Villa fans went back to experiencing a feeling all too familiar in the past few years – defeat – at Elland Road on Saturday evening. Conversely, it is something we have thankfully been starved of for the last two months.
A sense of perspective is therefore required when analysing the result and the performance following the 2-0 defeat away to Leeds United. In terms of results, we have come so far in such a short space of time under Steve Bruce and in the last couple of games confidence, something that had been missing for far too long, has returned.
A positive to take away from Saturday’s game is that we have not lost a great deal of ground in this round of fixtures. It is a funny old league with many teams above us, including those occupying the top four positions before our game, failing to take maximum points.
Bruce has brought the winning feeling to us on four out of eight occasions since his arrival, which is no mean feat given that his predecessor Roberto Di Matteo only got a winning tune out of the same squad of players on one occasion in his twelve game tenure. You do not need to be Carol Vorderman or Rachel Riley to acknowledge that that is quite a statistical improvement. The reality is that defeat at some point under Bruce was inevitable.
Looking at the key points of the game briefly, it was a fantastic ball in which caused our undoing. The in-swinging cross caused indecision in the mind of our young goalkeeper Pierlugi Gollini and he could not decide whether to come out and attempt take the ball or not. Unfortunately, he came out and failed to get to the ball. In the absence of Nathan Baker, who would perhaps have dealt with the situation, Kemar Toofe profited from the mistake to nod into the unguarded net.
Leeds United goalkeeper Rob Green also showed indecision in the first half, which was close to leading to a penalty to us. However, taking my claret and blue glasses off for a second, I think the correct call was made by the referee in not awarding the penalty when he brought down Albert Adomah as he seemed to get to the ball first.
In the second half, prior to the Whites’ first goal, Adomah again was involved and our best chance of the match fell to our wide man following a bustling run. However, he was unable to get the better of the former England goalkeeper. There were other occasions where the Whites could have opened the scoring, such as the free-header in the first half.
This is an unpredictable, difficult league which we are only now getting to grips with and games can be won or lost on fine margins. Leeds United is a good side: given the group of good players at this level, a talented manager and supportive fans, I suspect that they will, hopefully like us, be there or thereabouts in the play-off picture by the end of the season.
December is full of opportunities to make up for this particularly bad performance and result. We have another five fixtures, including a reverse tie with Leeds United. I would therefore suggest that now is not the time for too much negativity. Thanks to what our manager has achieved in such a short space of time, I am confident that this is only a minor blot on his copybook and we can look to get back to winning ways against his former club Wigan Athletic next Saturday.