The Good Bad Ugly
With Aston Villa’s fortunes more good and less ugly nowadays, MOMS podcast contributor Phil Shaw resurrects ‘The Good, Bad & Ugly’, an old favourite MOMS column that started over eight years ago on the site…
The final ten games of the season are his canvas, and we are just watching an artist at work
By Phil Shaw
Easter, a time of chocolate, resurrection, roast dinners, and pivotal points in football seasons. Of course, it’s time for the Good, Bad and Ugly.
The comeback victory against Fulham, tore up a number of damning Premier League stats. Villa hadn’t won from behind, their subs had only contributed one goal and one assist all season, and Trezeguet, had the highest number of shots in the league without scoring.
Nine minutes, was all it took to suddenly click and remind everyone of Villa’s true colours, just when things seemed to be fizzling out this season.
Some may say that the turnaround simply papered over cracks, but this is missing the point. Good teams paper over the cracks all season, very rarely does every game go exactly to plan and Villa fans should know this more than most.
When Liverpool turned it around at Villa Park last season with two goals in the final minutes, did any of their fans complain about papering over cracks? No, everyone said it showed they had the character needed to be champions.
When Manchester United salvaged countless games under Alex Ferguson, were their fans complaining? No, of course not, because the sentiment of papering over cracks gives no credit to what actually happened.
It isn’t as if Fulham suddenly kicked the ball into their net and the revival was nothing to do with Villa.
If Aston Villa want to be a top team again, everyone needs to expect and demand moments like this. They aren’t random events of luck, the team made this happen as they shook off the malaise that has made 2021 anything but a good year so far.
Villan of the Week — Trézéguet
There can be only one…
In fiction, there are tales where the most unlikely people rise to the occasion, despite showing no previous signs of the capability. Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter, the Hobbits in Lord of the Rings and of course our son, Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim Hassan or Tréz to the Villa masses.
Like Villa’s own Winter Soldier or sleeper agent, Trézéguet seems to be triggered by keywords he sees online. Things like: ‘He’s rubbish’, ‘How did he miss that?’ ‘He’s a pub player!’, ‘Why didn’t we buy Benrahma?’, ‘What was that header?!’ I could go on…
When the switch flicks though, he becomes a vital goal machine on the pitch. Ask Leicester City, Crystal Palace, Arsenal and now Fulham. The final ten games of the season are his canvas, and we are just watching an artist at work.
Of course, my tongue is firmly in my cheek here, but there is a serious point to this. Trézéguet scored three of the most important goals in Aston Villa’s recent history last season and that’s only in the league. He also scored the goal that took the club to Wembley.
While everyone else is hanging around waiting on Jack Grealish to be fit, Trézéguet and his unfailing self-confidence sticks at it and no amount of abuse or highlighting his shortcomings will deter him.
The injury to Jack Grealish is obviously bad news for all concerned. What’s worse is the lack of believable information coming from the club.
Modern football fans can have many annoying traits, especially on social media, but generally, they aren’t stupid.
When the graphic for the next match doesn’t feature Grealish, and he goes silent on social media, it doesn’t take Sherlock to work out that there’s a doubt over him playing.
The continued sandbagging from the Club’s hierarchy over injuries has got old now. After experiencing it in the Championship with Grealish, then again earlier in the season with Ross Barkley, fans are getting the propaganda treatment again with their Captain. They get enough of that from the government.
The days when, team selections were secretive are long gone as the recent fantasy football debacle proved, so it’s time for the club to front up about injuries and show some swagger.
If Dean Smith came out and said Jack is out for six weeks and this is what’s wrong, he’d not only be showing that he’s not worried, it would take the ‘Grealish excuse’ away from others’ performances.
Instead, the silence leaves a vacuum that gets filled with ITK’s, anger and false hope. Nobody is saying that fans need to know the full gory details of what goes on behind the scenes, just a more professional approach to injuries would stop the circus and meltdowns before each game.
With online abuse and racism now a daily matter in professional football, it was worrying to see Tyrone Mings make an ugly error against Fulham. Players who’ve made lesser mistakes have been abused and trolled on social media all season.
Mings, however took ownership of what could have been an ugly situation and set up the equaliser, straying far out of position and taking the fight to the opposition.
Keinan Davis, did the same in his own way.
For a player who could be called a gentle giant at times, the assist for the second goal showed the skillset he has within him. Being alert to rob the Fulham defender on halfway and then driving toward goal before picking out Trézéguet with a cross, was everything he needed to do in that situation.
One swallow doesn’t make a summer, and Keinan Davis needs to take every opportunity he gets between now and the end of the season to show what he can do. He could be the bench option Villa need for the next few seasons, if he can play ugly and dominate defenders.
His celebrations at assisting show how much it means to him, it’s all about attitude now. If he can shake off that quiet persona and bring out his ugly side then Villa could have a Premier League player on their hands.
Follow Phil on Twitter here – @PRSGAME