Aston Villa’s trip to Bramhall Lane capped off an awful week as they slipped to a 4-1 hammering at the hands of Sheffield United.
I’m not even going to go into the game itself but all I’ll say is both Burton Abion in the cup and yesterday’s farce were two of the worst performances I’ve seen back to back from any Villa side.
The divide between the supporters continues to grow over whether Steve Bruce is the man to take Villa forward following the failed attempt last season. This culminated in awful scenes in the away end yesterday as the fans were fighting amongst themselves.
It’s a worrying sign as it’s happened before and as the fans have turned on themselves, the spotlight on the manager has been turned up a notch. As it will be once more.
The positive fans amongst us will point out that we were unbeaten in the league until yesterday but on the flip side it marked no win in five in all competitions.
Dig a little deeper and the performances during the unbeaten period weren’t much better. Scraping past Wigan in the final seconds, failing to break down Ipswich Town who were down to ten men with an hour left to play, not putting the game to bed at home to Reading and the dire performance against League Two outfit, Yeovil Town in the League Cup.
A closer look at Reading and Ipswich shows the calibre of teams we were struggling against. Reading’s loss at home to Sheffield Wednesday yesterday sees their record stand at 3 wins in their last 32 games. As for Ipswich, it doesn’t get much better. 2 wins in their last 16 Championship games and those came against relegated Barnsley and you guessed it, Reading.
The continued and consistent failings of the defence are not only worrying, but I’d go as far as to say inexcusable. Not only are players in the wrong positions game in, game out but the release of Tommy Elphick without a replacement leaves us in a position where we have no recognised centre back around the first team other than Axel Tuanzebe who is funnily enough playing right-back and James Chester who if he was to get injured, who knows what would happen next.
As for Chester himself, I’m a huge fan of his but he looks a shadow of himself with the weight of the world on his shoulders. John Terry kept the backline in check and organised for the majority of last season and it’s all too evident how much we are missing him. Then again, Terry had a centre back at centre back alongside him.
11 goals conceded means only Q.P.R. have a worst figure in the goals against column and 7 of those came away to West Brom.
For what it’s worth, John Terry, Robert Huth, James Collins and others are all available as free agents. Obviously funds could be the sticking point but the difference it would make to the balance of the squad and the confidence of both the defenders and goalkeeper should we bring one in is potentially immeasurable. Ultimately, it could be the difference between success or failure again in the fight for promotion.
Going back to the unbeaten argument, the highest placed team last season that Villa have taken on so far this campaign are Brentford who finished 9th. With all the relegated sides from the Premier League along with the likes of Middlesbrough, Leeds United etc. to come, is it really harsh of us to have expected much better?
Granted it’s only five games in but currently 1.5 points per game with a horrendous fixture schedule in December and tougher games to come it’s already looking like an awful lot of work needs to be done.
Yesterday almost felt like it was coming and personally I feel it highlights how lucky we’ve been in terms of points gained in total.
The post match comments from Bruce yesterday highlighted the fact that several starting players had not trained this week. This was followed up by comments that the players at Burton were so poor that they didn’t deserve to play either. When you’re highlighting these excuses after each poor result it’s worrying. I completely agree the players need to step up and take some ownership and responsibility in terms of their individual and team performances but it’s easy for them to hide behind such excuses.
A comment was also made regarding a few weeks ago being the best football we’ve seen in years. I’d love to know both who said those comments as well as when this example of the beautiful game was displayed. It might only be me but apart from about a half against Brentford and the second half at Hull City which were ‘better’ it’s hardly been tearing up trees and grabbing the imagination of most. Watch Leeds United and how Biesla has them playing the majority of the time. Quick, movement across the pitch and off the ball and bullying teams to get the job done. I can’t remember the last time I came away from watching two games back to back, home or away impressed by the entire 90 minutes display.
The appointment of Christian Purlsow as both a Chief Executive and a minority investor marks a significant move off the pitch. Purslow was responsible for attracting huge sponsorship deals at Chelsea and at Liverpool he attracted the current Fenway group to buy the club from ill-fated Hicks and Gillett era. I think as much as the CEO appointment was important, as both a CEO and minority investor he won’t sit around watching the likes of performances we have seen recently.
IF the owners do decide to press the button, it needs to be done quickly and you would think they will have people in mind regardless. I still feel Bruce staying was the easier option due to the nature of the takeover and how fast it happened.
I don’t think I’ve ever said this but thankfully it’s the international break!