Attack minded football will make you cheer and sing, but there are times where it will make you want to rip your hair out. That’s how the game is played.
Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)
Every once in a while, football is known to throw a few surprises at the people who live and breathe the beautiful game. Sometimes it is a shock signing, for better or worse. Sometimes it is an unforgettable result that has those supporters buzzing or bemusing for weeks on end.
And sometimes… just sometimes… supporters are at the mercy of a 10-goal draw.
Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest supporters were treated to just that and it made the collective world footballing culture slightly tilt it’s heavy head and take notice. Chelsea on-loan striker Tammy Abraham scored four goals for Aston Villa. Joe Lolley scored an incredulous goal from what seemed like a few miles away. There were also five other goals scored in the scrappy and entertaining contest. There was a red card, too.
Defending seemed to not only be a premium, but seemed to almost be a foregone conclusion for both sets of clubs.
And the Aston Villa supporters on social media were sure to let everyone know that.
Almost immediately following Lewis Grabban’s 82nd minute goal for a 10-men Nottingham Forest to tie the game at 5-5, Aston Villa supporters were likely to start gritting their teeth. Villa were down 2-0 very early in the game. They clawed and fought with the hearts of lions to get the game back to 5-4. It was a show of will, passion and a bit of graft that has been rarely seen and universally missed by Claret & Blue supporters.
So, in natural Aston Villa supporting fashion, people were upset. Not only just upset… but embarrassingly upset. And there were more than a handful who made their claims and opinions on the grandest soapbox of all:
“Get Jack Grealish off of the pitch, he’s a passenger out there!”
“We may want to think of selling James Chester, he’s pants this season! Bring in Cahill!”
“Nyland didn’t make a single save. Show him the door. Worst goalkeeper I’ve ever seen in a Villa shirt!”
“If we keep letting in goals like this every game, we will finish in 8th just like Dean Smith did when he was at Brentford!”
Knee-jerk reactions and football mix well together. At the end of the day, it’s usually just misguided and angst ridden passion. No one can take away the opinion of a die-hard football supporter, no matter which team they support.
But at the end of the day, the appointment of Dean Smith at Aston Villa was the start of the first chapter in a yet to be finished anthology. Smith has the tactical prowess to do the one thing Aston Villa haven’t always been great at under previous managers:
To score goals, the team needs to have an attack-first mindset. Under an attack-first mindset, there will be times where the defence looks like they are being hung out to dry. Because, in reality, they are. Smith knows that his midfield didn’t do a great job of helping the back four defenders against Nottingham Forest. He made mention of it after Forest game and has said that it is something that he will work with his coaching staff to improve in the coming fixtures.
Taking into consideration the attack-minded era of Dean Smith, isn’t this what Aston Villa supporters wanted? Didn’t they kick and scream and yell and throw vegetables because of the ‘negative football’ shown under Steve Bruce? There are a few Aston Villa supporters who seem to want their own cake, eat half, throw it against a wall and then be upset because they don’t have any more cake.
It’s one thing to be a bit tentative about how Dean Smith decides to play his football, but to start calling Jack Grealish a ‘passenger’ is a bit of a reach. Grealish has admitted that the summer of drama that plagued Aston Villa before the season started weighed heavily on his mind. After a dip in form, Jack seems to be getting back to what he does well in all facets of his game with Dean Smith at the helm.
Attack minded football will make you cheer and sing, but there are times where it will make you want to rip your hair out. That’s how the game is played. And this type of attacking football won’t always please everyone, but at Aston Villa, it is a breath of fresh air and a peek of new day sunshine.
Try not to stare at the sun for too long, Aston Villa supporters. Just enjoy the warmth of a new era.