Aston Villa got their first draw of the season last night against Burnley. Burnley are on a good run of form and a draw may look like a good result. However, if you watched the game, we could have easily won 5-0 or more. Villa played some nice football, defended well and always looked in control. Why did we lose then? I don’t subscribe to being lucky or unlucky in football. I am firmly in the Arnold Palmer mode of thinking from when a journalist accused him of being a lucky golfer. His response ‘the more I practice the luckier I get’. Make no mistake, the reason we did not win last night lies firmly with the players and the coaching staff. It is not the nasty football Gods interfering with our performances.
Who exactly is accountable?
It is difficult to say who exactly is accountable as it is not a single individual, it is the group. Yes, El Ghazi had 8 shots. We hit the woodwork twice. Brady cleared off the line. We could even look to blame the ref for not giving Ben Mee any of the three yellow cards he deserved. But those type of excuses are the type you will read on a Baggies blog or a Blues blog. They blame the ref, Covid, no fans, the Premier League, the EFL, VAR, the Elite clubs and any other conspiracy theory they can come up with. They always fail to take a look at themselves to see what they are doing wrong. This is a normal insecurity many people have, and it stops people improving. I work for a US company and like many US companies we are very much into the concept of ‘Continuous Improvement’. We are actively encouraged to reflect on our decision making and performance with a view to seeing how we can improve. This learning process helps us to identify our mistakes which helps us to avoid repeating them.
What mistakes did villa make last night?
There are many factors which contributed to last night’s draw. Not all of them strictly mistakes but things we can learn from. One glaring issue is our lack of firepower up front. I think Watkins is great, but he can’t be expected to score in every game, he is allowed a bad day. We simply don’t have cover for him. could argue ElGhazi is not good enough, and he probably is not good enough for where we want to be, but he ticks the box for where we are now. If we are going to be realistic we could probably go through our entire squad and only come up with maybe 3 players which we don’t need to upgrade. We could also look to our coaching staff. Our tactics looked right, but could we have coached better finishing and crossing. Could we have made our substitutions earlier? Could we have changed selection? Elmo was very poor last night; would Fred have been better? Should Louie Barry be given a chance?
Things villa need to do differently
The list of things we could have changed goes on an on. There is no quick fix to making Aston Villa better. There is no opportunity to go out and buy a few good players to try and break into the elite group next May. These ideas are naive and acting on them can damage our development. The current stage of Aston Villa’s development requires patience and strong leadership. This is exactly what NSWE and Purslow are delivering. Six months ago, we were fighting relegation, 12 months prior to that we were in the Championship. We are continuously improving, and we need to continue to do so. If we follow a plan and gradually improve our squad. We will get stronger first team players and a better bench of backup players. Last summer we brought in 5 players, the summer before it was 14. Next summer I hope it is 2 or 3. We have the numbers we now need the quality. I would like to see us sign Barkley, maybe Dele Alli and a real quality LB. That would probably cost about 120m. In Jan we may or may not sign anyone. If we were to get someone in that I would want it to be one of the 3 signings for next summer and not a desperate attempt to fix a gap or rash purchase thinking we can now compete with Spurs or Man Utd etc.
Aston Villa’s Coaching staff
For continuous improvement we also need to assess our Head Coach and his coaching staff. Are they continuously improving? Without a doubt yes. We are clearly getting better each season and we are playing some nice football. We have had 6 clean sheets this season and have 19 points from 11 games. I think it took us 19 games to get 19 points last season. Relegation is not a concern this season and that is hugely important. The bigger question is do our coaching team have the ability to bring to the next level in our development. Do they know what positions are most important to address in the transfer windows? Do they have the vision to deliver the project we all want delivered i.e. Villa to be a top 4 club competing for domestic and international silverware every season? If not, when is the right time to address this? Is it now or do we wait another year and see where the continuous improvement has led us to, maybe we will be a comfortable top 8 club next season with the current setup? As much as I like Deano, I don’t think he is the man to lead us to the promised land, for that I think we will need a change. He has been absolute perfect for bringing us to where we are now from where we were under Bruce and he is still delivering. Hopefully, I will be proven wrong and we will see Deano take Aston Villa to the top but I guess only time will tell.
Baggies on Sunday
We have a trip to our neighbours on Sunday and their first game under the stewardship of Big Sam. If we thought last night’s game was dull and Burnley just wanted to escape Villa Park with a point, then get ready for Sunday. Big Sam will be over the moon with a point. The double decker will be parked in front of goal and we will be challenged into trying to score. I expect we will have another 25+ shots. The big question will be if we have learned from last night’s game and will we do anything differently to convert one of our shots. For a start, I hope to see Cash, Luiz and Barkley start so that should make life a little easier for Deano. But he must learn from the Burnley game. If it is not working, he must change things about to get a system that will work.
UTV and a 3-0 win to the Villa