North Stand Narrative: Bruce Tested as Villa Hold on

Chad Wrenn views Villa's draw against Wolves from the Lower North...

Since the last home game against Newcastle, Villa had changed managers and found themselves in the relegation zone coming into the late kick-off. Taking into account many fans’ expectations at the start of the season, to find ourselves that low in the table was a big reality check for everyone.

The need for a win was still a resounding feeling among fans after the recently shocking results. However, with Villa still unbeaten at home before the game, the new man in charge Steve Bruce was hoping for a taste of victory in his first 90 minutes in charge. We hadn’t played Wolves competitively since 2012 and despite not being the real deal when it comes to derbies; it was still a bigger game than most in the league.

Prematch Fan Thoughts

In the 8th episode of the MOMS podcast, we discussed what our perfect line-up would be if we were to pick one for the next few games. A 4-4-2 was agreed all round and the line-up that Steve Bruce picked on the day was very similar to one we had decided upon. The decision to play a partnership of Mile Jedinak and Aaron Tshibola was a pretty favourable decision amongst the majority fans. So over all there were no issues with the new boss’s first team selection.

Bruce had just two training with his new squad of players, however, now isn’t the time for excuses and all we wanted was some quick miracle work from Bruce to kick us into action. The atmosphere was set to be lively even though the game was televised as a late half five kick-off.

The Match

The game started off better for Villa as we were passing it around nicely and looked on top. There was some particularly nice interplay between Ross McCormack and Jack Grealish early on, which led to Grealish breaking into the box and being fumbled over. Penalty. Jonathan Kodjia dispatched the penalty and we made a brilliant start to the game.

However, the game went a little bit flat and we started to allow Wolves back into it and soon enough they equalised with a penalty after Aly Cissokho’s handball. Villa should have retaken the lead in the closing stages of the first half when McCormack was in an acre of space but Kodjia decided to shoot instead.

The second half belonged to Wolves as Villa failed to register a single shot on target and held on for dear life. A crucial block from Alan Hutton and brilliant saves from Pierluigi Gollini meant that the point was a relief, after Wolves started to turn the screw and pile on the pressure.

All in all, it was probably a good point considering our poor display in the second half, but Villa fans are just sick of draws. We need the wins to start coming thick and fast.

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere at times in the first-half was brilliant and it certainly went up a notch in comparison to recent games at Villa Park. Notable times where the atmosphere hit a high was for both goals  and when Jack Grealish got caught up in some handbags with Conor Coady.

The second-half was just damp in terms of atmosphere, performance and weather. Villa’s sheer lack of attacking intent contributed the most to that.

It’ll take a few performances and results for Bruce to get the best out of the Villa Park crowd when it comes to attendance and noise levels. Many boos were present when Ashley Westwood was subbed onto the pitch and at the end of the game, but that’s understandable as many are still frustrated from the distinct lack of wins so far.

Post-Match Fan Thoughts

Despite obvious disappointment about the performance and result, I still have a good feeling about the appointment of Steve Bruce and I feel like he can get the best out of the quality we have with his man management skills.

On paper we’d be almost certain for promotion and have a better team than most when it comes to quality, but we need to become a proper ‘team’. This will be Bruce’s main job, then hopefully he can get the best out of the players and start putting some serious points on the board. We’ve started terribly but we can still turn it around with a quick set of wins.

Away Fans Score – 9/10

The Wolves away following deserve a decent score after the way they showed up in numbers and backed their team.

Villa’s opening goal quieten them down initially, but once their equaliser came and was greeted with orange and yellow smoke bombs, they were on the front foot vocally with their support until the end of the game. So respect to them for adding to the atmosphere.


Follow Chad on Twitter – @ChadBillyWrenn

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