I’m not sure if it’s just selective memory but I’ve always felt that international breaks never seem to come at a time that suits Villa. On the rare occasions that Aston Villa actually start to build momentum there tends to be a pesky international round of fixtures.
With Villa racking up five wins out of six, one could be excused for cursing the timing of this break. That said, it’s not all bad news. The week off should also bring time for planning, reflection, and recuperation, all of which may aid Villa’s cause as the season draws to a close.
A Timely Interval
The Aston Villa squad is jam packed with players who are either injured, carrying knocks, or in need of time to catch up on fitness. In this regard this week’s break is a good opportunity for the team to regroup for one last push.
Andre Green and Scott Hogan are just two for whom the fixture-less week will allow to finalise recoveries and work on getting to full fitness and really contributing to the team. One eye will also be kept on our few internationals in the hope that their form continues, and that they remain injury free.
It goes without saying that this has been a wildly disappointing season. As we reach it’s climax and with the playoffs likely out of reach, many’s thoughts are starting to turn to next season. What shape will Aston Villa be in when the 2017/18 campaign kicks off? This will depend largely on the next two months, and on the owners pre-summer planning.
Planning for the Future
Overall Steve Bruce has done well since his arrival. However, the team’s truly awful start to 2017 is a definite black spot on his Villa tenure to date. The results have begun to flow although the performances have not always merited wins, or much excitement from fans. The ex Wigan boss still has his critics and hecklers. Despite making a good impression overall, his failures will be focused on as much as his successes for the upcoming months.
At a club with rich ambitious owners and fans eager to return to the big time, doing a decent job may not be enough. If Bruce wants to continue to lead Villa’s march back to the top then he must use the rest of the season to step things up a level. Villa are sure to be in a stronger position when next season kicks off, with a settled squad to be envied by the rest of the division.
God knows Aston Villa needs some consistency and stability after years of chopping and changing but improving the level of football, alongside positive results, is a must if this team is to maintain a winning habit for longer than a few weeks.
Hopefully we stick by Bruce and he continues to improve our fortunes but I would like to see more from this team between now and the end of the season.
As the boss mentioned, collapses of an unthinkable magnitude from those above us, and run of form not seen from Villa in ages would be required for a play-off place. Regardless of this, finishing the season impressively, even if still in the Championship, is vital if Bruce harbours long-term ambitions at the club.
A strong finish would set Villa up well for next season and would finally have us facing in the right direction, on steady legs.
And it’s not only the man in the dugout who needs to secure his place for next term. His supporting cast of players must prove their worth. There will no doubt be more culling of dead wood and recruiting of new stars on the way back to the Premier League. For those who want to get there the work is only just starting.
Bruce has time to plan and to finish his audition for next term with a flourish but the final curtain is rapidly approaching. All going well Dr Xia won’t have to recast Villa’s lead role any time soon.
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