Aston Villa Football Club is on the worst run of form in the Football League. A truly terrible 2017 was made worse with an injury picked up by Scott Hogan as we lost in the most Aston Villa way possible away to Newcastle United on Monday night.
For those who think our season is over, it is only just beginning because we are in a relegation battle. A lot needs to be sorted out if we are to avoid consecutive relegations. So here is what I think it is imperative to do in order to make something out of this season.
Pick a formation and stick with it
Throughout this season, it seems that we have tried every formation in the book. Steve Bruce has even resorted to 5-3-2 at times, to no avail. I have repeatedly stressed that we have the necessary players to challenge in this league and that Steve Bruce just needs to find the formation that the players are used to and he has to continue with it.
Personally, I think that, with the return of Mile Jedinak, 4-3-3 is the best way forward. It provides defensive stability and license for the likes of Henri Lansbury and Conor Hourihane to venture forward, which is something that they haven’t been able to do in recent weeks. Continuity in the side is imperative and this starts with the formation that we play, as it alters our playing style, which is another issue in itself as we do not have an identity.
Play the youngsters
Playing young Villans was a recurring debate towards the latter end of last season. In my opinion, André Green should be starting. In our humiliating defeat away to Brentford on deadline day, the Villa youngster was by far our best player and, undoubtedly, our most creative outlet. Thus, I was bemused as to why he hasn’t been handed a start since. His pace and direct running gives us a different outlet and allows us to stretch the opposition.
In addition, the likes of Keinan Davis and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy should be in the frame for some first-team action, especially as it seems all of our senior strikers are out injured. As we are the joint lowest scorers in the league, will playing the likes of Davis and Hepburn-Murphy really hinder our attacking impetus?
Stop the rot
Undeniably, it is easier said than done. However, we have lost seven out of our last eight games and we are heading in a downward spiral into the relegation zone unless things change. After having lost five matches on the bounce, we have to put an end to it this weekend against Derby County. Our new signings are yet to taste victory in claret and blue. Even if we can salvage a point against the Rams, we need to somehow end this losing habit.
Our subsequent matches after the Derby game are against Bristol City at home and Rotherham United away. To say that those games are season definers would be an understatement. Therefore, stopping the rot against Derby County is crucial because after we play Rotherham United, we have tough encounters against Huddersfield Town and Sheffield Wednesday to weather.
Everyone at Aston Villa Football Club needs to come together and fight like lions. I am confident that we will avoid the drop. However, as our current form highlights, we need to roll our sleeves up and get on with the job of taking this great club back to where it belongs.