It was a decent day’s work for Dean Smith’s new Villa regime against Swansea City. Three points, a clean sheet, a controlled performance for most of the game and the roots of better football.
The full house at Villa Park seemed to symbolise a new focus behind the team to strive for promotion. It’s something that has been lacking since Villa have been in the Championship.
The previous manager spent half his time cheerleading how tough the Championship was and talking up all Villa’s opponents.
All you need to know about the Championship is it’s a division Villa need to work harder to get out of, and the teams in it need to be beaten. Simple.
Supporters also need to get more involved in the promotion effort. After a rousing start to the game, the atmosphere dropped a little. Do you really need to go for a pie on the 20 minute mark? (loads were in the Holte). If the team goes missing in games, give them some vocal support to lift them. Also, maybe it’s time to give the players a clean slate? Instead of hauling obscenities at them during the match, maybe give them some encouragement?
The club’s marketing team also need to think about what they’re doing – for example, was previously portraying the Villa manager as a tramp-like Santa Claus in a Christmas Groto really a good idea? Would Ron Saunders, Alex Ferguson or Brian Clough have allowed it?
Social media engagement to ultimately sell product to fans is one thing, but the greater results and rewards come from promotion.
All the frivolous cr*p of using players for sponsor content etc needs to be toned down. We need to get rid of the circus element of the club (thankfully, the chief clown and his emojis seems to be on the way out) and focus on the football.
We’re solely in the business of promotion now.
There has to be a bootcamp mentality and focus on the task ahead this season. If we fail, then we truly will transition into a long-term Championship sleeping giant like many before us.
In the meantime, here’s five reasons to be cheerful about Dean Smith’s first game…
Dean Smith now has the highest winning ratio 100% of any Villa manager. OK, we’re getting a bit Tim Sherwood here and it’s only one game, but with the last six Villa managers failing to win in their first game as Villa boss, it was certainly a step in the right direction to beat Swansea City 1-0.
Regardless of the new manager scenario, the bigger picture is Villa must get a promotion challenge back on track. While Smith is evolving the way the team play, it’s important the wins keep a coming. So, it’s a good start.
2. Football is a Simple Game
Steve Bruce certainly didn’t help himself when it came down to his selections. Playing players in their natural positions is such a basic notion, especially when it comes to a team’s defence. I’ve already said it on MOMS Facebook, so here it is again:
3. Clean sheet
Hallelujah! A back four all playing in their natural positions (see above). Coincidence?
For the here and now, the quartet of Hutton, Chester, Tuanzebe and Taylor is probably the best way to go. It brings an immediate balance. While I would like James Bree to be given the chance at right-back, the defence does lack a bit of nitty-gritty. So, Hutton being in at right-back does make some sense, at least in the short-term, while the team finds its feet under Smith.
Also, Orjan Nyland, after a nervy start, produced some decent saves. Hopefully, he can get his act together to be a more steady presence for Villa in the coming weeks.
While there’s work to be done in the final third, Villa seemed to create a batch of clear cut chances and Tammy Abraham should have had more than his single goal.
Attacks seemed to be more constructive and once everyone gets on the same frequency with the tactics, the goals will come.
After over two years of investigation, it was good to see ex-Villan Dalian Atkinson is closer to getting some justice. The death of Atkinson has now been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider potential criminal charges against two of the police officers involved in the incident.