Bournemouth today as Villa Park sees its first Premier League action in three seasons, and most on the outside would say it’s a match-up between two teams looking to avoid the drop. Which is pretty much what 10-14 of the teams in the PL are trying to do—though some will obviously have a much easier time of it than others.
It all started off very well for Villa when Tyrone Mings found John McGinn with a beautiful ball over the top, and McGinn very cooly took his chance to put Villa ahead in the ninth minute. But a tired Villa eventually ended up shipping late goals after a lot of one-way traffic, and finished, fairly, on the wrong end of a 1-3 scoreline. Definitely a wake-up call to everyone involved, but not a disaster by any means.
So how will Villa step back onto to the big stage? Be wonderful to get something, and I know Dean will have been working the team all week with that in mind, but really it will be about the performance and character. Points will be a bonus. Which isn’t to say I don’t think we can come away with something. But it’s all going to be a bit faster, and every player in the other shirt is going to be of that much higher quality than we’ve been used to.
The extreme summer makeover, as we also all know, was going to happen whether we were promoted or not. The only difference is that promotion meant we had a lot more money to spend. The real question will be whether—after all that spending—we can score enough.
Despite some criticism of our business, the football’s looking good, and much more coherent than might be expected. There’ve been some lovely moves and passages of play. But that’s what you can get when you have a philosophy, good scouting, and only recruit players who fit.