So ok, it was fair of Dean Smith to say that the performance wasn’t great and that he expects better. But blimey, did we need those points?!
3 points v Bolton, we didn’t make it easy at times and did invite pressure, but even so, a win is a win and there is still plenty for Dean and his backroom staff to build on. The points just push us back upward and stop the worries of being pulled into a relegation battle.
Can they improve? Of course, they can and they will have to, otherwise I can’t see Dean Smith messing around, he’ll have them out of Villa Park.
But at least there are positive signs, they are keeping the ball a little better, they are being told to push out quickly instead of what previous managers have done, set us to be defensive, keep the back-line deep and to constantly invite pressure on ourselves.
I think there were a few stand out performances and a few that would be very easy to forget. The latter need to wake up to the new era.
A nod to Steve Bruce for bringing us John McGinn, the guy is a freak (!) The engine on him is just unbelievable, he covers every blade of grass twice over during games. I think Tammy Abraham puts in a shift, it isn’t quite clicking yet but I have a feeling it will. Axel Tuanzebe is also starting to look the part now he is being played in his correct position (although a friend of mine – yes, I have them, don’t sound so surprised disagrees and says he was mainly a defensive midfielder for Manchester United). James Chester popped up with some important interceptions and had two goals, one disallowed, also during the game. And Alan Hutton, he also made some very important last gasp interceptions, otherwise – as we did give the ball away cheaply at times – we could have easily blown the 3 points and ended up with a very unacceptable result.
And the keeper? Well, at times Orjan Nyland flaps, but also during the game he pulled off a few great reflex saves. Not sure how he’ll develop – as he is 28 and near the finished product – but with the new Villa goalkeeping coach now in situ, he might just well do fine for us. Hard to argue with a clean sheet isn’t it?
And Jack Grealish? Delighted for him, he knows he’s not been at his game this season but he has been improving and now he has an all-important goal, maybe that will open the floodgates for him?
And onto your ratings. Give it a go and let us know what you thought of each player: