Why Do Villa Get Intimidated?

By Matt LeCameron
Last updated : 22 November 2011

Nobody enjoys writing downbeat articles, but it is fair to say that Spurs jogged over the winning line last night without really having to try. There are many reasons, and there is no taking away from Spurs the quality they put on show, but Villa, for some bizarre reason, looked completely intimidated and showed them too much respect.

It really does beg the question of why Villa get intimidated by other teams. The newly promoted teams are going out against the 'bigger' clubs and having a proper go at them, but Villa seem to be belittling the size of the club. Villa are a big club, with good players, so why be intimidated by a team like Spurs? It does absolutely nothing for the performance or for the supporters, so why has this suddenly started to happen.

McLeish's team selection and tactics were questionable, and they lit up the message boards as soon as the team was announced. Alan Hutton on the right of midfield? He could spend all day trying to explain that one and it still would not make sense. Gabby out wide, again? 

Alex McLeish needs to realise quickly that even with a well organised defence you cannot invite teams to attack. Spurs were invited in early doors last night and the rest is now history. Villa did not even manage 30% possession over the entire match.

The style of football does not suit the players in the team. Houllier bought Bent for quick, aggressive attacking football because that is what he does best. He is a goal machine but he will not track back to pick the ball up and run with it. The defensive play that Villa are going with is leaving Bent up front with nothing coming his way.

There was one decent chance for Bent early in the second half. The promising Chris Herd whipped in a great cross and Villa nearly scored. That is something that constantly happened with Young and Downing, and now it appears to be a rarity.

Others may disagree, but Bent is looking annoyed and frustrated. He is stranded on his own with nothing to do for large parts of the game. He has one trick, and he does that trick well, but at the minute he has no way to work his magic. Villa resorted to hoofball quite early on, in attempts for Heskey to nod onto Bent. It does not work, and it did not work last night. Every player was playing hot potato and wanted to get rid of the ball as soon as they received it.

Why have a player like Darren Bent, one of the Premier League's most prolific goal scorers, only to play defensive football? It has no logic for the supporters and it will certainly make no sense to Bent. It would not be so much of a problem if the defence was rock solid, but it is not. Spurs picked it apart with ease last night.

Alex McLeish may well have a plan, but the plan is poor and it is not working. Villa should be, at the very least, capable of having a go at Spurs at Whitehart Lane. But at 2-0 down and with 85 minutes gone Villa were playing it backwards and across the defensive line and to Shay Given. There was a clear acceptance that the game was lost and to give Spurs the ball would probably mean 3-0. Unfortunately, they still gave the ball away.

The good points of the game were probably Dunne and Gabby, again, and Bannan showing some good effort and decent passes in his brief shift. This article will no doubt be criticised for being downbeat, but there is very little to celebrate after last night.

It is a certain fact that if Villa go into games intimidated and respectful like they did last night in December's fixture list, then it will be more than the Christmas turkey that gets stuffed.

(Follow me on Twitter @MattLeCameron).

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