Transfer talk never completely goes away, but of course it’s now ramping up to the annual summer frenzy. For Villa, we’re hearing a couple different things about needs, spend, and a ‘precise’ plan. So let’s dive in a little, and also try to get in Compass’s head(s).
As Dean Smith plays out these final matches, it’s clear he’s taking a long look at what he’s got and basically auditioning the squad in advance of the summer. I’m not expecting him to unearth any surprises, as I’m pretty sure they know what they’ve got. But, you keep faith with your players by giving them every chance to finish what they started. And there’ll be some big decisions to make. It’s a tricky moment. Stalwarts and ever-presents may becomes substitutes in three months.
Having announced the team sheet for today’s encounter, Smith is sticking with the 3-4-3 that’s seen us beat Burnley and contain Leicester. Though results were generally favorable yesterday, Watford’s resurgence continued earlier today, and their 3-0 victory over Bournemouth sees Villa come into the match having dropped to 18th, one point behind. Which is to say, the draw that no pundit is predicting would be a very nice point to pick up.
The Foxes have torn us apart once already, and now we get two extra rounds with them. With points to play for at the weekend, I hate to see such a challenging cup-tie midweek. Be nice if it were Everton, for example. Or Bolton. But it is what it is.
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.