Villa one up in the 88th minute. Dave Woodhall talks about the inevitable conclusion.
A statistic bandied around a lot after the weekend said that Villa had 48 shots in the previous three games, with 22 on target, yet had somehow managed to get just two points in that time. Looking at those figures, it seemed that someone, sooner or later, was going to get a fearful battering from us. And that someone should have been Brentford.
As usual, the early signs were promising with an opening goal from Jonathan Kodija that showed his undoubted class. And again, there was a period after the goal when Villa looked like a side who will soon inevitably start rising up the table.
Then, equally inevitably, came a second half fadeout that culminated in the most inevitable thing of all – a late equaliser and two more dropped points. There were two more injuries to the ever-lengthening casualty list but that can’t be offered up as much of an excuse. The most expensive team in this league’s history (and if I’m wrong on that one it can’t be by much) were outplayed by opposition put together on less than a shoestring. Champions League-winning Roberto Di Matteo was tactically undone by Dean Smith, whose greatest achievement to date has been taking Walsall to the Johnson’s Paint Trophy Final.
Talk of getting rid of Di Matteo is ludicrously premature with the season less than two months old and him unable to put out a full-strength side yet. But more performances like the dross we witnessed in the second half will see the boos that greeted the final whistle getting louder and the goodwill surrounding Tony Xia’s arrival evaporating.
After the game the next stat to come up was that so far this season Villa have conceded four goals in the last five minutes of games and they’ve cost us seven points. If we’d got those points we’d be well in contention, even though the team hasn’t yet hit anything like top form. Instead, we’re wondering when the next win will come from.
And maybe that’s the crux of the problem. The club has got so used to losing over the past five years that maybe – and this is just a theory with no basis in anything like fact – we’re all just too apprehensive about facing the opposition, whoever they might be. We don’t see Brentford, or Bristol City and Nottingham Forest in the previous games, as individuals who man for man are nowhere near as good as us. We see the other team, and the other team have beaten us so easily and so often that we automatically expect more of the same.
The players may have changed but the mindset surrounding them remains the same. We go a goal up and we expect to concede. We go a goal down and that’s it, game over. The whole club is filled with apprehension at the start of every match; we never expect to swat teams such as Brentford away with little effort, we see banana skins everywhere and I wonder if that attitude comes over to the team too easily.
If that’s the case and anyone has any bright ideas about how to turn the mindset round, I’m sure @Dr_TonyXia will only be too happy to listen.