After a very listless period from Boxing Day onwards, which saw us slide perilously close towards the Championship relegation battle, the last week has seen a welcome return to form. Saturday’s victory over Rotherham forms part of the recovery.
It hasn’t always been pretty [think Derby], but that’s increasingly beside the point.
The fact is that we have secured 9 points from our last 3 games. It is the type of run that we should have been putting together much earlier in the season, but we never looked like managing it. Now though, the players know that its do-able.
If we are to get out of this league next term, 3,4 & 5 game winning runs have to become the norm. This will entail needing to be dominant, professional but also winning ugly where necessary.
Whilst the away win to strugglers wasn’t always easy on the eye, the job was done professionally, whilst also contending with a number of pre-match & in game injuries.
The other positives are that whilst the hosts have the worst defence in the league, we actually went at then. How many times in recent seasons have we been the side to play a side back into form or provide a “shock” victory to?
If there was one thing typical is was that we took our time in getting ahead and should have seen the game out sooner. However, in truth, the game rarely looked in doubt. Our nervousness is often borne out of countless games where we have thrown away an advantage.
It’s the change in tone and mood that is as important as anything else. Particularly looking forward to next season, a winning mentality takes time to embed itself, especially when the expectation (away from Villa Park certainly) is that we will simply roll over.
The win at the ambitiously named New York Stadium is just our third away from home this term. You need look no further as to why we couldn’t mount a promotion charge than here.
It’s another clean sheet – our third in a row – and should go some way towards changing the narrative on rookie loan keeper Sam Johnstone. Whilst prone to indecision at times, he made a crucial save with the game at 1-0. A singular important moment, easily overlooked.
Another goal for Jonathan Kodjia, that’s 6 in 11 for him, whilst coming out of a period of indifferent form, one can hardly moan. The message about playing more for the team also appears to be getting through week on week.
A rise back up to 13th is a positive, a reflection of this terms under-achivement in part, but given we were genuinely languishing 4 games ago, improvement.
Whilst a huge leap of imagination, 3 further successive wins has the potential to provide food for thought for those immediately above us. The playoffs are about as likely as Messi joining us on a free, but stranger things have happened in football.
It will be interesting to see how we fare against better opposition (with respect to Rotherham), as we face a tricky away game at Huddersfield followed up by a home clash to Sheffield Wednesday.
We have consistently faltered when faced with tests against promotion chasing sides in the division, with no wins registered against Newcastle, Leeds, Wednesday or Brighton. This is an ideal opportunity to test our resolve and also get an insight into our future ambitions.
All in all a good solid performance, 3 valuable points and a positive change of tone to take into the next game.
Up The Villa (once more).
But you don’t and then you come under the cosh and then of course you see the make up of it.
You say it’s not easy, so roll your sleeves up and do the basics like keeping a clean sheet, defending as if you mean to.
I thought in the last week or so we’ve done that.
But listen, with our support and everything, I keep saying it week in and week out, we will get a team that is capable of mounting a challenge.
That’s got to be the remit for us all because of the history and tradition of our club