The Villa Appetiser: Rotherham v Villa 2017
Two wins in a row, and suddenly the mood is again one of optimism…well, for next season anyway!
Bruce has been backed by CEO Keith Wyness in the past couple of weeks so perhaps removing the uncertainty of the manager’s position has helped.
Rotherham look destined for the drop but they will still be keen to cause an upset and instil some much needed morale.
Can we record our first away win of the year?
Paul Warne on performances
“I lecture the lads a lot about legacy and say to them, that if it is the last game of their career what would the Rotherham fans talk about when they leave the stadium.
“I want them to play like that, like it’s their last game and like it’s a cup final.
“They are massive games and they’re big for the fans, I just so hope the lads can give them a performance they can be happy with.”
“I can’t guarantee results but I like to think I can guarantee a level of effort and I’ll set out a team to perform in both games.
“I want them to perform to a level and I want them to go toe-to-toe with the best teams in the league. If that means it gives us a good run until the end of the season, then great.
“I think a lot of them have got a lot to prove and I think the fans have been really patient with the lads and been supportive and I’d like to give them something back.”
“In an ideal world where I have hair and unlimited coffee, we’d win both games comfortably but I’m well-aware of the task ahead and you need that little bit of luck.
“I need the fans to get behind the team because when they do it has a massive effect, so if you’re reading this and are coming Saturday or Tuesday, get behind the lads.”
Steve Bruce on the team
“What we have seen, results-wise, is that 4-3-3 has been the way forward.
“It certainly suits the players in the building.
“As for the 11, I still haven’t seen James Bree just yet. I’ve only seen him fleetingly.
“Scotty Hogan was injured after four games so I need to see more of him as well.
“I’ve got an idea of what is my best team.
“But to be brutally honest with you, with injuries and suspensions, it’s very rare that you think ‘this is the best team’.”
“My preferred system in the Championship is 4-4-2 but I don’t think we can play with that system here.
“It takes time.
“What I did do was go back to results from when I first came in.
“I didn’t think we could play 4-4-2 because of the personnel that we had.
“That’s how I enjoy playing in the Championship but with what we have got at the moment, I don’t think it suits us.
“We’ve adapted the system which suits us better.
“The way we are at the moment, we will stay that way for the time being.”
11th March 1972 Rotherham 0 Villa 2
The last time we travelled to Rotherham was also in March, but was in the early seventies – we won 2-0.
Rotherham United – Last five matches at home: W 1, D 1, L 3
Villa – Last five matches away: L 5
One to Watch
Danny Ward – The ex-Huddersfield forward is the Millers’ top scorer this season.
Villa have not won three league games in a row since 2010
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Rotherham United will be memorable to Villa fans. They were the first team to head to Villa Park this season, and against them we recorded our biggest win of the season.
Both managers that day have gone, and since Alan Stubbs, Kenny Jackett also had a short spell in charge of the Millers. More has changed too.
Chester might be the only player who starts on Saturday who started on that earlier occasion, such have been the changes to Villa’s squad.
While the season hasn’t panned out the way we hoped since the promise of that day, form is at least turning around. But there are still worrying signs.
While Rotherham have struggled for points at home, the one win that stands out this season was their victory over Norwich in January, so they’re capable of an unlikely result against stronger teams.
More recently against promotion hopefuls Huddersfield, the Millers were unlucky not to take a point – losing 3-2 thanks to a goal in the 92nd minute.
Winning three games in a run would be a pleasing indication of how our form has turned around yet again, but that hasn’t happened so often in recent years. In fact, the last time we did win three consecutive league games was in April 2010!
““I want them to play like that, like it’s their last game and like it’s a cup final” – warne ON facing VILLA
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
Thanks to our home win double we have moved up the table into 15th, and while that doesn’t sound particularly impressive, think of Rotherham’s standing.
Having heroically stayed up last season under the stewardship of Neil Warnock, this season has been much like Villa’s last season in that relegation seems painfully inevitable.
While Bruce seems to have got Villa back to winning ways, Rotherham on the other hand have lost seven of their last eight fixtures, and a Warnock-esque great escape seems frankly impossible.
Since Jackett quit Rotherham after just over a month in charge, coach Paul Warne has been handed the job until the end of the season.
Despite managing a couple of wins during this time, his team are 16 points adrift of safety and at the very bottom of the Championship table. It doesn’t look good.
Injuries to Gardner and Green are a blow for Villa, but Hourihane impressed replacing the former as a substitute. He has now been involved in 18 goals in the Championship this season, including seven goals and 11 assists.
In terms of the squad set-up, it does finally seem that Bruce is keeping changes to a minimum, and this could be one of the reasons our last couple of performances have improved.
In their last eight league games against Villa, Rotherham have won once, and we’ve managed three wins in our last three games against them – keeping clean sheets on each of those occasions.
The last time we did manage three league wins in a row was in a much happier time for Villa.
Hopefully we can keep the consecutive run going and finally create a genuine feel-good factor in the Championship.
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