That’s how it’s been all season – hanging on, crossing our fingers, and scraping points with unconvincing, flair-free defensive football.

The season is over and Villa failed at their first attempt to get back to the promised land by a country mile. Few Villa supporters would have guessed at the start of the season that we would have finished in the lower half of the division in 13th place.

If we have have learned we are not all that at the moment, what else did Villa fans learn from a pretty miserable last week of the 2016-17 season?

ASTON VILLA ARE A MID-TABLE CHAMPIONSHIP SIDE

The table doesn’t lie. Forget the European Cup, the title, the cup wins of the past, not to mention the slew of star names that have passed through Villa Park – today, Aston Villa are good enough to finish thirteenth in the second tier of English football.

And next season won’t be a picnic either. Villa will start the season without Kodjia and Baker (and perhaps Hogan… pending an injury update) which means a flying start and a statement will be hindered.

The performance at Blackburn was probably the low point of a drab season. Even the wins the team accumulated were ugly and reeked of good fortune, desperate defending, and could easily have been losses more ofter than not. With an equal number of league wins and losses (16) it illustrates how many games were a coin toss.

Today’s game against Brighton should have been another loss but for Stockdale’s blunder to gift Villa a point and hand Newcastle the league title. That’s how it’s been all season – hanging on, crossing our fingers, and scraping points with unconvincing, flair-free defensive football. Those who can’t see it are still on stage one of the five stages of grief:¬†denial – once you get through anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance you can begin to be more optimistic about the future even if change is hard to take.

GREALISH IS A GAME CHANGER

With that said, Villa’s equaliser against Brighton needed some flair along with good luck – so it was upon Jack Grealish’s shoulders to dig out the shot that led to the last goal of the season. With no Kodjia and with Lansbury, Adoma and Hourihaine only showing spurts of the reasons they were brought to Villa Park, it took Grealish (and to an exciting extent, Keinan Davis who put in a good, if understated showing) to get anything from a game that was going nowhere.

 

We’ve seen what the players still keeping their place after playing their part in relegation have taken us: 13th place in the second tier of English football. And as for the under achieving newer signings?

Maybe Bruce should give serious thought to blending a bit of youth into the team next season.

WHAT ARE VILLA DOING TO THEIR PLAYERS?

Questions have to be asked about what’s going on with the players brought in on their reputation – which quickly becomes worthless when they look like they are only slightly better than the players they replace (this column will admit at this point that there may still be some residual “anger” linger in the grief stages).

Were the players like Lansbury, Hourihaine, Hogan and to a lesser extent McCormack and Tshibola truly big fish in a small pond? Did they find the weight of expectation too much when coming to Villa? Were they just poor fits? Was enough research done on the player as a person?

McCormack aside, who had his own problems, why have the bigger signings failed to shine as brightly as Villa or the fans will have hoped? Or is it down to a season of management trying to punch above their weight? Or were they signed just to paper over the cracks and avoid a double-relegation that few fans believed could happen – until the awful start to this season?

Identity, stablility, positivity, confidence, goals. All these things would help. Here’s to the next season and promotion. Somehow.

UTV

Follow Adam on Twitter here –¬†@keebo00

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6 COMMENTS

  1. A lot of people may not agree but we are all entitled to our opinions mine is we have spent loads of money on what we’re considered the best players in the Championship and to finish 13 th is totally unacceptable, the players with the exception of Kodjia have let the club down, and for me so has Bruce this is simply not good enough, our players on paper are every bit as good or better than Newcastle and Brighton players, so what’s wrong and as it stands with the current management I don’t have confidence about our prospects for next season no matter what we spend.

  2. Its about having a squad not just 11 exceptional players. We’ve signed acceptional players on paper but they aren’t playing as we hoped. Question is why do good players get to Villa Park and lose it? Its happened so often over the years its quite bewildering. Do you blame the players or is ot the club. The ideal scenario is you buy a player and he plays like Merson or Ginola , we dont get that.

  3. I’ve been in the ‘acceptance’ stage since day one of Xia’s ownership.
    The previous 5 years of dross (albeit premiership dross) I was stuck in the perpetual ‘anger’ stage as I watched the dissemination of a top six premiership side overseen by the previous incumbent (Lerner) from a laser tattoo removal parlor somewhere in Cleveland – a long distance failed love affair resulting in an acrimonious split and a financial loose-loose outcome.
    The sale of our best players followed and relegation was inevitable as the ‘too good to go down’ mantra was disproven once again.
    Enter the Dragon (Tony Xia) and the hope of an instant return to the top flight …..Really ?
    Well yes I thought so, but having just witnessed a season of the championship I can see now why we never managed this.
    Xia has already made one mistake, but learned from it quickly, and along with 50 other professional football clubs this season sacked the bloke picking the team.
    In my opinion the Jury’s still out on Bruce (especially his defensive style this season) but he also appears to have dealt with quite a bit namely; bomb squad left overs, burnt french fries, hippie crack and shisha pipe training methods, not to mention Rossgate! normal inherited problems at any other football club ?
    So personally I have accepted our mid-table finish as acceptable for this season, but this season only

  4. The league table says it all. Close examination reveals a telling statistic of its own. More points gained at home than Fulham (in the play offs), fewer points gained away than Wigan or Blackburn (both relegated). Yet there were times during yesterdays game when I thought Brighton, on the verge of becoming Champions with three minutes to go were not really that much better than us. Ok, maybe that was the part of me still having lingering denial emotions, but they haven’t managed to beat us this season. And I genuinely thought we could and should have taken the game by the scruff of the neck. So once again it was a team playing with no conviction and little heart turning in an unconvincing performance. Where does that leave us? Hoping for the best close season in a number of years, a good turnover of unwanted players out with some solid additions in, and trusting the manager to spend the time coming up with the tactics and a style of football that will enable us to have the impact we all desire. How long should we give him though, if come the end of September we sre still mid-table?

  5. Unconvincing, flair-free defensive football is not something that is exclusive to this season. We’ve seen it for the last decade.

  6. Baker’s position @ LCB is one I’m hoping will be filled with a 2nd player , Chester & Elphic are better suited to playing RCB hence why we struggle when Baker is out for any reason And that along with sorting out the keeper situation I would hope were ones Bruce was looking to fill
    But midfield also seems to need reinforcing as getting the right mix seems to be a problem . And after Bacuna’s tantrum over the free kick I wonder whether he’l be with us next season
    And now we have a striker shortage to sort

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