The Villa Rant: Aston Villa, The Club That Never Learns

Fool Me Once…

As the half-time whistle blew against Preston on Saturday the clouds over Villa Park finally seemed to be parting. Led by new signing Henri Lansbury, our team was playing the best football we’ve seen in McGrath knows how long. I dared to get excited, maybe our season was finally kicking off?

The inevitable happened. Lansbury faded and the second half was every bit as bad as the first was good. Villa left with a point instead of three.

Tuesday night seemed like a sure thing. A new team ready to fire Villa to victory against a team whose best player had just signed on the dotted line at Villa. I foolishly grew optimistic again.

Early in the game a pinpoint forward pass and some direct running from midfield humoured my initial enthusiasm. Then one trick Villa pulled their one trick, imploding at the first sign of struggle. What followed was as bad a performance as we’ve seen all season. I didn’t expect miracles but, I expected more than the trash Villa offered. How foolish of me. Therein lies part of the perpetual situation at Villa…

The Fans Never Learn

So eager are we to see our beloved team rise from the ashes that we tend to forego reality, patience, and inevitability in favour of desperate hype and expectations of positive results without logical thought as to how they should actually come about. The quicker our expectations grow the quicker the pressure grows and the more devastated we are each week.


We did it at the start of the season, we did it when the new gaffer arrived, and we did it the second new arrivals began to pop up. Being a Villa fan has been rough ride in recent years, so it’s hard to fault us too much for daring to dream, but there are other parties who could do with learning from the recent past more urgently than us…

The Management Never Learns

Our owners and managers so often seem incapable on learning lessons, even those that should be fresh in the mind. You can’t buy a team and expect it to click instantly. This was proved last night. It’s the obvious reason most teams don’t decide to buy a whole team halfway through the season. That’s called bad planning.

Any new team needs time to gel but if we have even the slightest hope of a play-off spot then time is not a luxury we have. We’ve once again began to rebuild and once again thrown cash at the problem. It was needed but if the gamble doesn’t pay off then the hole we’re in will just deeper and were back to square one again.

Having seen the team throw several points away as a result of mistakes from a young inexperienced goalkeeper ‘with potential’ the management team jumped to action immediately and replaced him with….another young inexperienced goalkeeper ‘with potential’. Nice one Villa.

Our managers never seem to learn either. The idea that a balanced line-up might be a good idea is alien around these parts. We’ve gone from fielding a team full of strikers, to selling most of our strikers. Realising we needed some more forward support from the middle we bought attack minded midfielders.

Sounds like a good idea until we realise that we’ve deployed them without a holding or defensive midfielder and again the team is horrible unbalanced, the defence exposed, and the striker isolated. Deja bloody vu.

There is an argument that the midfielders who played should be capable enough to go box-to-box and use the ball effectively. That sentiment went out the window the second Villa reverted to hoofing the ball up the pitch to nobody for most of the game. Why invest in a midfield and then choose to bypass it altogether?

Plan B: Go Route One may have made sense if we still had a target man at the club but A: we sold him, and B: there was no ‘plan’ just desperate punting of the ball upfield. Aston Villa never shake things up tactically to effect a game and as with our past five or six bosses substitutions are either pointless, too late, or are simply to replace an injured Nathan Baker.

Relying on one player, Second chances for Gabby, the list could go on forever but the point remains, Villa’s own biggest enemy, as usual, has been Villa.

Soft In The Middle

Like a certain recently departed (on loan, he’s not dead) striker of ours, Villa have been soft in the middle all season. The main requirement of this window was to improve the middle of the pitch, and as a result the way the whole team works.


Lansbury and Hourihane are good players and need time to gel. It’s not their fault that they’ve being desperately thrown into a fire fight. Bjarnason could also be a good asset but looked way off pace and this all points back to Villa’s bad planning. If the players are not fit/ready/settled don’t just throw them in and expect results.

State of Play

It’s been a decent window but the timing is not ideal as this team must now learn and gel on the move. Potentially the best thing about the window has been the players who have left, although some were only on loan. The more threads to the relegation squad that are severed, the better.

Steve Bruce has suggested that the signing of Scott Hogan will enable him to play two strikers and that may finally bring more structure to the team, but only if he can find the right combination in midfield.

Bruce needs to get the new recruits firing and this team winning now. The problems at Villa go far beyond mangers, but with a busy window and ‘his own’ players signed and more depth in the squad there are no more excuses for this team to keep floundering.

This club has repeatedly made the same mistakes in recent years, weeks, months, and days. The next step is to learn from them. Unfortunately all evidence suggests that’s just not something we’re able to do.


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  1. We get hammered and Bruce says there’s something wrong, do me a favour, he has to shoulder a lot of the blame along with his coaching staff. What was going on with Rhodes we wouldn’t pay 9 m
    But end up paying up to 15 m for Hogan ok we haven’t seen him play yet and it would be great to see him succeed but personally I don’t have that much faith in Bruce. He has this great CV that everyone harps on about but I can’t see much evidence of that, don’t think that this nonsense can go on much longer. We’re just a mid table team unless something drastic happens.

    • For the last game Bruce made a schoolboy error, 3 players who never played together. Starting Green was a mistake as well. He wants 442, should have played it. Blaming the players compounds it. Pressure is showing.

  2. question is why it never changes. New people. lots of money. Spent more than Real Madrid on some calculations. This is a club which cannot get its act together. Why?

    Trevor FIsher

  3. Who else could have we played. Jedinak was injured which left a midfield of Grealish, Gardner & Bacuna available to replace the newbies. Sometimes the reality of the situation escapes many on these blogs. Yes it was a risk to put in Lansbury who has played for 70mins since December, Bjarnason would has not played over that period and Hourihane who has played regularly and has some of the best stats in the division but Bruce would have been vilified if he had chosen Gardner or Bacuna over one of these three.

  4. i blame bruce hes turned good players like ayew,mccormack,grealish and kodija in to muppets why play all of them on the left wing when its blindingly obvious only grealish ccould play there [fairly comfortably] the others were ducks in a desrt 1youg inexperienced goalkeeper for another is stupidity playing a so called striker in fat boy 3 shots at goal in 11or so games [like putting a blind man on sentry duty] using gesstede as a target man thenplaying the ball on the floor[priceless] seems to have turned amavi in to a nervous wreck I know with all the new players now we need time to gel[not rocket science passing a ball to an unmarked man or spotting a run] but if things don’t change over the last 18 games with atleast 10 wins he has to go as we wont get promotion next year if he stays we will need someone competent to come in in the summer to prepare the team for a title winning season

  5. He’s probably boughy very well, but why stick them all on the pitch before they’ve unpacked their bags? They could’ve come on for 30minutes. Bruce gambled on thier fittness and them all gelling from the get go.

  6. The only good thing that has happened this week is we have got rid of a bit more dead wood and bad influences. The problem is there are still a load left, and we seem to be able to make previously very good players into more dead wood. E have now signed tje best 4 strikers thismdivision has seen i the last few seasons yet we cant score??. Despite a new owner, 2 new managers and £80m spent on virally 2 new teams, we are still in chaos! I cannot explain it. The sucession a of qualit managers, quality players has only made us worse. How for gods sake? It has to turn around soon. E amazing thing was fans still pretended there ws a chance of playoffs. How we were to win 16 games from 21 games when 26 have provided 8 wins I fail to see. I still believe Bruce will do the job none of us knew how big that job was and is.

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