Aston Villa and that Monday evening feeling

Dave Woodhall endures Villa’s draw at Nottingham Forest.

A few years ago I was talking to a Sky Sports executive who told me about what they called ‘Black Mondays’, when the televised match was between two poor sides and the ground barely half-full. Back then it was on occasions such as Wigan v Blackburn; now it could be Anyone v Villa. The crowd might be bigger but the principle remains the same – if the Villa are on TV there’s a good chance that the match will be awful. Harsh, but fair.

It’s still early enough in the season for some spectacular leaps up the table on the back of one match – had we won on Monday evening we’d have been ninth and above Liverpool. The starting line-up was certainly capable of this; injuries are beginning to clear up, midfield seemed solid enough and we had two potential matchwinners in the team. On paper everything looked good; the problem was on grass.

This was another uninspiring, unedifying ninety minutes from a Villa side who failed to break down limited opposition. We did start off brightly although there still wasn’t much final threat, then a free kick in a dangerous position, a laughably unmarked striker and Villa were a goal down.

Full credit to the team for coming back and Ashley Young scored a spectacular first since 2011, but any ideas that this was to be another of the goal fests that marked the last time we were in the same division as Forest soon fizzled out. Ollie Watkins had one ruled out for offside and that was about it in the way of action to talk about.

Danny Ings came on for the disappointing Philippe Coutinho and Leander Dendoncker replaced the disappointing John McGinn, both to little or no effect, while the arrival for Cameron Archer with ten minutes to go in place of Jacob Ramsey might have been welcomebut gave the side an unbalanced look, with three out and out strikers providing horrendous flashbacks to Bradford 2013. Not that it made much difference, and as the match played itself out Forest were the side going forward.

A point away is always useful, and this one, against a side bottom of the league at kick-off, would have been a good result for relegation strugglers. Villa, though, should be setting their sights far higher than that. Which leads to the obvious question – where do we go from here? It might seem strange to be talking about getting rid of the manager while the team is unbeaten in four games, but like the stats that showed Villa had 61% of possession and twice as many goal attempts as Forest, that figure only tells half the story.

Far too often this season Villa have been ponderous, easy to play against and above all, tedious to watch. Coming up to the first anniversary of Steve Gerrard’s appointment, the questions have to be asked – has there been any real improvement in the team, and if not, how much longer will he be given to make some?

One thought on “Aston Villa and that Monday evening feeling

  1. It’s been turgid for a while…. Villa like the wretched government that we’ve got should either U-turn or explain to the fans that are having to put up with all this what is being done to address the problems we can all see.
    It can’t all be pain and no gain !

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