The opportunity to reflect has done little to improve my views on the Albion debacle at Villa Park. Part of me wants to mark the defeat down as a seriously bad hangover from the collapse at Leicester. Another part wants to find evidence that West Brom were so vastly improved upon last season. Ultimately, we were just dismal from start to finish.
Dismal in our formation, lack of invention, inability to rectify the obvious and most disconcertingly, the increasingly unconvincing actions of Tim Sherwood.
We aren’t, in my view, yet in a “crisis”. Nor do we need to discuss nonsense like calling for his head. However, for all the promise shown in our early season football, it has resulted in very few points and a side that’s now completely lost momentum. We are firmly back at the drawing board.
Albion came to Villa Park, in my view, in marginally better shape than last season. The additions of Rondon and Evans most notably. Beyond that, it’s still got the Tony Pulis stamp all over it. Our set up and approach to the game played right into the cap wearing, whinge-bags hands.
Lescott, on his early performances, hasn’t improved us. Clark looks increasingly unfortunate to be the fall guy in a backline that still cannot defend. I was previously against the idea of Richards going to right back, but it’s becoming inevitable as each week passes. I’m yet to be convinced he’s a centre half, but I do think Micah would solve our hideous right back problem. Sherwood must also be desperate for the return on Jores Okore, if only to put pressure on the others.
We must also get our forward line sorted and settled. Frankly, it’s become a mess, incorporating either all or nothing into the mix to virtually no success. The baffling perseverance of Agbonlahor tells a worrying tale about Sherwood’s lack of faith in new signings Gestede and Ayew. Gabby looks the more likely to score of the three – and that sums it up. The new boys look frighteningly short of what we need to kick start our campaign. Libor Kozak’s exclusion not only baffles, given our lack of potency, but smacks of stubbornness to try logical available options.
Perhaps Sherwood will also dispense with the impotent three behind the striker of Gil, Grealish & Sinclair? On paper, this should yield assists. In reality, they are aiming at a man on his own in the Premier League & hoping he’ll score. It’s a sideways passing bonanza resulting in precisely nothing worth talking about. I don’t undertstand why we don’t make better use of Sinclair higher up the pitch and opt for width and supply via Gil & Grealish.
In short, I just don’t understand. I’m also unconvinced the players understand either.
My biggest worry is perhaps how our manager and team failed to react to the obvious against Albion. We were absolutely over-run in the midfield, exposed at the back and hopeless going forward for the full 90 minutes.
This is damaging the reputations of Westwood, Sanchez and co as they are left to contain the un-containable. Sacrificing one of Sinclair, Gil or Grealish for Veretout was the obvious at Leicester & West Brom…but alas…
Sherwood finds himself at a fork in the road after only 6 fixtures. We must start winning matches, by whatever means. I no longer care for the “trying hard” mantra or “good bunch of lads” sound bites. We were promised a season away from the horrors of a relegation battle; so far it seems the only thing that’s a certainly. It must change, sooner rather than later.
Blues – Do Not Lose.
Losing this fixture shouldn’t even be in our mindset. They are so far off our radar as to be Pluto in modern planetary science. They are nothing, a mere speck, in Small Heath, occasionally passed and rarely given a second glance.
It’s therefore typical that Villa should set ourselves up in a fashion as to cause us some worry that the unthinkable could actually occur. Our form coming into this is just abysmal. Ripe for a cup upset…surely not?
Defeat is just not an option. It would unnecessarily rock Sherwood’s tenure, put an immediate blot on our season and give the great unwashed reason to bleat about “the time they beat the Villa” for years to come. There’s nothing to be gained by cocking this up.
If it did happen, it would be unacceptable. Some Villa bosses never recover their credibility. And that’s not an understatement. Lose this fixture at your peril.
On the plus side Blues’ early season form has calmed in the last couple of weeks. They lost to Forest at home last Tuesday before a drab 1-1 draw away to Ipswich last Friday. Having watched a little of the latter game, I wasn’t greatly concerned at all. Dull bordering on sleep inducing football.
Blues threat comes in the form of goalscorer Clayton Donaldson & supporting striker Demarai Gray. Whilst they will need to be watched, you would like to think that the experience of Richards/Lescott can deal with them? Gulp.
Beyond that, Blues look decidedly average throughout the rest of the squad. If we can’t beat this travelling circus…then we really do need to re-evaluate things.
Widely publicised is that the game is likely to be far from a sell out. High ticket prices, TV coverage and tricky criteria to get tickets are all being blamed. This certainly needs looking at – but first and foremost we need a Villa win.