Defensive football can be an art-form that fans of the game enjoy watching, but only when it is applied in a manner that allows a team's defense to absorb pressure from a more attacking side before releasing that pressure in the form of a devastating counter-attack that sucker punches the opposition. The way in which Alex McLeish has been setting out his Aston Villa team, however, has provided a stark reminder of how awful football can be if teams are set up to defend with no ultimate attacking intention.
Villa may well have been up against a Manchester City side yesterday that is capable of cutting apart even top teams in the league, but City have also shown themselves to be a beatable team on the road in recent weeks, looking particularly vulnerable to sides that can break on the counter-attack.
Despite this, McLeish put out a team that wasn't even vaguely capable of going forward, with even Emile Heskey employed as a defensive-minded player in midfield. Furthermore, the Villa boss didn't even react to his side falling behind until it was almost too late for them to pull a goal back. Those following the Betfair Football Betting odds will have been disappointed.
With attendances at Villa Park down 10% this season compared to last year, the one thing which is clear is that, despite the fact only a hundred or so fans protested against the direction that McLeish has taken the club in, the empty seats are as significant a message as the vocal protests. The Premier League betting shows the side is set to struggle for the rest of the season.
If Villa wish to return to the winning ways experienced under Martin O'Neill, they don't need a whole host of personnel changes; just one at the top. With McLeish gone, Villa would be able to return to the sort of football that would bring back the crowds, and keep them safe from the dreaded relegation.