Aston Villa (A) – The Debutants*

 

In the aftermath of last night’s game, it appears a lot of the commentary seems to have skirted around the 90 minutes of football that was actually played, so I’ll take it upon myself to offer some kind of thought on what was laid out in front of us. Expectations were low once the team was announced but we did get a glimpse of a potential future, with a number of debutants – to my eyes at least. Here’s my take on how they got on:

Dion Sanderson

Shout out to the guy behind me, who upon seeing Dion marauding down the right-hand side shouted ‘Go on, Tessa!’ It’s easy to see what endears fans to Sanderson: he’s athletic, quick across the ground, full-blooded and is competitive against experienced players from the outset. He was also guilty of being over-zealous in possession and lacking composure in promising opportunities. He’s definitely a talent and you can see a future for him, but more likely the right-side centre back position. Neil Taylor is a pretty average footballer and a more natural wing-back would have taken full advantage of this. As it was, he and Vallejo were ok going backwards, but lacked any kind of quality going forwards down the right.

Jesus Vallejo

While this wasn’t his debut for the club, it was only the second time I had chance to watch him over the course of 90 minutes and while there isn’t necessarily too much to be taken from his performance in a massively makeshift line-up, it was quite clear to me that Vallejo was almost an elder statesman in the line-up. The Passion of the Christ is clear – he’s a proper defender, which is probably against what we expected him to be given our one-eyed view of football on the continent. His distribution is arguably the weakest part of his game and he seems to struggle with anybody of significant size, but he was assured enough in this fixture. You get the impression there is a language barrier though, with Sanderson and Vallejo both competing with each other to clear a ball in the first half. An improvement on the other cameos he’s shown.

Max Kilman

Another not-quite debutant, whose stock has risen immeasurably, in the wake of Willy Boly succumbing to injury, despite the fact he’s only played four times now for the club.  The man with the best name in football is an odd case, with a well-told story in Futsal, but he is a 22-year-old with the experience of an 18=year-old. He is visibly growing in confidence and built on a sturdy showing in Bratislava last week here. He enjoys the odd jaunt into midfield – some may be underwhelmed given his Futsal background, but he can keep the tricks for the indoor stuff – and rarely gets caught out positionally. Added to his considerable height and stature and he’s a genuine first team option now.

Bruno Jordao

For some, perhaps the ugly duckling of our dealings with Lazio over the summer, Jordao has been little seen in a first team shirt, save for a positive cameo against Reading in the last round. He has though, been promising for the U23s and I was most intrigued by how he would far, based on the fact he came at a significant outlay for the club. Fielded in a midfield pairing, it’s clear he understands his responsibilities and was rarely out of position. He looks mobile, with a touch of quality and ready to indulge in all aspects of midfield play. He does appear to be a little lightweight though, which suggest he may fare better in a three, rather than a two, but glimpses showed he could step in and do an adequate job if necessary. On this occasion, there wasn’t enough quality in front of him for him to shine.

Taylor Perry

All told, Perry had the biggest impact of the youngsters that played, with an assist to show for a combative performance. Like Jordao, he has the look of a bit of a midfield all-rounder, with a touch more bite in the tackle (of course he does, local lad ay he? (I jest)). Again, probably suffered due to a lack of quality in front of him to take advantage of any possession that we had, but at times was guilty of playing too narrow and not switching the play when he had the opportunity. It’s difficult when so many youngsters are thrown together, but we could have made more of promising spells of possession.

Chem Campbell

An incredibly opportunity in the modern era of football – watching a player you’ve literally never seen kick a football before. Even on the telly, or Youtube, or TikTok or whatever it is people watch stuff on these days. A congratulations to Chem for making his debut at such a young age, but that’s all there is to say really. He looked like the youngest player on the pitch and whilst it’s good to see Nuno’s faith in such talents, most of us left the game feeling  if a more senior pro – even to the extent of someone like Benny Ashley-Seal – was stationed here, that we could have made more of the game. Showed some nice touches and is clearly well drilled into the system, but Campbell will no doubt look to show more the next time he dons a first team shirt.

Benny Ashley-Seal, Terry Taylor and Flavio Cristovao

The substitutions were a mixed bag, although they obviously all came on in difficult circumstances. Ashley-Seal entered the fray at the right moment, when we looked to have another gear within us, as did Terry Taylor, but soon after the introduction of Cristovao slowed our momentum. We dropped into a 3-5-2 and were neither here or there from then on. Ashley-Seal was asked to compete with Kortney Hause aerially and Terry Taylor was consistently caught in no man’s land when trying to press, with Villa just playing around us easily. It was a disappointing way to fizzle out, brought on by Nuno and the change in shape. All showed they’re tidy footballers, but you get the impression every single one of them has a half decent touch and can knock the ball around. The key is to make a real difference to a game and of all on show, only Taylor Perry can claim to have done so.

Gully
Musings from Molineux
Twitter: @molineuxmusings
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http://www.musingsfrommolineux.com

 

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