There’s been a lot of soul searching amongst Aston Villa supporters for why their team is seemingly caught in mid-table traffic of the Championship?
After all, Dean Smith was supposed to be the chosen one, and a few weeks ago, he had seemingly turbo-charged a team of players previously running on empty under Steve Bruce.
The start of 2019 though hasn’t suggested Villa will make any promotion moves in the outside lane anytime soon.
Smith has shown he has a squad of players that are capable though. Just consider the way they played when they managed to put together an impressive seven game unbeaten streak against some of the better teams of the division.
Villa need more than an unbeaten run though, what is much-needed is a winning run. The kind their next opponents, Hull City, have been on, putting together six wins on the trot.
If Villa have any hope of that they have to address their toothless home form at Villa Park, where they have won less than half of their fixtures this season.
In terms of home form compared to the rest of the Championship, Villa rank a lowly 15th (see below).
It’s simply not good enough.
Villa’s Home Record Under Smith
The excuse of Villa’s poor home record being Steve Bruce’s fault doesn’t entirely wash here. Smith has a similiar record to Bruce at Villa Park this season – he’s won one more game, but then he’s also played an extra fixture.
The 14 goals conceded during the period Smith has been in charge is the joint worst in the division, along with Norwich and Reading (before the Norwich vs Blues game). Obviously, the five shipped against Forest is a chunk of that, but that game was very much symbolic of Villa’s troubles at the back.
When Villa were 2-0 up against Leeds at half-time, MOMS turned to the Villan next to them in the stand and said, “we’re going to need three to get something out of this”.
Part of that was down to how lively Leeds still looked, but mainly it was due to the fact that under Smith, Villa have conceded on average two goals a game at Villa Park.
What chance do they have of making a serious promotion charge, if they have to score a minimum of the three goals to have any chance of getting a home win?
If there is to be any rational criticism of Smith at this stage, it would be how easily at times at Villa Park, the home side have been caught out on the counter against the likes of QPR, Nottingham Forest and Leeds.
Of course though, if the players aren’t executing the high press or maintaining possession effectively, they will always leave themselves exposed at times.
With back-to-back home games ahead (Hull City and Ipswich), there is no better opportunity for Villa to right such wrongs.