Do not disturb

Dave Woodhall on the lack of proper football last weekend and Villa’s forthcoming attractions.

Like many things in football now, I don’t particularly like international weekends but they’re not going to be scrapped just for me so I might as well make the most of them.

I’d normally watch a non-league match when the Villa aren’t playing but other commitments meant that even that minor pleasure was denied on Saturday. At least I didn’t have to try to keep up the usual ritual I have when I can’t get to our match – attempting to avoid any mention of the score on the basis that if I don’t know what’s going on, nothing bad can be happening. Sometimes I manage it, sometimes not, but my behaviour usually gets increasingly bizarre as ten to five approaches. Not once has this pointless and frankly idiotic ritual ever made the slightest difference to the end result but I still persist with it. Then again, nothing in football is rational.

Still, with no match to watch or result to try and ignore it’s at least possible to take stock of the season so far. And the problem here is that there’s nothing original that can be said. Villa aren’t exactly setting the Championship on fire, but there has been an improvement over the past twelve months, in results if not performances. Talking of which, the team’s style of play under Bruce is nothing of which to be particularly proud although it hasn’t been as bad as some have said.

Sixth in the league is the absolute minimum that Villa should be aiming for by this or any stage of the season but even if that’s how we end up after 46 games Steve Bruce’s future will have to be in doubt if we then don’t get promoted via the play-offs. Once all this World Cup nonsense is out of the way Villa have a run of games leading up until Christmas that could prove vital. There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t get maximum points in the next half-dozen, and this sort of success not only breeds confidence but it also makes the rest of the league realise the size of their task when they play us.

After our win at Preston the TV commentators talked about everyone above us in the table looking over their shoulders at the big team continuing to climb nearer them. That’s the kind of attitude we have to inspire in the rest of the league – call it confidence, call it arrogance but all winning clubs have got it. Too often we’ve seen teams play the Villa and use the occasion to raise their game rather than worrying about what might happen in the next ninety minutes.

Our biggest task for the rest of the season is to make the rest of the league think they’re defeated before they run onto the pitch. It’s been far too long since we punched our weight and looking at the fixtures for the coming month we should be starting this run off at Loftus Road on Saturday.