Sunday’s game against Sheffield Wednesday and last night’s debacle against Luton Town have given everyone at the club a chance to realise that, despite being one of the favourites to be promoted, the Villans may struggle to achieve what is expected of them this season.
Although losing to Sheffield Wednesday was hard to take, it’s perhaps no real surprise that we lost to a team of the Owls’ quality. When you consider how close they came to being promoted last season, beaten in the play-off final by Hull City, they are of course going to be one of the favourites to secure promotion this season. As they have kept most of their players, the team is already gelled together and perhaps only needs two or three additional improvements whereas Di Matteo’s rebuilding work has only just begun. Without taking anything away from the hardworking Hatters, losing to a League Two team should be a wake-up call to everyone connected with the club.
With fans eagerly awaiting the announcement of more new signings, I believe we are losing focus on who we actually have playing for us. I’d be more than happy to shut the transfer window so the manager can concentrate on getting his players to gel. It was always going to be a tough season, whoever we had in our team. Therefore, the ideal situation would see all the transfer business done long before the window closes to let the fans, the management and the players know who is going to fight for promotion this season.
Even though new players were in action at Hillsborough on Sunday, the manager is still playing players I consider to be overrated, under-performing and dead wood within the team. Alan Hutton, Aly Cissokho and Leandro Bacuna were all part of Roberto Di Matteo’s starting line-up. This is worrying and, with new recruits, I hope Jordan Amavi or Jordan Lyden can push out these players. It’s scary to think that the options we had on the bench couldn’t replace the dead wood on the pitch.
Defensively, the only positive is having a new skipper in Tommy Elphick. I congratulate him on taking a risk in his career and leaving a Premiership club that he has a special place in his heart for and coming to captain a very wounded Aston Villa side. As for the rest of the defence, we can do so much more in getting rid of players like Joleon Lescott, Micah Richards and the players I mentioned before.
If Dr Tony Xia is the man he says he is on Twitter, we can still be upbeat about the season. His words do need to be backed up by more action, however. I have a horrible feeling that our owner will struggle motivative the players and fans alike once he realises that the team he is trying to build won’t actually work and that his vision is flawed. It is too early to suggest that Xia’s ambitious plans won’t work but if we continue to struggle, he may shy away.
Promotion is never certain and, at present, an immediate return to the Premier League seems rather unlikely. I just hope that, for now, whether he communicates with the fans on Twitter or not, that Xia gives Di Matteo every penny he can to ensure that the Villans can mount an actual promotion push this season.