Villa slump needs to end quickly if they are to make Premier League return
Aston Villa’s slow start to the new season is beginning to alarm fans. A swift Premier League return was expected last campaign but in reality it never looked likely. Now, in Steve Bruce’s first full season in charge, Villa fans are continuing to see more of the same. The slump needs to end, and quickly, writes Bryce Donaldson.
After being knocked out of the League cup in the third round, Aston Villa fans are growing worried as similar signs from last season are again cropping up.
In 2016/17, Aston Villa played their first ever season out of the English top flight. Largely disappointing and very unremarkable, they had a slow start to the season, were knocked out early of both the FA and League cup and finished mid-table despite being tipped at the start of the season as promotion challengers.
This season Aston Villa were again tipped as strong contenders for the Championship title but have started slowly in the league, gaining only 10 points from 8 matches. After an early cup exit at the hands of Middlesbrough it’s understandable why some fans are growing nervous and looking for answers to their woes.
Calls from the stand for a new manager have not been loud. Steve Bruce is a well experienced manager who has achieved promotion to the Premier League before with Birmingham and Hull. Despite only winning once in their opening four home games, Villa are yet to lose a league match in front of the Villa Park faithful. This is perhaps why fans attitudes have not yet turned sour.
A repeat of the last season will be on the minds of many. Bruce got off to quick start after taking over from Roberto Di Matteo last year but faltered after the Christmas period not winning a match in 2017 till the 25th of February and essentially ending any hopes of a quick return to the top flight.
Fans will want to avoid going through the agony of stumbling through another season out of the top flight as a manager finds his footing and aims to put his stamp on the team.
Villa made headlines as they spent big in both the summer and January transfer windows to secure big names in the championship. Forwards Jonathan Kodjia, Ross McCormack and Scott Hogan were amongst those who signed for the largest fees. Despite the hype surrounding the front-men, only Kodjia went on to impress for Villa.
This season instead of making more expensive mistakes, Bruce opted for experience. Bringing in numerous Premier League veterans as free agents, most notably ex England and Chelsea captain, John Terry, was supposed to add structure and composure to the team. However, a lack of urgency and desire in the team has resulted in many draws against opponents they would hope to beat if they have any true ambition of fighting back to the Premier League.
Villa are no strangers to developing young talent. Over the years Premier League greats such as Gareth Barry and Dion Dublin have proven that the Villa youth system can produce great talent. Some of the youngest in the current senior squad are no different and are being tipped early as players to watch out for this season. Keinan Davis, only 19 years-old, has led the front line a few times this season already. His physical presence upfront is a challenge for defenders throughout the league. He recently scored his first professional goal against Burnley and many are predicting much more from him this season.
At the other end of the pitch James Bree is showing great maturity in the centre of defence despite his young age. Solid performances at the back has not gone unnoticed by Bruce who continues to put his faith in him.
In the middle of the park and out on the wings attacking players Andre Green, Josh Onomah and Jack Grealish have impressed with skill, pace and a determination to prove themselves at a high level. It is no surprise that they have already found themselves in amongst the goals and assists at the club.
With enthusiasm for the game and now great role models to learn from in training it is clear that the youth at Villa Park will mature into great players.
They may not be quite ready to take the reins at Villa Park and guide them back to Premier League status. Though it would not be the first time that those who believe “you can’t win anything with kids” have been made to eat their words.
The answer to Villa’s problems may not be clear but one thing that is obvious is Steve Bruce will need to figure it out quickly before Aston Villa become the latest club to fall from Premier League grace to lower league struggles.