To err is human

Dave Woodhall watches a familar tale unfold as Villa blow yet another lead.

I’ve said before that a lengthy injury list seems to have become a part of life at Villa Park. It’s in the club’s DNA, to coin a horrible modern cliche. Something that seems just as deeply bred into us is the ability to throw away points from winning positions.

Two against Sunderland in the last match and now three away at Leicester, who are far higher up the league now than Leicester should ever be. it all looked so different with 27 minutes left, as well. Villa had been on top throughout the opening half, with Jack Grealish scoring what will surely be the first of many outstanding goals.

Leicester started the second half well but it looked as if the storm had been weathered when Carles Gil put us two up on 63 minutes. Not that long to go, the opposition demoralised and three points there for the taking. This was the sort of positive, open football we’d dreamt of for so long and it was starting to pay dividends.

Tim Sherwood seems to have an eye for a player but what he hasn’t nailed yet is the art of making changes on the hoof. He was totally outfoxed by the veteran Claudio Ranieri, Villa lost their shape, their hold on midfield, and before long their lead. The inevitable end to the game came courtesy of a(nother) Brad Guzan mistake in the final stages of what proved to be the most frustrating afternoon of Sherwood’s Villa career.

The manager later appeared on TV absolutely bloody furious, and I hope he was equally angry with himself because while individual mistakes had ultimately cost the three points, the momentum that had led to Villa controlling this match had been undone undone by his changes.

Substitutions had to be made because yet again Villa were running out of steam in the last half hour (this regular lack of fitness is another worry, and might solve the mystery of all those injuries) but it was clear that those made by Sherwood were blatantly the wrong ones. When you’re two up away from home and the opposition are piling forward, it isn’t a good idea to throw on a forward, especially one as out of sorts as Jordan Ayew.

Leicester are now second in the league while Villa are fourteenth, yet we could so easily be in the top six were it not for the sort of schoolboy defensive errors that have undone so much good attacking work during the past two games. That’s how easily the table changes at this time of the season and while second, fifth or fourteenth at this stage of the season is unimportant, it’s still five points we’ll never make up.

I’ve said all along that so many new signings will take time to gel and I’ll wait until Christmas before judging or, as is more likely given recent years, worrying. However, Tim Sherwood hasn’t got much time to get up to speed. If he’s learning from his mistakes, fine and he’ll be a better manager for it. If he isn’t, the potential of what has been shown in patches to be a useful crop of players may be lost forever.