare. How on ever Westwood and Gardiner get a game, I dont know – its like playing with 10 men. Thought Tishbola was one of our better players under RDM so dont know what happened to him. Must must strengthen midfield in Jan with a box to box midfielder.

    • Tshibola is a box to box midfield player. According to Bruce he’s a bit young. Reading fans didn’t think so. He was their best prospect.
      BRUCE’S tactics are better than previous manager going back to O’neil. However, it’s there for everyone to see, it’s not great football. We were lucky to get the Leeds draw. At the same time we could have got all three points if our strikers played more as a team. 9th in the league isn’t to be sniffed at, however, getting into the play offs will call for a better quality of football than what we’re playing now. McCormack’s progress will be essential during the African Nations Cup. I think he’ll be up for the challenge, looks like a great player that just needs a rune of games. ADD Tshibola to the starting 11 and we should be moving forward.

  6. Why isn’t Green being given a chance!! He even signed a new contract earlier in the season & I don’t know what Tshibola done to not even be on the bench! I have mates who support Reading and can’t understand why he isn’t being used!!

    Not surprised RHM isn’t signing contract as his only chance of progressing is to move clubs. I don’t know what it is about Villa and their young players they seem to either suck the skills out of them or give them away to other clubs where they improve! Recently saw the two lads we gave to Preston recently looking impressive & both scoring.

    • Very true and very worrying. Then we’ll go and spend millions on a player that’s older and no better than the one we’ve let go!

    • Credit to Bruce, he has great tactile awareness. His substitutions rescue games. The bigger question is why do these games need to be rescued? As others have said here, the midfield lets us down almost every game. Only Jedinek seems quality. Westwood works hard enough, but lacks quality. Bacuna has some good games, great goal last week, but it’s still not enough. McCormack looks good to me. During the African Nations, with the right supply, he’ll prove his worth. However, Adoma needs regular games, he’s a good winger, and heaven knows why Tshibola isn’t even on the bench. The latter issue remind me of Gil being frozen out (who’s still a registered Villa player). Gestede brings mixed emotions (Good to bring a Rolling Stones reference into this, even if it’s not one of their classic hits). He seems to be on his way and good luck to him. However, whenever we’ve played to his strengths, which isn’t very often, he’s done OK. The midfield needs immediate attention, Bruce needs at least one quality addition there. If we aren’t buying another forward and we’ve got enough at the back, spend some real money on the very best we can get for the midfield. The money will be returned easy, when we get back into the Prem. Without spending in that department, we won’t!

    • Seems that Bruce has some beef with Tshibola…maybe it’s an attitude and application issue? You’d think one of the local press would ask the question of what’s happening in a press conference.

      • AGREED. odd THE WAY Bruce isn’t pressed on this. In all fairness, he has said that he doesn’t want to change a winning side and that Tshibola will be one for the future. However, sometimes he’s not even in the squad!

  7. Yes midfield is a disaster area definitely needs reinforcing in the upcoming window. Also albeit Bruce doesn’t seem to think so, my opinion with the African Nations taking Kodjia away and Gestede being sold we need a replacement striker, otherwise I can’t see where our goals will come from. If RHM signed his new contract offer maybe we could throw him in with McCormack, I can’t help thinking that we have been dam lucky recently because we are playing crap football, if our owner has as much money as we are led to believe then I think Rhodes Might just keep us in the hunt. All a bit worrying at the moment seems plenty of talk and little action, let’s keep our fingers crossed for two or three decent players in the Jan window.

  8. agree with Trevor we need more options in midfield . But Bruce has already stated that he needs to be able to change tactics by changing midfield but he has too much of the same & little options for change . So lets hope that Xia has had cheque book out well before end of next week

  9. Bruce has had to work with the players he got. The transfer window will decide how good he is. The defence is pretty good, midield is awful, if Westwood and Jedinak are up to it they have to show it. And the forwards can’t be judged with that level of performance, but OK, no Benteke here. Or even a John Carew.

    On to January 1st. Rudy appears almost certain to go, Bruce then has to get reinforcements in defence esp at full back and supplement Bacuna in midfield. The defensive side of midfield play escapes our players not to mention passing. Am I sick of seeing airball. The game is football. Play out through the middle o the park ON THE GROUND as Cloughie used to say.

    Trevor FIsher

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