Villa go down 3-1 at home to QPR with Dave Woodhall watching.
Occasions like last Saturday don’t come round very often so there was every chance that Tuesday night’s clash with Queens Park Rangers would be a huge anti-climax. For Steve Bruce there was the dilemma of whether to keep the same team or rest a few of the older legs for what looked like one of the easier games left this season. You can’t ask for more than mid-table opponents with poor away form who’ve just had the win that more or less makes them safe. But this is the Villa…
And within a couple of minutes of the game starting we were defending a corner, which set the scene for the rest of the evening. Whether it was complacency, or poor motivation, or indeed a few players did need resting, Villa were second all over the pitch throughout. QPR’s first goal was a perfectly-placed header from a pinpoint cross, but players with the experience that Villa’s central defence can muster should have been able to deal with the danger at source.
Still, no real worry, that’ll wake them up and there’s plenty of time to put it right. Er, wrong. There was still no urgency, no spark, nothing to show that the team meant business. There was, though, one bit of training ground practice making perfect in evidence.
When two attackers step over a ball it might be an idea to see if there’s a reason for it, such as a third moving up from midfield and if so, to block him. Or you could stand and watch as he gets the ball unmarked in acres of space and puts his side two up.
And that bit of amateurism effectively ended the contest. Jack Grealish could have done better with a close-range header in first half stoppage time and a thirty yard free-kick came back to Conor Hourihane for a second chance that flashed past the post but that was it until James Chester’s 88th minute goal that could have led to a grandstand finish had it not been for Rangers’ third five minutes earlier.
QPR didn’t seem to have any tactical masterplan. They didn’t have to. All they needed to do was wait until we lost the ball then break at speed. Twice Villa had a corner and within seconds were defending deep into our own half. We had no idea how to do anything like that.
All in all, a night to forget. Typical Villa, as many have said, to follow up a great display with a diabolical one. It’s certainly true that we seem to save our worse performances for Tuesday nights, and often after a good result on the previous Saturday. Maybe Villa have got too many players incapable of raising their game twice in the space of three days. If that’s the case, it doesn’t bode well for the run of midweek games coming up, or indeed for the play-offs that are now our only realistic chance of promotion.