Houllier still looking to find his feet
Posted 22nd November 2010
Gerard Houllier is still some way from having it all his own way at Villa Park, a point highlighted by the defeat at Ewood Park on Sunday.
Their next Premier League opponents Arsenal and former club Liverpool, sandwich a League Cup quarter final against bitter rivals Birmingham City, so it's hard to see them putting a much-needed winning run together any time soon.
The difference between Aston Villa and the truly top teams is that when Villa don't play well, it's just so hard to see them winning by any means, and with the transitional period still in progress, one has to wonder how long it will be before they can dispatch lesser teams in the same way they were under former coach, Martin O'Neill. They certainly don't look like decent Premier League tips right now.
Their most obvious problem is their physical presence. Their team was absolutely dwarfed by Blackburn in their last outing, and as well as meaning that you sacrifice a certain amount of possession from 50-50 situations, this also means that the final ball has to be almost perfect.
It's clear to see that they miss someone in the mould of Gareth Barry, their former captain sold to top-four rivals Manchester City at the start of last season. With such an anchor-man, players such as Stewart Downing, Ashley Young and Stephen Ireland would have licence to commit fully to attacking, safe in the knowledge that they were unlikely to be caught out on the counter. Ireland in particular looks low on confidence, and the football transfer rumours have linked him with a move away from the club following comments made about his work rate by his manager a few weeks ago.
The final ball still eludes Houllier's outfit, and the introduction of the aging Robert Pires has shown no signs of changing this, but as a change in mentality towards a more physical approach is nigh-on impossible given the personnel at their disposal, they will just have to believe it will come eventually.