I could have written this yesterday after watching the game, but to be honest, I just couldn’t be bothered.
I also found it hard to think what to think, so thought a bit of time re-assessing what I saw might help.
But my opinion hasn’t changed much and I think if anything, it’s been reinforced.
You are not going to have a hope in hell of winning a game if you don’t actually try; is probably the short answer.
Now I’ve previously said I like Garde for his demeanour and the way he talks.
But I’ve also said that I think he’s too cautious in the way he approaches the game.
And I saw nothing to change that opinion yesterday.
I just don’t understand what we were trying to do overall, apart from try and stifle Stoke.
Indeed Garde said as much, in that the aim was to defend well.
Hmm, that went well, didn’t it, considering the nature of Stoke’s second goal?
It was a case of yet more keystone kop defending and I believe trying to cure this problem is beyond us this season, so we might as well try a different approach, as trying the same old thing just isn’t working.
Having said that, I do appreciate we don’t have options up front and it’s difficult.
But why, when we did get the ball up their end, was there never anyone trying to get into the box?
We were supposed to be playing a 3 or a 2-1 weren’t we?
So why was Gabby so isolated?
Is it because our attacking mids (we certainly can’t call them strikers) just couldn’t be bothered or because they were actually told not to get too involved?
I don’t know, but it certainly seemed to be a case of the latter.
I find it hard to believe that if presented with a possible opportunity, a player isn’t going to try and get involved and it just left me confused.
I actually thought we played quite reasonably in the first half and Stoke’s biggest threat was actually Okore, who seemed to be doing his best to score, albeit in the wrong net. It was a strange performance from him, to say the least.
But while I thought we did okay, there was always the nagging feeling that if we conceded, it would be game over, as we offered so little attacking threat.
And so it came, with Westwood conceding a penalty.
I’ll say straight away that I don’t think his tackle caused us to lose the game, but wow, how he gets a start is just beyond me. While his stats are actually very good, in reality I think he’s one of the most average, ineffective players I’ve ever seen don a Villa shirt.
But what do I know? He’s managed to keep winging it under how many Villa managers?
And it’s not that he was the worst yesterday to be honest.
The whole midfield was just non-existent and again it’s something I have to doubt Garde about.
The fact that even when it’s obvious our plan isn’t working, we don’t change it up, worries me.
Ok, Garde makes subs and certainly Sinclair was a decent call, but we don’t change things while the game is in play.
Which all leaves me doubting Garde’s tactical astuteness.
Anyway, they scored from the penalty and I knew then it was all over.
The ridiculous second goal confirmed it and I was just left with the thought of “where is a goal coming from?”
But we did manage to actually get one and the over-riding feeling was that Bacuna didn’t even mean it.
I know. That’s a shocking thing to say, but it just seemed as though Bacuna hit it with no conviction whatsoever.
If he’s a committed player, I have to wonder what the rest of the squad are like.
Perhaps I’m being unfair in saying that, but I can only say what I saw.
All that said, our performance was better than against Liverpool, which isn’t saying much.
And Stoke hardly had to put themselves out.
But there were some small positives.
I don’t think anyone can say Lescott didn’t look committed, at least in that specific game, as much as Merc-gate might make many think different. He was bitching and moaning exactly like we expect a captain to do and he made some very good blocks/clearances (I’m glossing over the second goal).
That might not be a popular opinion, but he did. Fact.
Okore, while being poor at times, was actually quite good at others, although again, some of his stops are the result of last minute tackles after being caught out.
Hutton tried. Ok, he was pretty rubbish, but I couldn’t fault his effort (I’m looking for positives in a team of non-triers remember?).
Sinclair looked a threat.
But overall, the whole team was pretty rubbish and there’s no getting away from it.
I worry about the Everton game, as they’re a better side who I think will take more advantage, but that’s something for later.
Not that it really matters anyway.