Aston Villa fans were united in their opinion that manager Steven Gerrard’s half-time team talk and debutant Philippe Coutinho’s cameo made all of the difference.
Gerrard’s words in the dressing room seemed to sink into his side, who were much improved after the restart, although they fell further behind when Fernandes noticed his second.
Coutinho, a high-profile loan capture from Spanish giants Barcelona, then came on as a substitute and his presence appeared to galvanise Villa.
Jacob Ramsey halved the deficit, before Philippe Coutinho popped up to send Villa Park into raptures with the equaliser, ensuring that the game finished 2-2.
It was some retribution for the claret and blues, who were knocked out of the FA Cup at Manchester United in their last outing.
And most of the Villa faithful were wondering what Gerrard conveyed to his charges at half-time, such was the turnaround by the finish.
‘Couthino helps us turn things round’
William, from Cannock, said: “I thought, in the first-half, we started slow, but we got gradually into the game. Half-time came and I think the manager had a word with the players.
“Whatever he told them, it changed the game for us. I thought we played really well in the second-half and Coutinho helped us to turn things around.
“If he carries on performing like he did on his debut, we would be looking at a top-half finish. Along with Steven Gerrard, they have given us a big lift, with their name and pedigree.
“Dean Smith was a good manager for us and might be better tactically but, when it’s half-time and you need to pick up some points, Gerrard has that touch with the team.”
‘It was a fair result’
Mark, from Sibson in Cambridgeshire, added: “I can’t complain much about the performance, it was sloppy in places and we should have been a bit more direct, when we needed to be.
“There were too many short passes, around the back, and I’d have liked to have seen us go a little bit more diagonal and get the ball forward quicker.
“It was a fair result, I’d have loved the 3-2 and to get the win, but I’m chuffed to bits to be going home with something, rather than nothing.
“Coutinho couldn’t have wished for a better debut, it’s just a shame he didn’t get the winner! He’s going to take a while to get up to speed but, when he does, he will be pivotal for us.
“Along with the manager, he’s huge for us. No disrespect to Dean Smith (Gerrard’s predecessor), who was great, but Gerrard has got more pulling power and a will to win.”
Coutinho or Grealish?
Emma, from Aston, commented: “I don’t know what happened with the manager, at half-time, but we came back out a different side and it was really positive from there.
“Before you know it, we are starting to think that we may have a chance and then we get it to 2-2. For Coutinho to get the equaliser was brilliant, it electrified the ground.
“We were all signing and getting behind the boys - it was great. All of the Villa fans, through and through, are thinking bring on the rest of the season.”
When asked whether he would prefer Coutinho or Villa old-boy Jack Grealish in a claret and blue shirt, Emma and Ben, who was with her, were at odds.
Ben said: “Coutinho! All day long.” Emma retorted: “ How can you say that? Jack is our boy!” Fortunately, that was the only thing they disagreed on.
Brett, from Kidderminster, said: “We gave them two goals and they still couldn’t beat us. We never gave up. I reckon we should have won and you can’t argue with Coutinho’s impact.
“I think he will start next week, at Everton, and perhaps he can change the game for us again. It was so pleasing to see him make his debut.”
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