With last night’s defeat to Brentford, it’s certainly sparked some age old discussions amongst Aston Villa fans. Whether it’s the real quality of the team and the names we should be able to boast, or the managerial merry-go-round, it’s all open for debate and opinions are wildly different.
With a lot of the chat being about the future, and what sort of side head coach Dean Smith will want to work with (when you look at his style of play elsewhere and sides that actually work hard for each other), there was a good post from Tierney in the Vital Villa Forum Match Thread.
We worked out afterwards that only four of that starting XI could be with us next season (Albert Adomah, Conor Hourihane, Lovre Kalinic & John McGinn). The squad is inevitably going to face an overhaul. The issue is, will we replace those departing with genuinely better players who can cope playing for AVFC.
Loans ending: Tammy Abraham, Tom Carroll, Ahmed El Ghazi, Kortney Hause, Tyrone Mings & Axel Tuanzebe.
Out of contract: Mark Bunn, Ritchie De Laet, Tommy Elphick, Alan Hutton, Mile Jedinak, Jordan Lyden, Micah Richards, Jed Steer & Glenn Whelan (plus Corey Blackett-Taylor, Mitch Clark, Harry McKirdy, Kelsey Mooney, Callum O’Hare & Easah Suliman).
Regarding the game, it was just so insipid. As much as Hause looked like a rabbit in headlights (particularly first half) and Hutton demonstrating last season was the exception rather than the norm, I felt the diamond of Kalinic, Elphick, Mings and Whelan did well considering the onslaught of pressure we faced.
People say it was McGinn’s worse game; I thought he was off it last Friday more. Last night he did pick the ball up and drive on occasions. What lets him down is his distribution, particularly in the final third where all too often he makes the wrong decision.
My current concern is how we change things. Smith is reverting to MO’N times when the starting XI was predictable and we made one change all game (Heskey for Carew at 80mins), in that around the hour mark both wingers get replaced. Actually, one of our most productive spells in the game was the 5-10mins at the end when Kodjia actually got to play up top and we went 4-4-2. Alas, I imagine the legs don’t exist in midfield to do this from the off.
Regarding the wingers, a friend was spot on pre-match. The way you go into a club and look to appear attacking and no longer defensive is to push your wingers higher. That’s what Smith did and we reaped the rewards. The problem now is club’s know this, get in behind them and the poor full-backs are exposed. Even then, El Ghazi last night twice gave the ball away in our third, showed no effort to recover it and subsequently received rightful rollockings from Elphick (first half; he ignored McGinn) and Mings (second half).
Going back to formations, Brentford were set up as a 3-4-3; is that what Smith played there? It works as they play quick neat triangles around the opposition. When you think it was there 2 in the middle against our 3, it’s poor we allowed this to happen and furthermore, we couldn’t look after it ourselves when in possession. Also, Smith clearly has some nous how to use this squad (whether you permit if it is his or not; personally it isn’t an excuse I buy), we wouldn’t have performed so admirably at Derby and Boro otherwise.
Alas, this post probably leaves even more questions than answers, but if nothing else, it was nice being on a terrace again…