Tim Sherwood gives his verdict on Jose Angel Crespo's Aston Villa debut

Trinity Road Stand - Aston Villa

The 28-year-old Spaniard started Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Stoke City as part of a three-man defence.

Jose Angel Crespo finally made his Aston Villa debut in Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Stoke City and, despite one glaring error, manager Tim Sherwood seemed to be satisfied with what he saw.

The 28-year-old Spaniard, who can play anywhere across the backline, joined Villa from Cordoba in the summer for around £500,000 but was later ruled out for the opening weeks of the campaign after injuring his knee in his first pre-season appearance at Nottingham Forest.

However, with Ciaran Clark picking up a thigh strain ahead of Stoke’s visit, Sherwood opted to throw the versatile centre-back into the line-up for the match as part of a three-man defence alongside Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott.

The former Sevilla product proceeded to give a decent account of himself for the most part but his overall display was overshadowed by one costly mistake when he clearly lost his marker in the run-up to Marko Anautovic’s 55th-minute winner.

Nevertheless, Sherwood was unwilling to criticise him when speaking to club’s official website after the match, although he did admit that the experienced stopper still needs to get used to the pace of the English game.

“I thought he did alright,” he said of Crespo. “He's got to get used to the pace of the game obviously but he did no worse than anyone else out there.

“Jose is like the rest of the lads. They will take time to adapt. I wouldn't say time is running out but the clock is ticking.”

  Total ShotsShots OntargetKey PassesTotal PassesPassing AccuracyTotal CrossesPossession PercentageTotal Tackles
Aston Villa 13 2 8 478 85% 29 56% 17
Stoke 12 5 12 381 80% 16 43% 28

Saturday’s game also marked the first time Villa have played three at the back this season but the experiment left a lot to be desired, as wing-backs Alan Hutton and Jordan Amavi struggled to offer enough going forward, while the team also lacked a creative spark without either Jack Grealish or Carles Gil involved from the start.

Sherwood eventually abandoned the formation at half-time by replacing Lescott with Grealish but the change still failed to prevent his side from falling to a fourth successive Premier League defeat, which leaves them in 18th-place in the table with just four points from eight matches.

“We need to find ways to get crosses into the box to Rudy Gestede more than we have done because at the moment he is our main threat to score goals,” added Sherwood. “But we didn't do that well enough in the first period.

“We didn't get the balls out to Hutton and Amavi no way near enough so we changed it at half-time to find another way.

“I thought we took the game to them better in the second period but we never had that one person who could show that maverick ingredient to do something really special.

“Unfortunately that was missing today.”

Villa's next chance to put things right following the forthcoming international break will come at Chelsea on 17 October but, after their performance against the Potters, it remains to be seen whether either Crespo will still be in the line-up or the 3-5-2 formation will be seen again.

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