What We Learnt As Villa Fans This Week After West Brom Draw


The calm before the storm of the forthcoming midweek cup madness for Villa. So calm in fact, there wasn’t a sniff of transfer activity. The clichéd game of two halves against WBA. The first was sublime, the second so predictable. But what did we learn as Villa fans?


1 – New signings are badly needed, though, not guaranteed

There are just 11 short days left in the transfer window and with each one that passes, the likelihood of bringing some new faces diminishes. Our transfer policy is still unclear and it seems to change by the day. We don’t want loan players, but we’ll look at some, we don’t have any money, but here we are linked to a £3.5 million midfielder, we won’t play Stephen Warnock, but if we can’t sell him we may bring him back into the squad. Trying to keep up with it all just causes headaches and there seems to be very little trust between the board and the fans.

2 – Sit back and watch the goals fly in

You’re 2-0 up at half-time and on the hunt for a third, you know that one more will kill the opposition off, get it quickly and you can then enjoy a half of football where all you have to do is fortify and break forward when possible. For years now Villa has sat back too often when going in front. It worked relatively well under MON, but we don’t have the players to successfully pull it off now, and we lack a distinct nasty streak that always ensures a panic attack inducing final ten minutes.

3 – N’Zogbia looks interested; better get him off then

Since returning to full fitness the Frenchman has looked sharper than he ever has done in Claret & Blue and tormented Albion enough in the first half to give them nightmares for weeks to come. So why did we take him off? Lambert claimed it was to keep him fresh for the upcoming games this week, but if that’s the case then one of our best players will rarely get a full 90 minutes under his belt. By constantly looking to the future Paul Lambert is foregoing the present, mush to his detriment.

4 – Fabien Delph: Midfield general

Well, not quite. But he kept the midfield ticking against the Baggies. Could he finally be turning the corner and start performing? It would suggest that yes, he can. He’s not the answer to all our problems, but until (if) some new faces do arrive then the longer he plays like that the more of an asset he’ll be.

5 – Watching strikers defend is painful

Watching a striker in their own penalty area is like watching a dog attempt to ice skate. Ever since seeing Juan Pablo Angel put through his own net against Spurs in 2006 seeing one of the front men defend a set piece never fills me with confidence.


Steven Green is one of the hosts of the AVFC Review podcast and writer for Shoot Magazine and a fellow Real Oviedo shareholder.

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  1. As for strikers defending, it seems like that was always one of Heskey’s strengths. Matter of fact, maybe we should bring him in as a center back.

  2. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2013/jan/18/aston-villa-decline-finances-randy-lerner?
    Worth a read, although we’re all too familiar with most of it already.
    Interesting point about our lack of a sporting director.
    Would love to know what Makoun’s upto, last I heard he couldn’t get a work permit because he didn’t have the requisite English skills? I don’t know, the only knowledge I’ve got of work permits is from playing FM and as far as I know they’re a bloody pain, so maybe it’s true.

    • Russell Bognall I don’t know about this language work permit story. The new Saint’s boss can’t speak English… The post of ‘Sporting Director’ or ‘Football Director’ as it’s been called in the past has always been a bit of a dodgy post in English football. It’s never tended to work – due to conflicts with the  manager. In theory, it’s a good idea for the current Villa situation, but only with hindsight.

  3. Benteke defends at corners because he is our biggest player. Not having him back there would be a mistake. However, he needs to be taught how to stay tight and not get caught ball watching. That can be coached – Culverhouse and Lambert need to address that pronto. Of course, if we had bigger, stronger defenders, it wouldn’t be so important to have Benteke back.
    N’Zogbia was losing the ball frequently in the second half. It didn’t surprise me that Lambert took him off at all. He did look sharp in the first half when running at the baggies, but still not enough end product for me. Needs to shoot on sight instead of trying to walk the ball in and also play it simple now and again. 
    Delph is a poor man’s version of what we need, but if we don’t strengthen, he’ll have to do. 
    Agree that sitting back is suicidal. Our defence is abysmal, so why try and rely on it?

    • CraigWright One of N’Zogbia’s problems before was he always played with his head down and was selfish. Maybe they’ve been trying to coach him to pass it more, so he maybe hesitates a little bit, rather than pulling the trigger and shooting. I do think he’s a key player for the Bradford game.

      • MyOldManSaid CraigWrightI don’t know. When I’m watching him, it seems as if N’Zogbia’s thought process is: 
        1. Can I take the opponent on? 
        2. Can I do a tricky lay-off? 
        3. Can I reposition myself so that I can take the opponent on? 
        4. Is there a defence-splitting pass on? 
        5. Should I whip a cross in blindly/try to dribble into a crowded area?
        6. Should I shoot?
        7. Should I look for a simple ball to a teammate and go again?
        Basically, the sort of process most of us had when we played football as kids. (And some of us kept for much longer than that – guilty as charged m’lud).
        If we can get him to swap a few of those around, we will have a decent player. 
        I agree that he is important against Bradford. He is the sort of player that could get us a couple of penalties if he can get into the box. I just hope he is in the right mindset and not feeling like Pele in Escape to Victory i.e. ‘you give me the ball, I go <draws mazy run around opposition>, … goal!’

    • CraigWright Instead of trying to ask Benteke to mark a man on corners, which he obviously can’t do, why not free him up to do what he already does brilliantly – namely, free him up as a zonal defender, and let him stand near the six yard box and win the ball in the air. If he gets to the ball first, it doesn’t matter where the opposing players are running. Just need to make sure he knows he’s on teh defensive end and doesn’t drive the ball into the net.

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