The start of Villa's lack of performance starts in the WBA game and it's not just the loss of Grealish, even though that is a big part.
1. The team starts to click in the Bolton game after a number of games playing 4411 with the core of the squad playing in most of the previous games. We go on to beat Derby and Boro, with the exciting 5-5 draw with Forest. In the Albion game, we switch to a 433 and lost Grealish in the process. In the next couple of games he switches to a 4141, and consistently since then, we have played 433 for most of our games. This system does not suit the players we have.
2. Grealish was injured on the 7th of December, and Smith had 6 weeks to replace him either from within the club or getting someone in to replace him. He failed to do so.
3. Playing Hourihane in the advanced role does not work. He is much more effective come from a deeper position and it has destroyed his confidence. He is now the new scapegoat.
4. The only player within the club that was somewhat similar to Grealish is O'Hare and he sent him out on loan. He should have kept him with the squad and allowed him to grow in the number 10 role.
5. Conceding as many goals as we were made Smith work on the defensive side of things. We are playing deeper and are less creative in possession of the ball as it seems people are afraid to get forward in support. To watch us now, you would think we were still playing under Bruce. We are playing more longer passes and Tammy is isolated as many players are on the field.
6. Early on in his 20 games, he would make substitutes to help us win games, I believe after the Forest game, a lot of his substitutions are making sure we don't lose.
7. Smith has stuck too long with a system that isn't working and he seems to stubborn to change. He was a breath of fresh air when he came to the club, now he seems to blame others for us not winning games.
I still think he can build something at the club, but he has blown a massive chance to get into the playoffs and we need to hold him accountable.
I would like to see him go back to what was working and playing the team below against Stoke.