After a very promising first half, Aston Villa spent the second half of yesterday's friendly against Middlesborough getting tanked in a tribute to their horrific 15/16 Premier League season.
The initial reaction after the match seemed to be very much that of a ‘same old Villa’. However, don’t be fooled. This loss is just as important as a victory.
Villa have spent their entire pre-season to date blowing away lower league opposition, from Worcester to Cambridge. There’s nothing important to these games and they exist simply to get a crowd in and give the players a run out.
Now, Villa have had very good pre-seasons in the past, but these haven’t always reflected the following season.
So why is a loss more important than a victory?
Well, Aston Villa can see the mistakes they make in a loss when it’s in a no-pressure environment. They’ve got a game of tape against similar opposition on record and can examine and analyse this footage to ensure the mistakes made against ‘Boro do not surface against Sheffield Wednesday.
Then there’s the fact that the match is a ‘friendly’, meaning Roberto Di Matteo can experiment. Now, his experimentation may have lost the match, but it’s important to find out what works. There’s a possibility that Villa may have done certain things during the game with Boro just to see what would happen.
Even though, you can buy tickets and watch online - yesterday’s match was little more than training.
It would have been nice to see Villa win. We’ve become a ‘losing team’ and we have a ‘losers mentality’. A win against Middlesbrough, unfortunately wouldn’t kick that mentality to the curb. A win wouldn’t show Di Matteo that Alan Hutton can get caught out, a win wouldn’t show Di Matteo that he needs to ask more of Rudy Gestede, a win wouldn’t show Matteo that Nathan Baker needs to add more discipline to his game.
The many issues that are brought up by a loss are so, so much more valuable than winning for bragging rights and hopefully, Di Matteo can action the changes that Villa need.