The Derby result isn’t unsatisfactory, it’s a valuable away
point afterall, but it is understandable why some might have expected more. After-all, Villa have shown enough attacking
prowess against Rotherham as well as improved defensive solidity following the acquisitions
of Elphick & Chester.
However, it’s also important not to be blinkered to the
other side of the coin at the moment.
Centrally is the fact that there is much work still to be done to transform
the playing side of our club. What with
the squad in the midst of ongoing “transition” borne out of the need for fresh
faces and our need to acclimatise to the division, it’s no real surprise that
we aren’t firing on all cylinders. The
other fact is that this is a marathon promotion push & it’s certainly not the
time for panic stations.
The Championship was never going to be straightforward, the
leagues competitiveness for one thing has led in part to a mixed set of results
so far. Indeed, none of the games have
been remotely similar in style nor their results.
Whilst those results have only currently yielded five points
from a possible 12, it’s also worth noting that goalkeeping errors have led to two
goals, whilst misfortune has played a part in our not scoring more. Without wanting to sound like an apologist,
hitting the woodwork twice and a last ditch goalmouth clearance (to little or
no reply from the hosts) was the difference.
It’s not really all that more complicated.
It’s also interesting to note there are no 100% records in
the division even at this early stage.
It’s going to be a churn of teams initially, where hopefully Villa rise
through consistently improving once we have found our feet. What is important is that we look an improved
outfit, still learning certainly, but we are in a significantly healthier
position than could’ve been anticipated at the seasons start.
Derby, who we are constantly reminded as being the “nearly”
boys of The Championship, were a disappointment. They lacked adventure and operated with a
sense of wanting to contain Villa rather than take the game to us. Is this a worrying sign of things to
come? Teams looking to take the draw?
Whilst the latter is of some debate, I was encouraged by
what I saw from our developing side at Derby.
Whilst we certainly need to be more clinical upfront, and the purchase of
Mile Jedinak can only assist shoring us up, our ability to contain an
opposition reassured greatly.
Let’s not forget that this Villa squad was abject at best
last term, with a propensity to leak goals at will. Indeed, familiar faces who appeared against
Luton sufficiently reminded us of this fact.
Whilst The Villa Underground would love to be on 12 points,
we appear to be on the right track. Our intended
trajectory, for the first time in a long time, appears upward.
Generally we are playing well this weekend. We move the ball with greater confidence and
our instinct is now to get forward. We
are giving ourselves opportunities, stifling the opposition and carry a threat
from more than one area. This represents
progress & certainly a change of ethos.
Arguably we have yet to put together a comprehensive 90 minutes of “perfection”
(Rotherham was a walkover), but better stamina and a settled first eleven is
the only conceivable cure for that.
With an injury preventing Tshibola from featuring, Gestede
withdrawing early on and Visa restrictions outstanding for Jedinak, we were still
without a full side. Yet still, we came
through a tricky away fixture unscathed.
What we see now at Villa is early promise, tempered against
what have to become realistic expectations at this stage of the season.
5 points is a good platform to build upon against Bristol
City next weekend, with the benefit of another weeks conditioning, the availability
of Mile Jedinak to bolster our midfield and the suggestion of additional
recruits in the meantime, we should feel encouraged if nothing else.
How often has that been the case in the last 5 years?
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