There’s something all too familiar about this scenario. To Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest, add Brentford. By my reckoning, that’s ten points dropped. Ten points which would have left us a point clear at the top of the table.
That’s an expensive habit you’ve developed, lads.
A night of positives to that point, if you’ll pardon the pun. Jonathan Kodjia broke his duck inside twenty minutes and the world looked rosy. No ordinary effort either. Latching onto a raking Mile Jedinak pass, Kodjia cut inside from the right, jinking into the area before unleashing a tremendous drive into the top corner. A moment of beauty and his celebration suggested that a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
As the game progressed, Brentford became more of a threat. Considering the attacking performance against Forest, it was disappointing last night. McCormack didn’t re-appear for the second half; we wait to see the extent of the injury. He wasn’t as effective as recent performances; the same was true of Elphick in defence. Vulnerability in your captain is never a good sign; it needs to be a one-off. A one-off in a season of one-offs.
Brentford’s equaliser was appalling to concede. Egan was left with the freedom of Villa Park with Amavi and Cissokho nowhere to be seen. That Gollini even got close to stopping the ball is creditable but in vain. Five defenders were with a few yards of each other with Egan in twenty yards of space. Poor organisation and one which haunts us at the moment.
We’re approaching the point of results v performances: which matters more? At the moment, points. Put me firmly in the results will bring confidence, feeding performances.
Roberto Di Matteo confronted the problem head-on post-match:
We are aware of that fact that we need to get a win under our belt.
That will help us massively to break some of the barriers that we’re carrying with us.
Winning ugly, he went on to say, was the answer. Easier said than done; this was a crushing blow and you could sense the deflation in the players, as is always the case with self-inflicted wounds, be they wholly or partially so.
At this point, the leaders in the squad need to stand up and take charge. McCormack, Elphick and Jedinak have all worn the captain’s armband elsewhere; they need to guide the others through this time. It’s essentially a new squad, such has been the turnover of players that some time was inevitably going to be needed to build a sense of ‘team’.
However, that doesn’t mean that it can take forever and the experienced players, the senior professionals, have to speed the process up. Football is littered with ‘team talks’, where the players took charge to resolve a situation. With two minutes to go, it became apparent that such a meeting might well be beneficial at Villa Park.
Unless of course, we win at Portman Road this coming weekend. And then the world looks such a brighter place.