We lost again.
Aston Villa’s disastrous 3-0 showing away to Wigan underscored some of the difficulties Dean Smith has faced with his team. Injuries, of course, suck, and are actively harming results through the loss of the club’s best player, a starting centre-back, and another midfield contributor.
But Smith is struggling to get several positions to play how he wants. The personnel, pointedly, do not fit his style. It’s the hand he was dealt, however, and good managers find ways to adapt their preferred style to the group available. He’ll have this January window and upcoming summer window to re-evaluate the squad. Several players are out-of-contract and will not be returning, including: Mile Jedinak, Glenn Whelan, Alan Hutton, Tommy Elphick, and Micah Richards.
So what did Aston Villa have going for them on Saturday? I guess Lovre Kalinic looked pretty good? – certainly better than his showing in the FA Cup. If he keeps his positioning and decision-making error-proof, he has the makings of an excellent goalkeeper. I suppose John McGinn showed well, too. The Scotland international is always running at 100%, breaking up play and drawing fouls when shielding the ball.
Moreover, a trio of Aston Villa youngsters got starts away on-loan. Just a day removed from the official announcement, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, 20, got the start at Cambridge United under former Villa assistant Colin Calderwood.
RHM lasted 72 minutes in the 1-0 victory over Notts County. Elsewhere, Mitch Clark once again got the start for Port Vale in a 3-0 defeat to Colchester. Clark, 19, and Vale have not won since the 4th of December.
André Green continues his loan stint at Portsmouth amid rumors that he could be recalled. Yannick Bolasie, Anwar El Ghazi, and Albert Adomah have not fared well this season and Smith seemingly is looking for upgrades. Green is an option, but is it worth breaking up his loan stint? He went 63 minutes in Pompey’s 1-0 loss to Blackpool.
Last weekend he scored the FA Cup winner over Norwich City late in the game.