“Getting sacked in the morning” rung around Bramall Lane as Villa fell to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United. Anwar El Ghazi’s consolation came after the hosts added a fourth to an emphatic first half where the away side simply did not play for their manager.
Steve Bruce handed starts to John McGinn and Jack Grealish even if they where doubts on Friday morning. Glenn Whelan completed the midfield trio, replacing Birkir Bjarnason. The only change since dropping two points at home in the previous league encounter.
No clean sheet
Without keeping a clean sheet since last May, conceding first was always on the cards. Especially since Sheffield United made such a bright start at Bolton scoring two in twenty minutes. The Blades managed to replicate their clinical form as Jack O’Connell and Mark Duffy took the game out of Villa’s hands.
Fulham loanee Oliver Norwood delivered a deep free-kick on the sixth minute towards O’Connell in between Axel Tuanzebe and Ahmed Elmohamady at the back post.
Villa failed to respond with the hosts threatening to double their advantage moments later as Norwood struck the post before Villa ‘keeper Orjan Nyland saved well at his near post. Yet the Norwegian failed prevent Duffy’s effort even if John McGinn should have done better to disposes the playmaker.
Three before Half time
A third goal sealed the win before half time as Nyland, despite his recent positive displays, was beaten at his near post by a Norwood set-piece. From an angle that caught Villa’s number one off guard. I haven’t got a clue what Bruce told the lads at the break but it didn’t work as Sheffield got a fourth minutes after the second period began.
El-Ghazi’s duel with Norwood summed up the attitude and belief the away side had of getting back in the game. The ball made its way to Kieron Freeman, after Nyland tried to create a counter attack opportunity, naive of the pressure and intensity Sheffield United where playing at. On the right flank, Freeman picked out Billy Sharp who confidently struck in the top corner to score his fourth of the campaign.
The rampant hosts smelt blood as David McGoldrick should have aded a fifth as Villa’s backline backing off and kept backing off, scared without protection from Whelan. The Scot, running towards goal, opened up and struck fiercely towards Nyland who parried around the post.
A goal for El Ghazi on his second league appearance will increase his confidence, as Whelan did well to squeeze a pass through to the Dutch international before striking low and beyond Dean Henderson.
Once more it was McGoldrick who had the opportunity to restore the four goal cushion as Nyland again thwarted the former Ipswich man from six yards. Whilst he must do better in the future to cover all his goal, our number one again made enough saves to demonstrate his capabilities in the sticks.
Should he stay or should he go?
Now to briefly touch on the ‘debate’ on everyone lips. Call it a debate but it seems as though you’d struggle to find any Villa fan who wants Steve to remain in charge. It seemed an uphill task for Bruce since the start of the season. Combined with the sad passing of both parents who had a lasting effect on his career as both as a player and manager however it seems his tenure at the club must end.
The best decision for both parties must be made before the toxic atmosphere around the club boils. The international break is the perfect time to make such a swift decision but only if the right man is available.
Personally, with the the dark clouds ascending North of the border at Celtic. One wonders if Brendon Rodgers fancies a return to English football. Having spoken so fondly of the club in an interview when questioned about recent recruit which Villa beat Celtic for, McGinn.
Furthermore, new CEO Christian Purslow, having joined on Friday, will aim for a calibre of manager similar to the standard of Rodgers, with the pedigree and nouse he holds. If Bruce’s tenure is rightly ended before we travel to Blackburn in a fortnight, the loyalty he has shown to the club must be honoured and rightfully respected.