By Adam Keeble
After the glory at Wembley a late winner for Manchester City broke Villa hearts if not their spirits. Fingers are being pointed regarding the defeat, but what can Aston Villa fans learn as the team enters squeaky-bum time yet again?
THE GREAT GUZAN DEBATE
Brad Guzan has joined the “love him or hate him” club after a poor showing against Manchester City, particularly for the farcical manner of City’s first goal.
The common arguments for and against him are his poor distribution, kicking and positioning outweigh his shot-stopping. But that without him pulling off key saves in the past few seasons there is no doubt we would be in the Championship by now. There’s also the added pressure of Shay Given breathing down his neck after the Irishman has played a key part in steering Villa to the FA Cup Final replacing his American goalkeeping counterpart.
He was certainly not to blame for all three of the goals, but the manner of the opening City goal was most frustrating. The bookies didn’t fancy us to get anything from our trip to the Champions and to gift them an opener would have had most fans agreeing with them. But it’s easy to blame the ‘keeper. A goalie’s job is to keep the ball out of the net. If he does so 15 times in a game, but fails to do so twice and his team loses 2-0 is he to blame for the loss?
With the rest of the team putting in such effort, it’s certainly true that individual mistakes cost us a point (or more) and as Sherwood said after the game, you can’t account for those. Yes, Tim tweaked the formation to start to a 451, then managed to pull level after reverting to a 433 but no formation or tactical change can allow for… well, Leandro Bacuna or Carlos Sanchez.
THE CHUCKLE BROTHERS
Bacuna and Sanchez did not have great games against Manchester City. Sanchez’s well taken quick-reflex goal at the end was a sweet moment but his consistent failure to keep the ball or to find a teammate after winning it is driving fans crazy. He did some good things, but unlike Guzan the bad outnumbered the good. Bacuna… it’s all been said before. He’s not a right back. He’s light – or clumsy – in the tackle. He’s out of position. And he jumped out of the way of the ball on the free kick and turned his back just in time to hear it whoosh past him and see it bounce into the corner of the goal to really put Villa in the hole.
Preparation and spirit are a given (no Shay pun intended) at this point but brain farts are just those – unexpected embarrassing moments that can undo hard work.
SINC AND TIM
Scott Sinclair has been vocal in wanting to stay at Villa after his loan is over – great news all round. His arrival certainly helped to stop the rot. While his absence from the first team has made way for the increasingly comfortable and impressive Jack Grealish, the return of Sinclair could make a big difference in the remaining key games of which Villa might need to win at least two. For him to want to be at Villa, even if they scrape into 15th place and avoid relegation by just a few points, is encouraging, since it shows he believes the club has turned the corner and won’t be in the bottom half next season.
THE FINAL WORD
“Relegated? You’re ‘avin a laff!”
It’s not a throwaway line like Lambert’s “cup finals” quote. It’s a confident, charismatic, funny line that has all the attacking swagger the team has shown since Sherwood has arrived and it might go a long way into giving the team and fans an edge in the last few games. Whereas Lambert’s post-game quotes seemed like double-speak, trying to convince viewers after another wretched 2 shot, 0 on target game that we were excellent, Sherwood stays optimistic and realistic – something that could not have happened with Lambert in charge.
Once the pressure of league survival is over (as soon as possible, we hope) the FA Cup will be something to really enjoy, as it should be.
Follow Adam on Twitter – @
Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid