Dave Woodhall on Villa’s 1-0 defeat to Wolves, tributes and a plea.
There’s no getting over the fact that the events of last week cast a shadow over Saturday’s match. The pre-match tribute made for a poignant scene (I’d have preferred a minute’s silence to applause but the only people who matter in such circumstances are the family and if they were happy that’s all that counts) and both sets of supporters paid tribute to a great man.
I’d like to say Villa’s performance was another tribute although it was anything but. Two mid-table Championship teams put on a display more fitting to their current predicament than their aspirations; Wolves scored their best chance and Ross McCormack missed Villa’s. Apart from that there was little for anyone watching, whether at Molinueux or on TV, to get warmed up by on what seemed the coldest day of the season so far. As usual the deciding goal was accompanied by an error in the Villa defence, in this case from new keeper Sam Johnstone, who otherwise had a decent game, which is more than can be said for most of his team-mates.
Uninventive in midfield, uninspiring in attack. It’s the Villa way and until it changes there will be more games, and results, like this. Two weeks into the transfer window and we’re no nearer solving the problems that have plagued us all season. In fact, Villa are weaker following the ridiculous haste in which Rudy Gestede was bundled out of the door at the first opportunity. He might not have been the long-term answer but Gestede was surely a better bet to see us through to the end of the month than the busted flush that now represents Gabby Agbonlahor.
As it is, the new manager bounce is definitely over and Steve Bruce faces what might be his toughest-ever challenge. The Villa job is a hard one at the best of times; the sight of Paul Lambert standing in the home dugout at Molinuex looking ten years younger than he did when he occupied the same space at Villa Park is testament to that. And these times are far from the best – £50 million spent, albeit not by Bruce, has made the team workmanlike at home and dismal away. Tony Xia, who has already showed that patience may not be his strongest point, might start wondering soon when he’s going to get a return on his investment.
Next Saturday Preston roll into town. They’re another club who will be fired up at the prospect of playing at Villa Park and anything less than three points will be a further blow to Villa’s chances of getting into the play-offs. There will be another tribute to Graham Tayor and I’ve no doubt that it will be done with the class and dignity we associate with the club because however disappointing we might be on the pitch, off it Villa are never anything less than professional in such matters.
In the meantime, there’s something else we as supporters can do. Throughout the tributes that have been paid since the news broke, that Sun headline has received the universal condemnation it deserved, except in one quarter. The Sun repeated the story with relish, wanting to show how clever they are. This week the best tribute anyone can pay to Graham Taylor is to vow never to buy that despicable rag again. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Don’t buy the Sun.