The Good Bad and Ugly
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
Let’s get this out of the way, shall we?
Well, I suppose at least Danny Ings scored again.
Villan of the Week — Douglas Luiz
Good old Douglas Luiz, jet-lagged from his private jet back from Brazil duty, and probably feeling exhausted, put in a more than competent display until he had to go off.
When he left the pitch, Villa were just about to go two goals up, and Wolves only started getting a foothold when he began to fade.
For his detractors out there, just look what happened without him.
For ten minutes against Wolves, Villa Park turned into The Twilight Zone.
Previous known quantities became the opposites of what they have been.
Marvellous Nakamba came on, and Aston Villa became less secure defensively.
Jacob Ramsey came on to give the team legs and put his foot on the ball, and he ended up with only seven touches.
Axel Tuanzebe, a defender who has played well in a Manchester United defence that beat PSG in Paris, completely lost all coordination.
Tyrone Mings, who has been criticised in the past for lumping the ball out of danger, stopped doing this effectively, when it was actually required.
Ollie Watkins, who led the line last season, taking the ball deep into the opposition half and running himself into the ground while doing so, became trapped in his box.
I could go on with every member of the side, but I’ll finish with Reuben Neves of Wolves.
This is a player who can pick the postage stamp out from a dead ball situation. Against Villa, he only scored because his free-kick was so badly hit, that it deflected off Matt Targett, who was not even in line with the goal.
It was a crazy, surreal and potentially devastating period for Aston Villa’s season, yet it happens in football.
A team can be completely out of the game and suddenly get a sniff of hope, and it is game on. The clichéd two-nil is the worst lead in football, is there for a reason.
Normally, that means the losing team snatches a draw, not the whole three points when there were only ten minutes to see out.
Freak defeats like this happen. They’ve happened in the past, Leicester winning three goals to two under Sherwood, was the catalyst for them winning the title and Villa’s relegation.
Even Martin O’Neill had a howler at White Hart Lane after being three goals up with an hour gone only to draw four-all.
Of course, there was also the infamous collapse against Stoke at home, which ended two goals apiece and derailed a potential Champions League place.
The problem with results like these, especially early in the season, is the reputation it gives Villa to other teams.
If Villa are two goals up against Burnley, Norwich, or Watford later in the season, how many times will the Wolves game get referenced in the stands?
It gives other teams belief, that against Villa, the game is never over and that’s a bad reputation to carry forward.
Looking ahead, Villa and Dean Smith need a few statement performances to put the Wolves game in the anomaly category, so that it isn’t used as a pivotal moment this season.
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After Football matches, you know what’s coming. The dreaded social media posts from players.
When a team wins, they usually go something like:
‘What a win!’
‘Three Points, great support as always.’
Usually, this post gets accompanied by an action shot of the player from the match.
When the team loses, the template is more like:
‘Not the result we wanted today’
‘We keep fighting.’
‘Support class as always.’
‘We are hurting as much as you.’
This one accompanies the player looking sad or frustrated during the game.
What’s the point?
Very rarely do you get the true emotions and feelings of the player after the match, no matter the result.
After the horror show against Wolves, you were just waiting to see when the accepted time for one of the players to stick their head above the barricade on social media.
This isn’t a rant about social media, that’s going nowhere, unfortunately. I’m just sick of the same cookie cutter templates from their media teams.
Footballers are superstars because they’re individuals. If they are going to use social media, they should stay away from these vanilla, micromanaged statements.
After the Wolves game, I’d have welcomed a Villa player showing a hole-punched in a wall, or a water bottle sent into orbit.
At least reactions like these are honest and emotional.
Players make mistakes because they are human. Unfortunately, in Villa’s case against Wolves, most of them decided to make mistakes all in the ten minutes of chaos at the end.
I don’t think any template prepares you for that kind of result, so honesty is best, if you decide to post anything at all.
If players continue with the scripted responses that make them lose their humanity, the tolerance for their mistakes won’t be as high, as fans will begin to think they don’t care.
Social media is an ugly enough place without throwing up some lame post that rubs people the wrong way.
If you’re going to tweet, just be yourself because there’s nothing as ugly as a token fake statement.