After looking at the positives of our season a couple of days ago I’m going to look what wasn’t so great about our season today. Finishing 13th in the Championship for me is not good enough, especially when you take in the amount we have spent and these are some of the reasons why it was more of a disappointing season.
I think this has been one of the main talking points about the worry of next season. We HAVE to get promoted next year and on the back of most of the performances seen this season under Bruce many people are questioning whether we can do it. The football seen home and away this season under Bruce hasn’t been inspiring stuff at all.
With backs to the walls performances and relying on Jonathon Kodjia to knick us a goal or two. If you look at the wins and loss count while the former Blues man has been in charge, with 15 wins and 13 losses it shows that we have been riding our luck at times and games could have swung either way. In January we signed two of the most in-form midfielders in the league while signing someone with 15 goals to his name. Conor Hourihane and Henri Lansbury have both been stifled by the style of play that Bruce opts for.
In Lansbury’s first game we could see his quality, he was controlling the game from midfield but we haven’t really seen that again. He played further forward in the last game of the season against Brighton and looked much better and more suited to an more attacking role so hopefully Bruce can figure something out over pre-season.
Hourihane had the most assists in the league before joining Villa but hasn’t really shone in Claret and Blue, that may be the pressure of playing for a big club like Aston Villa but personally I think the style of football is also stifling him as well, just like Scott Hogan. He came to Villa in good form but hasn’t had the impact we all would have liked due to injuries and the fact he isn’t the striker to suit the style of play.
Hogan is a very smart striker, he plays on the shoulder of the defenders and makes very good runs off the ball but due to the attacking restrictions we have we struggle to find him when making the runs. Hopefully he isn’t out for too long and he can get a full pre season under his belt. This summer is going to be very important for Steve Bruce as he needs to gel the team together and find a better, more attacking, positive style of play because with the players we have it’s the least that should be happening.
After a very busy summer, signing the likes of Mile Jedinak, Ross McCormack and Jonathon Kodjia people were quite optimistic about what was to come in the season ahead. Things didn’t start off to plan with a loss at Sheffield Wednesday however there was promise to take away from the performance.
We got our first win in the second game against the worst side in the league and that’s the only victory RDM managed to get. After dropping nine points in the final five minutes of five different games things were starting to look bad for the Italian. The side was unbalanced with him playing five attackers and one midfielder at one point during a game.
Some of the football played under Di Matteo was okay but I emphasise on the word some. At times it was awful, for instance the Ipswich 0-0 draw where we didn’t even muster up a shot on target. We were sliding further and further down the table, eventually dropping into 19th after his last game.
After losing 2-0 away to Preston North End Di Matteo was sacked but if he managed to get the team to hold out in the dying embers of the game, who knows what would have happened.
Just after the new year came our worst period of the season after suffering eight league games without a win. We were on the end of seven losses as well as being knocked out off the FA Cup during this time.
It was a busy transfer window once again with seven players arriving at Villa Park however with Kodjia going to AFCON the club didn’t really prepare for this time. Many thought we needed to bring in a striker early on in the window to cover the Ivory Coast internationals absence but that didn’t come until the final day of the transfer window.
As well as this Bruce tried to cram the new signings into the team straight away which was never going to work with the amount of new players there were. Our midfield general, Jedinak, was out for a large part of this period due to injury but it shows we must buy a quality defensive midfield in the summer to challenge for his place as the Aussie can’t play all 46 games in the season.
When we broke the Championship transfer record to bring in Ross McCormack from Fulham, it seemed like he’d make up for the price tag with goals. He had scored wherever he had played previously be it at Leeds, Fulham or Cardiff.
In the first couple of games he looked a very clever player and you could see why we wanted him but he didn’t look fit. When Bruce come in the Scot wasn’t featured as much as he was under RDM and then came the gate-gate. Bruce came out in the press to tell everyone that McCormack wasn’t being featured due to missing training sessions, with one reason being his gates were broken.
It has since come out, whether true or not, that there are underlying problems away from football for the former Fulham player. It wasn’t the first season for him that we were all hoping for but hopefully the club can help Ross and he can come back, get fit and sharp over summer and have a more successful campaign next season.