Date: 27th January 2017 at 4:36pm
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Golden opportunity squandered but ambition still intact..

Golden opportunity squandered but ambition still intact..

At half-time it looked like Villa were well on their way to narrowing the gap between themselves and a play-off place to a mere seven points. The miracle looked very much at hand and things were looking as rosy as the fans’ faces. The new guy Henri Lansbury had made an excellent contribution and the whole team had produced the sort of performance the fans had been gagging for. Gabby had nearly scored and Adomah had scored twice. The referee had been generous too. It was all going great. Then on the hour Preston ran through Villa like a dose of salts, there was a bit of Keystone Cops defending, and Simon Grayson’s team were back in the game. A carbon-copy of Spurs’ first goal in the FA Cup gave Preston a share of the points. No pressure on the ball and the same marking in the box. It was the very definition of a game of two halves and a night of ten pints needed to forget it.

So it wasn’t surprising that there were a lot of disappointed Villans come Saturday night. So much so that it was very difficult to take much consolation in the fact that Villa had reduced their play-offs deficit by a point. Good news quickly followed with the announcement that Villa had signed a right-back in the form of prodigy James Bree who at the age of 19 has already made 50 appearances for Barnsley, and will certainly add to Villa’s options on their problematic right flank. Then before we could gather our thoughts on that signing, Villa announced the arrival of Birkir Bjarnason to add more goal-power to Villa’s deficient midfield. Even better news was to follow when Villa completed their asset-stripping of Barnsley by signing their star of the County Cork, in midfield maestro Conor Hourihane, who has been on quite a few Villans’ wish-list for a while now.

It has been an amazing week and Villa’s squad definitely has the look of possessing the numbers as well as the quality, and with Jonathan Kodjia on his way back from the African Cup of Nations, it is just a case of whether Bruce can construct a team from his multiple options, capable of going on a winning streak. It is very much a shame that Ross McCormack has excluded himself from Bruce’s options because even though he hasn’t lived up his price tag, he shows a lot of quality even when he’s not scoring. Whether his lack of goals has something to do with his failure to get out of bed in the morning, or over his garden wall we are not to know, but as Lineker used to say, there is nothing a striker can do to turn his game around but score and scoring is very difficult. Whatever his problems, whether personal, football, or domestic, I hope he solves them.

With Villa’s game against Bristol City postponed this weekend due to their FA Cup trip to Burnley, Villa’s signings will enjoy a few extra days to get to know their new colleagues and Bruce should have time enough to assess his new charges and get an idea what his best starting eleven might be for Tuesday night’s visit by Brentford. Brentford’s one win in six (a post-Rowett rout at Birmingham) puts their current form a little behind Villa’s two wins in six but points-wise there is only three in it. There will be a huge amount riding on this game, not least of which will be the hopes and expectations of the Villa fans, which will be sky-high after this week’s acquisitions. Hopefully Kodjia will not have picked up any injuries while away and Bruce’s team can show some measurable improvements to inspire the fans and justify Dr Xia’s further investment. Anything less and I think the fans will start to get restless.

Keep the faith!

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