Date: 24th September 2018 at 12:46pm
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A welcome return to writing for Vital Villa for Custard Cream:

‘Aston Villa – Unprepared’

When the marketing execs decided to remove the club moto ‘Prepared’ off the badge a few years ago, they really should have realised that the usual thing of making sure the overall image being sent out is consistent wasn’t relevant in this case. This club hasn’t been prepared for anything in years, so why should we be surprised that the manager this week thought the player most likely to give us problems in this week’s game was actually suspended?

There was a stunning lack of preparation for the transfer window in the Summer, too. OK, we didn’t have a clue what was going to happen and things look very, very grim at one point but surely the club (including the manager) realised half the team were on loan and it’d be a good idea to have targets/a plan for the scenario where a budget was available and where one wasn’t? The recruitment over the summer was jumbled, a mess – bringing in two ‘keepers for some reason (I’m guessing that reason is Moriera was brought in over Bruce’s head and he’s not considering him because of that because it can’t be because of Nyland’s stunning ability), even more wingers and central midfielders and a striker when the squad was top heavy already. If anything could demonstrate the lack of any kind of plan it would be the treatment of Albert Adomah who was being pushed to sign for Middlesbrough, which after falling through, gets put straight into the first team as if it had never happened and we wanted to keep him.

The transfer activity under Bruce has resembled a kid in a sweet shop. Even back two years ago. Need a central midfielder? I’ll have Hourihane AND Lansbury even though I only need one and the essentially play in the same position. Yeah, and I’ll buy Whelan in the next window too. Goalkeepers? Yeah I’ll have two of them. There’s no planning, no understanding on putting a team together. It feels like they just look at them as individuals.

I’m the biggest hypocrite going. When it looked like the club was going bust I was desperate to keep Bruce. Him leaving at that time would have been a disaster and it felt like whatever happened, he’d give us a good chance of staying in the division. I suppose we can still say we’ll be in this division next year because of him…..

That’s if the EFL don’t give us some kind of points tally reduction for failing FFP of course. It’s strange how they are talking about changing the rules on FFP halfway through this season – let alone through the three year periods that it is supposed to apply to. What’s even stranger though, is that the main people who caused this issue – the CEO at the time Keith Wyness and owner Tony Xia – are now either no longer employed or have no say in running the club. So the club, it’s employees and its fans are the ones that suffer from any action taken by the EFL – not the people that broke the rules in the first place. How fair is that?

I feel slightly sorry for Steve Bruce, to be honest. We seem to have had a number of refereeing decisions early on that affected the game completely – certainly the two games back-to-back where a clear penalty should have been given but wasn’t, followed by a clear red card which wasn’t given to a player who later scored in the game and was retrospectively banned as if that would have helped us – would have meant an extra four points right there.

Having said that – I came across this website yesterday – – if things get really bad we could all spend £9 to send a potato to Bodymoor Heath with ‘LEAVE’ emblazoned on it.

Even with Bruce out of the picture, I’m not sure our fortunes will improve. Certainly not to the level we need them to. Any new manager will be stuck with a top heavy squad with one central defender and a new goalkeeper who has let in 13 of the 33 shots on target against him. That’s 39%, percentage fans. This can’t be remedied until January at the earliest. With FFP looming over us perhaps even later. And no matter what you have on the rest of the pitch, when you have someone between the sticks who lets in over one goal for every three shots on target, you’ve got no hope. Especially when our new CEO is the one that that thought appointing Roy Hodgson was a good idea for Liverpool. We’d probably end up with David Moyes knowing our luck….

I know the new owners wanted to make a statement of intent by keeping Grealish, but how much of a mistake was that? He’s done nothing this season, doesn’t score goals and rarely sets them up. £40million? You can see with Levy baulked. He’d be the first one I’d drop. All that talk of a new contract has gone quiet too. Perhaps he’s not as happy to stay here as he protested.

Is it any wonder we are struggling against FFP when we refuse to sell those like Grealish despite bringing in three more who can play where he does? Any team that buys the likes of McCormack, Lansbury and Hogan then dumps them into a bomb squad six months after signing them to then go and make the same mistakes again needs looking at.

And finally….our home kit. I know everyone loves it. It’s a nice looking kit. It’s just not a Villa kit. It hasn’t got blue sleeves and no matter how pretty the thing is, if it doesn’t have that then it’s not right.

By Custard Cream

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