Lets recap the season so far…
There’s been a batch of unconvincing performances to kick off the 2018/19 season, where even Villa’s initial two league wins lent on the side of good fortune (Wigan had several good chances to win at Villa Park at 2-2). Then came the failure to beat the current winless bottom two in the Championship table – Ipswich and Reading. The former, despite playing for 50 minutes against 10-men. After that came the woeful cup performance against Burton and then a shocker of a display against Sheffield United, that saw Villa 4-0 down after 49 minutes.
This start in isolation, perhaps wouldn’t cause too much concern, but the problem is we’ve seen it all before. We were looking for progress, a sign that Villa were taking this promotion malarky seriously.
The unconvincing performances in general are par the course with Bruce, which are often forgiven if the result is right. Burton brought back memories of Peterborough last season in the FA Cup, where a weaken team went through the motions as if it was preseason. There’s been similarly puzzling selections, Jedinak at centre-back has cost Villa points again this season. Bruce also attempted to show Albert Adomah the door once again, while Elphick was frozen out and loaned out before a replacement could be drafted in.
Are Villa playing as a team with any fluency? Well, there’s been periods, like in the first hour or so of both the Brentford and Reading games. Yet, there was ultimately little end product, mainly due to a lone striker who the majority of the time isn’t operating on the same wavelength as the rest of his side or is isolated by them. Either his teammates are playing too deep or he is coming out wide or deep to get the ball, with no one filling in the hole up front he’s left.
The fact that Bruce was heralding the first half of the Brentford game as the best Villa had played under him was a cause for concern. These are not the standards of a team seeking automatic promotion. Having only one recognised tried and tested centre-back in your squad also isn’t the way forward to reach that goal.
So, are there really any reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans?
A lot at Villa Park behind the scenes was in limbo until a new CEO was appointed, so the appointment of Christian Purslow at least means the club can hopefully move forward now.
We’ll talk about Purslow in more detail elsewhere, but as most will know the private equity investor by trade is well-heeled in terms of football, having been the Liverpool chief executive for just over a year (an eventful time that ended up in court), while he also brokered some major commercial deals while at Chelsea for three years until last year, as their managing director.
Some supporters have asked the question, will he simply be a Tom Fox Mk II? Well, with the new owners not looking to mess around this season and fans becoming increasingly impatient, it will be a testing season to find out the mettle of the man.
Majority owners, Edens and Sawiris said in a statement: “We are tremendously excited to bring someone of Christian’s calibre and experience into the club. This is an important step on our journey to return Aston Villa back to the elite of English football.”
The Cavalry is Coming
Tammy Abraham and Yannick Bolasie (tbc) will be ready for their first games in Villa shirts after the international break. Now, I’m hoping this will provide Villa with a bit of cutting edge and unpredictability in the final third.
It’s been said, that Bolasie doesn’t even know what he’s going to do sometimes, which could be the type of attacking spirit we need to throw opposition teams off.
Will Bruce go two up top with Abraham and Kodjia? They have played together before at Bristol City. This could see Villa reverting to a 3-5-2 that Bruce has trialed before. Maybe it’s a solution to the lack of two proper centre-backs for a back four?
Also, it’s hard to see Villa going straight out 4-4-2 with two new very attacking wide men, that are limited defensively and Grealish in a more traditional central midfielder role. It would leave John McGinn with too much to do in the middle and leave Villa open to be overrun.
Bruce now has plenty of attacking pieces to put together, but that hasn’t been his strong suit so far at the club.
Fans Waking Up
There’s a certain section of fans that have made do with what’s been happening at the club – despite it’s failure to get promoted in two seasons and it alarmingly lurching towards administration.
Being 90 minutes away from promotion was seen as acceptable by some. Whether you get to the play-off final or finish 10th or 20th in the Championship, for a club like Aston Villa, it’s failure with a capital ‘F’.
There seems to be more urgency in the fanbase now for promotion and the waking up to the fact that Steve Bruce isn’t exactly inspiring supporters with the confidence that he can achieve that (see above).
The local press articles guaranteeing promotion under Bruce last season, seem miles away now from the reality of the situation of the Villa’s manager ability. If he is to complete the promotion mission, a mass improvement is needed and most fans realise that now.
The International Break
A lot of the time teams prefer the next game to come asap after an embarrassing defeat, mainly to give them a chance to put it right. Bruce in his post-Sheffield United interview bemoaned the fact that a lot of his players would be away on international duty (you expect this when you buy internationals). The issue at the moment isn’t necessarily the players, but how they are being set up to play.
Bruce now has a fortnight to reflect. To have a hard look and take stock of what he’s been doing up to now. He needs to improve, because it could be his last international break as the Villa boss, if he doesn’t.
I only mention this because I’m desperate for a fifth reason, but to those of you who this matters… no matter how bad Villa are, the Blues always seem to trump us in the ‘being cr*p’ department.
Even at our lowest ebb, when we got a transfer embargo, they got one that lasted longer. And so it goes on…
Currently Garry Monk’s men are winless in 20th spot. That said, they have only lost two of their six games, so could be due an upturn in fortunes.
More disturbing is the fact that West Brom and Derby (when did they suddenly start winning under Lampard?!) are above Villa in terms of Midlands bragging rights (two novice managers too).
The end game though is promotion and with Villa five points off the top two automatic places within just six games, they’ll be no excuses for failure hence forth.
Bruce has to go before It’s too late. No matter how good our midfield and attack can be until our defence and keeper are sorted we will not have the confidence needed to play the attacking football that everyone else in this league is playing, we have no system, even the so called worse teams are playing more attractive football than us only one person to blame you all know his name.
Aston Villa have no tactics. We have (and also the previous season) the best squad in the division. Yet players have no direction. The buck stops with Steve Bruce. The first job the new CEO has to do is to fire Bruce and clear up this mess that we are in. AND NOW!
A meteoroid has just smashed into B6. Formed not from ice, dust and Iridium, this bolide was composed of promotion failure, near administration of the club and a loan debacle of foolishly catastrophic proportions. Indeed, these loan decisions are so dim, the crater that is now Villa park is barely visible under a dust cloud blocking out light from the sun.
The dinosaur that is Bruciesaurus laeviculus (Species name from the Latin ‘Laevicus’, meaning bumbling, ungainly, clueless), has now suffered a mortal blow. Doomed to extinction, the board now has a choice. Act decisively and appoint a new manager before the international break, creating the circumstances for the evolution of a managerial mammal. Or, allowing this terrible lizard to prolong in agony, thrashing his scaly reptilian tail and gnashing his jagged fangs, until those weary, lifeless yellow eyes begin to slowly close, before one last shallow breath leaves his lungs and his prodigious bowels empty all over the Holte. After the last few years though, were getting used to the smell of being covered in it.
I hereby call on one of Brucies kebab munching incisors to be preserved for all time in amber, and his skeleton to be placed on display next to dippy, so that future generations may know of our plight. Enough of the incompetence, please.
Steve Bruce only has himself to blame for Saturdays awful football result, he alone picked the team (placing the usually solid midfielder player Mile Jedinak out of position is not the way to pick up points at Sheffield United) and for allowing a vastly experienced back four player in Tommy Elphick to leave Villa on a season long loan without adequate cover in my opinion just absolutely beggars belief.
I believe the only scenario now that will spare Steve Bruce from losing his job is for the Villa to become a lot more expansive going forward with the football from here on in… However … We will see if Bruce actually has the courage to push through on ‘expansive’ attacking football approach as it really goes against all his better instincts as he is a stubborn defense minded, first at all times manager/coach.
As Villa’s head coach he certainly has more than capable players needed to achieve a ‘gung-ho’ style of play with creative midfield riches such as Jack Grealish, John McGinn, Anwar El Ghazi and of course forwards such as Scott Hogan, Yannick Bolasie, Jonathan Kodjia, Albert Adomah and Tammy Abraham..
With a brand new CEO now on board from now until October should be very telling as to how things will pan out.
Sleepless in Seattle ..
Although not a Bruce fan, I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt that was until we loaned out Elphick and didn’t sign a replacement, what’s all that about? And he continues to demonstrate rubbish tactics and insists on playing Jedinak at CB, what’s the betting he will do the same against Blackburn, I think he’s completely lost it, and his decisions and team selection are beyond belief, he might just get lucky with Abraham’s and Bolasie coming in we might score a couple of goals, but that in no way excuses our crap defence and I have to include Nyland in that.
Everyone entitled to their own opinion, mine is he has to go ASAP
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