Steve Bruce gave Aston Villa fans what they have wanted for a long time. Two players up-front. Jonathan Kodjia and Tammy Abraham started their first game together in Villa colours and looked very exciting at times. They even linked up for the first goal against Rotherham. Has Bruce finally found the formula he has been looking for?
The manager also opted to play without a defensive midfielder. Conor Hourihane lined up alongside John McGinn with Jack Grealish moving out to the left. All three looked comfortable and in control for the majority. He did, however, play Mile Jedinak at centre-half but admittedly he had a decent game.
We lined up with a 4-4-2 formation with Ahmed El-Ghazi completing the midfield out on the right. It is a formation that seems to have gone out of fashion in recent times with most managers opting for formations with just one striker.
Although it was far from spectacular we looked very comfortable last night. It can be so easy to be negative but I think we should take the positives from the formula the manager opted to use.
I was a bit sceptical about playing Grealish on the left. But he had a decent game and was allowed a lot of freedom due to the work rate of Hourihane and McGinn.
McGinn was easily man of the match for me and seems to be growing by the game. He didn’t stop running and some of the passes he made were sensational. He is what we’ve been missing since the days of Petrov, Barry and Milner.
Someone who does all the dirty work and wins the ball in the defensive area but also has the ability to get up the field. A real box to box enforcer that allows Bruce to play a formation that doesn’t include an anchor-man.
We have a real player on our hands here. McGinn and Hourihane played well together in the middle of the park and really controlled the midfield. With all due respect to Rotherham – they aren’t the greatest team we will come across this season. But it’s nice to dominate a game and look comfortable for 90 minutes. We haven’t seen that a lot this season.
Hopefully, last nights result wasn’t a one-off and is the beginning of something special. The manager couldn’t help but have a pop at fans but maybe he has come across a formula that fans have been demanding for some time.