Good, Bad & Ugly of Villa’s Week – the New Striker, Playing to the Whistle & Ugly Opinions

Good, Bad & Ugly of Toon & Barrow

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…

By Phil Shaw

Binary season is upon us early, after the doom and gloom of Watford, this week, Aston Villa are a well-oiled juggernaut churning out an army of youth team prospects. It’s time for this week’s good, bad and ugly.

The Good

Full house at Villa Park, VAR working as it was intended, a bicycle kick from Danny Ings. What more do you want from the first home game of the season?

The Newcastle performance was much more competent than the week before. Douglas Luiz in midfield, wasn’t at his best, but positionally he was always in the correct areas to slow the opposition, and not give the opposition the run of the pitch like what happened against Watford.

At the risk of turning this into the weekly Ashley Young appreciation post, his all round contribution to the Aston Villa team cannot be understated in this transitional phase. 

Young looks to be an absolute nightmare to play against. Pressure him in the wrong way, and you give away a free kick, he’s in your face and when Newcastle’s Jacob Murphy dived, the whole world knew about it. Young’s nastiness is bred from winning and if it spreads through the team, he will be invaluable.

After the win against Newcastle, it was onto Barrow in the League Cup. With TV coverage there for a potential upset, memories of Luton away in 2016 and that Semi Final nobody mentions, were trying to rise to the surface.

Enter a youthful Villa squad. Supplemented by the experience of Targett, El Ghazi, Hourihane and Guilbert. 

The Chukwuemeka and Ramsey brothers, along with Jaden Philogene-Bidace (henceforth known as JPB in this column), were the recognised names and as well as they played, it was another who stole the show…

Villan of the Week — Cameron Archer 

Don’t worry, Danny Ings, you will make it in here at some stage.

Cameron Archer, who has been with the club since he was 8-years-old, was told the night before he would be starting by Dean Smith. He couldn’t have imagined scoring a hat-trick and being the name on everyone’s lips a day later.

While it is easy for social media and others to get carried away, the quiet rise through the ranks and experience gained at Solihull Moors, have put his physical development above the likes of Louie Barry and others in the youth ranks.

Hopefully, he finds a frame for that match ball, and then a room for more.

The Bad

The win, against a Newcastle side managed by Steve Bruce, was the minimum requirement in Villa’s first home game.

Despite achieving this, it was plain to see that there is still room for improvement.

The main criticism that can be levelled at Villa, is still naivety.

Against Watford, in dealing with Saar and in not playing to the whistle for the third goal lost them the game.

A week later at Villa Park, and you only had to wait five minutes to see it again. 

McGinn may have been fouled in the Newcastle half and then Mings may have been barged by Wilson, but on both occasions, the Villa players stopped playing, leaving the Newcastle forward with the freedom of Villa Park.

Luckily, Wilson missed, but with an expectant crowd and fragile confidence, it was an avoidable incident. 

Another avoidable incident was the penalty Newcastle nearly had when Emi Martinez, charged out of his box and wiped out Wilson. Apart from drawing parallels with Mark Bosnich and Jurgen Klinsmann, it almost gave Newcastle a way back into the match.

The fans know that referees are letting more fouls go at the minute, so play to the whistle. It used to be taught from a youth player’s earliest steps on the pitch. 

These instances of naivety, self-destruction, or whatever you want to call them, need ironed out before Villa play better teams. 

The Ings shirt option…

Danny Ings Aston Villa shirt

The Ugly

Anwar El Ghazi has no mercy, does he? Against Barrow, he scored a Panenka then a smart finish at the back post, before putting his finger to his mouth to quieten the small crowd.

This drew a bit of outrage from the social media crowd, claiming that he was being disrespectful.

Disrespectful? Come on, this is the same footballing culture who celebrate training ground goals from Messi, De Bruyne and others. 

This was a competitive match, and if the Barrow keeper had caught the penalty, the repercussions for El Ghazi’s Villa career could have been profound. At the moment, he is the club’s designated penalty taker. If he misses a penalty like that, it’s over and without penalties, is El Ghazi going to be looked upon as fondly?

Players can do what they want on the pitch. They take the risk of it going wrong. 

The attitude that they can only do this agains’t equal opposition is patronising to who they are playing.

The same patronising attitude was displayed by Talksport’s Alex Crook and Jamie O’Hara when talking about Norwich.

They claimed that they approached the Premier League in the wrong way with their lack of spending. 

While O’Hara wanted them thrown out of the league for not spending, in an attempt to get some clickbait, Crook claimed they were ‘cheating the system.’

Cheating the system, is probably reserved for the top end of the Premier League. 

Norwich City, are a financially well run club, who reinvest big money received, directly into the team. In this window, they’ve spent around £50 million.

Furthermore, they can do what they want. By winning the Championship at a canter, they can approach the top tier, whatever way they see fit.

Let’s not forget the criticism Villa received for spending money to build a team to survive in their first season. 

Facts and consistency go out the window in the chase for engagement, and if the first two weeks of the season are anything to go by, the ugly opinions are only getting started. 


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  1. Perhaps Anwar is learning some discretion from Dean who I heard some very complimentary remarks about after the Session of golf he had with 3 of the squad on Tuesday morning before Tuesdays match

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