The Good, Bad and Ugly of Villa Life Post West Ham
A point away at West Ham’s tax-funded stadium is always a positive one, but it’s a sign of progress that most Villans maybe felt short-changed, and that wasn’t just the prices on the concession stands.
At times against West Ham, Aston Villa were brilliant to watch. After taking the lead some of the interplay involving the midfield trio of McGinn, Ramsey and Luiz was exactly what had been missing against West Ham in recent seasons.
Too often has the midfield duo of Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek managed to strangle the Villa midfield allowing their more attacking players to win the game. These two, where exactly the profile of player that Villa fans claimed their side were missing.
Instead Villa, even without the injured Boubacar Kamara, had the better of midfield for most of the match. So much so that West Ham resorted to the wings and long balls to stay in the game leaving Villa with an overall possession of 59%.
It’s an indication that Villa’s lack of a physical profile in midfield can be got around with more appropriate tactics, and this was the most pleasing aspect of the game even if the result was only a point.
Villan of the Week – John McGinn
A player transformed under Unai Emery, the functionality and effectiveness the Villa captain now brings to the side is a redemption story in the making.
Many Villa fans, myself included, thought that McGinn’s days were numbered after an extremely poor start to the season under Steven Gerrard.
Under Emery, things are different. He has a defined role, seems like he is never overloaded and just carries out his job efficiently.
Next season could define whether McGinn will still be a starter, but recent performances have put him near the front of the queue.
Goals change games. It’s simple and no matter how good a side is, conceding an equaliser shortly after taking the lead, puts everything back to square one.
Aston Villa have an Achilles heel when it comes to this. Even if the equaliser by West Ham came from a blatant dive.
Against, Manchester United in the League Cup, Leicester City, Arsenal and now West Ham, Villa started like a house on fire before having all their momentum popped like a balloon.
Unai Emery needs to come up with some way of breaking this habit to take Villa to the next level. It’s surely a question of mentality again as the manager puts it. As it can look like the players think the hard work is done when they take the lead and open up.
Kamara being casual in his own box against Leicester is the prime example.
If Villa could have held onto their leads in these games and showed more control, the results would have them in the promised land of the top half of the table.
On occasions, Villa can add a second goal all is well, as was against Everton and Tottenham, but this needs to be the blueprint.
Small tweaks in impetus that allow either control or finishing off the opposition, are all that’s missing at the moment.
The Gary Lineker saga that dominated all the news last week was ugly for all involved.
The problem as always is a single incident being turned into a tribal debate without any room for a middle ground.
This wasn’t a debate on whether you liked Gary Lineker, the BBC or the current government policy. It was an issue of freedom of speech.
Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote in The Friends of Voltaire:-
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
This is what it comes down to. Lineker’s offending tweet, where he compared the rhetoric of the current Government to 1930s Germany, was aired as a reply on his own private Twitter and therefore was his own opinion on the matter.
It was not aired on a BBC broadcast, so the decision by the BBC to stand him down from Match of the Day and the subsequent grandstanding from both sides was a strange own goal, especially after they encouraged him to criticise Qatar at the beginning of the World Cup.
If you look at the facts, other BBC personalities, such as Lord Sugar, have expressed their views without reprimand.
This supposed hypocrisy should have been the debate and argument, but instead, it turned into a mass social media free-for-all.
Once again Football fans were stuck in the middle and missed out on a weekend of BBC Sports coverage.
Even this simple fact became a battleground. With people tripping over themselves to say how a twenty-minute Match of the Day was better without punditry.
It’s ok not to like the program, but the pointless showing of the highlights without any form of presentation was not better and is easily found on youtube.
If the same level of media attention, interest and scrutiny that followed this story was applied to more important current affairs or even more pressing football issues, like the impending regulator, Manchester City and Newcastle’s ownership, and the ineptitude of the PGMOL, then maybe there would be resolutions instead of endless parroting of the same old positions.