The curse of the substitute manager
Whenever the manager goes and a substitute steps in, there's always the hope that the team will fix itself. Perhaps it was really the manger all along, his relationship with the players on insistence on a certain tactic. Now the side can show its true quality.
This is false approximately 99.99% of the time. These guys are not the boss for a reason. Villa fans had already seen that once with Kevin MacDonald's wacky ride of a selection against Tottenham after Tim Sherwood - where he took away one of our few chances to see Jordan Amavi by playing Kieran Richardson instead and Leandro Bacuna was given a starring role in central midfield. It shouldn't have come as a surprise that the team Eric Black put out on Saturday was tactically incoherent and lost to even a poor Bournemouth side.
Never play Kieran Richardson and other life lessons
Black chose to go for width with wingers and the choice of Jordan Ayew as a lone striker ahead of Rudy Gestede seemed like he wanted speedy counter-attacking football. But if that was the case what possible justification was there for putting Kieran Richardson in the team instead of Adama Traoré?
Before the game Black said "I can't just throw people on" and suggested Adama was not disciplined enough to do defensive work off the ball. But Richardson was static as Simon Francis repeatedly burst past him from the right-back position.
For Bournemouth´s first goal from a corner on the left-hand side, neither Richardson nor Aly Cissokho were there to take responsibility as the players experienced in defending in wide areas.
Instead Idrissa Gana and the youngster Jordan Lyden, both impulsive challengers for the ball, were fooled by a quick passing combination between Francis and Matt Ritchie and saw the ball flicked home by Cook.
Richardson was just as poor throughout the match, climaxing in the moment when Jordan Ayew tricked his way past the Cherries defenders and passed the ball right to him a yard from goal. He could have stood there and let it bounce off him and in but instead swung and missed.
Thank God his contract is up in the summer. If anyone in the club decides to renew it on the basis of his "experience" I will combust and leave nothing but a smoking crater.
Backline still awful, Gana and Ayew still the best in Claret and Blue
Last week I said that Villa needed to clear out the entire backline and keep Idrissa Gana and Jordan Ayew to lay the basis for a successful promotion campaign from the Championship and this performance just reaffirmed the conclusion.
The second goal was yet another example of the stupid errors which have plagued the season. From a throw-in the ball came straight back to Cissokho who had no thought in his head other than to play it backwards. It was a ball that still would have left Ciaran Clark isolated and vulnerable to pressure even without his dreadful touch for Joshua King to nip in and lift it easily over the 6ft 4 goalkeeper.
(As much as Bacuna may deserve some ridicule for the idea that he could be Champions League quality, his self-belief at least led him to play the ball forward)
Black´s 4-4-1-1 had left Gana in an oddly advanced position behind Ayew which generally just led to the pair being tired out as they tried to pressure with no support but they still provided Villa´s consolation goal. Gana broke through the midfield line to find Ayew in a pocket of space and he moved it smartly onto his right to get a slightly toe-poked shot beyond the keeper.
This games may be meaningless as the clearout happens over the summer but Villa could at least get some entertainment and value by trying out younger players and their recent transfers instead of persisting with the likes of Richardson. This kind of line-up and performance just adds insult to injury.