There’s no doubt that Aston Villa have been stuttering in recent weeks, with the midfield suffering a loss of identity, purpose and intensity. In short, the middle of the park has been bossed by opposition teams and Villa have needed to rely on their defensive resilience to gain the points they have.
Now, Dean Smith has a further problem with the sudden loss of his captain and talisman, Jack Grealish. The Villa Head Coach will keep Grealish’s return a cat and mouse game until an hour before the eventual match he starts back. If the return of Ross Barkley is anything to go by, hopefully the game doesn’t play out well into March’s fixture list.
The recent 2-1 loss to an in-form Leicester City team was perhaps no surprise, with or without Grealish, but the honeymoon period of the 2020/21 season is over. The players have spoken about European ambition or at least an upper table finish, so such talk must be matched by their application on the pitch. The team are in the business of continuous improvement and progress, not being content on bettering last season (which wasn’t hard).
There’s issues to sort out. Can Smith get his midfield up to the level of his defence? What’s eating Ross Barkley? Is it time for a reshuffle of the pack? In the latest My Old Man Said podcast, we look at all this and more.
Outside of Villa we look at the potential evolution of VAR, after MOMS met PGMOL last week, the stand off between the EFL and government, and the latest Sun headline that casts a shadow over the England squad.
In Overrated or Underrated, it’s time for Emile Heskey to step up for his appraisal
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David Michael – @oldmansaid
Chris Budd – @BUDD_music
Phillip Shaw – @prsgame
Editor/Producer – David Michael
Music – Philip Marten