The pressure continues to grow on underfire manager Steven Gerrard as his Aston Villa side struggled to break down a Nottingham Forest side who have conceded 16 goals in their last four Premier League fixtures.
There are two things to look out for, apart from the obvious: a manager is under pressure. The first is when a manager starts to call out his players in public, pushing the blame from himself.
“The important thing is how I get this team to be more potent,” Villa boss Gerrard told Sky Sports.
“[For] Effort and application a lot of our play is OK until you get to a certain point. But look around the dressing room and you see [Philippe] Coutinho, [Emiliano] Buendia, [Ollie] Watkins, [Danny] Ings and [Leon] Bailey will be back soon.
“I need these players to step up and provide big moments and go and be headline writers for us.”
The second and maybe more importantly is when the loyal away fans start to turn. Although it wasn’t all of the travelling support, a number of fans turned on the manager for the first time last night.
Aston Villa are actually on their longest unbeaten run under Gerrard, however, this isn’t appeasing a fanbase who are losing faith in their manager. He has been labelled stubborn and arrogant by certain sections of the fanbase. His comments in the media, in particular, his response to Birmingham Mail’s Ashley Preece when asking about Cameron Archer did him no favours.
He has continued to stick with a system that the team have really struggled with when most other managers would have looked to try something else by now, doesn’t bode well either.
Villa were not bad last night apart from one lapse in concentration. The issue is, they weren’t good either. I can only feel sorry for a neutral every time they see Aston Villa live on the TV.
Against the run of play, the home side took the lead from a set piece. Tyrone Mings made a needless foul on Emmanual Dennis out on the right wing. Morgan Gibbs-White stepped up and delivered the free-kick and Dennis took advantage of Villa’s poor defending to glance a header past Emi Martinez.
Mings was spotted in a heated discussion with Ashley Young but the latter soon put things right, seven minutes later the veteran pulled Villa level.
Young pounced onto a Ryan Yates’ headed clearance, sending a blistering low drive into the bottom corner. Interesting stat, Peter Schmeichel is the only player older than Young to have scored for Villa in the Premier League.
Gerrards men hoofed and puffed, much like they did a week before against 10-man Leeds United but they couldn’t break down a resilient Nottingham Forest side.
Once again, Villa were to slow with the ball, happy to pass it around on the halfway line without ever really looking like a threat.
Villa have now only scored seven goals from their first nine games. Who would have thought this given the attacking threat we have in our squad?
Steve Cooper has had to try and coach 20+ players, he could only dream to be in the same situation that Gerrard is in. I do believe, if Villa stick with Gerrard, Cooper will finish higher than Gerrard come to the end of the season.
Up next for Villa, Chelsea at Villa Park. Yay!