Well, what is there to say this time?
As we observed Steve Bruce getting soaked on the touchline at Griffin Park, it wasn’t hard to read his body language. He looked as aghast as the rest of us, watching one of worst away performances in recent memory play out.
Villa have been abysmal away from home for too long, but this debacle, was up there with the best of them.
Bruce was honest and apologetic in his post match press conference; but then he had to be. It was an embarrassment.
On the back of renewed optimism, staggering financial risk and bold statements from the owner, this was the response from the players.
In his brief tenure, it’s not the first time Bruce has rocked awkwardly in front of the TV cameras, apologising on behalf of the Villa squad. It would not be advisable for it to become a regular occurrence.
A 3-0 away defeat to Brentford underlines the scale of the task at hand and just how far apart our aspirations and capability really are.
There’s little point clinging to the notion of “what if” Kodjia has slotted home on 9 minutes. He didn’t, he probably should have and we shall never know if that would have had a bearing on what came next.
The fact is that we rapidly lost our way in the game, lost control and never looked able to impose ourselves back upon the fixture.
Brentford, by contrast, looked completely at ease. Far from a team that had won just once in the league at home since September (and that was against Burton).
We were swept aside as our new look midfield appeared to have been prepared for the game by those whom they had replaced. Not a great opening night by any means.
Bjarnason never got to grips with the pace. Hourihane and Lansbury were over-run.
The defence was afforded limited protection from either flank, with Green & Adomah leaving gaping holes. For all their positive forays downfield, defending when the times requires it is a must.
Both fullbacks, Hutton & Amavi endured torrid times.
Repeatedly targeted to great effect by Brentford, it was a route of continuous success. Amavi stood out particularly and looks destined to a justified period out of the starting line up.
Football is curious for how a player’s stock can rise and fall; it will be intriguing to see if the Frenchman’s form returns now a move to Marseille cannot occur until at least the summer.
Chester & Baker were desperate figures, employed in the task of chasing shadows. The Bees movement of the ball through the midfield and between the defence caused repeated uncontainable chaos.
The opener saw Chester lured out of position, the runner stole the space and neatly chipped a finish over the advancing Johnstone.
The second Brentford goal came from an unopposed cross. Expertly knocked in and dispatched into the corner of the net from the boot of the onrushing Bees player. Cue pointing and head shaking amongst the Villa players.
It could have been much worse.
Chester was fortunate when casual in the Villa penalty area, seeing the ball pinched as he dallied.
We then held our breath as another unchecked run from deep resulted in a fine effort clip the top of the crossbar.
It’s been a whilst since we have been so grateful for the half time whistle. Whilst Brentford are a decent outfit, few foresaw such a rampant mauling at their hands.
The second half drew little in the way of imagination or endeavour from the new look side.
Bruce again looked on, baffled by the lack of ingenuity, craft or tempo to our play. The system looked ill conceived and was never rectified. The subs, came too little and certainly too late. Whilst the game was lost, the introduction of Bacuna and Grealish was ineffectual at best.
Brentford always looked a threat and countered quickly after Kodjia, limited all evening, was over-powered.
The break saw the defence split in half, with the third goal coolly slotted home.
And with that, the game was essentially done and dusted.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but then, did they have to re-lay the foundations twice in six months?
It was an alarming display for so many reasons. Almost countless.
We desperately need to change the agenda at Aston Villa to somehow bury the losing mentality. Further, our inability to win football matches away from home defies logic and all probability. There is something wrong though and it’s hurting us time and time again.
This is the latest “transition” period that we find ourselves in and the team will need time to gel, settle and form its own narrative.
However, in the confines of a single match, it cannot be overlooked how many performed so poorly. Collectively, the team were an absolute shambles. For whatever reason they seemed unable to do their jobs or simply didn’t follow the instructions given.
The fact is that we could neither cope nor respond to Brentford’s advances. Whilst there attacks were effective, we did absolutely nothing to counter the threat.
And what about how impotent we were going forward? Explain that?
Sooner or later, we have to stop analysing. The curtain has to come down on sombre apologies from whoever is in front of the camera on a given week.
The tone must change & the results with it.
>> Match Ratings: Every Villa player rated following the 3-0 defeat at Brentford <<