Two derbies. One poor result followed by one big one – what can Aston Villa fans learn from the games against Albion and City?
I THOUGHT WE WERE EXCELLENT
After the glorious start to the Leicester game where beautiful goals from flair midfielders got Villa fired up, the collapse was about as deflating as it gets. The performance against WBA was workmanlike, which might have something to do with the opposition. Their goal was jammy but the lack of cohesiveness and positive play had fans starting to question how much progress had been made since Lambert left.
But until the team finds its identity, there could be a few more performances like that to come. Best expectation: while still looking for its strongest XI, Sherwood manages to sneak wins at home and draws away from home. Worst expectation: we keep shooting ourselves in the foot, turning the fans against individual players, and limping along in the bottom six or seven until it’s too late to get anything out of, let’s be frank here, what was always going to be a rebuilding season until Lambert’s cancerous tactics and “we’ll somehow be fine keeping doing what we’re doing… which is losing” mentality is long forgotten.
RUDY RUDY RUDY RUDY
Rudy might be looking more Tony Cascarino than Dion Dublin or Alan McInally, but his goal will be talked about for many, many years until we play Blues again.
Sherwood’s direct approach, which he heralded in his post-game comments, may or may not have worked to Rudy’s strengths but he wasn’t imposing himself as much as fans might have liked. He’s clearly a marked man and when we signed him, Blackburn fans warned us he is prone to injury, so maybe he’s not moving as well as he can right now.
But to be honest, if he’s anonymous for 88 minutes in a game and still sticks one in the back of the onion bag, his could be the best selling shirt in the shop by Christmas.
Certainly if there was a warranted “but it was only…” disclaimer, Birmingham City would be worthy of it. But they aren’t doing too badly in the league and made Villa work for their win. Guzan denied them a couple of good chances at equalisers and the long balls at the death left fans with the hearts in their mouths until the final whistle.
But the XI that were on the field at the end – Guzan, Bacuna, Richards, Grealish, Amavi, Clark, Westwood, Veretout, Ayew, Gestede and Sinclair – were able to express themselves and show what they can do with a swagger that’s been missing since (insert your own opinion here – Ron Atkinson’s second season? John Gregory’s Merson/Ginola/Angel team?)
Ayew was the most pleasant surprise. Always wanting the ball, his flair was more than just tricks as he cheered up the fans as well as being productive. Grealish still goes to ground a bit quick and heavy, but that’s who he is. Amavi was doing what we’ve come to expect from him from the first minute to the last – beating defenders, finding crosses, but getting tangled up defensively once in a while.
Villa fans don’t need perfection from this team – just a belief that the future is bright, exciting and an end to the mediocrity that is all that some younger fans have known until Sherwood’s arrival.
BEN THERE, DONE THAT
Looks like we will be denied the chance to see Christian Benteke wearing that horrible red shirt that just doesn’t suit him this Saturday. With his hamstring unstrung, we’ll be facing a Liverpool team without their best player at Anfield. Thanks again, Christian. We’ll consider that an added bonus to your financing a whole new team for us.
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