Thoughts and issues regarding the past and present of a great football club by "The Chronicler".

Monday, 18 February 2019

Ouch: Villa Well and Truly Baggied. But...

Well, we did not beat Albion, did we? I thought we would probably come back from our recent poor downturn and produce the spirit to edge this game, but it was not to be, particularly after Abraham missed his early gilt-edged chance. And Johnstone showing why we liked his alert keeping so much before he came to the end of his loan with us. From then on, after not looking bad for 30 minutes, we seemed to go into a bit of self-doubt and let in the Albyun. The earlier injury to Kalinic probably didn't help and he was replaced at the break.

And, I have to say this, why did we need to go out and bring in all these keepers when we've had Steer all along? Whenever I've seen him play, I haven't seen much to fault him.

So this hiatus in Villa's history (that really started in 2010) seems to go on and on and...

But let's wait awhile. The injury list of Jack, Axel, Chester, Carroll and Lansbury (and also previously to Jedinak, Davis and Green), combined with the perceived unreadiness of O'Hare, Bree and others to really stamp their mark in the first-team (hence why they've been shipped out, to get an experience of real football), is bound to hamper any team's ability to make progress. And now McGinn will be suspended for two matches.

What we're seeing now (and it doesn't need me to state this) is a midfield that is bare of ideas, while the defence looks to be improving with Mings and now Hause settling in, and Elphick doing a good job. What I did notice in the second-half on Saturday was a reluctance of the keeper to hoof the ball from his area and instead was passing the ball out through the defence, thereby retaining possession. And Mings was occasionally also bringing the ball through to the second third of the pitch.

That approach helped, but then we lacked ideas to take the play any further, with Albion content to hang onto their two-goal lead and mainly blocking our progress.

Promotion is almost a forlorn target for this season. But the thing I take hope in - and I know this is difficult to accept for many after nearly 9 years of not making progress and some dire football as well as relegation in that time - is that we probably have a management structure in place at Villa Park that seems willing to take proper football decisions and plan accordingly. We're not seeing the fruits of that right now, but that's partly to do with what went on before. I feel that we shall see some successful developments as a result of activity in the summer break.


Thursday, 14 February 2019

Are We In A Winter Fog?

It doesn't look good, does it? The absence of Jack and Axel - and the injury to Chester - has caused some ramifications.

My whole argument about Axel being missed pretty well as much as Jack was tied with the aftermath of their absence from the team. At that stage we didn’t really see anything else dramatically wrong except the defence, which was an issue not to be sneezed at. And then it became clear that Chester was carrying an injury which has proved to be somewhat more serious than it seemed.

OK, so we’ve had something of a defensive overhaul, and I haven’t got too many complaints about last night’s defence other than Hause being ‘rusty’ and Hutton being strangely indecisive on a couple of occasions.

But the midfield in general seems to me to have become virtually useless, and I don’t choose that word lightly. Even McGiven – probably because he tries to do more than his share – seems to have become less effective, though it’s generally from him anything good occurs. Conor mystifies me – he could be such a good player I feel but undersells himself i.m.o. At least he made one good tackle last night.

And Whelan is there because there’s no-one else who is willing to stand up and be counted in that department. He is getting old and shows it in his lack of movement, but he’s got a good footballer’s brain.

As for the wingers. Well, dear Albert looks low in confidence. And that’s a pity. I do like him, and he showed last season that when he had the chance to pick up responsibility, he did, by scoring so many goals. Now he can barely shoot, or even create. El Ghazi has improved but still short of the needed quality i.m.o. Green must start versus Albion, surely – but he will need to be given several games to get going properly.

Yes, Jack’s return should improve matters, but his absence has revealed that without him (and a forward moving c-b like Axel) we are devoid of imagination in midfield.

Yes, a clear-out has to take place. And some will automatically be going anyway once their contracts are up.

It looks as though we’re still hurting after those years of club mismanagement that started 9 (nine!) years ago. That's a long time for Villa's fans to be suffering, and it really goes back much further - to the time when John Gregory left in 2002.

Still, while there's life, there's hope! It's just that we must beat Albion on Saturday!


Saturday, 9 February 2019

An Aston-ishing result!

Wow! What a comeback. A game of 80 minutes + 10 and added time.

Their second goal was highly dubious. Villa’s keeper didn’t have the ball fully under control … but … in these days when keepers are supposed to be sacrosanct within their own 6-yard box, I don’t think it should have been allowed. A suspicion of offside as well.

But until that point Villa had done little of note. The Jedi’s passing was awful most of the time, but I suppose it’s his first start for a couple of months and was rusty. I suspect Jack will be rusty too when he returns.

Villa at no time looked as though they were disheartened, and they got back for two reasons: (1) because Villa had more tenacity and concentration than the Blades and (2) bringing on Green was just what was needed i.m.o. His support play was a bit all over the place, but his shot produced Villa’s second goal and then he scored himself what was a real striker’s goal.

I also thought Whelan did a good job and was willing Villa to recovery just by himself.

With Mings and Elphick mainly looking solid, it now needs Jack to sort out our midfield issues. But we shouldn’t be dependent on one player.

But for the moment let's recollect that this season we've seen not one but three absolutely amazing score-draws at VP, starting with that 3-3 result vs Preston which we might have won at the death; the 5-5 result versus Forest. And now this.


Sunday, 3 February 2019

I Hope I'm Reading It Correctly!

Well, we didn't lose (against Reading)!

It continues to be disappointing that we're not putting away enough of our chances, last week versus Ipswich being a particular case-in-point, and yesterday also to a more limited degree. However, their keeper did well on two occasions.

Meanwhile there are a lot of comments on certain Villa blogs about how our play has dipped since Jack has been injured, but Axel's non-availability has almost equally affected the flow in my opinion. However, it looks as though the signing of Mings was a good move going by the reports on the quality of his play yesterday, with Elphick also doing well. 

So, January has seen a few turnarounds, with Bolasie (having shown glimmers of promise) not quite measuring up and deciding to go home, yet counter-balanced by the return of Andre Green, who I think could be a great player if handled properly.  With the arrival of Mings and Carroll, as well as Hause, the last 16 games almost demand a renewed attack on the top-6, particularly as we're just 4 points off. 

This all bodes well for the rest of the season: a strong central defence can be the springboard to a big challenge for the play-offs, especially as Jack should be back on board in a week or two.

I feel very hopeful of a good end to the season.