Villa 1 – 3 Man Utd; Bias and defensive errors lead to that.

Well, I got the result half right.
I said we’d lose 3-1 if we played poorly. The score was right, but I don’t think we played to badly.
Add to that, that we played with ambition to try and win the game and I’m reasonably happy.
There were issues though, that I’ll come onto in a moment.

I’ve never been a big believer in the conspiracy theory that is Sky are massively favouring the top six, but my opinion has changed today.
First off, today’s ref comes from Manchester. I thought coming from the same area as a team disqualified you from officiating them. Apparently not, as you have to declare an interest in a favourite club. Obviously Chris Kavanagh hasn’t.
Am I saying he’s biased specifically?
No, he’s probably not, I like to think.

But I do now have serious suspicions that there is bias in the game because it needs to suit Sky’s agenda.
Would it have suited Sky if Man City had won the league today?
No, of course not. Interest in the league would have automatically disappeared and it just suits perfectly that Man Utd win and the contest remains open.

That said, we didn’t help ourselves in that two of Utd’s goals were extremely soft.
The first one, a penalty, was downright ridiculous. Pogba was moving away from goal and begging to be clattered. Douglas Luiz duly obliged with a stupid challenge from behind.
That was the third penalty awarded against us in the last four Villa – Man Utd games.
That’s either massively bad luck or there’s a bit of a pattern here.
I don’t remember too many games these days, but I do remember us having a blatant penalty turned down in our last cup final, which was also against Utd.
Now I’m not suggesting for one minute that the decision for the first goal was wrong. It wasn’t.

But then, Ollie Watkins had a claim turned down when it seemed obvious to me that Henderson had made contact with the striker’s leg with his foot. For me, it was acceptable if you thought Henderson was pulling out of a tackle.
It was also acceptable if you thought he hadn’t made enough contact to warrant a red for the goalkeeper.
But to book Ollie for diving? That’s ridiculous.
Even if Henderson hadn’t pulled out, it certainly looked like he was going to seriously clatter the attacker and who can blame him for trying to avoid it?
I wouldn’t have given a decision either way and would just have let play continue.
And I say that as someone who is often the first one to say if I think the opposition deserve a penalty.

And then we had Maguires’s injury. I thought if it looked like treatment was going to last quite a while, the usual practice was to get them stretchered off to be treated on the touchline or whatever.
Whatever, he was sat for minutes and Solsjaer was given lots of time to explain tactics to the substitute.
Innocent? Possibly so, but these things stack up and I wasn’t happy.
Which is really annoying, as I’m sure I’ll now be looking out for this sort of thing and joining the many of those who predicted decisions going against us and Utd being awarded a penalty today. And were proved 100% correct.

As for the actual football, after a poor start, we warmed into the game and often took it to Utd with some decent play. Barkley was none-existant for me, Matt Cash struggled because he wasn’t being helped out by Traore as he faced a two pronged attack and was being swamped. How often have we heard that this season? Either Traore is thick in not doing his defensive duty or it’s down to Dean Smith telling him to stay forward. I’m not sure which it is, but I’m sick of seeing it.
And then, just as I’m writing how poor he is, so he goes to score a corker.
I probably should have deleted the comment, but I like to keep things honest. As is often the case, he made me look a right mug and I have to smile.
But just as Traore can be brilliant, he can often be a liability too. And I don’t like liabilities at the best of times, which is making me think he’d make a better impact player that you bring in as a sub.

I’m not going to go into the second goal too much, but I think it was poor from Mings.
Anything over £35 million and he’d be sold. He’s another liability as much as he does some good stuff. I’m sure a decent scout could find better for way less money.

Luiz? Well, yes, he was stupid and should have learned a lesson already, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Otherwise, it was mostly good. Martinez could probably have done better for the second goal, but he was otherwise pretty solid. He’s been awesome this season, so you just can’t knock him really, can you?

The two full backs were fine. I don’t recall Konsa doing much wrong. McGinn was lively and more back to his usual self with his workrate. El Ghazi was quiet and Watkins did his usual thing.

I think, to be honest, Man Utd were just the better team and their quality won out. I made a point of pointing out their bench compared to ours and it was proved, as they brought on Cavani who went on to score a very decent goal.

I know some of us think the world of Wesley, Davis and Ramsay, but the truth is they’re nowhere near the same class yet.
I’ve no doubt that our options will improve next season.
Then I think we’ll be in a better position to judge Dean Smith’s tactics.

Ultimately, I’m not overly upset about today.
We played the right way and while not a great game for us, it was a lot more watchable than of late.
Everton on Thursday and after last week, we should hopefully have a chance of 3 points.

93 Comments

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  1. Big Fat Ron
    Big Fat Ron May 13, 2021 at 8:41 pm .

    Like I said last week, chaps, when there was a debate about whether we need at least one striker in the summer:
    1. we need more goals in the team/squad
    2. Ollie playing every game is unsustainable – and so it proved with his suspension
    3. Goals will turn tight 0-0s into wins

    None of the above is Smith’s fault, although that’s another conversation…

    Conclusion: at least one top center forward MUST arrive this summer, IF we want to compete.

    UTV

    1. OLL again
      OLL again May 14, 2021 at 12:08 am .

      BFR your point 1 is correct. We need more goals in the team. That does not mean we need a conventional centre forward to score them. City and Leicester flourish because their midfield can get goals. We do need to think what sort of goals we can score.

      Example Harry Kane: His great strengths are accuracy, weight of shot – he hits the ball hard, and one touch finishes. Harry is only an average header of a ball.
      Weight of shot is lacking throughout the Villa squad. So is accuracy especially from distance.
      Giroud, Ings, Wood, Calvert-Lewin. We do not have players who head the ball with that power and accuracy.

      Midfield is our greatest gap. Man City’s midfield is the model – even one player as effective as any of theirs would be an improvement. I think Mcginn might look good within a better midfield but I would ship out Traoré, Luiz, J Ramsey, and El Ghazi. The defence is just about OK, and we do have some young talent in defence at Villa already.

      1. badger123
        badger123 May 14, 2021 at 12:14 am .

        I totally agree, OLL, except I might keep Luiz.

        1. Big Fat Ron
          Big Fat Ron May 14, 2021 at 10:13 pm .

          Disagree OLL and Badger – see Hitch and Guest further down. We desperately need a striker. We’ve gone two seasons in the PL with ONE striker – at best that’s regrettable, at worst incompetent. Bring Tammy in, put Ollie on the left, but NOT as a touchline-hugger – left forward, and Robert is your mother’s brother.

          You can’t give Pep’s City as an example of no strikers; they’re an anomaly and completely off the scale of where any other team is even close. As for Leicester, I can’t be arsed to look at the numbers, but Vardy’s been prolific for years, and just as he’s gone off the boil, the lad Iheanacho’s caught fire and scoring for fun pretty much every game. I think Maddison’s and Barnes’ stats will be very similar to Anwar’s and Bert’s, coming from midfield.

          Conclusion: we need at least one proper striker.

  2. Sidforever
    Sidforever May 13, 2021 at 9:38 pm .

    Badger

    As soon as Grealish came on we had an attacking outlet. I loved it where it took 3 Everton players to dispossess him.

    And that is the great news. I have no doubt our owners are looking to buy better quality attacking players to complement Grealish and this will create a tipping point. With additional quality they will be able to take advantage of the space Grealish creates and also make space for him.

    Bye the way – how good is Martinez. I am so impressed with him.

  3. badger123
    badger123 May 13, 2021 at 10:14 pm .

    Yes, Martinez is a great signing. He kept us in the game again.

    Additional quality?
    Oh yes, indeed. Most of the midfield become squad players and are replaced with better.
    Then we’ll be more capable of competing at top 6 level.

    I know many will say I’m not giving the likes of Traore and El Ghazi a chance, but I honestly don’t think there’s much more to come from them. They’re both good players when they’re firing, but useless when they’re not.
    And you can’t afford for anyone to be useless anytime.

    Minimum 2, preferably 3 mids/wide players and a striker and we’ll be thereabouts.
    £120-150 million, I guess and I reckon our owners will do it.
    Smith’s last chance then.

  4. Guest
    Guest May 13, 2021 at 11:17 pm .

    Get Abraham up top, put Watkins on the wing, it’s a no brainer.

    Watkins is a winger at heart and you can see it in his positional play, yes he’s done well but I think a proper striker is needed and Watkins will score plenty out wide and hes a good crosser too.

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 May 14, 2021 at 6:47 am .

      Guest, I’ve been banging on along the same lines for some time. Watkins looks a natural left sided player who can score goals from that position which he proved at Brentford. Maybe that’s Smith’s cunning plan 🙂

      As Sid implies we looked a different team when Grealish came on and on that 20 minutes he showed what we have missed over the last 12 games. We’re not a ‘one man’ team but our team is much reduced without him – unsurprisingly. Take Fernandes out of the Man Utd team and the same would apply.

      On Luiz – who’s become a bit of a marmite player – I feel he has all the signs of becoming a very good player. We forget he’s only 21, still raw and rash at times and needs to work on his decision making. Like all Brazilians he has lovely skill on the ball and an attacking mind set. I would love to see him playing an attacking mid field role.

      For me, forget wingers, we need a central goal scoring forward (OK a cf) who’s strong in the air, at least two in midfield (one top quality defensive), a left back (assuming Guilbert comes back to replace Elmo) and a central defender (to replace Engels).

      Who leaves? Elmo, Taylor, Engels, Heaton, Wesley and Traore (although I can’t see either going this summer). Davis and Ramsey out on loan. Not going to raise a lot of cash from that list so I hope our owners are flush with cash!

      Who have I forgotten?

  5. Guest
    Guest May 14, 2021 at 1:21 pm .

    I honestly do not believe we are far off having a very competitive team with a few key signings.

    We need a striker, no question, and Abraham would be my preferred choice, he loves the club you can tell, and he played far less games than Watkins last year and still scored 18 goals. He is tried and tested.

    No need for a right back as we should bring guilbert back, I’d even be tempted in some matches to play him and cash on the right wing, freeing him as an additional right winger which is where he started playing for forest, seems practical.

    We need a solid defensive midfielder to sit and protect the back four given Mcginn licence to get forward more, I’d bench Luiz and rotate with Mcginn.

    I like Berge at sheff utd, I’d even be tempted to try and get O’Connell from them too, class defender.

    1. Big Fat Ron
      Big Fat Ron May 14, 2021 at 10:05 pm .

      Glad someone agrees with me about the striker! Agree totally, guest!

  6. Bill Pearson..
    Bill Pearson.. May 14, 2021 at 5:57 pm .

    Letting you all know Villa Albion cup, youth match on now Bt 2 chance to see ko 6 o’clock .

  7. Bill Pearson..
    Bill Pearson.. May 14, 2021 at 5:59 pm .

    Smith’s at the game to see the young hopefuls. Coming out now.

  8. Bill Pearson..
    Bill Pearson.. May 14, 2021 at 6:26 pm .

    2 -1 20 minutes Chukie, Barry both extremely good goals.

  9. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 May 14, 2021 at 6:57 pm .

    Bill – Don’t think I have BT2 so keep us updated.

    Thanks mate

    1. Bill Pearson..
      Bill Pearson.. May 14, 2021 at 7:07 pm .

      Half time now Hitch, all three goals was scored by Villa bad Luck on the central defender it rebound into the net. Both managers in the ground and Jack’s in there as well, kicking off now .

      1. Hitchens60
        Hitchens60 May 14, 2021 at 7:15 pm .

        Good to see Smith & Grealish supporting the younger players with first team aspirations.

  10. Bill Pearson..
    Bill Pearson.. May 14, 2021 at 7:21 pm .

    That Chukwuemeka looks good number 10 bossing the game at the minute, Barry another screemer and unlucky not to score, that chukwuemeka would be perfect with Jack, similar player dribbles players and goes forward. .

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