Villa managed to record a vital, but costly, away win at Turf Moor on New Year’s Day, outlasting Burnley 1-2. The match was notable not only for getting us back out of the drop zone and seeing a new formation from Dean Smith, but also sadly for season-ending injuries to Wesley and Tom Heaton. What already looked to be an extremely important window suddenly became even more so.
Villa’s stretch of matches against fellow cellar dwellers didn’t get off to such a great start Saturday, but the side rebounded on Boxing Day, securing a crucial three points against visiting Norwich with a 1-0 victory.
Bottom line: I’m not a happy clapper. You’ve seen me criticize plenty. And I don’t want to exonerate Smith if he doesn’t deserve it. This week, like last, I’m pointing my finger straight at the players for shrinking and somewhat losing their heads. I like that they keep trying to attack. That’s what we wanted, attacking football, and that’s what we’ve got—a side built to attack. But you can be smarter about it. And you can’t sink back.
I don’t know what’s best for the club at the moment. But I ask Dr. Xia to be honest with himself and honest with the supporters. He cannot dally. He needs to come out acting as decisively as he can at each juncture if he’s to remain in charge. And if he can’t do that, he has to admit that he’s not the man to clean up after himself.
Part one of writer Jay Chalifour’s annual Aston Villa Squad Assessment.