Another home defeat in a potentially winnable game and more questions being asked (and answered) of Tactic Tim’s tactics. What else did Aston Villa fans learn from a week with another forgettable performance and result?
WHERE THERE’S STOKE THERE’S FIRE
The Villa performance might have generated more shots than under Paul Lambert’s regime, but the end result and the feeling left in the stomach of fans on their way home after another defeat at Villa Park with no goals scored was the same.
[Sherwood’s] admitted he’s still looking for his best XI. That is scary.
Whereas Lambert stubbornly refused to change anything, said we were excellent, and planned to go again, Tim Sherwood is honest in his appraisal, drawing just short of the line of “bloody awful”.
While telling fans he can turn it around, he also points the finger at a player who might not even exist – a creative talent to lift the team. On paper he has plenty to choose from: potential creators like Grealish, Gil, Veretout, Toure and maverick striker Ayew – but none has shown they can be relied upon week-in, week-out. Because of this, while lamenting over injuries, form and match fitness, he admitted he’s still looking for his best XI. That is scary.
Stoke are known as a hard-working squad that gets it done. They weren’t impressive but they made Villa look second best. That’s scary too.
As was pointed out by every pundit on the job, deciding to experiment with three centre-backs against a team that only plays one forward looked to be a tactical error. Putting tough-tackling Alan Hutton as right-back ahead of attack-minded, poor-tackling Leandro Bacuna, given the extra defensive cover, might have seemed to be a strange decision too.
Perhaps there’s more to be gained from picking a formation, sticking to it, populating it with the players he feels fit the system best, and replacing those in it only when they become unavailable. This might be the best way of actually GENERATING a best XI – giving players a chance to play and rewarding them with successive selection while challenging the rest of the squad to step up and force them into the match-day squad.
One of Sherwood’s smarter decisions of the week was to keep Grealish out of the England camp get-together. If he’s really going to challenge for the England squad, he has to first secure a spot on the Villa starting team. The distraction of him deciding on a national squad is over. The rest can wait until he’s ready for the next step.
It appears that Villa played a behind-closed-doors game against Burnley this week, presumably to assess the fitness of fringe players, try something different and keep players active. There was no mention of this from the Villa PR machine but Burnley provided coverage through social media. Again, if this is going to help Sherwood figure out who his best XI should be, it’s all good. Sadly the goals came from a free-kick and a penalty, which doesn’t help bolster any confidence in scoring from open-play, but…
A RIGHT CHARLIE
Charles N’Zogbia continues to show himself up as the pretentious flop he has always been by celebrating collecting his wages – upwards of 63 grand a week (meaning Villa have spent over £13 million on him) according to his latest round of tweets – while doing as much as he’s ever done in a Villa shirt: nothing.
Perhaps he is entitled to be bitter – it’s certain he would be allowed to leave for free should some poor sucker want to take on all his baggage – but as nobody wants him, he’s left sulking and winding up Villa fans online. Should he ever return to Villa Park, he’s guaranteed himself a warm-welcome to rival anyone who ever played for the Blues.
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