I didn’t enjoy Sunday at all. But I wasn’t necessarily surprised. The team is reverting to norm. You can have all the expectations you like, but some are more reasonable than others. The squad is the squad, and despite pressure from above to achieve more now, Villa are still mid-table quality. You can tweak the system a bit, set different standards, emphasize different things, but you’re still working with the same clay.
Aston Villa away to promoted Watford on opening day, and finding themselves on the wrong side of a 3-2 scoreline. It was an underwhelming start to the season that had Dean Smith fuming at halftime, and a lot of Villans shaking their heads. As I’d guessed, Dean went with his usual 4-2-3-1, which wasn’t the worst idea. The more familiarity the better for starting out after so much change and a disjointed preseason. However, the team sheet did surprise me a bit with Ashley Young on the left flank and El Ghazi wide right.
No surprise in Ings up top, or Buendia at 10. No surprises in McGinn and Nakamba behind. So what happened?
If Villa are going to find ways to slow the traffic and relieve pressure, they have to hold the ball better. They have to get upfield and settle more, not just counter full tilt and go right back to defending because we simply do not have a deadly striker to make those breakouts count.
The first home match of the 2018-19 campaign saw the Villa once again come from behind, this time eking out 3-2 result at the expense of visiting Wigan, who must’ve been gutted to to lose at the death. And once again for Villa, no recognized striker was on the score sheet. Still, two games, six points. Not bad.
There are a lot of layers here, so let’s start by saying I’m not looking to go overboard. It’s easy to do, especially at such a critical juncture for the club. So let’s just say I’m happy Jack Grealish is staying. The kid is Villa enough to stick with the side when it might go against his best interests, and how many times have we seen that over the last decade?