Aston Villa and the old failing

Dave Woodhall watches Villa draw with Wolves in a familiar style.

Strange thing, football. After fifteen minutes of the match against Wolves I’d have snatched your hand off to only be a goal down at half-time. For most of what remained I’d have been relieved with a draw. When the final whistle went I was absolutely fuming that we hadn’t won. That’s football, and in particular that’s Aston Villa.

It was one of those nights, and it started with Emiliano Martinez’s pre-match introduction. Call me an old curmudgeon, but it struck me that the Villa were behaving a bit too star-struck and it can’t have helped the keeper’s focus to be brought out then go back off the pitch again. He won the World Cup. Well done, now get back to your day job.

John McGinn was out injured and replaced by Matty Cash, who seemed unsure where he should be playing during the first half. Then again, he wasn’t the only one. From the off Wolves were first to every ball, they moved the ball sharply and closed down well. Villa, in contrast, were ponderous, far too open and it seemed that every other pass went backwards. Wolves deserved to take the lead and the only saving grace was that for all their possession they didn’t have many clear-cut chances to add another. Villa had (I think) one shot on target, and apart from that Martinez’s opposite number had to deal with a couple of half-hearted crosses and a few back passes.

Half-time and Ashley Young was replaced by Philippe Coutinho. It was probably a game too many for Young in such a short time although the real problem seemed to be in midfield, which was sorted with a triple substitution midway through the second half. Amongst others Leander Dendoncker replaced Douglas Luiz, who had been well off his usual form and in hindsight should have been rested for the match. A bit more bite in midfield and Villa finally started to look threatening. Second substitute Ludwig Augustinsson had a shot cleared off the line with the keeper stranded and then a ball from Tyrone Mings was controlled superbly by the third sub, Danny Ings, for Villa’s equaliser.

Credit to both sides, they pushed for a winner and then, with almost the last kick of the game, Leon Bailey had a chance for glory that he somehow missed, although on replay it was a bit harder than it first appeared.

Now the dust has settled I can be as objective as I ever will be, and admit that a win would probably have been a bit of a robbery. Wolves wanted the ball more than we did, they dominated the midfield far too easily, we saw again that the worst thing to give a Villa central defender is the ball and time to think, while Bailey in particular had one of his when he’s bad he’s dreadful performances. I hoped we’d seen the last of Villa getting a good win then starting the next match as though they only have to turn up to win; credit to both team and manager for turning things round in the later stages and ultimately being disappointed only to get a point, but it should have been much better.