End of Year Good, Bad and Ugly of Aston Villa
By Phil Shaw
Much like Aston Villa, I’ve been a bit COVID-19 hit over the festive period. Locked away like the writer in Stephen King’s Misery, it’s time to catch up a bit before 2022.
Wins against Leicester City and Norwich City, and defeats against Liverpool and Chelsea, put Villa very much where they should be.
It’s a pity the Burnley and Leeds matches went the way of my Christmas dinner…
Win the games you are expected to win and give the other ones a competent effort, and you can say that the good ship, Aston Villa, has stabilised.
Had a couple of results gone the other way, the hype train would either be building or the doom scrollers would be back out.
What Aston Villa and Steven Gerrard now have, is a good, solid base to strike at the second half of the season.
If they now have had their dose of COVID-19 through the squad, and the time to recover with postponements, then they should see an uninterrupted second half of the season.
The signs of improvement are there, so it’s now down to Villa to fulfil the potential in the squad. From mid-table down, the league is as weak as I can remember.
Aston Villa just need to deal professionally with fixtures against the lower half teams, and if that’s the case they will improve on last year’s 11th place finish.
Villan of the Week — Jacob Ramsey
Ramsey’s improved performances should have given him two goals, but for one being ruled out after a bit of play-acting from Kasper Schmeichel in the Leicester game.
Despite this, the goal he scored against Norwich was a contender for Villa goal of the season.
Villa fans are beginning to like what they see and they want more…
After a refreshing start to the season, the standard of refereeing and VAR has regressed to where it was last season, and of course, the Super League Six have noticed.
It’s plain to see now, that they are back to playing for the ‘break-the-ice penalty’.
By this, I mean, the decision that breaks down stubborn resistance. Mo Salah did it to Tyrone Mings against Liverpool, but Robertson had tried it from early in the game.
The same weekend, Man City, Man United and Chelsea all won courtesy of penalties.
It was the most blatant example of the fear the officials have of being in the headlines for upsetting the applecart and being the feature in the next morning’s papers.
I’ve gone past the feeling of corruption or bias, I think it’s just a case of the on field Premier League referees knowing which decisions are likely to get them dissected by the media or a high-profile manager like Klopp.
The same excuse can’t be levelled at VAR. They aren’t in the ground, they shouldn’t be influenced by the crowd or managers and should be able to call it down the line.
Of course, this isn’t happening. VAR is increasingly regressing into a Super League Six protective shield.
Do they not remember, these teams threatened the broadcaster’s massive income only a few short months ago?
The Man City vs Newcastle match, featured the most blatant penalty challenge by Ederson on Ryan Fraser. It wasn’t given, and no excuse appeared later.
Even the pundits struggled to speak about it because it was so obvious. It was unlikely to affect the outcome of the game, so there was no need to give Man City another favourable decision.
The worst thing, however, is the efforts of the media to shrug these decisions off. They’re catastrophic errors of judgement, that need to be kept in the public eye, not laughed off and underreported.
That one was so bad that the referees involved, need sent for retraining. That’s what would happen in any other walk of life.
Maybe it’s just another sign of the lack of accountability from people in power that undermines our society.
Like turkeys voting for Christmas, the media and PGMOL continue to pander in fear of the Super League teams, and I don’t expect this to change in 2022.
Villa Kit on Sale!
There’s an online blame game, whenever Aston Villa lose a game and while a natural reaction, some players get a free pass.
Against Chelsea, Romelu Lukaku, dominated the whole Aston Villa defence when he came on, not just Tyrone Mings.
For the Second Chelsea goal, Ezri Konsa lost possession, Chelsea recycled the ball, Morgan Sanson didn’t get close enough to stop the cross and Tyrone Mings allowed Lukaku a free header.
Three players are at fault for that one goal, yet Mings, being the final piece of the puzzle, gets the blame.
It’s an ugly culture that needs to end.
Matty Cash, put in a stupid tackle to give Chelsea a way back into the game, yet before this, possession was squandered between Buendia and Ramsey.
Football isn’t a solo sport like darts, snooker, or golf.
Rarely is one player completely at fault for a goal.
Chelsea’s Thiago Silva, didn’t make one noticeable mistake…
Think back at how many times a Villa player gave away possession or didn’t stop the runner or cross.
Just because mistakes don’t lead to anything doesn’t mean they should be forgotten.
Cutting down on individual mistakes across the pitch is the only way Aston Villa will rise to the upper reaches of the league.
That’s something the coaching staff must work on during the week.
You don’t see them coming out after the game looking for one player to blame.
So if you feel the need to look for one person to blame when Villa concede, take it a few steps back and at least share it around. That’s why it’s a team game.
Follow Phil on Twitter at @prsgame