The saying goes something to the effect of; “the draw felt like a defeat”.
Whilst it wasn’t a last gasp equaliser, the draw at home to Preston underlined being a modern Villa supporter.
One moment you’re thinking ludicrous things like “we’ve turned a corner!”
The next….you’re wondering how we can possibly contrive to balls another game up.
The first half couldn’t have been a more one side affair. Villa cruised into a 2-0 lead, looked potent throughout and the visitors barely crossed the half-way line. We should have been out of sight.
The second 45 summed up our troubles and why there is a mammoth task ahead of Steve Bruce.
Villa were unable to keep a tight grip on the game, too many familiar faces went missing and as soon as that first Preston goal went in, we all knew what would happen.
We’re as fragile as we are predictable.
We also remain a football club haunted by years of accepting mediocre performances. It’s another that perhaps for some its one to be shrugged off.
But such results will not see us make any progress. Promotion, in the shape we’re currently in? Forget it.
Are we really content though watching a season get lost to ineptitude?
Few thought that The Championship would be easy or a given that we would return to the Premier League at the first attempt.
However, even fewer thought we would be pondering frighteningly similar problems as last season. Dr Tony’s ambitions and public relations drive currently stand in contrast to the reality of where we are at.
The individual match ratings tell a story, but there were key moments in the game which should never have happened.
- Hutton’s inexplicable positioning for the opening Preston goal, undoing an otherwise solid performance.
- Why was Henri Lansbury kept on the field until physically unable to move?
- When is Jack Grealish’s contribution going to be scrutinised? Why does he persistently slow the play? How many critical yet often straightforward passes does he fail to make?
- Why are we still so disorganised defending set pieces?
- Are we going to be brave enough and admit we probably need a left back to challenge Amavi?
- Why did we go so deep despite being in complete control of a game?
- How does Green miss a free header and gaping goal in the first half?
- How does the Preston player stay on the field for a dangerous lunge?
It was all too familiar.
From the casual overplaying of Jack Grealish to the wayward passing from Amavi.
Whilst the January transfer window is important to us; can it sufficiently rectify rudimentary footballing problems shared across many within the squad?
SAME OLD PROBLEMS
And…how is it that we are still depending upon the faces who have consistently let us down?
Hutton, Bacuna, Westwood & Gabby have traded off a being “triers” forever. We all know people who turn up at work, do long hours but ultimately they’re still crap at their jobs.
But, what do they actually do for Aston Villa? How do they improve us? And do we seriously have to look much further when scratching our heads at our lack of progress in the league?
That lack of progress is, after-all, startling.
Yes, there was significant investment in the summer. However, that’s also starting to look like history repeating itself.
We are already debating possibly having wasted large sums of money: Ross McCormack, owing to his conduct, is writing his own Villa obituary as we speak.
This is a club with ingrained and repeated disciplinary problems, highlighted previously by the off-field antics of Agbonlahor and Grealish. It’s deeply concerning that faces brought in to change the agenda, should already reach the stage where Bruce has to publicly out their behaviour.
Preston likely boarded the team bus delighted with their handywork. They were, after-all, dead and buried at half time. Or they should have been.
You see, we’ve had enough lessons already this season to lead you to think we might learn.
Preston showed an intent to have a go at us, despite all that had gone before just 45 minutes earlier. They tried, whatever means they could, to take the game to us. I struggle to recall the last time a Villa side retrieved a 2 goal deficit.
It’s a glaring lack of guile.
Walking away we naturally try to keep it in the context of one game.
However, there’s no getting away from the reality that this is déjà vu, more often that not week after week. Indeed, the aside from the first 45 minutes against Preston, the performances against Spurs, Cardiff and Wolves show the broader challenges.
Bruce now has valuable extra preparation on the training ground due to the postponement of the Bristol City game.
This has to be put to good use, because at times, it’s hard to see what is pre-rehearsed.
Additionally this transfer window has to be used to push through fresh faces. Not ideal at all. January is the worst time to do it, but we still have the bad habits of our 5+ years of failure casting a shadow over any aspirations we hold.
It’s time to shelve the false hope for failed players, hold those wearing the shirt to account (constructively) and ask the difficult questions as our season drifts towards mediocrity.