Derby arrive at Villa Park with both sides needing a win for very different reasons. We have profited this year while their faint promotion hopes rest on three points today, and in every other game this season.
The weekend didn’t get off to the best of starts with the news from Steve Bruce that Scott Hogan will miss the next five weeks. Flippantly, the initial reaction was that at least he isn’t missing the rest of the season; then I read Steve Bruce thought that may be the case. Oops…
It means that Jonathan Kodjia will line-up centrally for that time, surely? I’m not a big fan of the Ivory Coast international starting out wide but it’s such a notional position that you can’t but ignore it.
Hogan has been unfortunate not to score in his four appearances so far. He’s joined a team which was struggling in front of goal and for results. The problem with being a ‘big-money’ signing is that the expectation is of immediate action. If the team performs well in his absence, there’s a danger that we forget why Bruce signed him in the first place.
As if we’re going to win the next six or seven matches.
The BBC also reports (via the earlier link) that Christopher Samba is training with the club. We must be in dire straits if he is the answer to the problem. While he was at Blackburn, Samba did well but his spell at QPR seemed a bit disastrous. But needs must and cover is desperately needed at the back.
He’s been in Greece but his contract with Panathinaikos was cancelled due to the number of injuries he had suffered. With Greek football in dire financial straits, it’s hardly surprising that they let him go.
Before arriving in B6, he was previously training with Crystal Palace. Failing to impress there with the Eagles form sets a warning klaxon given how they are struggling in the Premier League. The spirit they need, the ability in players they seek, shouldn’t be much different from what we’re looking for.
Yes, we need to perk up in the Championship but we have to be looking further down the line than just this season. Samba, at best – or at beast, as I originally typed – has eighteen months in him. Certainly, if we are pushing for promotion next year, it’s hard to see him being anything other than a squad player.
I suppose his arrival puts a bit of pressure on the players who assume they will automatically slot into the first team, if form dips elsewhere. Raising everyone’s performance levels is desperately needed if we’re to build a sustained improvement for the future.
Immediately though, we turn our attention to Derby’s visit. I’m reluctant to say it because I always want Villa to play football in the ‘proper’ way but if we have to get ‘pwoper nawty’ to win, so be it. Gentlemen, if they move, kick them; just take three points, for God’s sake!