The first game of our season ultimately ended in disappointment. Despite a promising start, Hull’s equalizer gave them a point in a game that most fans would have hoped, or rather expected, us to win. We had enough chances to win, some we were unlucky not to score and others should have been taken.
There’s no point dwelling on it – although I’m sure Andre Green will still be kicking himself. It’s gone, it’s happened, it’s a long season, there are 45 games to go. That would be my biggest message to the fans, to look forward rather than picking everything apart. Newcastle last season lost both of their opening games before winning the title and the opening day is as exciting as it is insignificant when put into proper context.
After all, would you rather a result you didn’t deserve like Nottingham Forest, or a disappointing defeat after a strong performance, like Millwall? Fans will everywhere disagree on this, and as Villa fans, we were treated to something in between on Saturday evening.
Whilst there is a long way to go in the season, I do also believe that we have a long way to go as a team. For one, Steve Bruce obviously does not know his best formation. He went for a 4-4-2 against Hull, with Lansbury and Whelan starting in the middle, when there was talk of us playing five at the back or even starting with a diamond.
If Bruce doesn’t know his best team, and I don’t think that he does at the minute, then this does worry me. We have multiple, talented players with experience but should have a pretty clear idea of our best XI. Maybe such a range of options is a blessing but it certainly must be giving our manager headaches. The injury to Jack Grealish wouldn’t have helped either, I’m sure.
I trust all of this to be sorted and Kodija coming back should give us a better idea of our strongest side going forward. My only conclusion from the opening day that we, like a lot of teams, have a season stretching ahead of tough decisions which may decide our season.
After our midweek Carabao Cup adventure, we head to Cardiff. They won a tricky game against Burton on opening day and will be a very, very tough side at their ground.
One thing Bruce should be drilling into our players, in my opinion, is to take our chances. We could, and should, have been two or three goals up at half time. We failed to capitalize on our dominance and it cost us. We can’t repeat the mistakes of last season by attempting to cling on to one goal leads, to sit back and invite pressure. To compete in this league, you need to win games comfortably when given the opportunity.
Let’s hope we learn from our mistakes on Saturday and keep getting better. Up the Villa.