Mistakes in the summer, same mistakes this season and progress and progress

I've bit my tongue the last couple of days and didn't want to rush in with a post, because I could have written something that maybe I would regret. I could have written something that people thought too soft also.

And with people on pretty much every website, from Aston Villa forums to Twitter and Facebook, suggesting Lambert isn't up to the job, a little part of me feels like I should put my opinion across, because the reason I started to blog about Aston Villa was because I had an opinion that usually differed from a lot of other Aston Villa supporters.


It differed with O'Neill. It differed with Houllier. It differed with Lerner for a long time, although I suspect many now go along with my view and it differed with the club when they appointed Alex McLeish. But everyone differed with the club on that dark day.

It probably differs today too

I should also make clear again, that when we appointed Paul Lambert, I think I was in the minority, in so much that I thought it was a big risk and in truth, he wasn't on my top three list of names that had been mentioned.

And I was a fan of what Houllier was doing and who he was speaking to about coming to play for Aston Villa. Houllier had gravitas and a network that most football managers can only dream of. Lambert had one season in the Premier League and one season in the Premier League does not make you a good Premier League manager.

Yes, you've got to sometimes take the risk, but who had heard of Wenger before he came to the Premier League and who can hand on heart say they had heard of Mauricio Pochettino before he became the Southampton manager.

And this isn't me saying that Pochettino is going to be a success as we simply don't know yet. But he plays football the right way. My point is, to get an idea of how your manager is going to play, look at how his current or previous clubs played. And ask if that is what we want for Aston Villa?

I didn't see anything of Norwich in the Championship but from what I saw in the Premier League, it really wasn't the way I wanted Aston Villa to play. But towards the end of last season, I did see Aston Villa play the way I wanted them to play.

But don't want to see hit and hope balls. I do want to see us keeping the ball and I want to see players making space so we can do that. I don't want to see two or three shots on target in ninety minutes and for the love of everything that is right and just, I don't want to see free kicks played into the box from 40 yards out and if we can't put a corner onto the head of one of our players more often than not, I want to see that it is something getting worked on in training.

Mistakes in the summer

But go read my season preview post here to get a reminder of what I wrote, because it sort of all stacks up today.

Lambert brought in too many players and the players that gained experience from last season are not playing and they should be. It's easy to write that I think they will gel and I did have that hope, but they haven't and the fact that it was written and talked about before we started the season clearly suggests it was a concern.

And I'm not going to talk about individual players too much, but for the life of me, I'm not sure why Lowton isn't playing. He was a stand out player for us last season and when everything started to click, when we gave up on the three at the back last season, he became even better.

And last season we played with this three at the back thing far too long and we're sort of playing with it again. Watch what Bacuna does when we have the ball and look at the goals we've conceded. And I know it works for some sides and I know that you want your full backs to support the attack, but the minute we have the ball, Bacuna is attacking, not supporting it.

We made too many changes last summer and we didn't bring in the right type of players. We brought in more of the same and now we have more of the same players. But sure, we're better off for it in one sense.

And you have to hope that at the end of the season we get better again. But then I always revert back to the question; is the football getting better and I don't think it is. I think we're getting harder to beat, but we're not playing football better.

It got better last season when we reverted to four defenders defending but I don't think the manager likes that. I think the manager reverted to that to stop the rot last season. The irony is, whenever he has done that recently, it's also stopped the rot. Against Cardiff, West Brom and Fulham, to name three. Against Southampton we played with eight defenders.

My point is, if the manager can't figure these things out, there are only so many times you can defend him. I'm all for playing three at the back for the last ten minutes of a game when we're chasing a goal, but for the first 80 minutes, I'd rather keep the ball, not let them score and create opportunities. I don't understand why we create work for ourselves when it isn't necessary.

When you have three at the back, we revert to hitting long and more often than not we lose the ball. With four defenders, you can keep the ball far more easily. It's the basics that annoy, but they are football fundamentals for me.

Lambert made too many changes in the summer and he didn't bring in the right players. But, he got it right last season in the end and if he does again, we'll finish in a better position. I just can't see Aston Villa supporters putting up with the style of football into next season and that is what has to change. And you know what, it isn't that difficult, if you have the right players, playing the right way.

Progress and progress

So I'll end it on this; it's not just about where we are in the table. Yes, we're 11th with 19 points today and at this stage last season we were 15th with 14 points. Progress is also about how we play football. You could argue that the difference between last season and this one is that little bit of experience that we've brought with us, because the football is dire.

Progress is not just about the table, it's about what we see and about how we play. If anything, we've gone backwards from last season and that isn't what I want to see happening at Aston Villa.

I don't want to be the side that is hard to beat because that is normally associate with sides that defend well and have men behind the ball. I want to be the side that controls games, keeps the ball and creates chances.

And I accept that isn't just something you switch on, but I'm not seeing anything so far this season that suggests we are even trying to do this. But this is all just my opinion, but I'm fed up watching this football from this manager.