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.
I’ve seen Villa mocked a bit for their celebrations following the dramatic shootout victory at The Hawthorns. But when you think of all that’s happened, all that the players and supporters have been through, you can’t begrudge them one bit. It was a feat worth celebrating. A moment worth cherishing. No, we didn’t win any silverware, didn’t claim promotion. But what we did celebrate on the night was long overdue.
It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but Aston Villa found a way through Albion’s bus-park to gain a critical 2-1 advantage in leg one of the playoff semifinal. Another fightback, and a return to winning ways in a game that counted. This team doesn’t have much quit in it. In days past, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see Villa walk away on the wrong end of an 0-1 scoreline.
Here we are again, three games between another season in the Championship or a return to the big stage. And if Villa want it enough and go play like it, I’d not bet against them.
The players are buzzing after winning 10 in a row and securing a playoff spot. But now we’re being seen in the press as an unstoppable force. Moved from underdogs to favorites. And that’s now the challenge Villa, and Dean Smith, face going forward.