Aston Villa boss Unai Emery had a mixed verdict on the performance in our 4-2 defeat to Man Utd in the Carabao Cup.
Despite twice taking the lead in the second half at Old Trafford, Villa were unable to hold out and secure the win to advance to the next round as we eventually fell short after some disappointing defending.
It came after a cagey opening 45 minutes with both sides struggling to create too many chances, but it was an entirely different story after the break as the game opened up and the goals began to flow.
Emery was pleased with the defensive performance initially, but there is evidently still plenty of room for improvement not only in our attacking play but the way in which we approach certain situations during games, namely how to react after scoring and not allowing the opposition to hit back immediately and kill our momentum.
Speaking on the game, the Villa boss was largely pleased with what he saw, but interestingly he also highlighted that we didn’t have the right mentality for the last 15 minutes of the encounter.
Emery on Villa’s loss to Man Utd
“In the first half, defensively we were very good, focused, competitive,” Emery told VillaTV. “I think we needed to improve in the second half, we were speaking about how we could take more time to use our possession on the pitch and attack the final third. And we started the second half trying to go more forwards.
“We scored two goals but they reacted so quickly and, really, we were thinking it’s a good moment for us and to keep our same competitive way in the second half. But at the end, in the last 15 minutes, and I think it’s only in this match, we lost, really, our mentality.
“We weren’t showing and we weren’t carrying in the match here, in the same way than on Sunday at home at Villa Park against Manchester United.”
It will hopefully serve as a pivotal part of the process under Emery as he continues to make his assessments of the current squad at his disposal ahead of decisions on who does – and doesn’t – fit into his plans moving forward.
Speaking prior to the game, Emery noted how he would make changes to the starting XI, but his aim was to develop a style of play and then fit players into that. With certain individuals struggling on Thursday night, it could have provided him with important answers as he continues to mould the squad into his own.
Emery on Villa fans
Meanwhile, the Villa boss also paid tribute to the travelling fans who provided plenty of support and encouragement to the players throughout, and it was unfortunate that wasn’t rewarded with another important win.
Nevertheless, we’ll hope to take a strong travelling contingent with us again this weekend when we make the trip to face Brighton as we hope to sign off with a crucial win ahead of the World Cup break.