Aston Villa’s August Review: improvement needed

With a two-week break from the Championship for internationals, this is a good time to review how all 24 teams have looked in their first five league games. Here’s our assessment of Aston Villa.

What we said in pre-season

“While Aston Villa boast some of the league’s most technically gifted players, the current direct system can stifle creativity. Their play-off push will be built on a solid, John Terry-led defence and Jonathan Kodjia’s individuality, but it could be hindered by an internal clash of tactical ideals. 7th

Have they surprised us so far?

Not entirely. The clash of tactical ideals – a squad not fully suited to Steve Bruce’s tactics – was always likely to be problematic and we saw that in trips to Cardiff and Reading. However, we also expected attacking problems to be balanced out by a strong defence: Terry hasn’t yet made the desired impact.

The positives

The kids. Callum O’Hare had a good game in the EFL Cup victory at Colchester while Andre Green scored a stunner in the confidence-boosting 4-2 win over Norwich. Keinan Davis is yet to register on the goal charts, but he has shown pace and tenacity. The youthful exuberance of these academy graduates will not only inspire the senior pros to up their game, but also capture the hearts of supporters. 20-year-old Josh Onomah has also looked bright since joining on loan from Tottenham.

The negatives

The style of football Aston Villa are often playing – slow, sideways passes and long balls – is not dissimilar to what we saw from them under Paul Lambert. The difference is, under Lambert there was a lack of technical quality relative to the rest of the division. Under Bruce, the Villans have been able to cherry pick the most gifted players that belong to their competitors. They have to start playing with more authority.

Late business?

Bruce said towards the end of last season that he does not want to bring too many players in and seven new players have already joined. There is more likely to be movement in an outward direction, with Gary Gardner, Tommy Elphick and Ross McCormack all vying for moves.

The Football Lab’s Grade

The triumph over Norwich was the only league win in five. More poor results and football is unaffordable if Villa are to cut short their top flight exile. E