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.
Villa are now 0-2 to start life back in the Premier League, and some are starting to worry a bit following the home defeat to Bournemouth. But to be fair, there are more who aren’t. Who’s right? Maybe everyone. Fact is, whatever the optimism everyone felt during the Summer of Spending, Villa were always facing a tough test.
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.