Aston Villa ‘strategic rule breaking’…really?
The Media Muppets department has unearthed another cracker from the cringeworthy Football Insider, with the clickbait website blatantly trying to set the narrative that Aston Villa are serial time wasters as a team.
We know anybody with any sense and self-integrity would never click on a Football Insider link, so, allow us to sully ourselves to provide you with the details from an outlet that does it best to turn the NewsNow aggregate into a cesspool.
The article comes hot on the heels of a clickbait trigger headline ‘Ex-Premier League referee: Officials may be wary of Aston Villa after another controversy’ a pathetic headline that carried the sub-header of ‘Premier League officials will be taking note of Aston Villa and their antics in pre-season, according to Keith Hackett.’
The supposed antics detailed in the article were that Villa had made two ‘strong challenges” during pre-season.
Wow. What a story.
Anyway, on to their latest attempt at twisting the news…
Expert: New Premier League change to crack down on Aston Villa’s ‘strategic rule breaking’
‘The introduction of the multi-ball system means Aston Villa will not be able to time waste as easily in 2022-23 – but the new rule change is far from groundbreaking.’
That is the view of training ground expert Ben Dinnery, who runs the Premier Injuries site and has a background in injury and data analysis.
The Actual Story Behind the Headline
The article basically takes the news of the Premier League introducing the usage of the multi-ball system adds the details of an Opta stats fuelled Daily Mail article, that had showed Aston Villa to be involved in games which had the lowest average time of the ball being in play, to create a false narrative.
At 49.23 minutes, Villa were over 11 minutes less than Manchester City, who topped the table, having the ball in play for an average of 60.27 minutes.
Yes, the 49.23 minutes statistic is a shocking figure and leaves a bad feeling considering the club recently hiked up their ticket prices. But this is not a case of Villa being ‘strategic’ and keeping the ball out of play on purpose.
It’s worth pointing out that Ben Dinnery didn’t reference Villa directly, and that was just clumsy headline making by the outlet.
Reality of the Situation
As any Aston Villa season ticket holder will tell you, one of the chief frustrations of going to Villa Park last season (and there were many) was the amount of time wasting the opposition did. It was even more frustrating than the poor level of referees, who were of course complicit in allowing some of the obvious time wasting antics to go on (a Watford player faking injury for a good couple of minutes in the final minutes, while lying an inch from the touchline, was a particular highlight).
Only five teams lost more home games than Aston Villa last season and three of them got relegated, so that partially explains a lot of the time wasting at Villa Park, with visiting teams time-wasting to see out games, while protecting their leads.
Also, misplaced passes out of touch is not intentional ‘strategic rule breaking’ and Villa players were guilty of several of them, so unless they’re members of betting syndicates (it would explain a few things!), this hot take of Villa being calculating is way off the mark.
Lets not forget, this is a team last season that suffered a five-game losing streak, which cost Dean Smith his job, so what exactly would they be time-wasting for?
Unless there were purposely playing poor football, then it’s hard to find them guilty of any time-wasting above the norm.
Let face it, not much thought has gone into the original Football Insider article, which is just a case of a bad actor in the space chasing clicks and ad revenue. They do need to be careful though, as accusing Aston Villa of ‘strategic rule breaking’ could land them in a spot of bother, if Villa wanted to take it serious, legally.