Black cats, broken mirrors and walking under ladders

Villa fail to win again. Dave Woodhall reflects ruefully.

Years ago Barry Fry did something unmentionable in the corners at St Andrews in an attempt to lift the gypsy’s curse that had been placed on St Andrews in 1906. The situation at Villa Park probably doesn’t need anything so drastic, but you do wonder whether a stray Romany might not have it in for us lately.

Yet again, Villa managed to throw away a winning position on Sunday afternoon thanks to a combination of bad luck, wanton finishing and ineffective tackling. Nil-nil at half-time despite being on top, unsurprisingly managing to go one down then battering the Forest goal. Ross McCormack and Rudy Gestede score, that should be enough to see Villa home but hesitation and defensive uncertainty led to a late and undeserved equaliser. I don’t usually take much notice of stats, but to have 26 shots and still not win has to be some sort of record.

Of course, poor finishing aside the other feature of Villa’s season so far is the succession of injuries the squad are picking up. Tshibola and Jedinak were out again, although the latter was on the bench which seems strange to me – if you’re not fit for ninety minutes you shouldn’t be in a position where you might end up having to play for 89 anyway. Albert Adomah was also out while Pierluigi Gollini had to go off at half-time. You do wonder if there’s any club that have picked up as many injuries as the Villa over the past five or six years.

Even allowing for that, though, Villa should have been able to see the game out against a Forest side who had lost all their away games so far this season. The trouble, of course, is that for all the new signings there still isn’t much in the way of what you call professionalism when it’s your players doing it and cynical gamesmanship when it’s the opposition. As Danny Blanchflower (I think) said sixty-odd years ago, you either let the player go past you, or the ball, but never both. I’ve mentioned Joleon Lescott before, and a player of his experience could have been worth his weight in Premier League wages this season, if only he possessed a fraction of the team spirit and commitment Blanchflower and his contemporaries showed.

Villa have showed enough in every game so far to have won the lot. They could have been clear at the top of the table instead of firmly entrenched in the bottom half. I know it’s early days and the points gap isn’t that great yet, but it will soon start to widen unless we become more ruthless all over the pitch.

Looking on the bright side there were a couple of things to cheer, mostly based around Jonathan Kodjia and the way he’s built an understanding with his team-mates after barely a week of training. Villa’s luck has got to turn eventually and some team is going to feel the full force of a Kodjia/Gestede/McCormack/Ayew forward line before long.

If there’s any justice it will be Brentford on Wednesday. Their manager Dean Smith is a genuine Villa supporter and one of the nicest men in football but I hope that saying about nice guys coming last is proved true, if only for one night.