Gerrard Seeks Improvement for Bigger Picture
Aston Villa’s away win at Brighton couldn’t have been better timed, considering Steven Gerrard’s Villa had only one win in their previous eight games in all competitions. It hasn’t been a good look for a team that has been fielding arguably the club’s strongest first XI in the past decade – including the fourth most expensive player in football history, while two circa £30m players have recently sat on the bench.
While there have been promising signs, especially in Villa’s attacking play under Gerrard, over 90 minutes, performances have been largely undermined by players not getting the basics right (we’ve lost count of the amount of over-hit crosses), confused set pieces and a chronic lack of balance in the midfield.
The performance against Brighton was a step in the right direction, but have we been witnessing the growing pains of players getting used to a system, or should we be concerned?
Originally, in terms of the overall picture of the club’s progress, many supporters felt Villa were just a decent defensive-minded midfielder away from challenging for the European places.
While the search for that missing link continues, to keep Villa upwardly mobile, Gerrard must decide whether to stick or twist with what is a talented group of players on paper, that have frustrated on grass.
Is it a matter of playing his favoured formation, come what may, until his players are comfortable and effective playing within it?
With the season largely over in terms of any possible tangible achievements, Gerrard has a little leeway and the opportunity to weed out the weak in terms of players who can’t execute his ideas.
It has to be remembered, an arguably weaker Villa team managed good results against the top six teams last season, laying firm ground in terms of the path to progress.
The have been considerable upgrades in the team since then. These are not suddenly a poor bunch of players. Pre-season was poor, the start of the season was plagued by injuries, and of course there’s been a managerial change.
Regardless of these mitigating circumstances, what Villa have fundamentally lacked is any form of consistency or the ability to control games.
Unforced errors have often been the root of the problem and have contributed to the sapping of the confidence of the team, leading to lacklustre performances. Certainly, judging by the passing of notes of paper onto the pitch and constant confusion leading up to the taking of set pieces, clarify of what Villa players are meant to be doing doesn’t seem to be present.
Both the players and coaching staff must be held responsible for that.
At least at the Amex on Saturday, Gerrard’s adjustments seemed to tighten up the back (helped by Ezri Konsa’s return) and Villa looked more steady. The confidence booster of three points too, can’t be underestimated after an unexpected poor run of form.
Relegation shouldn’t be a concern now, so, the remainder of the season can potentially act as a sandbox for the Villa boss to right the wrongs, before next season.
The MOMS team looked deeper at Villa’s recent stuttering and provide some context to what needs to happen next.
Also, in the recent main show, there’s talk of curling, Muller horse semen, VAR-lite, and Bury FC’s phoenix hopes.
New show drops Monday.
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David Michael – @oldmansaid
Chris Budd – @BUDD_music
Phillip Shaw – @prsgame
Editor/Producer – David Michael
Three Point Research – Phil Shaw & Chris Budd
New show out 28th February