Before Aston Villa came to the DW Stadium, Wigan were in trouble. One win in their previous 14 games and they had lost their last three home league games without scoring a single goal.

In recent years though, if ever a team is stuck in a rut when it comes to form, playing Villa always has the potential to get things back on track.

Villa’s 3-0 loss against Wigan was woeful though. While it was Wigan’s first win since November, it was up there with Villa’s worst performances in recent years.

Villa failed to register a single shot on target. Dean Smith may find his obsession with promotion fading fast, if such performances are repeated.

“I told the players after the game this is the bottom of where I’ve been so far in my managerial career” – dEAN SMITH

False Narratives?

The reaction of some Villa supporters to what has gone wrong in recent weeks has been a little too grandstanding. One theory is it’s because Smith hasn’t got his own players and he’ll need at least a couple of transfer windows to fix it (the same thing that’s trotted out, every time a new manger loses a game).

Just exactly who are Dean Smith’s own players? This is the best squad of players Dean Smith has ever had to manage. It’s also one of the best in the Championship (opposition managers keep harping on about it) and it’s the reason why under Smith, Villa could take apart both Derby and Middlesborough 3-0 on their own patches.

If Smith can dismantle two of the legitimate promotion contenders with two of the best Villa displays in recent seasons, then it’s evidence that the players are good enough to win promotion.

Certainly as an attacking force, Villa have impressed on several occasions under Smith, with only a dodgy keeper and defence costing us against Leeds, Forest and WBA.

Until recent weeks, most had seen enough evidence of Smith being more than capable of at least landing the play-offs with Villa. Still, only the foolish would blindly believe Villa are guaranteed success under Smith, even if it takes a season or two.

Smith’s Questions Marks

Embed from Getty Images

It’s very early days in Smith’s time at Villa to make any distinct judgements – good or bad.

There are of course some question marks over his gung-ho approach, which at times has seen the team punished on the counter (particularly against QPR and Forest).

We also don’t know yet if he can keep a team motivated and focused for the duration of a whole season.

These two things may explain why Smith, despite entertaining fans, has never finished higher than ninth in any of his five previous managerial seasons.

Every team though has up’s and downs over the course of a season, and Smith hasn’t been left with much wiggle room, after Villa’s poor start under Bruce.

We at least know Smith has demonstrated that this current team has the needed gears to go through to reach the levels required to be competitive and reach the play-offs.

The goalkeeper and defensive weaknesses have at least started to be addressed and Tammy Abraham is staying on. They were massive factors in terms of the potential left in this season. There is also half a transfer window left.

Villa supporters shouldn’t be waving the white flag just yet and having to wait until next season. Getting into the play-offs still isn’t out of reach.

Super Jack Excuse

Another problem for the team in recent weeks has been the loss of Jack Grealish to injury.

While certainly you wanted him recently to line-up against the likes of Leeds and the Baggies, Villa can’t sulk around about missing one player.

Remember, every team that has ever been promoted from the Championship has done so without Grealish playing a single minute for them!

This team should be good enough without Grealish to do a job against Wigan, as it should against most Championship teams. The combined wages of just Villa’s loan players on show today were probably more than the entire Wigan squad’s.

So what’s Dean Smith think about all of this?

Horse’s Mouth

“I told the players after the game this is the bottom of where I’ve been so far in my managerial career,” said Smith, after the Wigan defeat.

“And it should be the bottom of where Aston Villa is (we’ve seen worst in recent seasons, mate, but it is pretty dire – Ed).

“I’m an Aston Villa fan and to lose 3-0 two weeks on the spin is very, very disappointing.

“That performance was rubbish – it was very poor.”

Embed from Getty Images

We are not dealing with a deluded manager here, covering up the issues. He knows the Wigan performance was poor, as was the Swansea City one before it, in the FA Cup.

Some fans have quite rightly pointed out the conservative like-for-like substitutions on the hour mark in the Wigan game, when Villa were 1-0 down. Most notably, bringing on Whelan for Bjarnason and Hause for Elphick.

It was surprising considering Smith’s normal “we’re going to score more than you” attitude.

Why not at least throw another striker into the mix?

Smith explained that Hause came on to give the team more balance, and the others to help press higher up.

Obviously, Jonathan Kodjia’s injury didn’t help matters, as he more than likely would have been the first man on.

Normally, there are few complaints about Smith’s subs, so perhaps he should be cut some slack (everyone has an off day etc), even though they seemed a bit odd considering how the game was shaping up.

Smith went onto try to rationalise the poor performance, which hinted it’s not the player’s ability being the issue, but their application and effort.

“I just thought that in the second half we got a little bit frustrated and started playing a little bit too much as individuals rather than as a team,” said Smith.

“Overall I thought they ran harder than we did and that’s the disappointing thing.”

Earning His Wage

“I’ve got to earn my money now and make sure it never happens again,” said Smith, regarding the “rubbish” that Villa’s travelling faithful were forced to watch.

Not only that, but he needs desperately to put a winning-run together ASAP to relight his team’s promotion hopes.

What better time to start, than with the Championship’s in-form team, Hull City, visiting Villa Park next.

UTV

Follow the MOMS Podcast on iTunes. Click below:

my old man said itunes


7 COMMENTS

  1. Should have stuck with Bruce,proven track record,put your money on sheff weds making a late run into play offs,smith has never finished higher than 9th at this level

  2. I was one of the 4499 that made the trip to Wigan – what a total let down. Not a shot on target in 90 odd minutes and substitutions that belied belief. Taylor and El Ghazi had shockers though the others weren’t far behind. Kalanic was probably our man of the match with a couple of good saves, but I do feel his kicking may be a little suspect. And no Lansbury or Kodija in the squad – I see there are rumours about the latter but is Lansbury injured again ? He was our best player in his short cameo last week.

    Play offs are still reachable – there are lots of points to play for. But we are still a long way from premiership potential particularly on this showing…..

  3. It looks as though the only decent signing so far is Kalinic, why are we signing or loaning players that haven’t played for months or who are carrying injuries, we need proven players that can step straight in and help us. I agree it will be good to get Grealish back but come on after yesterday’s garbage one player isn’t going to make the difference. And I have to agree that Dean Smith has surprised me the subs yesterday beggar belief, it’s now looking very much like same old same old.
    Unless something dramatic happens play offs are just a distant memory. This calls for a massive response and nothing less will be acceptable, one final thing I personally don’t believe that Kodjia is injured and if so why don’t the club keep the fans informed, bad news that the press tell us that he was seen at B’Ham airport. Something sadly amiss at our club I’m afraid. No respect for the paying fans.

  4. I’ve left many a villa game disappointed in my time, but I left the DW in shock and confusion!?
    Shocked at how easy Wigan seemed to control the game not in short periods but for the whole ninety minutes?
    Confused DS never changed our formation in an attempt to accommodate a second striker (namely Davis) who has the presance to disrupt a back line and would have given our woeful midfield a different out option as I feel he has the ability to hold the ball and lay it.
    All in all a very poor team effort that nobody deserves any credit for.
    I fell asleep on the journey home and had a wonderful dream that Will Smith morphed onto our coach and zapped everyone of us with his ‘men in black’ memory eraser.
    PS don’t wake me up until 3 o’clock next Saturday!

  5. Ithink all the players to play at wigan should donate all of their wages to cancer research. They do not deserve to be paid. Even Tammy did not seem interested in playing.They have got to win the next 3 games to convince me to spend any more money watching this rubbish, & we thought it was bad under bruce. If the team want the supporters to fill villa park & travel in their thousands, then give us a damn good performance, even if we can only draw. At least give us a chance. If I am forced to watch championship football at villa park next season, then I will not be attending any more games. I have supported villa since 1960, & this team is a shambles compared to the team we had in the old 3rd division. Too much money being paid to players who do not care, as long as us stupid supporters are prepared to turn up & pay.

What do you think? Comment...