Villa 1-1 Reading; The blame game

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….


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  1. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson August 31, 2018 at 4:24 pm .

    Aston Villa have already been live on the telly three times this season – and they are scheduled to be on the box again six more times in next two months.

    Two of the games, Blackburn Rovers and Norwich City away, were handpicked for live coverage.

    And now Queens Park Rangers away and Bolton Wanderers at home have been shifted to Friday nights to be broadcast on Sky Sports.

    The other two, the home matches against Rotherham and Preston North End are available as ‘extras’ on the Red Button.

  2. Hitchens 60
    Hitchens 60 August 31, 2018 at 5:09 pm .

    I think what’s interesting is that Bruce has allowed Elphick to go to Hull even though we’re not getting Moukoudia (sic) so he must feel that we have enough defensive cover to manage without him.

    it also seems we are concentrating on trying to get Abraham over the line which must, in itself, be a statement of intent.

    imho another attacker is more pressing than another defensive player.

  3. Adam
    Adam August 31, 2018 at 5:25 pm .

    Hmmm so my thinking is this we should go very attacking for the rest of the season instead of worrying about teams lets blow them all away…. Abraham and Kodjia upfront…. Bolasie, Grealish, Mcginn, El Ghazi in the midfield… Hutton LB, Tuanzebe and Chester CB, Elmo RB…Nyland GK

    1. DSVilla
      DSVilla August 31, 2018 at 5:34 pm .

      Yeah I’m sure that’s exactly what Bruce is thinking🤔

      1. Hitchens60
        Hitchens60 August 31, 2018 at 5:36 pm .

        Well we can all hope!

      2. Adam
        Adam August 31, 2018 at 6:01 pm .

        Clearly that was my thoughts..Bruce playing 2 up front and no DM from the off absolutley no chance is there..

    2. Texas Johnny
      Texas Johnny August 31, 2018 at 5:44 pm .

      It seems like he might be starting to rate Bree, possibly at CB – and then De Laet can fill either full back position. I’m not keen on seeing Jedinak continue at CB but last game he didn’t do a whole lot wrong there. Here’s hoping we see the team play with the attacking intent we’ve got the abilities to use.

  4. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 August 31, 2018 at 6:08 pm .

    I suppose we are pleased having signed Abraham – just saying because it’s been met on here with almost complete indifference!

    Personally, I prefer Abraham to another defender and do think it will signal a more attacking intent. Bruce has consistently said we should play with two up front – the problem being we never seem to have two decent strikers fit at the same time!

    Abraham and Kodjia together – tasty.

  5. Sidforever
    Sidforever August 31, 2018 at 6:16 pm .

    We now have attacking quality. But what about the defence?

    I hope to be proved wrong but the defence is weak. Elphick and Sullivan out on loan. I want Bree to be a success.

    What worries me is Green loaned out for season and Bruce wanted Adomah to be loaned. I do lack faith in Bruce. He set the standard by which he should be judges by and has been found wanting.

    Would it be too much to ask with all this attacking intent we actually attack?

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 August 31, 2018 at 6:19 pm .

      Just read the transcript of Bruce press conference and he refers to reassessing Green in January – that suggests we may have a recall option then.

      On Adomah – Bruce has never confirmed rumours in the press.

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