There have been some dark days at Aston Villa in recent years, but none of them had quite such the punch of anger that yesterday’s 4-1 loss to Sheffield United produced. The poor attitude, the managerial decision and the fighting in the stands. It’s a new low for the club, but that does mean we learnt plenty from the nightmare of Bramall Lane. Let’s get into it.
The players just did not want to fight and it makes no sense
The worst thing about yesterday’s result was the lack of care from the players out on the pitch. They were slow to ever loose ball, weak in every challenge and looked genuinely like they didn’t want to win the game. I’m sure that’s not true and the players are hurting about the result, but there was no evidence on the pitch to suggest that was the case.
The question is: why was the attitude so poor? A lot of fans have already pointed the blame towards Steve Bruce and in a way, rightfully so. It’s the manager’s job to encourage the players and get them in the right mind-set to get a result. That obviously failed to happen. At the same time, the players have to have a look at themselves.
Footballers should go out onto the pitch and have a pride in themselves, or at least the club. They should want to prove to everyone how good they are and how good they can be. At Bramall Lane, we got the worst of at least 70% of the Villa players out on that pitch.
A few players were just not ready yet
“To be fair, four or five of them have put themselves in contention where they haven’t trained all week. I think that was pretty evident. So I made a big mistake there. “
That was a quote from Steve Bruce in his post-match press conference. He admitted that a couple of players (Grealish, McGinn, Kodjia to name a few) just weren’t fit enough but he chose to play them anyway. He didn’t want to play any of the other victims from the Burton loss so took a chance on some players that weren’t ready. It didn’t work and Villa lost heavily. The manager has to take the blame for that one and he is holding his hands up in apology. Sorry doesn’t always make things right though.
The defence is just wrong, totally and utterly wrong
It’s not just those decisions that were confusing. Jedinak at centre-back, Tuanzebe at right-back and Hutton at left-back. Neil Taylor and Richie De Laet not getting a look in. None of it makes any sense. I keep waiting to see what Bruce’s master plan is, but I feel like he genuinely believes Jedinak is a great choice as a central defender. On paper, I can see why. He’s tall, strong, good in the air and good in a tackle. However, he misses the one key point of being a centre-back. Anticipation.
It’s been proven over the past few weeks that Jedinak struggles to time an interception, to anticipate the danger or to pick up a striker’s run. He struggles in this position and even Jedinak will know it. To make matters worse, Tuanzebe is perfectly good centre-back at this level. I don’t know how much longer this can go on.
What is wrong with Jonathan Kodjia?
For the longest time, Kodjia has been a shadow of the beast that we know he can be. You can put it down to injuries, tactics or confidence but the King has been struggling for the better part of a year. When he scored the header against Ipswich and the equaliser against Brentford, it looked like he had turned a corner but since then, he has looked back to the sub-par version.
Against Sheffield United, he was pushed around, beaten to more or less every loose ball and didn’t look up for it. Admittedly, he wasn’t the only one but I fear that Kodjia is going back into his shell. The signing of Tammy Abraham should have been a kick up the backside, but there was no reaction yesterday and there needed to be.
The fans fighting each other in the stands are a disgrace to the club
The result was bad. The performances were bad and it’s a day to forget for the club. However, nothing can justify the actions of the drunk, petulant children that started fighting in the away stands yesterday. This is a sporting event, a meeting of fans who are brought together by their love for a club. Everyone in that stand should have been on the same side, standing together against the bad performance.
Instead, they let themselves down. They turned on each other for their beliefs about the club and it’s a disgrace. There were a lot of things that angered me about yesterday’s match. Lots of things that disappointed me. This was the one thing that angered me and disappointed me the most. Grow up children.
Image Credit: AVFC