Aston Villa: Are Villa boring or do the fans need a reality check?
The goalless draw against Sunderland over the weekend was pretty painful to watch, with both sides showing signs of why they could struggle this year.
Once again Villa couldn’t break down the opposition at home and once again they could easily have left Villa Park with zero points instead of one.
It’s not just the fact the side was incapable of really testing Sunderland’s ‘keeper throughout the 90 minutes, it was more the side just looked absolutely clueless when they had possession and did not have the option of a fast break.
The worrying thing is even the counter-attacking style that has suited Villa so well in recent seasons seems to have disappeared, so now a lot of people are thinking - how are we going to score?
It’s strange saying that when Villa are on a run of four games undefeated, having worked their way towards the top half of the table, sitting once place above West Brom – a side that continues to receive rave reviews from supporters and the media alike.
So are Villa fans just being completely unrealistic?
Everyone knows manager Paul Lambert lives in his own little world at times and is positive to the point where fans are left scratching their heads, wondering if he’s seen the same game.
But from a player’s perspective it has got to be inspirational because if you’ve left the pitch to a few jeers and then your manager comes out and says everyone’s given their all and he’s proud of them, it’s good for morale.
Lambert does not like speaking to the media, which is fair enough, but it also means you don’t really know what’s going on inside his head or what he really thinks of the game.
He must be frustrated that he hasn’t been able to buy any out-and-out quality – other than Benteke, even though he is a complete shadow of the player he was last season at the moment – but he never complains and just gets on with the job, probably because he knew exactly what he was walking into when he took it on.
The fact of the matter is Villa are looking a lot stronger than last year, especially in defence, and the frustration coming from the fans could be down to us expecting far too much too soon.
This time last year we were already starting to worry about relegation and that was before the run of three straight defeats to Chelsea, Spurs and Wigan – when we conceded 15 goals and scored none.
The side has clearly come on leaps and bounds since those sorry days and that has been in just 12 months so there are plenty of positives.
The solid back line has kept clean sheets in three of their last four games - against West Ham, Cardiff and Sunderland – which has also seen Villa enjoy a four-game unbeaten run. That would have been unheard of last season.
It’s not the greatest statistic the world’s ever seen, at it may have been at the expense of seeing more attacking football, but it’s clearly another sign of progress.
The problem is goals have been very hard to come by and that’s what it all comes down to – entertainment.
Football fans enjoy it when their side is winning but they love it when they are being entertained.
It’s what the game is all about and it’s why players, past and present, with a bit of flair and bravado are held in such high esteem at clubs across the country.
It’s hard to single out one player who has fit that mould at Villa this season. The contenders are probably Benteke, Bacuna, Agbonlahor, Delph and perhaps Luna, but not even the most avid Villa fan could claim they have really entertained us.
When El Ahmadi is your joint second-top scorer on two goals it's a sign all is not well going forward.
Villa’s recent run of games was early test of how the season would pan out and against Cardiff and Sunderland at home they have picked up four points, with two solid draws away to West Ham and West Brom.
They now face Southampton and Fulham away before welcoming Man United to Villa Park. So, would we rather see the side pick up some more valuable points, or we would like to see some free-flowing and attacking football for a change?
It’s a toss-up really but however the side plays – and they are not really capable of being solid at the back and free-flowing up front - it will be difficult for Lambert to win over all the Villa faithful.
Article by James Fisher