Good, Bad and Ugly of the Villa Week
With Aston Villa’s fortunes more good and less ugly nowadays, MOMS podcast contributor Phil Shaw resurrects ‘The Good, Bad & Ugly’, an old favourite MOMS column that started over eight years ago on the site…
Buckle up, this could be a bumpy ride. It’s time to take stock with the Good, Bad and Ugly of the Villa week.
Aston Villa are no longer the underdogs in most games. This is a good thing, in case anyone was in doubt.
Now we have established the good work that has gone on to get the club to this point, we have to accept some of the things that are associated with losing this moniker.
You could have substituted Aston Villa with Tottenham Hotspur in the last two games and nobody would have noticed.
A second gear cruise, against Newcastle, was the required bare minimum of a team that can play to the standard Villa have shown this season. A second half cruise against Burnley, was ‘spursy’ in the extreme.
The drama’s of the Championship and last season are gone and while the scars are deep for fans, this Aston Villa side is on a completely different plane, meaning the level of performance in the last two games, wasn’t good enough.
I don’t want to hear or read stories and tweets citing perspective, fishing for likes and getting comfortable about how far they have come, and where Villa were this time last season. You may as well ask where they were in 1982. Competition is about the here and now.
I want to see some anger and frustration from the players and Dean Smith before moving onto the next game because that, really shows how far they have come.
When you get to the top, you don’t stop working, you start working.
This Villa team, haven’t made it yet, but it is a very good thing that they are back on this level and everyone can rightfully feel disappointed in the last two performances.
Another good thing in the two games was the standard of refereeing. When it is awful, it gets called out so when it is competent, it should receive the equal amount of praise.
Villan of the week — Marvellous Nakamba
Against Newcastle, Nakamba, got a rare start, slotted in nicely, and genuinely looked to be enjoying his football. He was unlucky to not see any minutes against Burnley, especially after Villa went 2-1 up, but he now looks like a handy option off the bench when the game needs closed down.
The real disappointing thing about the Burnley game was how big of an opportunity it was to advance. It felt like losing in the semi-final of a Cup Competition to a lower side. Think Bradford…
Villa’s approach play in the first half was sensational, their decision-making all over the pitch was as bad as it has been in all their defeats.
The mental aspect is what’s stopping Aston Villa being on a par with Leicester City. Ollie Watkins is stronger, faster and a potentially better all round player than Jamie Vardy, yet if Vardy has a sniff of goal, I know which one I’d be putting my money on.
It extends all over the pitch. Every Villa player has questionable decision-making in key moments.
Clear the ball, the simple pass, lay it off, take the yellow. These are all things that can be levelled at any player on the team, and they need to improve.
What did the great Dutch national team of the 70’s win?
They had the best player, played the best football and took the lead in the 1974 World Cup Final. They lost.
Against Burnley, Villa had the best player, played the best football and took the lead twice. They lost.
Decision-making, at crucial points, is the only thing holding this Aston Villa side back from something remarkable. Hopefully, Burnley will be as bad as it gets on that front.
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It’s been an Ugly week for many pundits in the press. Talking heads came out to defend the ridiculous offside decision in the Villa vs Manchester City Game, then went hiding when the rules were reminded to the PGMOL by IFAB.
They also rallied around Frank Lampard after he was put out of his misery by Roman Abramovich at Chelsea. The fact of the matter was, Lampard wasn’t getting it right and was making the same team selection errors that he made in The Championship with Derby County.
Where was the outcry when this happened to Conte, Sarri, Ancelotti and AVB? It’s what Chelsea do and have done since he took over. Just because it isn’t the way other clubs are run, we shouldn’t be surprised.
There is no binary ‘right’ way.
The Villa defeat against Burnley is case in point. I don’t want to see people sugar coating anything or talking about how good the football was in the first half because I’m a two half’s man.
Some people react to the defeat by looking for the positives.
Neither is wrong. Neither makes you a better fan than the other. You have your way of dealing with a disappointing result.
What you don’t do, is ignore the facts.
You don’t abuse players directly.
You don’t assume how they feel.
Many of the Villa players have since came out on social media to express how unhappy they were with the performance against Burnley as well. Does that make them worse players, like it makes fans who are unhappy with the performance supposedly worse fans?
Football at any level is an ugly and ruthless game. I can only imagine how hard it is in the Premier League and you can only judge a player or team, on what you have seen they are capable of in the past.
Your reaction to a defeat is exactly that. It is your reaction. Just like it was Abramovich’s reaction to sack Lampard.
The problem comes when people tell you that your reaction is wrong. Like the many people who said Villa’s reaction to the farcical offside call against City was wrong and then went into hiding after generating their online engagement.
Opinions and decisions can be proven wrong or exposed for ulterior motives, your honest reaction isn’t wrong though.
Follow Phil on Twitter here – @PRSGAME