Mass Hysteria Part Deux
After the Aston Villa’s 1-0 away win at Middlesbrough, Villa boss Steve Bruce once again repeated his claims of “mass hysteria” (a mantra he also used at Sunderland) with pointed comments aimed at some Villa fans before admitting Tommy Elphick only played today due to Glenn Whelan’s illness.
“We had a bad 45 minutes against Brentford and all of a sudden we’re spiralling into crisis,” said the Villa boss, who surprisingly seemingly forgot that Villa were winless in five and had slumped out of the play-offs and into 9th, before the Boro game.
While it’s understandable that Bruce would take the opportunity to be bullish after a win, surely he understands that this wasn’t just “mass hysteria” after just a bad week?
At the start of the season, Bruce’s call of “mass hysteria” to #BruceOut when Villa struggled in their opening three games was warranted, as he hadn’t played his best XI and had several new players still finding their feet. This December though, there was very good reason indeed for supporters to question the lack of progression and signs of last season repeating itself.
Judging by the recent worried tweets by both the club owner and CEO, it would seem to be more than fair comment for any rational Villa supporter to be concerned about the club’s recent form.
Bruce bizarrely mentioned being 2-0 up against Sheffield United, before making a couple of mistakes, as a positive fact.
“It was only a game and a half a go we were 2-0 up against Sheffield United,” said the Villa boss.
It’s MOMS book that’s called throwing a home game away after going 2-0 up.
Out of Position
The reason for United’s comeback was firmly at the feet of Mile Jedinak playing at centre-back, who directly gifted the Blades two goals through elementary errors.
The worrying thing is despite this and Jedinak’s other previous decidingly casual performance at centre-back against Derby, Bruce had intended to once again play Jedinak at centre-back against Boro, unperturbed by the Australian’s mistakes which have cost Villa points in December.
Speaking after the 1-0 win at Boro, Bruce sang the praises of Tommy Elphick, but admitted he wasn’t on the teamsheet when he drew it up the night before the game.
Elphick was a late switch, after the Villa boss had become aware of Whelan’s illness, with Jedinak selected to cover the Irish midfielder’s absence at DM, while Elphick was drafted in at centre-back.
Against Boro, Elphick was one of Villa’s better players and played a big part in earning Villa the win, as did Jedinak playing in the DM berth.
While in his post-match interview, Bruce once again bemoaned injuries as the excuse to why Villa had floundered in recent games (what about the real reasons?), the irony is Bruce has also been aided by injuries throughout the season so far.
Did Bruce really think Jedinak at CB and Whelan at DM, after their recent performances was a better option than Elphick at CB and Jedinak at DM?
If so, then he is lucky Whelan was ill.
Add to that, the impact Keinan Davis had on galvanising the team after its poor start to the season, when Bruce was forced to pick him, after his first choice Kodjia replacement Gabby Agbonlahor failed to produce the goods before his latest injury struck.
Then for the best example, you only have to look at Albert Adomah. The former Middlesbrough player looked like he was potentially on his way out after Bruce got in Ahmed Elmohamady and Robert Snodgrass as a double option to play in his right-hand side midfield position.
It was only after Andre Green and Jack Grealish’s injuries that Adomah was slotted in on the left, as a makeshift left-winger, that he hit a goalscoring hot streak.
It’s clear at times Villa’s injuries have forced better decisions than some of the ones that Bruce have made on his own volition.
With this in mind, surprisingly MOMS is now more concerned by Bruce’s comments after a victory then what he’s said after recent defeats.
Surely rather than hit out and make excuses, it’s better just to acknowledge the pressure after a month of below par results and crack on with it?
After all, a home win against Bristol City on the back of the Boro home win, would claw back a few lost December points and quiet the concern about Villa’s promotion challenge.
The next MOMS podcast episode will certainly be interesting. Subscribe below to the show on Apple/iTunes