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Aston Villa
Posted by Jerrad Peters on 08/23/2010

“Naïve.” It seems to be the word of the moment around Aston Villa. Interim manager Kevin MacDonald used it to describe his team selection after Sunday’s 6-0 drubbing at St. James’ Park, and captain Stiliyan Petrov repeated it when asked to explain the performance. Given the euphoria of Villa fans after the season-opening win against West Ham, “naïve” might apply to them as well.

Now, it’s important to not get carried away after just one loss. After all, it was Newcastle’s first home game since being promoted back to the Premier League, and they were obviously keen to both put on a show for their supporters and rebound after a 3-0 loss at Manchester United the week before.

But there are other items to consider in this moratorium. As comprehensive as Villa’s defeat of West Ham was, the Hammers have emerged as an early, albeit somewhat surprising, candidate for relegation. If the Newcastle debacle can be classified as a one-off, the West Ham win can be as well. And that’s troubling.

So what happens now? Does owner Randy Lerner speed up the Martin O’Neill replacement process and throw MacDonald under the bus, or does he keep the faith for at least another week? It’s clear that there won’t be any player acquisitions of note, so a managerial change is really the only tweak that Lerner can make.

He’ll probably wait until after Sunday’s match at home to Everton before making a decision. Stoke, Bolton and Wolves follow after that, so there’s certainly a chance to pick up the pieces and salvage a good start to the season.

Aston Villa aren’t as bad as a 6-0 defeat, but they’re not as good as a 3-0 win, either.

Newcastle 6-0 Aston Villa: Observations

-Stephen Warnock was consistently reliable for Villa last season, but was absolutely run into the ground by Wayne Routledge on Sunday. Warnock is a decent player, but this is still a problem position.

-Villa can only dream of having a finisher as clinical as Andy Carroll. The old cliché, “It would’ve been different had he scored that penalty,” is tiresome and overused, but based in truth. John Carew’s effort from the spot was pathetic—a disappointing climax to what had been a nice start for the guests.

-Emile Heskey has progressed from the useless to the absurd. To be fair, however, his ineffectiveness was only partly his fault. Who would ever dream of playing him on the right wing, especially when Jose Enrique had been dominating that patch of the pitch against much quicker Villa players?

-Kevin MacDonald’s assessment of the match was sensible, and he should be kept in the job long enough to see how he responds. If he can make the necessary adjustments ahead of Everton’s visit, he’ll be worth at least another few weeks in his position.


Posted by Nate on 08/23/2010

Bravo, Mr. Peters -- a very clear-headed assessment of an otherwise repulsive weekend!

Posted by Villain-from-Texas on 08/23/2010

The tactics were truly shocking yesterday. Why was Ireland so often playing deeper than Petrov? That should rarely happen. Also, I've yet to see any evidence that the behind-the-striker role suits Young.

Posted by Sean on 08/24/2010

First off, I'm a Fullham supporter, but I track Villa as I'm also a Yank and like to check in on the US guys and Friedel and Guzan at the goalkeepers keep me checking on Villa.

With Agbonlahor and Cuellar coming back soon won't that solidify the lineup more. Ireland and Petrov as Central Mids, A. Young and Downing wide and Carew and Gabby up front? I think that would be a strong group right there, though, as the Prem season moves on there will be subs needed for the constant grind.

Posted by bill on 08/26/2010

Know this isn't a popular view, but Dunne isn't the player Villa should lean on too heavily. Granted Clark was overmatched vs Newcastle and he should have been playing closer to the goal with Dunne up front a bit more. But Dunne quits on plays and his skill level has been declining since last mid season. Collins and Cuellar should be the central D for Villa. That being said, Carew has been truly awful. Hope this is just a poor start because Villa needs him unless they claim a striker within the week.Carew should have had at least 3 vs Hammers and was a non -factor vs Newcastle. If he scores the PK, would have changed the game....I warn about giving the full-time job to MacDonald. He doesn't quite know what to do. Case in point--down 3-0 , he doesn't make a single change to start the half.The team was uninspired and quit, something that happened only once with MON last 3 years( Liverpool debacle 2 yrs ago).Bradley or SWG would be awful. Villa is looking more like the days of DOL.

Posted by Bill on 08/27/2010

After the debacle with Rapid, does Villa lose A Young? Getting new mgr. by Sunday is crucial. Hope Lerner gets this. Already cost Villa Europe and may cost him best player.

Posted by Con on 08/27/2010

For the past three years I've watched the games live on Sentanta from my home in Vancouver. I used to go to every home game before moving to Canada almost three years ago.

Villa have built a reputation for being a side that are lightening quick on the break. We might not have had the quality all round the pitch, but home or away we had the pace.

That wasn't evident against Newcastle. OK Agbonlahore has to return and that'll make a difference, but with Carew doing his own impression of a cart horse, there's no cutting edge. Carew was so slow, that when Hesky came on Emile looked quick! I don't know what's happened to big John over the summer, but he just don't look sharp.

It's too late to sign players that'll make a difference and sadly just like back in the Dwight Yorke days, we've proved to be a selling club when it comes to the family silver.

On the positive side Ireland's a good player, on his day not far behind Milner. Certainly capable of goals!

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Kevin Hughes Kevin Hughes spent the best part of ten years working and writing for the football magazine Match; once (sort of) inspiring David Beckham to copy his shaved-hair look, getting lost in Paris after the 1998 France v Croatia World Cup semi-final and other such nonsense. As Deputy Editor, he launched and established Sport, the London-based free weekly magazine, before moving on to become a consumer magazine publisher, a position he holds today. Introduced to Villa by his father and grandfather, he attended his first ever match at Villa Park as a seven-year-old in 1982… and has suffered almost constant disappointment since. You can follow him on twitter @KevHughesie

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