Player Ratings: Unacceptable Villa Park display see’s Barnsley stroll to victory.

Aston Villa Barnsley

BARNSLEY DEFEAT

Just when you thought that you couldn’t be more annoyed with the way that our once great club plays, they serve up another monstrosity.

It’s increasingly difficult to sum up the feelings or the creeping concern for the trajectory the club is suddenly taking.

Whilst we might have harboured outside hopes of a playoff push as recently as Boxing day, these have now been replaced with the very real threat of a relegation battle.

There is also the foul stench of last year repeating itself, inexplicably, before our eyes.

Despite the outrageous spending and a plethora of new faces; we look incapable in every respect.

The latest defeat to Barnsley also saw barely 26,000 muster the effort to attend Villa Park.  A statement in itself as to quite how poor the football offering has been for over 5 years.

Empty seats Villa park

This performance though, served nothing other than to reinforce the views of those who choose to stay away.

With this latest defeat, Bruce now finds himself on the precipice of his tenure turning toxic.  It will be intriguing to see how long the outwardly ambitious yet unrestrained owner Tony Xia affords his second managerial appointment.  Especially as an expensively assembled squad, lurches precariously close an unthinkable trapdoor to the unknown.

BARNSLEY:RATINGS

Johnstone (4)

Now reaching the goalkeeping accolade of striking fear into the heart of his own defence.  Johnstone appears to be major clanger dropped in the transfer window.  Bruce may have to swallow his pride and remove the loanee youngster from the firing line…but the question is…for who?  Should have done more for the second Barnsley goal tonight – and now inspires little or no confidence between the sticks.

Hutton (6) (Sub off 73 mins)

Arguably Hutton’s best performance in recent times, which bizarrely saw him removed with 15 minutes remaining.  Whilst there was more than one occasion in the first and second half where his defensive positioning came into question, he drove us forward at every opportunity.  The fact that any drive or attempts to carry the ball should come from right back are alarming, but Hutton at least attempted to take the game to Barnsley.

Bjarnason (3) (Sub on 73 mins)

An ineffective cameo from the midfielder who has shown very little to inspire much hope to date.

Chester (5)

A disappointing performance from the Captain who had little say or contribute in any of the 3 goals conceded.  Chester has gone off the boil [like so many] recently and was guilty of conceding a poor free kick which lead to the third.

Baker (3)

A poor defensive header which lead to Amavi being involved in conceding the penalty and unable to prevent the second Barnsley goal.  A very poor defensive display.

Amavi (3)

Whilst many rejoiced at the Frenchman’s return it was soon overshadowed with the conceding of a penalty.  Amavi just doesn’t look nearly competent in the fullback role and was over-run all evening.  Equally, when on the ball and looking to be more offensive, the lack of time and options negates much positive happening.  A constant source of joy for Barnsley and a mare of a performance on his return to the side.

Lansbury (6) (Sub off 73 mins)

Hard-working, but ever-so deep once again.  Lansbury appears to have all of the composure we need for a ball player, but remains anchored to a position barely outside of our own final third.  This restricts him being able to dictate anything happening much further up the pitch.  Removed to loud boos from the home crowd, furious at the decision to substitute him.

Green (5) (Sub on 73 mins)

The lively winger showed more directness, desire and promise in 20 minutes than Grealish has in countless performances.  Green appears to have something about him, if only he were afforded 90 minutes to show it.

Hourihane (4)

Struggled to make any impression against his former club.  It’s extremely early days in his Aston Villa career, but we desperately need to see some of the player who was much lauded at Barnsley.  Hourihane was fortunate to escape a booking or worse for a dangerous first half challenge, in an otherwise forgettable appearance.

Adomah (4)

Adomah ran around a lot, but to little or no effect.  There is trickery, pace and stamina in abundance, but we see this so inconsistently of late that many might wonder what all the hype is about.  Hit the first man repeatedly or ran into trouble all evening.

Grealish (2) (Sub off 76 mins)

Aside from a solitary pass to Hogan in the second half, Grealish contributed nothing to the cause.  Increasingly opinion is shifting to the negative for the young midfielder who cuts an awfully casual and limited footballer in a team game.  So many 50/50’s were shirked, so few telling passes made and yet more reasons why any successful Aston Villa side may yet be built without him in mind.

Bacuna (Sub on 76 mins)

Another pointless substitute appearance.

Kodjia (4)

Pulled a goal back late in the 1st half but game by game his lack of team spirit comes in for greater scrutiny.  This latest showing underlined the good and bad of the striker.  The good is that he can win and hold the ball.  The bad, is that he persistently holds the ball for too long or fails to make the simple/obvious pass.  Hogan is the latest player to suffer and one wonders if Kodjia was partly to blame for McCormacks drought.  There were at least 3 occasions in the second half where goalscoring chances for others were overlooked by Kodjia in favour of his own solitary game.  Bruce may have a difficult call with Kodjia in time.

Hogan (4)

Largely excluded from the game for long spells and confined to occasional runs when the ball was fed, often hopefully.  Only real chance was a chased through ball from Grealish; at best marked down as a half opening.  Similarly to the Ipswich game, there were a couple of poor touches when the ball did arrive though.  Headed wide in the first half, although offside.  Such was his fleeting involvement or service, you would be hard pressed to provide a review of any real note.