Concerns in Victory
There’s two qualities that Steve Bruce has immediately installed in Aston Villa. One is resilience and the other is luck. Both have improved the team’s fortunes in recent weeks, but the Villa manager knows they will not be enough for the club to reach its target of promotion.
In recent games – Norwich, Wigan, Leeds, QPR and now Burton – whatever the result, performances have been pretty woeful considering the cost of the team assembled on the pitch and the club’s ambition. Positive results have not come easy.
Six of Villa’s eight wins from 23 games have come against teams all currently in the bottom six in the Championship. It’s not a great sign, but the good news is Bruce is fully aware of it.
“WE HAVE TO PLAY BETTER FOOTBALL IF WE’RE GOING TO SUCCEED AND BE BETTER” – STEVE BRUCE
Speaking on WM Radio after what should have been a routine home win against lowly Burton, he reflected on Villa’s recent struggles on the pitch.
“We found it very difficult, after a good start against a really spirited Burton side, but we gave the ball too often away, we made mistakes, then we lost that little bit of confidence and went backwards too often,” said Bruce.
Villa Technical Director Steve Round had informed MOMS in a recent Fans Consultancy Group meeting that Bruce had on occasion stopped training to offer a stern word to players seen playing backwards unnecessarily. So, it’s clear that such cautious play isn’t exactly a managerial instruction, but more a habit that needs weaning out of players.
“We didn’t get hold of the game at all,” summarised the Villa boss on the Burton win. “We had the better chances, we had some stand-out chances. We should have made it 2-0, but at 1-0 we huffed and puffed and I think that was the way it stayed until the rest of the game.
“All in all you’re delighted that you’ve won it.”
Time to Step-Up
Bruce doesn’t shy away from the overall concern at the performance levels in recent games.
While a win is a win and it maybe possible to grind out results despite sub-standard performances against the lesser teams in the league, giving the ball away cheaply and having a lack of control over a game’s destiny is not likely to get you far against the better teams in the league. Hence making promotion unlikely in the long-run.
“I do believe genuinely that the football will get better,” said Bruce to the concern.
“The one thing we’ve been able to do is try lift the doom and gloom – I think that’s now six at home, back to back wins.
“Like I say, there’s little shoots of recovery, but we have to, we have to [repeated for emphasis] play better football if we’re going to succeed and be better at what we’ve got.”
After his players played in front of a full-house at Villa Park against Burton, Bruce suggested there are still issues with expectation in the minds of some of his players.
“It’s difficult, some are still getting used to being here,” reflected Bruce “Some have come here for big price tags and all of a sudden with that expectation comes that little bit of fear.”
“That’s what I told them in the dressing room, they’ve got to handle the expectation of playing here. We are capable of getting 45,000 (sic), with that demand comes an expectation we have to handle.”
The all new episode of the MOMS Podcast…featuring Burton match-winner
McPorkmack, McCormack discussion. Press play to listen: