With Aston Villa back in the Premier League, MOMS resurrects ‘The Good, Bad & Ugly’ an old favourite column that started six years ago on the site, but has been in exile for almost three years, since its original writer Tom Nightingale moved to Canada. Like some other MOMS column titles, the name of it has been co-opted elsewhere, but we’ll go with it for now.
A warm welcome to MOMS to Lou King from the North Stand…
By Lou King
After Aston Villa spent £127m in fixed fees on transfers (with add-ons on top), making them second only to Manchester United in terms of their summer spending, they kicked-off the season with a tough test visiting the new stadium of last season’s Champions League finalists.
So, back in the Premier League. The opener against Tottenham. Did we expect three points? Probably not. I think the best most of us were hoping for was a good account of ourselves, the new players settling in and looking like we belong in the league.
I could write an essay about John McGinn, but we are no longer surprised by his creativity, energy and movement. We know just how great a player he is. The other positives for me included what looks like a solid centre-back partnership between Engels and Mings, and a great performance from Heaton.
A fairly solid first half, where Mings sent the ball from back to front to a scampering McGinn to slot home around a floundering Danny Rose, gave way to a difficult second half with Mings and Engels clearing and blocking everything that came their way until Spurs ramped it up a gear to score two late goals.
The energy and understanding Mings and Engels have bodes well. We know Mings is calm under pressure, but for new signing Engels to start and partner up so convincingly could see the start of a fine pairing.
Heaton looks amazing. Have we finally signed a confident, consistent goalie with sound Premier League experience? He made a number of saves, none better than the free kick from Eriksen not long after he had tipped Sanchez’s effort round the post. He looked alert, composed and confident; directing and ordering players like he’d been with us years.
I’m glad we drew Spurs away as an early fixture; it was a great test to see where we’re at, and for 70-odd minutes we held our own.
Sloppiness and failure to take chances were the main bugbears.
The Championship gives you time on the ball. The Premier League doesn’t. Over the course of the game Villa players were dispossessed a disappointing 13 times; none more costly then when Grealish had the ball swiped from his toes by Lamela, whose forward pass pinballed and luckily fell at Kane’s feet.
Throughout the game Spurs players stole the ball far too easily. We looked polite. If we lose the ball, go and win it back. Part way though, I found myself muttering that Alan Hutton wouldn’t have let that happen.
Hopefully we have a marvellous solution for adding some bite into the team, incoming with Nakamba.
Earlier in the match, a beautiful run by Grealish (looking more rapid than last season), ended with him laying off Trezeguet with a chance to make it 2-0. A weak back pass was as much as he could muster. It was a great chance to get something from the game.
The rest of the season will not be forgiving. Chances like that have got to be taken. Selfless, quite possibly, from Jack. We’ve seen him scamper past many defenders to slot home. Perhaps he should have done so this time?
First match of the season, new players and tough opposition are all factors that played their part. As everyone has said, we will learn from this opener. The new players are not lacking in quality; a rousing home game at Villa Park will give them great confidence to push on.
Ok, so much has been said already about the new Kappa shirts. Taking over from the amazing Luke designs of last year was never going to be an easy task.
The graphics I like, but the fit?
I attended the friendly against Walsall on a gorgeous summer evening, Villa fans proudly showing off their new shirt purchases. We are going to be a laughing stock to other fans. It was like a parade of claret and blue Pillsbury Doughboys (and girls). Quite normal size fans looking somewhat tubby in the cling-film fit.
(Christian Purslow had said at the last Fan Consultation Group meeting, Kappa had been briefed on being considerate to ‘gut buckets’…)
Do Kappa know their demographic?
The average football fan does not have the physique of our boy Mings.
In short, they are most unforgiving, please buy up at least one size.
Perhaps its subliminal messaging by Villa to all re-start our healthy eating campaigns, long since neglected from our New Years declarations or maybe they just accidentally selected “elite” fit. I’m expecting no more Balti pies to be on offer at VP for the Bournemouth game; celery sticks and kale smoothies all the way.