It wasn’t just sour grapes when Redknapp quipped after his team’s derby day defeat: “You can’t say Villa were good. If that’s the best they can do, Steve’s clearly got a lot of work to do.”
Having inherited a team full of multi-million pound signings and who Bruce has had several months to preside over, it is true that Aston Villa should be playing much better football. It was also a fair assessment to say that there wasn’t a huge amount of difference between the sides.
The problem which faces Aston Villa is still how can the club be more successful on the pitch whilst entertaining the fans. Working out how to get the best from his charges in a winning formation is the challenge that lays ahead for Bruce. There are already massive numbers who have booked their season ticket for next year and these fans will expect improvement. He now has the summer and pre-season to come up with the answers.
The derby was never going to be an exhibition of free-flowing attacking football. For one, that is something that has been rarely seen by the Villa faithful this year. Secondly, derby games are often tense and nervy affairs with each team afraid of making a mistake added to that, the recent form of both teams meant it was unlikely that the game was going to be a classic.
With bragging rights being the prominent desire for Villa fans, the result was more important than the performance. As such, a lesser display could be tolerated so long as the team won. The worrying thing is that these kind of displays are becoming the norm, however, credit must be given to the team for showing the spirit and determination to get the win. A special mention must also go to Gabby Agbonlahor who must’ve been saving himself all season for this one game.
Bruce commented that there is still plenty of wood to be cleared out and that the rebuilding process was still very much in progress. On paper, the team is pound for pound one of the best in the league.
What is needed is a style of play, an identity, a brand of football to excite as well as be effective. This comes with a clear vision, sound strategy and good coaching and. The players are capable, it is up to the management to develop this winning formula and style from within.
What awaits is a summer of expectation for Aston Villa supporters.