It was certainly an eventful summer for Aston Villa off the pitch, that’s to put it mildly, but this week Villa’s season started in a positive light with two wins out of two. While the football has been disjointed at times in both the games against Hull City and Wigan Athletic, there were signs of improved attacking play (producing six goals) that hopefully will continue to progress over the coming few weeks.
There are issues with the Villa defence, but there’s a potentially an easy fix there, if Steve Bruce plays players in their actual positions.
Still, the Villa boss will be pleased with the results, if not totally convinced by the performances. Bruce has suggested there will be a couple of incoming loan players before the loan window closes at the end of the month, which will no doubt help him.
Compared to how the season was expected to start a few weeks ago, it’s all good in the Villa universe so far.
Here’s five reasons to be cheerful…
Villa were literally on their knees with Tony Xia passing around the begging bowl, as he put up pretty much every Villa asset to try and scrape together loans to meet Villa’s outstanding tax and wage payments. The Recon Villa gamble had failed and with such consequences that few could have predicted beforehand how reckless those running the club would have been.
From MOMS first-hand experience of meeting with both the owners, Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, they seem a lot more sober than the previous majority owner and there can be few complaints so far. We’ve started buying players again and we’ve kept hold of…
2. Prodigal Son Stays
The Jack Grealish saga over the summer was an eye-opener for many reasons – from the behaviour of some fans wishing him away without any fight and the BS that the media circus continued to churn out to the end of the transfer window.
In the end, the new owners that didn’t flinch and understood the long game came up trumps.
With Grealish pulling the strings, Villa now have a chance of promotion, especially with the inclusion of John McGinn alongside him in midfield.
Now Villa just need Bruce to be progressive building around his midfield duo, drop his conservative nature and refrain from repeating selection mistakes.
3. Dynamic New Boy
While Villa’s new goalkeeper Orjan Nyland may have looked uncertain and will need games to settle in (a settled centre back duo may help to his confidence), another new boy hit the ground running.
John McGinn came to Villa with Hibs fans unanimous in their praise of the 23-year-old midfielder. After watching him for 90 minutes, it was easy to see why. He hustled and bustled when the opposition had the ball, made himself available and made runs when his teammates were on the ball, and when he had it, he made things happen.
You could see Grealish and McGinn tuning into each other’s frequencies as the game progressed. I think you’ll find Grealish trusting him a lot more as each game passes.
There was one moment, when they played a one-two between each other, but it seemed that McGinn was slow to read Grealish’s return pass. Grealish turned away in disappointment only to see McGinn make-up ground on an opposition player, who was about to pick-up the ball, and win the ball back. Nobody had expected the Scotsman to come away with the ball.
There’s a relentless nature to McGinn which will transform Villa. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a few more Villa last-gasp winners during the rest of the season. It’s a mark of a good team (see Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United).
Villa have comeback from being in losing positions in both of their opening games, they conceded the opening goal against Hull and were 2-1 down to Wigan. It shows that while they may not be playing at their best at the moment, the desire is still there and there’s a will to win.
It’s a good sign and suggests the players are up for the fight.
Hopefully, those Villa fans who were sneaking out of Villa Park at 2-2 with a few minutes to go, will realise they too are needed to the bitter end too.
We’re all in this together – this season is about winning promotion and not beating the traffic home.
5. Century Record
Aston Villa have recorded back-to-back wins in their opening two games of the season for the first time this century. The last time was 1999. It’s a bit of a shocking statistic, until you remember how bad the team has been in recent years.
That’s all behind us now though, we can only operate in the present and six points out of six is exactly the tonic Villa needed after a turbulent summer.