Aston Villa and the worrying similarities

Villa go down 1-0 to Wolves. Dave Woodhall watches, again.

It’s all getting a bit too predictable. Another team turn up at Villa Park, see what we’re capable of, realise it’s not that much and do just enough to win, knowing that there’s no real danger of an equaliser.

I did smile at the Thirty Years of Hurt that Liverpool have been coming out with this week. On Saturday afternoon we endured another Ninety Minutes of Anguish, in the almost-certain knowledge that there’s another ninety coming up next Sunday unless the FA think that the new champions have got enough points already.

Villa did start against Wolves with at least a bit of hope that there might be change of ideas, thanks to the announcement of a new formation that would see two forwards on the pitch at the same time. But, whatever tactical masterplan Dean Smith intended to implement went out of the window after Matt Targett was injured in the first ten minutes and while that on its own probably wouldn’t have done much to change the end result of the game, it certainly deprived Villa of one attacking outlet.

Not that there was much attacking intent, no matter how many forwards would have been on the pitch. Neither are in the ‘quiet for 89 minutes and win the game with one chance in the ninetieth’ category and even if they were, the chance never arrived.

When you’re playing the Villa you only have to stop Jack Grealish and that’s most of the battle won. Wolves did it with ease and once they’d scored, the game seemed to take on even more of the air of a training session, which was perhaps understandable in the first one back after the break, but in the fourth it was unforgiveable. To coin the most obvious of cliches, in these trying circumstances a lack of skill can be perhaps forgiven but a lack of effort never can be. Wolves did what they had to, and they did it without breaking sweat.

The introduction of Adama Traore into the game brough back inevitable and inevitably harrowing memories of 2015-16, when he was signed by a Villa sporting director (or whatever the title might have been) looking more to the future than what was needed at that time, only to be thrown into a squad hopelessly split between new arrivals and old stagers, and lacking in any great experience to deal with the situation that rapidly developed.

The parallels between then and now are only too obvious, and I can’t help but think that should Villa be relegated again – a possibility which can’t entirely be ruled out – some of our signings from last summer might go on to be as successful elsewhere as Traore and a couple of his contemporaries have been, much good it will do us by then.

Four games in ten days, then none for over a week, then four in eleven. I don’t understand the logic behind that, either, although I don’t think it’ll make much difference, all things considered.

To be continued.