Typical Villa eh?
I was really downhearted at the final whistle and really couldn’t be bothered to write about it.
I haven’t seen a replay of the penalty incident, but I’m pretty sure it shouldn’t have been given.
Chester won the ball cleanly, but having thought about it, I now totally accept that the defender didn’t need to go to ground.
But the ref shouldn’t have called it wrongly either.
Not that it matters much in the scheme of the whole game.
The simple thing for me is that after a decent first fifteen minutes, we were woeful for most of the rest of the game.
Waiting a day to do a write-up has given me a chance to read lots of views and it’s been interesting seeing the different opinions on what caused the draw.
It’s difficult for me to blame Chester, as he’s been so good for us.
I’ve seen quite a few blame Bruce’s negative tactics and while that might be partly true, I’m not at all convinced that’s the reason.
We create plenty of chances, but just don’t score.
We had a few very good chances (Chester’s header, El Ghazi’s net shot etc), but many of our shots on goal were incredibly weak.
Which brings us to Kodjia.
There are accusations that he’s often lazy.
Again, I don’t think so, but I do think he’s a confidence player whose head drops if things aren’t going well.
He was poor yesterday, but I still don’t think it was a lack of trying. I certainly remember him being involved quite a bit, but every time he touched the ball, he seemed to mess it up.
It was a bad day at the office for him and it happens.
And then we come to Bruce playing players out of position, which seems like most Villa fan’s biggest gripe.
While I agree it isn’t ideal, can we really say any of Hutton, Tuanzebe or Jedinak had a particularly poor game?
There’s a valid argument that playing players out of position doesn’t help and playing them in their proper positions maximises your chances.
It’s a good point, but if El Ghazi normally plays on the right, I didn’t see anyone complaining about him playing on the left as an inside-out winger (he’s right-footed).
I agree with the view that decent players should be able to play more than one position.
Where I do think Bruce is wrong, is in playing Jedinak in defence. He’s too slow and there was one instance where we got caught out and his lack of pace in chasing back just shocked me.
It’s not that he’s not good enough mentally to play there. Indeed he was excellent in the air. But his body can’t do what he wants and if he continues to play there, I seriously worry about what pacy, more pressing teams could do to us.
It’s almost like Bruce is shoehorning him into the side just for the sake of giving him a game, similar to what I think often happens with Whelan and to a lesser degree, Bjarnason.
It’s about keeping players happy, maybe at a cost to the team.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens now we’ve signed Bolasie.
The obvious thing for me would be El Ghazi goes right, Bolasie goes left, Elmohamady goes to RB and Tuanzebe goes into the centre.
Add Grealish and McGinn in the middle and that’s the core of a balanced team with FB’s supporting two wingers, exactly as it should be.
Do I think that will happen?
I’ll be surprised, to be honest.
There are too many ageing player, who are probably banging the manager’s door down, complaining that they can’t afford to not play at their age, that Bruce wants to keep happy.
So what do I personally blame then?
I hinted recently that I think we find it hard to motivate ourselves in certain games.
You could even say that I think we’re simply complacent.
Certainly the poor, often underhit passing backs that up.
It’s the lack of urgency and pace that’s our problem.
Quite often it seemed like we were playing a friendly yesterday.
And if it’s true, we need to sort it out.
Which is where Bruce definitely comes into it.
Ok, we can rightly say that we’re undefeated this season.
But given the easy fixtures up to now, I’m totally convinced we really ought to be top of the league.
I’m sure Bruce rants and raves at the players during the half time talk. If he does, I don’t think it’s working.
The simple fact is that if we keep dropping points in games we really should win, we are not going to get promoted. Not even via the playoffs.
It’s early days though and it’s not all doom and gloom.
While the overall performance was turgid, there were plus points in that El Ghazi looks a very decent, direct player,with a turn of pace and flair.
Nyland is starting to look a good shot-stopper.
And McGinn worked his guts out again.
These look to be excellent signings and if Bolasie hits the ground running, things are looking good.
But if Bruce can’t motivate possibly the best squad in the league to get the required results, well….