On my slot on the Sportsbar on Talksport last week, I was asked the dreaded question by Andy Goldstein – “36 points on offer, you’ve managed to get five so far, can Villa stay up?”
It was hard to paint a convincing picture for a Villa revival. No matter how good Rémi Garde could potentially be, is there enough quality in the squad to turn it around? Also, the club’s in a bit of mess – from a staff clear out to the banning of supporters – it’s hardly a club moving in the same direction or doing itself any favours off the pitch. Also, who are the three teams that would potentially finish below Villa? There’s no obvious pickings.
Earlier that same night, Villa fans winced as they saw Jordan Amavi breakdown with a serious knee injury while on international duty for the French U-21 team. Amavi was going to be a crucial part of any Villa survival plan.
Still, the overall feeling this week was one of positivity. Here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Aston Villa fans…
The Villa backline certainly seemed to have a better shape and focus against City, which stood out as Garde’s best achievement from his limited time of just three training sessions before his first game. City did have two or three gilt-edge chances to take the points, but Villa finally earned some luck. If Villa’s rearguard can maintain this improvement, then it’ll give the team a massive positive in their survival task ahead.
2. Proper Midfield
Carlos Sanchez, Idrissa Gana, Jordan Veretout and Carles Gil has been the midfield I’ve been waiting for. I never bought this BS in recent games about Gana being tied. Veretout also needs games to get him up and running, not bench time. And as for Gil…Get. Him. On.The. Pitch.
Gardes’ team selection all-round was a step in the right direction after the horrors that preceded him.
3. Making a Point
I said a few weeks ago, that now it doesn’t matter who we play, we need points. It was great to see the Aston Villa players fired-up against Manchester City, fighting for every inch and they deserved both the luck and the point they got from the game.
There shouldn’t be a concentration on just winning the six-pointer games against the teams around you attitude. We’re past that now. The mindset should be to get something from EVERY game and never give in the fight to get it.
4. No Whipping Boys
Despite the shocking statistic of suffering nine defeats in 12 games, the goal difference of -10 spread over those games suggests Villa have always been in most of the games. They are not getting rolled over, as you would expect of teams in their position. With that in mind, Garde will know that better organisation and a few tweaks here and there may lead to instant improvement and points on the board.
5 Rémi Timing
To get a draw against the lead leaders then have a two-week period to get to know and work with the players that hadn’t gone off on international duty, was probably as favourable conditions as the new Villa boss could have hoped for coming in at this stage of the season.
If he can get least put enough points on the board to keep Villa in touch of those teams above the relegation zone, in six weeks time he’ll also have a chance to add key players in the January transfer window to help transform the Villa team for the rest of the season. A new striker will probably be top of the list and it’s encouraging to see that the new boss has already spoken to Lerner about January, even if he hasn’t admitted any real details of those talks.
There’s still hope. UTV
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