Aston Villa Club Focus – Villa determined to get back on track after poor midweek performance

Boos rang around Villa Park on Tuesday night after a nightmare Aston Villa performance against Bolton Wanderers saw them crash out of the Carling Cup. Manager Alex McLeish is now facing an inquest into what is happening at Villa Park and could be on the receiving end of a torrent of Villa fans abuse. The League Cup was one of the trophies Villa fans had identified as a possible chance for silverware, but they can kiss their hopes goodbye after a dismal performance against Owen Coyle’s men.

Creative flair was again missing from the Villa side on Tuesday and it took them until three minutes from the end of the match to record a shot on target. The attacking cards of Darren Bent, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Charles N’Zogbia and Stephen Ireland have not produced enough so far this season and in the eight games played by Villa, the team have only managed seven goals. Three of those were in a marvellous home display against Blackburn Rovers, but the question on the lips of all Villa fans is whether or not McLeish will stick with his formation.

The disgruntled supporters have called for a change in tactics and a switch from his 4-3-3 formation to a more solid 4-4-2 that allows the Villa forwards to benefit from chances delivered by wingers Barry Bannan and Charles N’Zogbia. Bannan himself was one of the standouts in the Bolton game and has publicly apologised to the Villa fans, claiming they have the right to be angry at the team’s recent showings.

McLeish is working on improving the current fortunes of the club. The Scotsman held an hour-long inquest with his senior players over what has been happening recently. Following the Blackburn game, Villa have definitely struggled. A worrying 0-0 draw with Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers was followed by an undeserved point away at Goodison Park and last weekend’s lifeless draw with Newcastle United. Birmingham City’s former manager has spoken about the meeting with his players and insisted that the comments were all constructive and the players needed to say what they had to say to try and move the club forwards.

Bent is back for this Sunday’s trip to the capital to take on newly promoted Queens Park Rangers and the England striker needs to start firing on all cylinders to propel his side into more wins. Newly signed Jermaine Jenas could also return for the game away at Loftus Road and defender Carlos Cuellar is back in full training, eyeing a return early next month.

Despite the negative feeling at Villa, they are still unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games and hold in-form striker Agbonlahor in their pack. The Bodymoor Heath graduate has scored three goals in his opening four fixtures in the league and will be looking to add to that to give Villa all three points in what has become a must-win fixture down in London.

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