Should I admit to this? I don’t know, but it’s confession time, but I quite like Molineux or the idea of it anyway. A football ground with a sense of history although the modernisation of the stadium has robbed it of its soul. When you visit stadia like that, there’s some appreciation of how we’ve kept the spirit of Villa Park intact rather than succumbing to the lucrative but soulless bowls which modern stadia have become.
Whether I’ll still feel so enamoured with the trip to Molineux after the final whistle, I’m not so sure. Local derbies always throw the form book out of the window, but we’ve only scored seven goals away from home this season, which is an abysmal record.
It’s easier said than done to turn the tap of goals on so that the trickle becomes a steady flow, but that’s an unbelievable record to release my inner ‘Kammy’. It’s the lowest in the division by two goals – Ipswich are next on nine – but it’s why we won’t get promoted this season.
There, I’ve said it. The elephant in the room has been addressed. The ‘P’ word; the butt of many jokes when I was younger as we tittered every time the immortal line, “I’ll have a ‘P’ please, Bob” was uttered. Promotion, play-off’s; two p’s for the price of one. We won’t reach the latter so the former is out of the question. We and Norwich are the relegated sides who must regroup and aim to return to the Premier League next season.
One more goal in the five drawn away games would take us into the play-off’s and let our ‘goals for’ record stand comparison with the top six.
It’s not down to one player of course, but Ross McCormack for me hasn’t justified any of his fee, let alone the whole lot. Three goals and one assist in twenty is a poor return. That has to be tempered by the seven sub appearances but he’s not showing the form he did for Fulham or Leeds before them. Chances may be harder to come by in this Villa team because he’s not the ‘main man’ but nonetheless, I am utterly underwhelmed by the first half of his debut season for us.
And in the absence of Jonathan Kodjia, McCormack has to deliver. The question for Steve Bruce is whether we’re set in the right formation to make the most of his expensive acquisition, or maybe that should be inheritance?
We need two wingers and we have the personnel to use them. Personally, I’m always disappointed when Jack Grealish isn’t in the line-up but I can see why managers get frustrated with him. An immense talent but inconsistent; I’d take the risk on an inconsistent player and hook him at half-time than an uninspiring but consistent player. We don’t have the attacking creativity in his absence.
Jack’s far from perfect but I’m a sucker for a player who makes me think something is going to happen.
The other question to be answered is young Sam Johnstone. With Gollini seemingly heading back to Italy, the Manchester United loanee has to be a step up from him to be a worthwhile investment. Spurs followed by Wolves? That’s a baptism of fire, whichever way you look at it. I sincerely wish him the best for this one but if we come away with a point, I’ll be happy. I think.