Aston Villa Football Club has, statistically, the worst team in the whole English professional football pyramid. It’s a far too familiar tale for the Villans with no wins in the whole of 2017 and only a handful of goals for fans to even celebrate.
The next few weeks will be key to the future of Steve Bruce’s long term plans at Villa Park. Where the club heads in the remainder of this season will be decided, with games against Newcastle United, Derby County and Bristol City all to come in the next eight days.
When Bruce was first appointed Aston Villa manager, he ground out results. It was far from pretty but we were picking up points and sat in ninth place going into the Christmas period.
For some unknown reason, the form slumped as we seemingly strengthened the side. Why is that exactly?
In the opening games under Steve Bruce he opted for a holding 4-3-3 system, which was effective.
Mile Jedinak isn’t the best passer and certainly isn’t the most mobile player but he offers the most protection for the defence. That the Villans have failed to win a game when he hasn’t featured this season is no coincidence.
It’s a startling statistic that I believe much can be read into. Jedinak offers little mobility so does not suit a 4-4-2 system, which is the one Bruce recently opted for against Barnsley.
In a 4-4-2 system, we do look susceptible to being exposed and it was illustrated through the nature of the Tykes’ goals last Tuesday.
Opting for a 4-3-3 system offers the defence far more cover, with Jedinak unlikely to bomb forward in comparison to Henri Lansbury or Conor Hourihane, who both like to get forward.
If Jedinak is given a sitting midfield role it gives Hourihane the freedom to roam in his preferred left-sided role and Lansbury in his right.
While Jedinak has been out injured, we have sorely missed him and he is a real asset to the side despite his obvious weaknesses.
We cannot become too dependent on an aging midfielder with a patchy injury record, although I certainly believe he will help shore up the defence, limiting our defensive woes and offering extra protection for the shaky back four.
The five at the back system did not benefit anyone and neither has opting for a 4-4-2. Let’s go back to what works even if it isn’t pretty.
I wrote some time ago now that I was happy to see us win games even if the football wasn’t pretty. The 4-3-3 system that gave us momentum just before Christmas is the one that has brought us the most success.
Our team simply doesn’t suit any other system. It is all well and good trying for a different system but why change a winning formula? The 4-3-3 benefits more than just the defence and Jedinak.
It could be said that we are shoe-horning players in with a 4-3-3 but I believe it is far from that. With the system Bruce can play Jonathan Kodjia in a wide left role and Albert Adomah on the right, with Scott Hogan leading the line.
We have tried many systems. At the moment, Bruce is following a precarious pattern that every recent manager has followed before seeing his time at B6 end.
I think Bruce is better than that, even though recent tactical moves have been incredibly poor for a man with so much supposed know how.
Mile Jedinak does have a key part to play in deciding how we do for the remainder of this season. I hope to see him utilised best when fully fit whether that be tonight for the game against Newcastle United or at the weekend against Derby County.
We’re in a rut and we have to get out of it soon. The prospect of yet another relegation battle will loom larger with every defeat and that is not something anyone connected with Aston Villa Football Club wants to endure.