I’m not going to dwell on last night’s game, but I will say I thought it was a disaster waiting to happen, with us playing Whelan and Jedinak in the same team.
Whelan’s form has been poor lately and along with Snodgrass, I’d have put him high on my list of players to be “rested”.
The combo just left me wondering how our midfield might function and it was plainly obvious that it just didn’t, with Brentford running through us with gay abandon.
I know many of you really like Grealish, but even though he was still probably one of our best players on the pitch, I just don’t see how he works in the way we set up. For all his runs and tricks, what did he ultimately achieve?
I’d suggest very little.
He is knocked off the ball far too easily and runs into dead ends, because the fact that the rest of the midfield offer so little threat, it means the opposition can just afford to crowd him out.
That’s not to say I don’t like him. I do, but just don’t see how he works.
I’m sure many of you will disagree, but it’s only a small part of my opinion in this post.
Suffice to say, I thought Bruce got the selection wrong, bigtime, in going for two defensive mids.
As for the game itself, well I have to say I seriously lost interest and a lot of the second half just passed me by.
Such was the dominance by Brentford, a few minutes late on, apart.
And that isn’t good enough.
Which leads us on to the manager.
Look, let me say straight off that I am not a blind follower of Steve Bruce.
By all accounts he’s a very nice bloke, but to me that means nothing, as I’ve never met him.
He will go when the good Dr X deems that he has nothing more to offer, which is exactly the same as it’s always been at any club.
But I will do my best to support any manager of Aston Villa while he’s still in place.
In other words, I will not condemn him purely because of where he’s worked before, as I’m fairly sure some Villa fans have.
I’ll admit that I was more keen to take Bruce over McCleish, but that was purely down to Bruce’s proven success in getting teams promoted; no more, no less. Whereas McCleish had done next to nothing where it counted.
I’m digressing too much in trying to emphasise that Bruce is no particular favourite of mine, so let’s try and keep to the point.
Which is, what would you do if you were Tony Xia?
A brief summary of our position (as if there’s anyone who reads here that doesn’t know).
We need promotion this season. It looks like automatic qualification has well gone, but we might still achieve a play-off place. The fact that we can’t beat the teams around us concerns me, but that’s how it is.
With Bruce having spent a fortune on massive flop strikers who can’t get a goal between them, we are now restrained by FFP, so basically don’t have a pot to piss in.
Which begs the question of who is any new manager going to bring in? He’ll be forced to sell our better players if he wants to spend any decent money or stick with what we have and try to get a tune out of them.
Which leads me to my first dilemma.
Given that it seems that Bruce is seriously struggling to get the team to perform, would any other manager be able to?
I know. I can hear some of you saying they couldn’t do much worse, given the supposed strength of our squad. It’s a point I’m inclined to agree with, to be honest, as I’ve often said that I’m sure the team are being shackled, as much as they haven’t helped themselves at times.
Steve Bruce seems totally reluctant to throw the kids in.
It’s not a point I’m entirely convinced of though, as he has played Green, Davis and Hepburn-Murphy. I hear many calls for Suliman and O’Hare, but aren’t the coaching staff watching them every day?
Would any new manager really be quicker to throw them in?
It’s easy to say yes, but we have to remember that at lower league clubs, the options are less and managers have no choice but to play kids.
And even then, if we do try them, what happens if they flop massively?
That said, I’ve often questioned why we have an academy, but that’s another area of debate.
And then, there’s the big question of do we really want another manager in already, after years of unsuccessful chopping and changing?
Consider that we’re trying to put ourselves in Xia’s position here, where’s he’s being advised by Wyness and I think they’ll both be very reluctant to sack the manager now.
The point has often been made that December does not win you the league and I at least, expected a poor run of results this month. I also expect our run to continue for a while. All teams have a bad patch and I believe this is ours.
Which leaves us with another dilemma.
If we’re to be really quick in swinging the axe, we have to sack Bruce sharpish. I’d be looking at the next two games, with a view to getting a manager in where he at least has the transfer window to play with.
Any later would be utterly pointless and we may as well keep him till the end of the season.
Unfortunately we also have to ask if Middlesbrough away and Bristol City at home are a fair brace of games to judge him by.
All things that I’d expect Wyness to be telling the owner for what it’s worth.
Hence I don’t see Bruce being relieved of his post in the short-term.
But I do see lots of moaning from the fans.
About the only thing that I can see changing things is if the away fans seriously turn on Bruce and they apparently did last night.
When that happens consistently, you just know a sacking is imminent.