Leeding on from that

Villa slumped to a two-goal defeat to Leeds on Saturday. Dave Woodhall wonders how it will affect the team.

I’ve often thought that if I was appointing a manager I’d want one who’d been sacked at least once in his career. That way, I’d know he was able to cope with setbacks. In football as in real life you can’t see someone’s real capablities until something goes wrong.

One defeat in eight games is hardly a setback, but it’ll be interesting to see how Steve Bruce deals with the loss at Elland Road on Saturday evening. Villa were no worse than Leeds for the first hour; in fact they had the better of the chances and had Albert Admomah, in particular, been a bit more assured then the result could have been a lot different. But he didn’t, it wasn’t and Villa’s rise up the table subsequently came to an end.

It’s been said that Bruce’s failing is that he plays too defensively against the higher-rated sides. This might be his over-riding philosophy, it might be that he’s still rebuilding the morale of a side whose confidence was on the floor when he arrived at Villa Park and once he feels they’re ready he can send them out to play more adventurously. Only time will tell on that one but the manager’s caution definitely handed Leeds an initiative they took advantage of.

The first goal was always likely to be decisive, and Villa’s defence is always likely to be the deciding factor on such occasions. Pierluigi Gollini might turn out to be a great goalkeeper in time, but in hindsight it wasn’t the brightest idea to go into the season with a 21 year old Italian totally inexperienced in the rudiments of the Championship as your first choice in goal, particularly when his back-ups haven’t done much to inspire confidence.

Results elsewhere mean that Villa are as far points-wise from the play-offs as they are the relegation zone, which is hardly surprising as there are few teams who seem consistently better than the rest. The aim must be to maintain the current improved home form, get a few away points and stay in touch with the top sides until January, when the Xia/Recon cheque book can be opened again.

Wigan at Villa Park on Saturday should be an opportunity to get back up the league and hopefully net a few goals into the bargain. A good win will continue with the confidence building that remains Steve Bruce’s biggest task.