Well, if you were writng a typical crappy American 70’s film script, where the subject always gets a happy ending, with smiling faces all round, you couldn’t have written it much differently for the blues game, could you?
I predicted Gabby might get a few minutes, but didn’t expect him to get as long as he did and more importantly, get the winning goal.
But it backs up my view about Steve Bruce, in that he’s a 100% pragmatist.
Think about it.
He knows Gabby is basically finished. My guess says it’s because the player finds it difficult to motivate himself anymore.
But Bruce knows he detests the blues and can raise his game on this occasion.
And so it proved, with Gabby winding up the blues fans as soon as he got on the pitch and getting booked within three minutes.
The noise from the Villa crowd increased and it added some edge to what was previously a totally rubbish game.
Okay, the footy didn’t really improve much afterwards, but at least Gabby got the critical goal.
So Bruce’s decision, while pragmatic, was also inspired, in my opinion.
Would you have given him so many minutes on the pitch if you were the manager? I wouldn’t.
And this is exactly why I find the talk of Gabby getting a new contract laughable.
Think about it again.
RDM side-lined Gabby pretty much as soon as he took charge, yet Bruce called him back into the fold, so he could take a look for himself.
This is good management, as you should make your own assessments and not rely on others. Suffice to say, Gabby hasn’t had a look in for ages, because Bruce doesn’t rate him.
Except for this specific game.
Hat’s off to Bruce for that call, I say.
So keeping with the theme of Bruce being pragmatic, after we scored, Villa went deeper.
There was a classic line from Tony Morley, where he suggested that if Hogan became anymore isolated, he might as well join those in the commentary box, instead of being on the pitch.
I nearly spat my dinner-break coffee out.
But it did indeed sound dire, with the usual comments about us constantly giving the ball away and it constantly coming back at us.
You are not going to challenge in the Championship if you can’t dominate the midfield, that’s a cert and I suspect this is the area where the manager will be concentrating most of his thoughts.
The question is, is it tactics, or is it the fact that the midfield is just not good enough?
It’s hard to say, but Hourihane and Lansbury have looked pretty decent at their previous clubs (although in fairness, Lansbury was known to be an in and out player).
Personally, I expect quite a cull of our midfielders in the summer, with Gardner, Bacuna and maybe even Grealish leaving.
The fact is, they just don’t do it, do they?
Still, that’s by the by.
So summing up, it was a rubbish game, where both goalies left with their gloves clean.
But, we got the result, which was all that mattered.
And man, did it feel good. The thought of getting abuse from my nose aquaintances if we’d lost, is always more than I care to think about.
Which is exactly why I still believe Bruce is the right man to manage us at the moment, as much as the footy is rubbish and the fans are increasingly complaining about it.
He knows what is needed in this league.
And unfortunately it might not be what we want to see.
There’s no-one who loves silky swash-buckling footy than me.
But promotion next season is the priority and if it takes the same pragmatic approach, I’ll live with it, as long as it works.
Then we’ll look at it again.