We’ll soon see what Smith’s sacking and the Gerrard effect will have on the players. There’s not been a lot of time to take new things on board or evaluate players, so one assumes this will be a work in progress.
We’ve all gone out and heard about a narrow 4-3-3. Forcing attacking play wide. Wide forwards tucked in and driving the channels, fullbacks overlapping for width. Wide midfielders tasked with pressing fullbacks, and a back line that supports attacking play. A ‘solid’ defense. Now, apart from the nominal distribution of players, I’m not seeing a huge difference in philosophy from the way Smith wanted Villa play. Perhaps the biggest difference will be that Gerrard can put a rocket up them and has no loyalties.
The international break felt like a lifetime, but they always do. Sadly, that wasn’t enough to see Bailey fully fit, and of course Traoré picked up a quad injury himself with Burkina Faso. So, it’s 3-5-2 again for visiting Wolves, which will probably send some into a frenzy.
In December of 2009, just shy of 12 years ago, Villa beat United 1-0 at Old Trafford. Since then, they’ve managed just four draws. In the previous decade? Three draws. One win in the last 45. Not a lot to hang your hat on. Probabilistically, though, that’s a reason for optimism.
Short answer, it might. Given the differences in squad depth and fitness, Villa will inevitably field a weaker side than the one that lost to Chelsea 0-3 just over a week ago. Smith has said all the right things about the quality available to both sides, and how they both want to win and progress. But it’s clear that Villa will have one hand tied behind their back.