Allan McGregor – 6
Not a lot he could have done to prevent the goals or get anywhere near Villa’s pair of strikes that hit the woodwork. Wasn’t forced to make a save otherwise. Distribution was a disappointment with his long kicks going nowhere near Jelavic.
Curtis Davies – 4
Easily the worst game I’ve seen him have for City. He seemed unsure of where to play on the right of the defence, he didn’t get tight on anyone at any stage and he made woeful attempts at tackles. He was limping around a bit leading to a half time withdrawal but that could easily have been a ploy to hide his shamed face.
Michael Dawson – 4
Atrocious. That’s my first impression of Michael Dawson in a City shirt. I’ve seen some poor debuts before now but it’s hard to remember one as poor as this. He was slaughtered for pace by Delph in the first minute or so which set the tone. He rarely got anywhere near them and ended up on his arse more times than I could count. There was no cohesion with the other two centre halves and he compounded a woeful defensive effort with some of the worst long passing you will ever see. Unfortunately it was from a short pass that he gifted Villa possession 30 yards out leading to their second goal. Anyone got Andy’s number?
Paul McShane – 5
A seriously average performance in which he passed poorly and failed to communicate with players around him leading to some Villa chances. And yet he was easily the best of the three centre halves. That said, it’s hard to see him not being the one to make way for James Chester who served his one match suspension at Villa Park.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 4
Played as a wing-back in the first half and a winger in the second. In both positions he failed to test their left back Aly Cissokho choosing to pass the ball tamely inside instead of making his trademark runs in behind. That lack of balls and passing the buck was commonplace throughout the team today. Had a very poor game defensively too and left Davies exposed on the right – and he was poor enough on his own.
Tom Huddlestone – 3
I’d make a fairly confident bet that he hasn’t had a worse game in his career. He was slow with and without the ball but particularly in possession where he wanted time he was never going to get. Villa aren’t that special but they are young and fit and they smothered him. He made stupid, panicky decisions around his own box time and again and delivered woeful set pieces including one into the side netting that would disappoint a schoolboy player. When he started passing into touch every time - Bruce hauled him off. He wouldn’t get a Scotland call-up on recent form. The England stuff is nonsense. He’s behind Westwood and Delph in the queue for starters.
Jake Livermore – 4.5
Improved immeasurably once Huddlestone went off. Before that he was playing as the deep lying midfielder. He didn’t get out of his own half when we had possession and without – he couldn’t tackle a pattie butty. In the last fifteen minutes or so he was instrumental in our attacking play, sprayed the ball around confidently and tested Guzan with a lovely curling effort which dragged his rating up a touch.
Stephen Quinn – 5
Not as effective as he’s been of late. Rarely got up in support of Ince and Jelavic and too keen to offload the ball to someone else, just like his midfield colleagues, which meant we went sideways and backwards for too often. He did manage once or twice to find some space on the left and linked up well enough with Robertson but it just didn’t happen enough.
Andrew Robertson – 6
The best of a bad bunch I felt. Offered an outlet on the left at times in the first half but was much more effective later in the game when he over-lapped Robbie Brady. When he got into good positions, his crossing wasn’t anywhere near the standard he’s set so far though. Defensively he wasn’t tested as much as others as Villa tended to attack down our right but he showed nerves when dealing with hopeful balls and got in McShane’s way occasionally.
Tom Ince – 5
Another quiet game for Ince who is struggling to make a real impact. In his defence, he was again feeding on scraps and he did at least attempt to make something happen with the ball at his feet. He was taken off in the second half when there were many less effective players who could have gone instead - Huddlestone and Elmohamady for starters. I would have left him on and added Brady and Aluko behind Jelavic with Livermore and Quinn sitting deeper.
We’re seriously missing someone who can run beyond defences. Jelavic is the furthest striker forward and all of our play is behind him. Ince hasn’t played right up top since the Stuttgart friendly when he got beyond Jelavic brilliantly. This meant a ridiculously easy game for their centre halves Vlaar and Senderos. In the few minutes City did press we saw what a nervous team Villa are in defence so it made the previous 75 inexcusable.
Nikica Jelavic – 4
Spent his afternoon battling Senderos and Vlaar in vain. The service was rubbish but he was ponderous in possession and didn’t look as lively as last week. Credited with the goal which looked like an O.G. to me but I’ll stand corrected once I’ve seen it on the telly. Conceded possession for the first Villa goal with a clumsy touch from an admittedly hopeless ball out to him.
Liam Rosenior – 6
We were much better with him at right back although Villa did spend most of the second half allowing us to play in front of them so the threat had subsided. He supported well down the right and won throw-ins and corners that allowed us to gain decent territory. Unfortunately a victim of the desire to play 3-5-2 because if we played an orthodox right back, he’d be starting every week.
Robbie Brady – 6
Made a decent impact to follow up his bright showing against Lokeren on Thursday. Took over from Huddlestone in the woeful set piece department but in open play he was vivacious and made things happen. Given the abysmal nature of other performances, he must have given the manager food for thought.
Sone Aluko – n/a
Made a negligible impact and missed our best chance to equalise when he shot straight at Guzan. Like Ince, I think he’s playing too deep. People like to go on about the “number 10 role” these days and that’s what we’re trying to use them in. But Aluko’s best games for City have come when he played up front and got in behind defenders. He has good quick feet but he’s not just going to run at and beat seasoned defenders. He’s far better stretching them and working off through balls and crosses.
Steve Bruce – 3
Having rested players for the European game on Thursday because he’s prioritised Premier League points (which I fully understand evenif I don’t like it) and annoyed a lot of fans in the process – he had to get something out of today’s game. The players got off lightly for their poor showing against Lokeren and were rubbish again today but he has to carry the can.
Jake Livermore is wasted in the deeper midfield position. We’re not using Ince or Aluko to get in behind defences. You’d have to question whether chucking Michael Dawson straight in as part of our thre at the back system was a good idea given that he’s been a much lauded top flight defender for years and today he made Greg Strong and Neil Whitworth look alright.
Most worryingly is that, as a team, we’re passing the ball so poorly. We cough it up under pressure and when the pressure is off, we pass slowly and tamely from the back and we don’t look like hurting anyone from midfield. If Bruce is looking for two midfield bodies before tomorrow’s deadline – I’m not at all surprised.