In a week that’s been very testing of Villans’ patience regarding matters on the pitch, it’s also been fairly rewarding with events that have taken place off it. The past seven days have provided yet another reminder that following Aston Villa Football Club is a journey that is always full of ups and downs.
Ahead of the season, Jack Grealish was a player who split opinions, with some people questioning how seriously he took his career following media reports of off the field shenanigans and other saying he’s just young and will soon live up to his potential.
Given the way he’s started this season, it’s looking increasingly likely that this could be the year he really makes a name for himself for the right reasons and proves any doubters wrong.
After his very impressive display against Rotherham United, where he put in a man of the match performance and earned himself a goal, he had set himself a marker for the rest of the season. He followed this performance up with another impressive display against Huddersfield Town, assisting Ross McCormack for the opening goal. Last weekend, in the game against Bristol City, we saw him continue this run with another goal which came about from an exquisite volley.
If he keeps going the way he’s going, I’m in no doubt he’ll be making the headlines for all the right reasons week in, week out and will prove to be a star player for Aston Villa during this campaign.
Wednesday evening saw the summer transfer window slam shut. Before then, Di Matteo managed to make two more signings. The first of them was Jonathan Kodjia. The big striker moved on from Bristol City following a brilliant season with the Robins.
Kodjia has been brought in as Di Matteo looks to improve the number of goals being scored. The Villa boys have created more chances than any other Championship side this term but have, regrettably, failed to take many of them. Hopefully, our new Ivorian will be able to put a few away.
Di Matteo managed to secure the signature of Albert Adomah on deadline day. The Ghanaian winger was part of the Middlesbrough side that secured promotion to the Premier League last season and will link up with former team mate Ritchie De Laet at Villa Park. The creative midfielder will also be linking up with compatriot Jordan Ayew and, with any luck, we’ll see them link up plenty of times over the course of the season to help fire Aston Villa in the right direction.
Unfortunately, last weekend we saw the team throw away yet another lead, this time against Bristol City. After going in at half time with a 0-1 lead and looking by far the better team, I would have put money on the boys from Birmingham taking home all three points.
This wasn’t the first time this season that the Villans have thrown points away due to a dismal second half performance. In fact, it’s becoming a bit of a pattern. This repeated problem has me wondering what on earth Roberto Di Matteo says at half time. Whatever it is, it isn’t working. I like Di Matteo but something needs be done quickly about the side’s second half displays or else they will cost us all too dearly come the end of the season.
I can’t point the finger at the manager alone for this one: a large portion of the blame has to lie with the players. The starting XI that the manager put out for that game should have been good enough to beat Bristol City. Instead, Villa fans had to bear witness to an embarrassing second half display that felt reminiscent of last season.
The players’ discipline has also come into question. Aston Villa players racked up seven yellow cards in the game at Ashton Gate. I’m hoping this was down to the players being frustrated more than anything else and that we won’t have any reason to see a repeat of these actions. However, we cannot afford suspensions as we simply don’t have enough depth in our squad to be dealing with the inevitable injuries that will occur over the course of a season as well as silly suspensions due to players not keeping their heads when things start to go wrong. The lack of depth was evident in this game: despite our starting XI looking very strong, on paper at least, our bench looked awfully weak, as it has done for every game this season.
On Wednesday, reports in the media suggested that Gabby Agbonlahor had rejected a move to Reading. This is a player who was told he had to prove himself at another club this season to stand any chance of featuring for Aston Villa again. That information was made public via Tony Xia’s Twitter account. The player’s refusal to do so suggests to me that he has absolutely no willingness to get back in the side and actually cares vey little about ever featuring for his ‘boyhood club’ again. He’s more than happy to sit by and rake in his wages, doing absolutely nothing to earn them. I for one hope that there is a way to terminate the player’s contract as he’s not deserving of it in the slightest.
This could prove to be a very disappointing end to Agbonlahor’s Aston Villa career that once had so much potential.
We can all now take a break from club football for the international break. With all of the ups and downs of recent weeks, I think it comes at a very good time and, all being well, both fans and players will come back refreshed and ready to kick on with the 2016-17 season.