Aston Villa are in big trouble with a quarter of a season already done and dusted. They have a manager still tinkering around as if it is pre season and a board that needs to use the new Grand Central Station in Birmingham to get out of town asap.
Standing watch Villa struggle against an average Stoke City side, two things sprang to mind – a) Villa were never going to win the game and b) it felt a little like watching the Villa team of 1986/87 all over again, when relegation finally put Villa out of their suffering.
Still, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Aston Villa fans…
1. Le Potential
I thought against Stoke City, Jordan Veretout showed the first signs he could come good. The surging run into the Stoke box being the highlight. The French man needs to impose himself on the game a little more though. At times he seems a little shy on the pitch, taking the simple pass sideways rather than trying to make something happen. We don’t need an Ashley Westwood mk II, so hopefully he’ll continue to increase in confident.
MOMS had considered Vertout could be potentially the best signing of the summer , but he’s got a long way to reach that status at the moment.
2. International Break
Sherwood talked about the international break being a mini preseason and it’s one he needs to make count. In my book the actual preseason was something of a mess. Unfortunate in some respects due to injuries to Grealish, Gil and Okore, but a bit of a shambles when you consider all the late additions to the squad, who had no time to get to know their new team or get their fitness up.
Hopefully, the likes of Jores Okore, Adama Traore and Gabby Agbonlahor will come back fully fit after the break to give Sherwood a full deck to play with against Chelsea.
3. Final Defensive Solution
There are answers to at least some of Villa’s problems, but will Sherwood talk them? Villa have the personnel for a decent back four, but it means Richards moving to right-back. He was again caught out for the goal when Stoke could have driven two buses through the gap that appeared between Ricards and Crespo at the back.
Richards best work seemed to be when he was in the opponent’s half, which is somewhere he’d be granted more freedom to be if he’s right-back.
Okore and Clark proved to be Villa’s best centre-back pairing last season and with Richards and Amavi flanking them, it would would be the best back four Villa have had in years.
So come on Sherwood, lets have: Richards, Okore, Clark and Amavi. It’s the strongest back four, has plenty of pace, and to me, considering the sh*t that Villa are in, is a no-brainer.
4. Twenty’s Plenty
The Football Supporters Federation’s national campaign for £20 away tickets went well at Villa Park. First Villa fans teamed up with Stoke fans for a display of banners on the Holte End outside terrace. Then the Villa banner was taken to the North Stand where it was paraded in front of the North Stand shortly before kick-off. Thanks to all that got involved, especially the AVST and the lads in the North Stand.
5. It’s Grim up North
Villa fans got stick from some pundits and various members of the press when they voiced their disapproval when Randy Lerner was thinking about Steve McClaren to be Villa boss after Gerrard Houllier, and ever since their judgement is being proven right (as it was in not wanting Alex McLeish). McClaren has failed in all his English managerial posts since then, and luckily for Villa he seems to be making a pig’s ear of his latest job at Newcastle.
Meanwhile, the fact that Dick Advocaat has left Sunderland, also leaves the Mackems in despair. It also means that they are first in the queue to gain the services of Sam Allardyce.
Some Villa fans have suggested Villa should get rid of Sherwood and bring Big Sam in asap. I ask those fans this…why do you think Newcastle and West Ham fans both chased him out of their respective clubs, even though he brought them relative security?
If Randy Lerner and his cronies appointed Big Sam in the hope of short-term safety, with his brand of non-football, there would be nothing left about this club that made me support them as a kid, bar the name and the colours.
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