Garry Thompson: Aston Villa have nothing to fear if they embrace play-off pressure
Former Holte End hero Garry Thompson has urged Villa’s players to embrace the challenge of the play-offs, declaring: “They’ve nothing to fear”.
Villa head to Middlesbrough tomorrow evening for a semi-final first-leg, aiming to take a step toward Wembley and promotion back to the Premier League.
Thompson, part of the last Villa team to win promotion from the second tier 30 years ago, believes the tie is there for the taking if Steve Bruce’s men play to their potential.
“If Villa turn up, I really don’t think there is anything for them to fear,” he said.
“That’s not to say the other teams in the play-offs aren’t strong. But when Villa have been on their game this season, there are few who can match them.
“You want the players to go out there and embrace it. There is a real chance for someone to go and stamp their mark on it. You expect Villa to step up to the plate.”
Thompson believes the first goal in tomorrow’s first-leg could be crucial.
Villa proved themselves to be strong frontrunners over the course of the league campaign, only twice failing to go on and win games in which they netted first.
Thompson added: “The first goal could well be vital in this tie.
“In an ideal world you don’t want to fall behind against a Tony Pulis team. He can make things difficult for you.
“I don’t expect Villa to go up there and chase the game. That’s not really Brucie’s approach.
“If they can get a draw to take back to Villa Park, he’ll be more than happy.”