Good, Bad & Ugly
With Aston Villa’s fortunes more good and less ugly nowadays, MOMS podcast contributor Phil Shaw resurrects ‘The Good, Bad & Ugly’, an old favourite MOMS column that started over eight years ago on the site…
By Phil Shaw
Aston Villa kept me waiting, but here it is, finally the Good Bad and Ugly, that is heavy on the good stuff.
Where do you start, an easy win over Spurs, a tough win over Chelsea, or the foundations of the future on display in a gritty FA Youth Cup Final win?
Let’s start with the juniors.
The FA Youth Cup Final was a good mental test. Villa were clearly the stronger team, and for most of the game, they cut through Liverpool at will. Despite this, they never added to the two goals they got in the first ten minutes, and the opposition remained alive in the game.
For Villa, to see this out, even when it got to 2-1, is a more valuable lesson than blitzing a team by five or six goals.
It teaches them they need to kill teams off, or else face a nervy final ten minutes in games.
All the fantastic attacking play can be worth nothing if a couple of freak goals or defensive lapses occur.
The young Villans saw it through and now have the taste of Silverware. With the right circumstances, it won’t be the last they win in Claret and Blue.
Not to be outdone, the first team also arrested the apathy of the last few games and put in two different but equally effective performances.
The win against Spurs was in all honesty a bit of a surprise, following the capitulation against Crystal Palace.
Konsa at right-back, added a useful option in games where Cash may be unavailable, and it reminded people how good Kortney Hause is as the replacement centre-back, especially when he has Tyrone Mings barking positional orders at him.
Both the Spurs win and the more impressive Chelsea one, showed the defence back to their best, and you’d have to wonder if Cash would make it straight back into the team if there was another game this season. It would be a tough call.
The same goes for the midfield. Marvellous Nakamba again showed that sometimes for all the tactics and over-complication around football, a hammer is still the best tool for driving in a nail.
His job, is to shield the back four, break up attacks and give it to the more forward-thinking players. Rinse and repeat.
Douglas Luiz, is a more difficult player to shoehorn in. While there is no doubt he is the more talented footballer, and possibly the one that will go on to greater things, the simple job Nakamba did in the last two games of the season and against Leeds away, shows the blueprint against a talented opposition midfield.
Villan of The Week – Bertrand Traoré
Bertrand Traoré, is something else. Just as capable of volleying a simple throw in directly to the opposing striker as he is in doing the spectacular at the other end.
His 7 goals and 6 assists have all had a touch of both madman and genius about them.
His most recent one against Chelsea, was finally a well-worked corner routine.
Traoré ran from the back post, past all the unsuspecting Chelsea players and found himself in acres of space in the centre of the 18-yard box, as the ball came in from Matt Targett.
What happened next is still as much of a mystery as Traoré himself.
The ball ended up in the Chelsea net, which is the main thing, yet how Traoré put it there, just adds to the mystique of the man. Like his first goal this season against Bristol City, we will never know if he truly meant it.
Of course, there always has to be something bad.
It arrived with Gareth Southgate’s indecision over naming an England Squad. He’s decided to name a 33 man provisional squad to allow some of his older favourites to sneak in despite lack of fitness.
From a Villa perspective, the inclusion of Grealish, Mings and Watkins was tempered slightly by the exclusion of Ezri Konsa and Matt Targett.
The England squad and team has always been subjective and down to the whim of the manager, statistics and public opinion.
Every England squad has had an argument over selection and inclusion since day one.
Geoff Hurst over Jimmy Greaves would have caused a meltdown in 1966.
Graham Taylor didn’t bring on Alan Shearer, when he subbed off Lineker in Euro 1992.
Beckham played himself into the team and out of it all during France 1998 and for some reason Gazza missed out altogether in the same tournament.
There have always been unfairly overlooked players in international football, there just hasn’t been social media to amplify it.
For Konsa, Targett and others, their time could come as soon as next year’s World Cup, when there could even be a different boss in charge.
Villa Store Sale
Remember last summer, the thrill of survival followed by the pages and pages of clickbait transfer rumours?
Well, the time has come again, and every pundit, journalist and football writer will be trying to put their spin on any speculation as if they are on commission in the deal.
Before you get drawn in by the clickbait charlatans, take the cautionary tale of poor Milot Rashica.
He was apparently the missing link in the puzzle that would propel Villa to greatness. An attacking wide man who scored a goal worthy of an Aleksandar Tonev YouTube reel against Manuel Neuer.
For weeks, Villa fans were assured he was joining. Only for the transfer window ITK’s to break their hearts claiming the deal was off as Milot didn’t want to be in a relegation battle.
He celebrated staying at Werder Bremen with relegation to Bundesliga 2. An ugly clickbait tale to keep in mind going into silly season.
Follow Phil on Twitter here – @PRSGAME