Despite rousing start to the game from all four stands after a one-minute tribute to the late Villan Ian Ross and England World Cup-winning legend Gordon Banks, a potential nine-point week, soon dissolved into just one.
In their previous game against Brentford, Villa were largely abject. While they showed improved defensive organisation, they struggled to string a couple of passes together, when they did get hold of the ball.
Again, against the Albion, Villa seemed devoid of ideas in possession. Smith seemingly had no answer against a team that once they went 2-0 up, sat back in the second-half, happy to play out the final 45 minutes and pick up the points.
Apart from a long distance strike from John McGinn, Villa offered very little in terms of trying to salvage the game.
Why does this Smith team look nothing like the one that played in the first half dozen games under him?
Aston Villa Player Player Ratings
Lovre Kalinić – 5
Went off injured at half-time, after being dizzy in the dressing room following an earlier clash. Despite his big frame and international pedigree, Kalinic is yet to earn the complete confidence of the Villa faithful.
He was caught flat footed on Albion’s first, the looping header from Robson-Kanu, but was beaten hands down by Rodriguez’s strike from outside the box.
Alan Hutton – 5
A 34-year-old Alan Hutton is the CAPTAIN of Aston Villa FC. Let that sink in.
That pretty much sums up the level of the club right now.
I don’t want this to sound harsh on Hutton, as going from an exile in the bomb squad to then win new contracts and the captain’s armband, is a great personal achievement.
In terms of quality, it’s symbolic of what’s happened at the club and he’s been omnipresent since Alex McLeish.
Kortney Hause – 6.5
As he settles into the left-back role, Hause showed much improvement, as he tightened up the left-flank. He also contributed going forward, his best offering being a beautifully swung in ball, that Abraham should perhaps done better with.
His frame remind me a little bit of Wilfred Bouma, who while wasn’t the most graceful of fullbacks going forward, could still be effective.
Tommy Elphick – 6.5
After a decent enough job staying tight against Brentford until their late winner, Elphick started off the Baggies game with a great sliding block inside the six-yard box early doors.
For most of the game he was solid enough and was unlucky with his header from a corner that bounced off the Albion bar.
Tyrone Mings – 7 (MOTM)
Despite a couple of mistakes that presented Albion with chances, he carried on impressive form since arriving last month. Looks good on the ball and had a tidy 89.2% pass completion rate.
Villa now will be nothing more than a shop window to get a move to a Premier League club next season, if Eddie Howe doesn’t decide to give him another chance.
Glenn Whelan – 6
Whelan had a pretty steady game, although he didn’t really have any invention in his locker to force the issue, especially in the second half when WBA sat deep.
He was again tidy in possession and interestedly shared the top passing stats with Tyrone Mings, of Villa players that completed the full 90 minutes.
As well as both making the joint most amount of passes (75), they also had the same top pass completion rate of 89.2%.
Conor Hourihane – 5
Villa fans were still very much on Hourihane’s case. His mistake led to the second goal, but, as mentioned in the last player rating column, the main thing is he needs to improve his work off the ball.
He needs to be aware of the opposition’s midfielder runners and also be more mobile going forward and not just stop once he’s played a ball to a teammate.
As previously mentioned, he does give Villa cutting edge and has contributed to many a Villa goal and has the fourth highest tally of assists in the league with nine.
Dean Smith certainly made a statement though subbing Hourihane for a teenage debutant.
John McGinn – 6
His long-distance effort was one of the rare moments that got the crowd going. His booking now means he’ll miss Villa’s next couple of games. Thankfully though, at least he’ll return refreshed for the Blues encounter.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 5
A glancing header from a corner was his most pivotal contribution. He never really troubled the Albion fullback and perhaps wasn’t aggressive enough throughout the game.
Tammy Abraham – 6
His early chance when he was clean through one-on-one, once again saw him over-animated in calling for the ball. When it did come to him, a poor first touch let him down.
Abraham would have perhaps benefited from less waving and pointing, to be in a more balanced state to take his first touch. This is not the first time this has happened this season.
He should have also have done better with a decent delivery from Hause, when he glanced his header wide.
Still, you can’t fault the player’s effort and endeavour, although he was ultimately let down by none of the Villa midfielders getting close enough to him to support him in open play.
Andre Green – 5
Perhaps showed why he’s not the finished article as a starter yet, with a largely toothless display. Still, a run of games during the rest of the season will at least allow Villa to have a proper look at him, in terms of next season.
Off The Bench
Jed Steer (45) – 5
With the Albion sitting back in the second half, Steer had very little to do.
Jacob Ramsay (60) – 5.5
The game passed Ramsay by a little bit, as he saw little of the ball, with only 21 touches and a low pass completion rate of 58.8%.
It’s always easier for youngsters, if they are being drip fed into a successful winning team, so with Villa struggling to get any foothold in the game, he was always going to struggle.
Still, a positive experience for the teenager, who may have a better chance to shine in future dead wood games.
Jonathan Kodjia (70) – 4
Had very little impact, registering only seven touches in the 20+ minutes he was on the field.
Manager Rating – 5
There was a feeling that the first goal would dictate the flow of the game, but with the Albion bagging a double-whammy before half-time, it seemed game over as soon as you saw Darren Moore electing to defend deep and close the space down.
Bar a long range effort from John McGinn, Villa offered next to nothing in the second half, as they chased the game. Smith didn’t seem to make any drastic adjustments at half-time to the team to help them claw themselves back into it.
His substitution of Hourihane with Ramsay was probably his most interesting managerial decision. Was there any intent of ruffling Hourihane’s feathers, so to speak, to provoke a reaction?
Where is the brand of football that Dean Smith was meant to bring to Villa? That is the big question. For ultimately, that is the main reason he was appointed.
Win, draw or lose, most fans would be a lot more comfortable if they saw Smith visibly working towards an end game.
He’ll have to demonstrate it in the remaining games or Villa fans will increasingly question his position.