Following the defeat to Sheffield Wednesday over the weekend, the inconsistent start for Villa this season continues. The latest defeat means one win in eight. They now sit 12th in the Championship with pressure building on the manager.
Bruce’s men have lost two games this term in the league and find themselves off the pace of the early leaders for promotion. This isn’t anything new though. They were also slow out of the traps last campaign before making a surge to the playoffs.
As we all know, Villa made it all the way to the Championship play-off final. Only to be outplayed by Fulham and undone by a Tom Cairney effort at Wembley. The result is why they are not in the market for the Premier League outright odds, although their early-season character has suggested that they could be capable of making a return to the top-flight if they are able to live up to their potential.
Victories over Hull and Wigan provided hope in the first two matches of the term. Those expectations have been stymied in a run of one win in eight games which also included a 4-1 defeat to Sheffield United.
Villa has assembled a talented squad due to the late influx of funds following the takeover by Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris. Tammy Abraham, Yannick Bolasie and John McGinn were among the names to strengthen the squad. However, Villa has lacked cohesion on the field. While Bruce’s team selection has been questionable, which has seen the deployment of midfielder Mile Jedinak in the heart of the defence.
For all the quality at his disposal, Bruce seems to be unsure of his best side at the moment. In fact, I would question if he knew his strongest XI if you were to ask him. The longer that continues the harder it will be for Villa to match the pacesetters at the top of the division.
Late goals saved Villa
Late goals have been a trademark of the campaign thus far – both good and bad. Birkir Bjarnason’s effort against the Latics handed Bruce’s men their second win on the bounce to start the term. Jonathan Kodija’s effort against Brentford saved Villa from defeat on home soil. Conor Hourihane’s strike proved to be just as valuable on the road at Ewood Park.
Sam Baldock’s penalty for Reading is the lone blemish as his late spot-kick denied Villa the three points at Villa Park. The points salvaged could well be very important come to the end of the campaign as the club know all too well the difference between being promoted automatically and settling for a place in the playoffs.
Villa has lost momentum after their solid start and their next move could decide their future. Do they stick with Bruce or look elsewhere?
A trip to Bristol City awaits Bruce and his men up next. The club will be approaching that fixture with either hope of climbing above one of the early pacesetters or bracing themselves for another underwhelming result.