Aston Villa and a matter of routine

Villa beat Norwich and Dave Woodhall observes.

A month ago this looked like being a routine, nothing to get worked up about, end of season match. Villa would have been safely in mid-table and Norwich relegated or as good as; a Saturday afternoon with the pressure off and an opportunity to find some positivity to take into the summer. Then Villa, being Villa, did their best to ruin those plans by slipping down the table into a situation that should have been safe, but you never know.

And so the day began with a few more nerves showing than they should have. Steven Gerrard had finally decided to alter the spine of the team, with Tim Iroegbunam starting and Calum Chambers back in the side. Both did well enough to keep their place, Iroegbunam in particular showing that he can be yet another successful product of the Bodymoor Heath production line while adding the balance that allowed John McGinn to have more impact than he often has this season.

There isn’t much more than you can say. ‘Adequate’ summed up most of the individual performances, as well as the team as a whole. Norwich were as poor as they have been for most of the season and rarely looked like scoring. Villa had most of the possession and created more than enough chances, yet there was an air of lethargy that led to the sort of mistakes which would have been punished by better opponents. Villa give the ball away far too often and sorting that problem during the summer has got to be a priority.

Leon Bailey hit the bar with his only decent contribution before going off suffering from the effects of an injury he’d picked up earlier and within seconds Ollie Watkins had done what he does best, running onto a long ball, forcing one defender to slip and making room against another to give Villa the lead.

There should have been more, but Villa’s final ball was lacking and it took until stoppage time before the points were put beyond doubt, substitute Danny Ings finishing a move begun when Watkins won the ball and Emiliano Buendia created the chance. Villa had looked a lot more effective once Buendia had replaced Philippe Coutinho, who yet again failed to impose himself on game that he should have been dominating.

And that was it. The win that we needed to finally banish any lingering doubts finally came, and without too much effort. Dean Smith, as he always had, shook hands with everyone on the pitch before acknowledging the ovation he deserved from the crowd. His team’s supporters were very likely relieved that it’s finally over, we were relieved to get three points while knowing that the team will have to improve to get many more this season.

In the end it had been an unremarkable win with not a great deal to enthuse about or particularly enjoy. Unless you were the lad sitting next to me, over from Wicklow with his dad for his first match, who had the best ninety minutes of his life.

One thought on “Aston Villa and a matter of routine

  1. After the initial excitement of having a world-class player gracing our famous stadium, i am now dead-against making the signing of Coutinho permanent and moving the mean grade of the squad upwards and provide a fresh benchmark for agents getting deals for their clients for the….. 4 years of his putative stay at Villa Park?
    What is the point of having a youth system at Villa if it turns into a conveyor-belt for the players to simply drop off the end… if the current crop is much vaunted, build a team around them because a lot of the signings we’ve made don’t bring home the bacon unless it’s Everton at home, and God only knows when we might enjoy a visit from them again!

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