Roberto Di Matteo’s Villa story was a short one full of plot holes. If Bruce can continue improving Villa’s fortunes that we could be onto a real bestseller.

A Villa win. An away win. It’s been so long that after the initial euphoria at the final whistle, I’m now at a loss as to what to do with myself. I guess the answer to that is to cherish the feeling and pray for more of the same this weekend. Whatever comes on Saturday thanks to ‘Mr.Potato Head’ we can all take off our frowns and stick on our happy faces for a few days at least.

Fairytale Finish

Looking back at the game it seems a miracle that Aston Villa left Reading with the full tally of points. From the moment Kodjia forced the ball home, it looked as if Villa were about to revert to the same old script. Failing to build on momentum following the goal, Cissokho gifting a penalty, hope turning to despair after Gollini’s save, and scuppering several gilt edged chances. We’ve all read this story before.



But this time things were different. Occasional author Steve Bruce edited the final chapter of this game to make for a happier ending than the usual tragedy. It was hardly a vintage performance, but now is not the time for picking holes or dwelling on negatives. It’s time to party. For once we can focus on what went right.

While there was some shaky moments at the back from Villa, the team showed real character to plug away until the bitter end to snatch the win. I think it’s fair to say that staying in games until the dying minutes has not been one of Villa’s strengths of late (understatement of the century) and the players deserve credit for reversing the trend by grabbing a late winner.

Getting Better

Steve Bruce is already addressing several issues that others failed to do. Firstly, he is choosing tactics that are clear and that best suit the limited squad available to us.

Secondly, he is managing games in a better manner. Rather that having blown Villa’s chances with ludicrous line ups with nothing in reserve, Bruce managed to make a game winning substitution. This is among his biggest successes at the club yet, as meaningful substitutions have been non existent at Villa for years.

There should also be a healthy level of competition within the squad now and that can only be a good thing. Ayew, McCormack, and Kodjia will all be eager to retain regular starting places but will need to perform to stay in contention and there are goals in all three men. Each will also have the opportunity to be more effective playing in more natural roles, rather than as a part of ‘a kind of front 5 or 6’.

At the back, there are strong arguments for Baker and Amavi to be in contention for a starting berth and Ashley Westwood may finally be made to work for a place in the line up.

A Learning Curve

Although it’s early days, Bruce has shown a willingness to learn and adapt and long may that continue. It was clear on Saturday that Kodjia and McCormack were not on the same page, so the Reading game saw Rudy Gestede come into the team. This also shows that the manager is considering the opposition, knowing that Reading were likely to have large spells of possession and the we may need to be direct at times. A Villa manager with a plan, what a novelty.


Bruce kept the faith where he felt he needed to (Jedinak), but changed things elsewhere in a bid to find a better formula (Gardner). It is comforting to know that a manager is actually seeing the same things that we are on the pitch and the introduction of Amavi for Cissokho further proved this.

Amavi is not the finished article, and almost made a costly mistake on arrival tonight, but his talents could be a huge boost to this squad. If Bruce can get the young Frenchman’s confidence up, we may finally see some more polish from this rough diamond.

The most important thing that was gained tonight was three points and a winning feeling. The win moves Villa in the right direction and while we’re still at the wrong end of it, the table makes for better reading after the trip to Reading. Another win at the weekend and Villa will be on the up heading into the clash with Birmingham rather than living in fear of further humiliation.

Roberto Di Matteo’s Villa story was a short one full of plot holes. If Bruce can continue improving Villa’s fortunes that we could be onto a real bestseller.



Don’t forget to follow Finn on Twitter – @FinnMongey

And make sure you’re following MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid

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  1. If Bruce starts to infiltrate the academy kids on the bench and into
    the squad as a warning to the toxic flops that they must produce he
    Will turn the corner. Fulham at home will see who gets in and who gets
    the chop

  2. O the joy smiles laughter spring in our steps , scrappy 2-1 win I’ll take that,its a results game we all know this so let’s enjoy ,to MPH no more do I sing that song let the noses do it now as you said if they sing about you they possibly like you ,well I like you now our manager and you do look smart in claret and blue ,unbeaten in two is the claret and blue so as always stay true to yourself keep the faith and Villa till we die.