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At full time, after a vindication and demonstration of manager Eddie Howe’s skill-set honed in the lower leagues, Bournemouth’s players were called into a huddle by assistant coach Steve Fletcher.
And let’s not discount this Bournemouth performance as simply borne out of grit. Quality was apparent, too.
Rather than ignore the noise, Grealish made a gesture towards the home supporters to pipe down. It felt below the level that the 24-year-old believes he is operating at. Even so, his contribution is way above the rest of his team-mates and they would be nowhere without him.
Grealish was on his own when he made his final steps back to the visiting dressing room, while Bournemouth’s players savoured every moment together.
How fitting, then, that it should be the 47-year-old to deliver what captain Simon Francis said was a rousing speech in the minutes that followed what could also prove to be a season-defining victory.
Bournemouth could have crumbled but, with Ake and Francis expertly organising the defence, they kept their shape and performed with discipline.
It seems almost unfair and insulting to conclude that Bournemouth’s best two qualities on Saturday were their togetherness and strength of character.
While Philip Billing’s strike inside the six-yard area seemed routine, Nathan Ake’s poacher-like finish came after quick thinking and craft from Ryan Fraser.
Unfortunately for Villa, Grealish’s impressive record of seven goals and five assists this season — only Kevin de Bruyne has more goal involvement from midfield — may not be enough unless others start to perform.
Contrast this to the way Jack Grealish reacted when trudging back to the tunnel. He received a few boos from home supporters for his part in Jefferson Lerma’s two yellow cards, which resulted in the Bournemouth midfielder quite rightly being sent off.
It was no surprise the move for Villa’s goal, scored by Mbwana Samatta on his league debut, was started by Grealish.
Fletcher was the striker who 11 years ago in April scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Grimsby to keep Bournemouth in the Football League.
This performance gave a decent reading of Villa’s current temperature. Forget reaching the Carabao Cup final — staying in the top flight is the priority.
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