A special mention has to be sent out to Phil Dowd - Villa’s favourite referee – for getting the red decision so spectacularly wrong. He submitted to the poor judgment of an attention-grabbing linesman who did not have a clear view of it.
It can be widely accepted that it was not a red card. It was not even a foul. However, the referee changed the game completely. Another special mention goes out to the two-faced Olsson who, despite not claiming anything during the incident, maintains that Chris Herd kicked out at him. No integrity or sportsmanship there, even if it is against a midlands rival.
Regardless of the sending off though, Villa were absolutely shocking. There is normally a fighting spirit that accompanies going down to ten men, but Villa’s was nowhere. Who is to blame for that? The players have to accept responsibility for letting their confidence issues get in the way, but it was ultimately the fault of the manager.
The most alarming statistic was that Villa did not have a single shot on target against the Baggies goal on Saturday. With the players in the Villa squad, that is simply not good enough. How can Villa expect to beat teams if they cannot even kick the ball towards the goal?
Not to deliberately take any credit from West Brom, because they undoubtedly did the job they had to do, but Villa gifted them the game. There were again instances of players moping around feeling sorry for themselves, which is something not normally seen in other teams. The newly promoted teams show a more commendable work ethic than Villa, which is shameful when you consider the size of the club.
No shots on target and relinquishing the lion’s share of the possession whilst playing at home points to a manager that is playing cautiously defensive football and relying on counter attacking to get goals. That is a tactic to play whilst at opposition grounds. What McLeish did on Saturday is just not working, and the supporters must hope that the Sunderland game shows a complete revision of tactics from McLeish.
McLeish still has support, but throwing away a 30-year home record against West Brom is no way to win over the increasing number of doubters.