The Villans have only won one game this season. That win came back in August against Rotherham United, in a home game that had a 3-0 scoreline.
Since then, the Villans have thrown away eight points in the closing moments of games, making us the Championship’s draw specialists. This is not a title our club wants when we have a team looking to get back into the promotion picture. Given the quality in the squad, that is where Aston Villa Football Club needs to be.
Many fans and journalists alike are quick to criticise goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini and the back four when these late goals fly into the back of the net. Although they are not without blame, the defenders should not be under intense pressure in the final ten minutes of every other game, as has been the case this season.
The attackers have to be more clinical in front of goal. An example of this came in Tuesday’s game against Barnsley. The Villa boys came out for the second half like a different team than the one that went in at half time. They were hungry and played a number of incisive passes to carve open the Barnsley back four. The problem that Villa had on Tuesday was that they couldn’t find a way to hit the back of the net. Jordan Ayew and Jonathan Kodjia were the only players who looked comfortable taking shots at goal. Albert Adomah, who was brilliant defensively, had two excellent opportunities to shoot and instead passed the ball to players who weren’t expecting a pass.
If Di Matteo’s men have a comfortable lead going in to the final ten minutes of a game, they will have a much better chance of winning games. However, the problem is that whenever they score a goal they slow the game down and try to protect a narrow lead. Why this happens is completely beyond me as we never seem to punish teams when we are on top.
The players’ motivation has to remain high even when they are leading games. We are always hearing about how we have leaders on the pitch in Elphick, Jedinak and McCormack; now it is time for them to prove it. The manager only has a limited influence on player motivation from the sidelines so it is important that the leaders step up and motivate themselves and their team-mates.
The time for the slow, controlling play is when the Villans are comfortably winning a game by a couple of goals, not before then. All that does is invite pressure and it keeps leading to the inevitable goal that teams then score against Aston Villa in the dying minutes of games.
Let’s hope that this problem can be solved, starting today at Preston.