After two consecutive 0-0 home draws, and a start to the season which has conjured up just one win from their first seven games, Aston Villa sit in 18th place. It is no doubt that they are underachieving.
Given the money spent over the last three transfer windows, it was no surprise to see Villa as one of the favourites for promotion to the Premiership. With the calibre of players in which Villa boast, they have one of the best squads in the league. Across the pitch are Championship proven quality players. So just where does the problem lie?
I think that manager Steve Bruce is the problem. Back in the days of Martin O’Neil, Villa were renowned for their attacking style of play. Expectation amongst the clubs fans is probably the highest in the league, and it seems to me that Bruce is unable to cope with the demands of the Villa faithful.
Villa have one of the best attacking line-ups in the Championship, yet they consistently struggle for goals, as proven in their previous two home games. They mustered up just one shot on target against Brentford, in a game which they were hot favourites to come out victorious. This is not good enough and given that they boast the likes of Robert Snodgrass, Conor Hourihane and Scott Hogan (who are proven quality players at this level) it’s not down to the lack of quality.
Week in week out, Bruce sets up his team negatively, hindering the strengths of many of his main players. £15m signing Hogan hit 14 league goals in the first half of last season for Brentford, yet has scored just one league goal since January for Aston Villa.
More and more of the Villa fans are growing frustrated by Bruce by every passing week and some are desperate for a managerial change. Owner Dr Tony Xia is, at the moment, holding firm in his stance that Bruce is the right man to take Villa back to the big time. But with the money he has invested into the club, just how long can his patience last?
For me, I think that Villa should get rid of Bruce as he has had more than long enough to stamp an identity on his team. Someone like Dean Smith would be perfect for Villa and given the lack of resources he has at his disposal at Brentford, he has done a great job. Smith sets out his team to attack, something which would suit the array of attacking talent that Villa possess.