but it is massively let down by having so little goal threat. The real problem will be is that when we don't play well, as Saturday, or make stupid errors, as at Reading, we will lose.
First the positives: I thought we tried to keep possession, worked the ball well at times and kept Brighton well away from goal for the most part. Best was clearly unfit and saving energy but still added some good touches (and the difference once he went off was stark) and both full backs were involved at both ends of the pitch. Any worries fans had about Emmanuel playing against Brighton after last season clearly weren't shared by the player.
Best however was too isolated a lot of the time, no one close enough to get on the end of any knock downs or lay offs despite a lot of work from Bru and Lawrence. Once Sears came on his tendency to drift wide did mean we had the absurd situation of five players around the Brighton area but no-one in it at one point in the second half.
The lack of energy and athleticism in the side is palpable at the moment, it's a large part of the reason we struggled to support Best well enough. Ward didn't look properly fit to me and I'm not totally convinced Sears was either.
The absurdity of selling but not replacing Murphy stands out starkly at the moment. We might have had little choice on the sale if Murphy wanted to go, and clearly he did, but we're so short of players up front as a result. Pitman's long-term absence is a big blow because he still looks like he'll score goals if not chasing lost causes for 90 minutes.
And so, we're just not going to score many goals this season. We're not dreadful, not when we play like we did yesterday, but nor are we anywhere like a side even looking at the play-offs. Get players fit and we might be, get a win Saturday and it might look better but we're back drifting again as a club.
Just after losing to Charlton at home, Jewell still had more depths to plumb, getting some loanees in to replace some other loanees and then being too incompetent to even resign properly.
I underestimated McCarthy, notably I being able to produce a team - generally - greater than the sum of its parts but I'm still not sure what Evans is trying to do here.
Blog: Where Does This Football Club Go From Here?23rd Sep 2012 09:21 Paul Jewell’s time at this club must now be as good as over but, whether he goes this week, in two months or at the end of the season, the malaise at this club is far deeper than a man who has tried hard but been nowhere near good enough.35
Not so much a game of two halves as one of multiple parts, some of them good for us, a couple pretty poor. Overall a point apiece was probably about right but I left with a lingering frustration we hadn't played a little more of the match on the front-foot.
Villa were technically better in midfield, Grealish was excellent at times - mainly those when he wasn't thinking that he was too good to be there - but for all of their nice interplay, they rarely got good balls into our box and were left shooting from distance. All of our back four, plus Skuse and Douglas made some great blocks and interceptions to leave Bart without a save to make.
When we put Villa under pressure they struggled and the impetus of the match changed, sulky Premier League players didn't like it and resorted to nasty, sneaky little fouls but we had a real threat about us at times and with a shaky keeper in goal for Villa there was enough at half-time to suggest we could really push on for the win.
I was disappointed with much of the second half, we stood off a bit too much and whilst defending well for the most part - Chambers' aberration was the only time I thought we were going to concede - we were not much of a threat for most of the second half. The excellent pressure we put on in the last 12 minutes or so should not disguise that.
Mick did try to change to by bringing Bishop on but getting clattered so soon after coming on certainly didn't help his game - that to me looked a reckless challenge with the ball long gone. But that point though the ref had remembered that Villa used to be in the Premier League so should have the benefit of the doubt (and then some) with any decisions. I don't quite understand how Lawrence got booked but no-one else did, actually did Villa have one booking?. Regardless a lot got let go that was far worse, including Berra's pull back just outside the box.
When we did finally make a change the impact was marked, so many good chances created in a short space of time and only some excellent defending and poor luck stopped us scoring. Best looked an absolute handful and the sooner he is properly fit the better we'll be. We probably couldn't have played with that intensity for much longer but another ten minutes of it might just have been enough.
A few weeks ago Freddie Sears looked lost, the careless gifting of the ball to Brentford for their second goal a low moment. Yesterday was far more like it, hard-working but also just a few signs of some belief returning. If he can just get a goal or two... I think playing off Best will help him, Pitman as we can all see isn't really suited to playing up front on his own.
So, a mixed match at the end of a mixed week. Four points from nine is ok but there needs to be much more of the intensity of the last few minutes yesterday of we are going to rise above mid-table this season. On the plus side, we're looking more solid defensive than we have for a while, still too many individual errors, but the overall solidity is much better. Compare with the first two matches of the season if you aren't sure of that.
I think the season might be a bit like that though, good bits and bad bits, some nice football and some games where we look dreadful. Something for everyone then.