The optimism slipped away after a jammy point against Leeds and a dismal showing against Colin W*nker and his thugs from Cardiff. With Villa unable to string decent team performances together regardless of the results, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season. Is promotion now a pipe dream this season?
What exactly did Villa fans learn after two poor showings?
For a few minutes there at the start of the Leeds game, Villa were really going at it. But because Leeds are up for it – really up for it and geared towards it – it meant little. A video popped up on Facebook titled “Champagne Football” featuring Leeds pinging the ball around like an elaborate game of keep-away with Villa either helpless or hopeless to stop them.
If not for the gift of a clear handball, the unbeaten home record would be over and knives would be out for Bruce, who is still struggling to install character into his inherited squad, or the players who haven’t been good enough and will have to deal with the one stand out player (Kodjia) off on international duty for a few games.
This was supposed to be a breeze. But everyone knows what to expect from a Warnock-coached side: a lot of shouting, a lot of bruises and the chance of an undeserved defeat to brawn over playing the game properly.
And so it came to pass that a Villa team without a midfield or forward line – and with Joe Bennett, a player deemed too lightweight for Villa, providing the assist – that Villa were 1-0 down at halftime and can count themselves lucky it wasn’t more.
The stats will say Villa had all the possession and no luck but with 12m striker Ross McCormack unable to score against his second former club in a week, Gardner and Westwood looking like they should have bought a ticket if they just wanted to watch the game, and the ref turning a blind eye to untold fouls by the home team, it was only going to end with defeat.
It’s not just about buying the best players on paper – consideration has to be made into WHO the team needs, not just what. That’s why former midfielder George Boeteng was always in demand for clubs that needed a shot-in-the-arm: because he was obnoxious to play against and never stopped running. Still there’s always…
LET’S LOOK THROUGH THE TRANSFER WINDOW
… the January sales! Dr X tweeting that one loan deal was in the bag, one more in the works and two or three new signings in the works, there’s a hope that Bruce will bring in who he sees as the right pieces of the jigsaw.
In the same way RDM was a wallpaper manager, Villa don’t necessarily need Moneyball players or people that are in it for the long-haul (not necessarily, though it would be nice to think the players we bring in will be able to hold their positions after promotion). What the team needs without going on about specific positions is some toughness. Why did QPR sign Vinnie Jones? So their playmakers could do just that: make plays while Vinnie ran around kicking everyone over and giving them to the ball.
Elphick is unlucky to have been ousted by Chester and Baker, not because he’s a better player than either one but because he showed fighting spirit and kept his teammates pumped up. In this column’s opinion, even the better performances from the Villa team have looked too much like wing-and-a-prayer stuff than down to decisive tactics, strength of character and purpose, or self-belief – and that’s what needs to be addressed.
Hopefully Brucie will bring in his dolly dealers and Villa will be playing their cards right, but will get nothing for a midfield pair like Westwood and Gardner were against Cardiff: NOT IN THIS GAME.
FA CUP PREDICTION
Watford fans knew a hammering was on the cards against Spurs with the Hornets’ depleted squad. But really, do Villa need the distraction of a cup run anyway? (Ed – if we beat Spurs, I’d embrace the distraction!)