After a week of Villa supporters and the club’s manager trading their displeasure with each other via the press and social media, finally we saw some progress from where these matters are ultimately settled, on the pitch.
Villa boss Steve Bruce was forced into some changes that ultimately proved to be a blessing in disguise, resulting in a progressive performance that will hopefully be the catalyst for the rest of the season.
The 4-2 win against Norwich served up footballing excitement, the like of which that has rarely been seen under Bruce since he took the Villa job.
Hopefully, it’s onwards and upwards from this point forward, but in the meantime, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans…
When MOMS met Steve Bruce during the January transfer window, the Villa boss was particularly enthusiastic about acquiring the services of Conor Hourihane. This was the player that was going to improve the team’s set plays and also chip in with goals from midfield.
Fast forward a few weeks and the Villa manager’s cheerleading of the player soon dampened, as Hourihane dropped to the bench and seemed a lost soul last season.
Considering the injury to Jack Grealish and the lacklustre performances of Villa at the start of this season, as MOMS said on the last MOMS podcast, playing Hourihane in an advanced midfield role allowing him to do what we actually brought him for was essential.
Whether Bruce saw sense or injuries forced his hand, the Irish international midfield finally found his mojo with a superbly taken hat-trick and some positive passing.
Hourihane is now joint top scorer in the Championship, with four goals from his two starts. If he carries on this progress, Hourihane could be as instrumental as David Platt was from midfield in helping securing Villa’s last promotion.
Perhaps even more surprising than Hourihane’s efforts against Norwich was the stella performance of Keinan Davis, who was making his first Villa start.
The young Villa forward demonstrated all the assets of a decent striker – strength, awareness, a change of pace and good feet. It was a complete performance in many ways. One of the best all-round striker performances without scoring that MOMS has seen since Benteke and it’s not hype.
His ability to bring other players into the game and his awareness of others (he got one assist and could have had more) give him a dimension that has been rarely demonstrated by other Villa strikers.
Davis could have easily have had a couple of goals to his name too and surely they will come if he gets the starts.
His performance certainly made a mockery of the likes of Ross McCormack and Scot Hogan, bought in for millions and also Gabby Agbonlahor, Villa’s literal false number nine.
MOMS had seen Davis play in the U-23’s a few times and admittedly he wasn’t that impressive on those occasions.
The transformation to what was witnessed against Norwich was both staggering and also exciting.
Green’s Final Touch
Finally, Andre Green has found his final touch! This is has been something of a hobby horse of MOMS, after the Villa winger’s final pass and squandering of several gilt-edged chances have raised question marks on him being the real deal.
His finish was top draw and the 19-year-old will be revealed to have got his debut goal monkey off his back. We’ll excuse the point-blank header miss that followed!
The goal will give Green a massive shot of confidence and it will be interesting to see how he imposes himself on the season ahead.
Effort and endeavour
There was a lot more purpose to Villa’s play going forward, compared to what we’ve been accustomed to under Steve Bruce.
Granted the first half against Hull was also an improvement, but the sight of Villa midfielders running into the box and more progressive passing exchanges, were encouraging.
It’s the bare minimum you normally expect from such an expensively assembled squad, but it’s been lacking.
For a change, goals never seemed so far away. So even when there were lapses in Villa’s defence, you felt Villa might nick another. I don’t know about you, but I preferred this to trying to play for a 1-0 win or draw.
Let’s hope Bruce sees the error of his ways, and embraces Villa being a lot more positive.
Villa began Saturday on the bottom of the Championship table and with Villa Twitter calling for the head of the manager.
Once upon a time, the newspapers didn’t even print the league tables until about the fifth game. It just goes to show how football has grown into a instant gratification culture.
When a season starts you wipe the slate clean. Last season was a failure and rightly put a question mark over Bruce’s head. But he had a preseason and another transfer window to work with, so it’s only fair – whether you like or dislike him – to judge him over more than two and three games!
It’s now not a case of one win and now it’s all roses, but when you look at Graham Taylor’s promotion season, he only managed one win in the first seven games. What that showed was if a team is at least showing intent and effort, while it’s being tuned, supporters will show patience and understanding.
Lets hope Villa continue to play without fear and are allowed to express themselves. In the end, it’s better for the players and supporters, and will give the manager an easier life.
Also, it’s the best way of getting promotion out of the Championship, which is the goal here.