Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce throughout his managerial career has often been fond of using the analogy that it doesn’t matter where you are in the table in the early part of the season, but where you are when the “daffodils come up.”
After an unsatisfactory end to the summer for Villa though, Bruce will be wise to focus on the Autumn season, because a brutal forthcoming winter of fixtures could derail Villa’s promotion prospects and lead to the Villa boss not being around to see the snow thaw, never mind any flowers coming through in the spring.
Currently 12th in the Championship table on nine points, Villa are only three points better off from last season, the start of which Bruce attributed as one of the reasons Villa missed out on the automatic promotion spots. The bigger concern is that performance wise, Villa still don’t seem to have any method to their play under Bruce. They seemed to have actually regressed from last season, as they lack cutting edge and are also shipping goals.
Bruce has Tammy Abraham and Yannick Bolasie to throw into the mix and both players should be effective at this level. The only question mark though is whether Bruce has the tactical nous to get the best out of them.
There are many questions to how they’ll line up, but we’ll save that for a later date.
A bigger concern is the defence, as the squad only having one recognised centre back in its ranks (a fact that actually makes MOMS angry in terms of squad building). It’s no wonder they’ve shipped 11 goals in just six games. It may end up being Bruce’s downfall.
Villa had a decent clean sheet record last season, with Sam Johnstone keeping 22 of them, with the settled centre back pairing of James Chester and John Terry pivotal to that stat.
Currently, looking at Bruce’s team, it’s hard to find any noticeable traits to suggest they have the potential of being a promotion bound team. Hopefully, that can be put right pronto.
Villa’s fixture list for this season had offered up a soft start, with Villa not scheduled to face any team that finished in the Top 8 last season or any of the relegated Premier League teams, until October.
The months of October and November then offer up a mixed bag of fixtures, but December offers up six games – the three former Premier League teams, the current top two in Leeds and Middlesbrough, plus a tricky trip to Preston.
Bruce nearly came unstuck over the last Christmas period and he even admitted he was one game away from the sack. Unless he finally sorts out the team’s attacking threat to win the more routine games and compensate for defensive weakness until the January window, then both he and Villa may suffer a very bleak winter.
With the new majority owners patience likely to be thin, if Bruce manages to get through this winter though, then it would suggest he’d have drastically turned around the team’s fortunes and we’ll be comfortably in the top six heading into 2019 on a positive footing.
Villa’s December Fixtures
1: Middlesbrough (a) 3pm
8: West Bromwich Albion (a) 3pm
15: Stoke City (h) 3pm
22: Leeds United (h) 3pm
26: Swansea City (a) 3pm
29: Preston North End (a) 3pm
imo steve bruce is about to throw his last dice on j terry signing. it will be sh-t or bust for him. no excuses he has the players just needs to play right ones. ps. I think john terry has unfinished business at villa
I wrote this in response to Tom Ross’ article in the Birmingham Mail defending SB and telling us it is far too early and he’s only 3 points off the play off places, 4 promotions yada yada. Needless to say the moderators rejected it;
‘Well thanks for that specious non-article. Please tell us why Bielsa has utterly transformed Leeds, why Smith consistently outperforms us on a shoe-string and above all why you ignore the anti-football that Bruce’s set-up to defend a 0-0 lead produces. Why do you defend his non-preparation, his boast that he doesn’t do tactics, his appalling performance in the transfer market, his idiotic playing of people out of position, his bizarre substitutions, too late to make a difference anyway, his refusal to play the kids – and then overplaying Davies, his entirely self-inflicted centre-back problem. His slagging of players he brought in for failing in a team which had 9 changes and clearly had not been prepared in any way. He has the most expensive squad, the most resources the biggest crowd and you are happy with the crap he serves up. God help us. What will it take for lazy, complacent, ‘we-know-more -than-you-peasants’ journalists to actually write something incisive and intelligent rather than this turgid Steve has got 4 promotions therefore he knows best crap. You should be ashamed of churning out this pathetic non-article.
I read that lazy article from Tom Ross. No insight, context and limited understanding of what is actually happening at Villa. Obviously he hasn’t been watching the bulk of the games either. Ross has little urgency for Villa getting promoted being a Blues fan, but regardless of that, he’s just running on old cliches.
Yeah its 6 points worse off against the same teams from last season so its terrible really. He Needs to go, its gross negligence what he’s done with the defence.
Only 3 points better off than at the same time last season, but Sheffield United is the only half decent team we have played and we have thrown home games that we should have won easily. So I would say we’re worse off now, Our defensive position is a complete shambles and everyone except Bruce knows it, so while we will be much stronger with Bolasie and Abraham’s that’s not going to stop us shipping goals and until January I can’t see that changing, and that will very likely be too late to think about promotion. Who’s to blame, well it’s clear Bruce is a total Plank I heard a cricketer who is retiring saying there’s nothing left in the tank I’m an old fashioned player in a modern world, and I immediately thought of Bruce that sums him up perfectly. Why our new owners haven’t taken action is a mystery.
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