Looking back in anger with Villa

Villa draw 1-1 at Bristol City with Dave Woodhall wondering about a manager’s future.

I’ve always believed that you can talk for hours without saying exactly what you mean, then hear one phrase that sums your thoughts up perfectly. Graham Taylor was always good at that and something he once said must have struck a chord with anyone who ever wondered why managers see things differently to the rest of us. “Thirty thousand people at a match will pick a different team to me,” he said, “and their team is always better than mine, because theirs never loses.”

I don’t know how many would have picked a different team to the one Steve Bruce put out at Bristol City, but there won’t have been many who would have picked the same one. From a squad overflowing with wingers, our beleaguered manager chose none. Once again he had a central defender at right-back, a right-back at left-back and a midfielder who’s proved time and again that he can’t be relied on as anything other than a stop-gap central defender in the middle. You didn’t need to be a better manager to see what was coming next…

And so it proved, for the first 45 minutes. Villa were all over the place in defence and not much better up front. City were a goal up after sixteen minutes and could have had more as Villa were what they are – unsure, lacking confidence and with no pattern to either their play or even their formation.

Luckily, halves last for longer than 45 minutes and not for the first time this season Villa got a goal at a time when the ref was looking at his watch, Conor Hourihane’s delivery being met by the head of Birkir Bjarnason, one of the players who would have a much bigger role to play in my team than he’s had so far in Steve Bruce’s.

Villa, to their credit, were much improved after the break even of the closest any of the recognised forwards came when a Tammy Abraham header was cleared off the goal line – luckily, as it was the Villa line. A couple of wingers made a belated entry in to proceeding, without making much difference and proceedings drew to a close to the general displeasure of yet another sold-out away section.

You could argue, and Steve Bruce would doubtless agree with you, that getting a draw away from home to a team above you in the table is a good result. The counter to this argument is that there are far too many teams above us in the table, and by this time tomorrow Villa could be in the bottom half with almost a quarter of the season gone. And although Villa have no divine right to success, any time when we’re below Bristol City is not a time when the manager should feel secure, regardless. Time to give one of the thirty thousand a chance?