Over the border

Dave Woodhall on Villa’s defeat at Cardiff and the week ahead.

Anoher year over and the new one just begun. 2017 has kicked off in the same way as most of 2016, and for that matter 2015, 2014, 2013… Villa play badly and lose.

It might not have been the worst performance of those woe-begotten times but to go down without much of a fight to a side struggling to stay out of the Championship’s bottom three has got to be one of the low points of any year. Steve Bruce’s team selection was mystifying enough. How he thought that Gary Gardner and Ashley Westwood would be able to boss midfield against a Neil Warnock side is one of those things that can only be understood by football professionals, who know more about the game than us mere supporters. Both were hauled off at half-time, by which time Villa were a goal down and lucky at that.

The secnod half was marginally better, with Aaron Tshibola and for the final few minutes Rushian Hepburn Murphy showing that they do still exist and offering hope that we might see more of them in the coming weeks. There was no sign of Rudy Gestede, whose sale to Middlesbrough is reportedly imminent. On that note, another thing that makes no sense to me – why sell a player before a replacement arrives, particularly when he has the knack of coming on and helping things happen? And how can you sell someone to a club at a higher level and make a loss, particularly after reports that there were more than one club interested?

Next weekend sees Villa on TV for a change, in the FA Cup third round at Spurs. Here’s a bold prediction – their reserves will beat ours. There’ll be a bit of angst about how we can’t compete with a club that used to be our equals, Chas’n’Dave will get an airing and that’ll be the glamour of the cup over with for another year.

Of greater importance will be Villa’s performance in the transfer market. Getting a couple of quick and decisive deals done in areas where the team need strengthening will be of a lot more use than a shock result in a competition we’re never going to win again and we might as well get used to the fact.