It’s a midweek period that must go down as the most embarrassing in Aston Villa’s history. Knocked out by Division Two Bradford City in a League Cup semi-final, then dispatched from the FA Cup by Championship side Millwall. The club seems to have been collecting rubbish stats very frequently recently – like ‘worst home record in a season’, ‘worst start to a season’ etc, etc. It’s about time this habit stopped, as the club can only absorb so much punishment. Learning from our mistakes might help…
This is what we learnt this week:
1 – We thought it couldn’t get any worse, but it did
We should be planning a trip to Wembley now, we should be pleased that our season could still amount to something; but now all we have to look forward to it securing our survival (if we’re lucky.) Again, a poor second half proved to be our undoing and the players just couldn’t respond to the atmosphere or the occasion. Three days later they officially became a laughing stock by exiting the FA Cup at the hands of Millwall. Thankfully Luton, MK Dons and Brentford have taken the heat off of us a little, but the fact still remains that we were no better than a League Two side, even over two legs.
2 – No width, no threat
We go sideways enough, but never go wide. Villa looked at their most threatening when they stretched the Bradford defence, highlighted best by Joe Bennett’s cross for Benteke’s goal. Watching Villa attack is so very frustrating because there’s a lot of build up, but no penetration, no drive. Opposition defences deal with us so easily because we’re too slow and they can get back with plenty of time to organise and repel.
3 – No clue, for that matter
What were Lambert’s tactics? Does he even have a definite style or strategy? Once Bradford equalised he panicked and brought on more strikers at the sake of keeping shape. Our inability to deal with set pieces, both offensively and defensively, is costing us, and one can only imagine that this isn’t being taken care of on the training ground. I know he hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory over the past two seasons, but Richard Dunne’s return can’t come soon enough. His powers may be on the wane now, but he’s a terrific organiser and he’ll make sure that any part of is body gets onto the ball to get it away.
4 – Keeping Weimann is vital
News broke this weekend that the club has opened talks with the young Austrian about a new deal with just 18 months remaining on his current contracts. We’ve already come to accept that Benteke will be off soon, but securing Andi’s future is key. He’s already exceeded expectations for the season and his all round game has the potential to be better than the big Belgian’s. We have a future club legend of our hands here, to let him go before he hits his peak would be a disaster.
5 – Back him or sack him
Simple really. Lambert clearly isn’t making the most of the players he has, our current ‘system’ alienates more players than it benefits, but without any funds he won’t be able to mould the team with the players we so desperately need. Randy may have spent a lot in the past, but this is the Premier League, it never stops.
Steven Green is one of the hosts of the AVFC Review podcast and writer for Shoot Magazine and a fellow Real Oviedo shareholder (His twitter link in his name)
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