Aston Villa suffered another late goal draw on Tuesday night at Barnsley, leaving them with only one win from their opening ten games after their relegation to the Championship.
It could have been so different for them this season if they hadn’t conceded so late, so often. That is not to say they haven’t benefited from late goals themselves. Aaron Tshibola headed in late on against Newcastle last weekend to save a point, but it has been a role reversal for most of the season.
With yet another frustrating result, the fans are beginning to lose patience, and Roberto Di Matteo is reportedly staring down the barrel of a gun yet again. Will he even get the time needed to get Villa back up the table?
Di Matteo is on a two-year contract that started in June after the new Chinese owner Tony Xia had joined at Villa Park. It seemed like a smart choice at the time considering the relatively young but experienced manager knew the midlands and had been promoted from the league before with West Brom in 2010.
Xia would have hoped he quelled any question of lack of experience with making the assistants Steve Clarke and Kevin Bond, but it has been hard for Matteo to show his worth. Luke Michaels of Bookmakers TV says “You can see from the beginning they didn’t fully trust Di Matteo making Clarke and Bond the assistants. That is not a good sign when you are hiring a new manager”.
His managerial career is strewn with short tenures and sackings with only one win six weeks ago against Rotherham, fans are already calling for it to happen again. As well as West Brom, his surprise job at Chelsea which resulted in the 2012 Champions League actually only lasted eight months once he built his own team. Another single year came at FC Schalke when he was unable to reach the Champions League places in the 2014/2015 season. If Matteo doesn’t get Villa firing it could be the same story.
And it is firing that is the problem. Late goals would not be such a problem if the margins between the teams were wider. The fact is, Aston Villa are not scoring enough goals with only nine this season. This is despite Xia spending 50million on the Championships top scoring talents. Ross McCormack was top goal scorer last year and Johnathan Kodjia was one of the hottest pieces of property. More money was spent at the back and two brand new centre backs, to sure up the defence. It does not appear to be working and unfortunately it seems that the new goalkeeper, Pierluigi Giollini, who replaced the mistake prone Brad Guzan is mistake prone himself having been at fault for at least four goals.
Tony Xia seems to be calming fears but the Chinese businessman who is an avid user of Twitter has been suspiciously quiet. He did however post a supportive message after the draw with Barnsley.
There is no official mention of Di Matteo though and some are suggesting that this weekend’s match against Preston North End is the Italians last chance to get it right before on his head the axe will swing. Foreign owners are known for their lack of patience in managers too.
Roberto Di Matteo needs to get the squad winning not playing nicely. He has shown naivety too with his tactics often playing negatively when only a goal ahead. The frustrating part is that usually when they concede Villa often come back with tremendous force often showing the potential the squad does have.
In my opinion, managers should always be given at least a year to show what they are capable of. The only issue is that Di Matteo has had that year often, and failed. His job will all depend on Xia and not the fans. Fans are always fickle and quick to turn, but if the aspiration of Xia is to win fast and return to the Premier League immedietly then drastic measures may need to take place before the Villains fall further behind. If he is willing to build a team over a few years that has a better chance of staying in the Premier League however, then good for him, but unfortunately I don’t think the fans will have the same patience. Depending on what happens this Saturday Matteo’s job is once again hanging by a thread.