Gabriel Agbonlahor. Where do we even begin? A season or two ago many of us were giving the man a stay. Standing by the man who is, essentially, Mr Villa. Questioning his performances and suitability in the starting XI was a no go – a grey area – a taboo subject if you will.

Well not any more.

In the past I have said that Gabby would be a half decent player if he could finish. That was before he lost pretty much everything else to his game. On Saturday we saw classic Gabby in the first half, twice using his undoubted pace to get in on goal before tediously fluffing his lines – poking one at the keeper and the other he just tripped on thin air. Then in the second half he seemed to drop deep and not get anywhere near Rudy for his knock downs and flick ons. I scarcely remember him touching the ball. If this was an instruction he received at half-time, to play centrally behind the big man, then my annoyance for this ineptness would switch to the manager.

Having been at the club since he started out his youth career in 1994 Agbonlahor has made over 350 first team appearances for the Villa and is the clubs all-time leading Premier League goalscorer. And because of that I had no issue with Tim Sherwood making Gabby club captain at the start of the season – it makes sense. But what I do take exception to is someone seemingly having a God given right to be in the team and remain on the field of play when his run-of-the-mill displays are so very evident.

Since 2010 Agbonlahor has only really had one notable season, 2012/13, during which he notched a dozen goals. Excluding that I can count on one hand the number of games he has made a genuine impact/affected the score line for the better.

The buck stops here, Tim.

The only plus points from the weekend were the return to the starting line-up of Carlos Sanchez, who was unlucky to be hauled off midway through the second period having played solidly and Jack Grealish who added much sought quality in the final third. Then there was new whizz kid Adama Traore who came on and changed the game offensively with his electrifying pace. He was like Usain Bolt whilst Palace left back Pape Souare – no slouch himself – played the infamous Trevor ‘The Tortoise’ Misapeka. The Samoan who ran 100 metres in 14.23s at the 2001 World Athletics Championships. Forget about this “development” spiel, he must start against Sunderland.

Jordan Amavi came in for some criticism over Bakary Sako’s late winner and rightly so. You don’t play your way out of those spots at any level especially in the unforgiving Premier League. My annoyance at that killer goal spread to Brad Guzan. With three minutes on the board and a respectable point all but locked up you just have to go long there and allow Traore to run it down. Release some of the pressure rather than rolling it out into a congested area. A recipe for disaster. I’ve voiced my concerns on Guzan’s distribution mindset – his decisions often leaving me bewildered.

Tonight we play Notts County at home and I suspect Tim will use this as a competitive run out for the players on the periphery in a game we ought to win comfortably regardless of who he fields. A cup run wouldn’t go amiss; a couple of decent draws hereon and suddenly you find yourself in the last eight of a competition.

As I like to do after all Villa games I had a scour through social media platforms on my way back from the 2-1 reverse at Selhurst Park and observed a few tweets and comments and remarkably I found a small group pointing fingers at Tim Sherwood already. We’re only three games into the season and what with an entourage of new players there was always bound to be a bedding in process with a few hiccups along the way. Especially at the beginning.

That said, although very early to be thinking ahead and casting aspersions, our next three league games are Sunderland (H), Leicester City (A) and West Brom (H) before running into a long list of very tricky fixtures. 6/7 points from this trio would be ideal otherwise the fickle minority will start shouting that little bit louder.

Up the Villa!

Comments 193

  1. Hello Ryan.
    Nice write up.
    These are interesting times. It’s no secret that Libor Kozak is off to Celtic or Mainz. TS wants funds to bring in a striker from, I think, Fiorentina. Hopefully, he can score goals, Gabby certainly isn’t at the moment. Having more talented younger strikers around that aren’t awestruck by Villa’s living “legend” might actually help Gabby find some form. That’s if he gets the chance. I’m hoping others can step up to the plate and hit the back of the net.
    As you say, it is early days. Will TS learn from his mistakes? Will Gabby keep getting selected?
    Whatever the case, we’re in for a rollercoaster ride. I see a bit of pride in the likes of Amavi, Sanchez and Gana. I think we’ll stay up. We need that regularly goal scoring striker, though πŸ™‚

  2. Hey Ryan = greetings from Thailand. I tend to agree with your assessment of Gabby; he is no longer a first choice member of the squad – his finishing if diabolical, might I suggest Savo-esque.
    I, like you, blame Guzan for putting Amavi in the position where he had no choice but to try and play out – no blame to him in my book and TS should have recognised it not said it was naivity.
    The boo boys will always be in attendance at Villa Park and the new manager will attract criticism, some justified, some not, but the clear-out should have happened 3 seasons ago and with the right manager. TS has a thankless task trying to do a Koemans at Villa Park but the seeds appear to be there. Survival is the number one aim this season.

  3. Agree with all of the above. Anytime now Gabby starts ill just be angry with TS.

    Looking forward tonight, love a cup run, our only chance of some success. Expect a strong side featuring gill, vertout, ayeuw and adama.

    Weird link to this roma chap….another grealish, gill type player…..GET AUSTIN!!!!!

  4. Hello Clive

    How’s Thailand treating you?

    Did you get to watch the Bledisloe Cup matches with your Aussie mates overthere? I don’t read too much into these pre-world cup matches. The media says this and that, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the day. Look at the Bledisloe, the Wallabies deserved their win in the first test, a week later they were thrashed.

  5. I agree Guzan shouldn’t have put Amavi in that position, but at least he seems to have faith in his new defenders. It used to be hoof ball all the time. He should keep the faith, but be a bit more adept next time.

  6. I dunno … though Guzan could take some of the flak, I felt that Amavi had sufficient time to get the ball upfeild (which is what Guzan could have done to start with) or kick it out if there was too much pressure. Or he could have passed back to Guzan, perhaps.

    The thing Amavi should not have attempted is to dribble his way out when there was no great cover in place.

    Anyway, apart from that issue (now in the past) Gabby is the centre of attention.

    Maybe if he’s played tonight he might find his shooting boots and re-gain some confidence? I don’t see any harm selecting him for this match so long as he’s replaced by half-time if nothing significant derives from his presence on the pitch.

    Should be a good match for Adama to get more of a feel for English football.

  7. Hi Trinity,
    All fine here – just recovering from visit from my son/daughter-in-law/grandson followed by 2 other friends.
    I watched the Bledisloe with my Aussie friend who was delighted because our Kiwi friend had traveled to watch it live and was gloating beforehand. He’s going to UK in expectation the ABs will walk it.
    John – I feel Gabby should be on the bench if he is selected for the squad and then given a run to try and score if we have it sewn up; then again TS will use this as a try out for league match formations I reckon.

  8. On the Guzan – Amavi thing, I saw the replay on MNF and Guzan clearly failed to see Dann – he glanced left then glanced right and then threw the ball out failing to realise that Dann had stopped, anticipated the throw and had already started moving towards Amavi by the time the ball was thrown. The 10 yard gap between them quickly became 2 or 3 after his first touch. Course Amavi shouldnt have done what he did but Guzan played a significant part in that error given his experience plus also given the time of the game. Why not just calm it down after their attack and boot the ball upfield? I mean their CB’s were already up from the corner.

    This is what I mean about Guzan when I said he’s costing us points nowadays as opposed to gaining us 5 or 6 points a couple season back. I feel his time at the club is coming to an end and Sherwood knows this.

  9. Trinity Im not so sure that shows faith in his defenders abilities I think its more of a consequence of his dire kicking. Yes we should look to play the ball out from defense but that was not on at all.

  10. John – I think Gabby needs to be dropped for his own sake as much as any. The crisis in confidence is just growing now. Fair play to him he keeps going but you can see even he doesnt have faith in his own abilities. Take him out of the firing line, let him work hard in training and use him as a sub busting a gut to make an impact to get back in the team. Then he may be an asset, right now he’s a complete liability.

    Ayew needs to start upfront. Whether by himself or with Gestede. Personally Id like to see him with Grealish/Gil/Traore behind him, maybe sinclair if Gil is not fully fit but Gil to make an appearance. All of them are adept on the ball and we should see good link up play. Id like Veretout to get a run out and Sanchez to get his fitness up. Maybe Hutton and Baker, even Bennet to get a run out.

  11. Clive
    I think that world cup will be the toughest it’s ever been.
    My own view on the ABs is that there’s a lot of past their prime players. They might just be able to pull one more big tournament out of the bag. They’ve got class, but they were sorely shown up in the first Bledisloe. That Aussie team that played in the second test was very different in key positions.
    England, NZ, Aus, France, Ireland, RSA or Wales could win it. It’s closer than ever. There’s a couple of matches at VP.

  12. I would play a strong side tonight, win the tie, gain confidence and fitness, pulse there’s ample time to recover before sat.
    I would play Ayew up top as the main striker with the hope he gets a couple and plays well, as so far he hasn’t looked anything like a Β£10m striker especially compared to his brother who Swansea got on a free, to date he has looked like another Jordan who has since left, Jordan Bowery.
    Why we aren’t in for an out and out striker like Austin or Callum Wilson I don’t know, yet we are linked to another attacking midfielder in the lad from Roma. As for Gabby his only role at the club should be fastest kit man in the prem

  13. B62 I hope he does start and gets a goal or two. I get the feeling Sherwood may be getting him to play wide for a crash course PL education. But lets see if he’s got that killer instinct, the ability to sniff out goals. Doesnt look like that kinda player tbh but lets give him a chance. He looks like a slow burner, a goal would do him the world of good. As would a good performance from Veretout.

  14. This Ljajic link – good player by all accounts, a winger/second striker type. Def an upgrade on Sinclair imo. Shares a lot of similarities with our summer signings so far, good passing and dribbling. Technically sound. He seems as if he’s got a good shot on him too, capable of great goals. What I like about him from his vids is he looks like he aint just the type that wants the ball to feet and nothing more, he will make those runs off the ball in behind. And we need that tbh, we already have plenty no 10 types. Sinclair needs to up his game a lot or he could be dropped completely.

  15. I think tonight will see a fairly strong side but as there are so many that didn’t play sat I’d expect a lot of fringe players also no-one played in the U21 game last night. If Kosak doesn’t feature we will know he’s gone.

    On Gabby rest him, couldn’t score pre-season, can’t score now, hasn’t been on a decent scoring run for years, what makes anyone think a goal a against lower team will change that?

    Ree- sorry I didn’t get back to you last night early start πŸ™‚

    The corner for the first goal came from a deflected shot from the edge of the area, the same area Sanchez was covering so well. When Pardew put on 2 strikers second half and moved mutch out left and sako out right it was because sanchez was bossing the midfield and Gueye was covering Bacuna’s arse. 2 mins after traore came on gayle had a shot deflected out for a corner from the edge of the area (no DM) then dann got his goal.
    That decision pretty much changed the game.

    On Westwood, are you seriously putting him in the same calibre as the likes of Toure, Cazorla, Fabregas, Schweinsteiger,??? they have so much more to their game than him, Carrick can even play CB if needed, westwood wins one header a season, No way Jose, he’s no playmaker yet, just a very tidy midfielder.

  16. Ree- Sinclair got pulled while having his best game yet against Manure, rather than drop him he needs someone like Gil/grealish to put him through, he is gabby with a finish if we can find him with the ball, Linked up brilliantly with Amavi too, wish he had been on the pitch instead of gabby.

  17. Mark – I knew you would come at me with that ‘not in the same class’ reply! Obviously Westwood is not anywhere near that calibre as a player, but Villa are nowhere near the calibre of those teams. What he does for us is comparable to what those players do for their teams. He is a deep lying midfield playmaker, someone you dont notice/appreciate until they’re gone. Much like Barry or Petrov – Im not comparing their abilities either!

    I watched back the highlights for the Palace game, the corner didnt come from a deflected shot from the edge of the box…. it came from a break away that was caused by us sloppily conceding possession from a throw in (Amavi to Gestede, Gestede doesnt hold it up, Amavi charges in to win it back and McCarthur nicks it for Palace charges forward on the break – leaving 3 or 4 Villa players out of the play) leading to a Puncheon shot which was blocked, but then Sako gathers puts the ball in the box and it was cleared for a corner. The corner was due to sloppiness, not due to Sanchez not being there… even if he was there I highly doubt he could get back on that break.

    Even after this happened we still equalised… it was that extreme sloppiness at the end that cost us heavily, not the withdrawal of Sanchez. Like I said there is no legislating for those kind of mistakes. Sherwoods changes brought about our best attacking spell of the second half, and we looked most likely to win once we equalised. Im still puzzled why he didnt use more subs or did the subs slight differently but again that did not cost us the game.

    On Sinclair – Iv always thought he’s talented but Iv always said theres something missing – the hunger to succeed. As much as I hate it, Delph is much more likely to succeed at City than Sinclair ever was because he has that vital ingredient Sinclair doesnt, that drive and determination to win, to be the best. If Ljajic provides that, I have no issue with Sinclair being dropped until he shows hunger to get back in the team and succeed. Sadly, i dont think he has it. His talent has brought him this far, he was allowed to shine at Swansea thanks to his teammates and what they brought to the table. When he has to bring something to the table himself, it becomes much more difficult.

  18. Tonight I hope to see Ayew up top, with Gil Adama and JG behind him. Veretout and Sanchez in CM hopefully

    I’d be annoyed if Gabby and Sinclair play tonight

  19. Ree- I was going by memory but have just re-watched the build up to the goal and westy was the covering player in midfield Gueye had pulled up. westy was ball watching with the defence while 3 palace players lined up on the edge of the box, nobody pressed the player on the ball.

    I wasn’t suggesting the act of Sanchez going off caused a goal directly! just that him being off the field changed the dynamics which led to a chain of events. forget the shot Bako had from Traores first touch where he gets crowded out, the midfield stopped functioning as well.

    We were very fortunate to get that goal the bloke slid in 3 yards from the outside of the post, it wasn’t like he had a forward pressuring him in the box it just deflected inside the near post, could just as easily gone out.

    With Sanchez we looked Farley comfortable without him palace made inroads, it upset the balance, simple as. Even you have to think there might be a correlation between his withdrawal and palace scoring 2 mins later? but probably not πŸ™‚

  20. No Mark no correlation whatsoever :0 (how the hell do you do smileys?). The corner was a direct result of a break caused by sloppiness from a throw in on the left hand side. This was the same break in play that Traore came on and Sanchez went off btw. Amavi and Gana failed to win the ball, McCarthur beat all of them and broke. It became a 3 on 3 situation with Amavi, Gana, Grealish, Gestede all ahead of the ball that side. It was McCarthur, Mutch on the right and Sako on the left breaking against Clark, Richards and Bacuna. During the play Puncheon and Gayle burst forward to add 2 attackers but also Westwood and Grealish worked back so it became a 5 on 5, but Palace had the advantage attacking. McCarthur played it to Puncheon steaming in and he took the shot which was blocked by Bacuna, Then Sako picks it up runs at Bacuna and crosses it near post where Clark clears.

    If you want to be super critical you can say that Westwood was too high up and not covering enough (and that Sanchez would have!) but really that whole situation came about from the really sloppy play from the throw in, failure to hold the ball up from Gestede then failure to win the ball back from Gana and Amavi, both getting caught outta position as a result. Westwood actually does really well to get back into the box by the time Puncheon had the shot, you cant really say Sanchez would have altered that sequence of events. In any case Clark got bullied out of it at the corner by a man he was supposed to be marking. So many variables in that goal, you cant say Sanchez would have prevented it.

    In any case, my point was we had equalised. Yes it was a lucky deflection but Traore earned a bit of luck for his run. Defender had noone pressurising him but he had come out to stop Traore so obviously he had to try stop the cross. If Traore didnt make the run and attempted the cross the goal wouldnt have happened. So its a slice of luck but it was an enforced error as opposed to the unenforced error we gave away.

    That mistake was retarded and thats what cost us the result, not anything Sherwood did. You can argue all day long whether it was a good change or bad change by Sherwood and what he should have done but that did not cost us the game. Its scapegoating tbh.

  21. Ryan i totally agree with your leader
    only thing i would add is will tim show some back bone were gabby is concerend and put him on the bench or better still sell him – i hear the blues are interested

    we need a manager that acts completely in the interest of becoming successful and show no mercy to the backroom favorates

    ;Lambert with one of his dumbest comments — does he not realise t5hat we havent spent any money yet ?

    like Mark has pointed out a few times we can expect the useall 20mil spend from lerner — possibly a bit more due to pending increase tv money ?

    it looks like we are splashing out to lambert – maybe tekkers and delph leaving was the best thing for the club at this time as without that happenng tim wouldnt have been able to revamp the sqaud they way he has been able too

  22. Ree- Scapegoating? Ts made one sub, the best performing player on the pitch for us comes off . a young inexperianced player comes on and doesnt contribute much to defence, grealish is knackered, gabby is cr*p and knackered, gestede has no crosses to go at and he takes sanchez off? That leaves 2 tired midfielders to cover the whole midfield. And dont forget this was in a tight game that palace were pressing us hard. I’d say it was a poor decision. Was tim really putting in triore to go for the win? Probably but it left the back door open.

  23. Runtingz its strange the players we are linked with though? Saying that talk of kosak being sold when ts said hes got a big season ahead makes me think anything is possible

  24. Like I said you can argue all day long whether it was a good decision to make that sub or not and what Sherwood should have done BUT that did not cost us the match. Stupid mistakes cost us the match, especially the last one. To say that Sherwood caused us to lose that match just does not make any sense and is just looking for someone to blame, which is scapegoating. In fact I applaud Sherwood to have the balls to try win the match as much as I criticise him for the decisions he made.

  25. Ree- there you have it, stupid mistakes cost us, biggest one taking off our DM πŸ™‚

    surely if he was going for it Ayew and sinclair for gabby and Gestede should of been a shoe-in, not just bringing on the boy wonder and hoping for the best.

    tonight we have another Sanchez at CB????


    mutton sanchez baker richardson

    veretout gil traore

    grealish ayew sinclair

    not particularly in that formation

  26. Mark:
    “On Westwood, are you seriously putting him in the same calibre as the likes of Toure, Cazorla, Fabregas, Schweinsteiger,??? they have so much more to their game than him, Carrick can even play CB if needed, westwood wins one header a season, No way Jose, he’s no playmaker yet, just a very tidy midfielder.”

    I’m proud to be a Westwood fan, yet I agree. This is exactly the area that Tim wants him to improve in — and I stronhly back him to do it. WeEitness his marvelously weighted through ball to Gabby last week which should have been an assist for Ashley as Gabby ought to have scored. And bear in mind that Westie has our only assist of the season so far.

    He must keep growing though, or else lose his place. The Prem ain’t very forgiving to stagnation — players or teams.

  27. texas- he takes all of our corners and free kicks don’t you think he should have more? meanwhile the others mentioned would be busy scoring not taking corners. I think its a hell of a stretch to say he’ll get into that company mate.

    haggis can’t find a thing

  28. All I’m strongly backing is for Westwood to markedly improve in his attacking play, not for him to be an international megastar (although wouldn’t it be nice if that happened!).

  29. My lineup for tonight:
    – Bunn
    – Hutton (45-60, then relieved by Crespo if fit)
    – Clark
    – Baker
    – Bennet if fit or Richardson

    – Sanchez as DM
    – Vertout as CM
    – Gil as AM if fit or Cole

    – Grealish
    – Traore
    – Ayew

    Subs: Steer, Crespo, Richardson, Sendeross, Gardner, Gabby, Gestede

  30. It wouldn’t be fun if they won all the time. Got to keep it interesting. I can’t get the game. How does the team look?

  31. I saw that. Interesting. I guess he wants some scoring. A very young team. I’m guessing Adama is going to be a permanent fixture in the line up.

  32. Extra time is the last thing we need, serious questions need to be asked re tactics, line up etc, and I’m sorry but on the evidence so far Ayew seems a waste of Β£10m

  33. Why B62? Why is ET the last thing we need ? A second string team playing in a competitive match where they’ve come back from a goal down three times and now lead . JG having a great game , 64% possession , multiple shots on target . Win ,lose or draw , et is exactly what we need imo.

  34. B62, I agree that Ayew hasn’t shown much at all but I’d still choose to have him somewhere on the team (even if on the bench) rather than Gabby. At least Ayew is younger and has time to improve.

    Speaking of Gabby, he doesn’t see the pitch and we score three. Enough said!

  35. Well, one thing you have to say about Scott Sinclair — when he scores in non-league games, he scores in bunches!

    Don’t want to be greedy but sure would love to see that again against Leicester!

  36. yeah fair enough B62 , I just see it it differently . Most of these guys are young men in the prime of their life doing a job they love . That extra 30 minutes tonight in that environment where they’re playing well and slowly gelling together in the heat of battle without any real pressure is better than 3 weeks of training sessions. At the start of a season , I think its solid gold.

  37. Work late. Come home to see villa struggling against league 2 opposition. Adama off injured, weird line up by ts. Heard that fox says we are not in for ljanjic.


    And then booooom blues at vp under the lights in the cup.

    Im back in the game.

  38. Well what a crazy night! All made worthwhile drawing shitty in the next round! Not that there wasnt any value going into extra time, i think it will do our players the world of good having played a good amount of minutes. But to concede 3 against a league 2 side at home is pretty poor – thank god that aint our normal defense.

    Thought the lineup was crazy attacking, almost a p*ss take of Notts County. It just about worked out thanks to a dubious penalty…. but who cares now! We’re through and we’re gonna smash the bloose next round!

  39. I think the extra time would have been good for most of the players, gives them more, as Prox said, on field time to gel and get a bit fitter.
    Smaller clubs often upset bigger clubs in the domestic cups, so I’m happy with the result. It’s a win, it’ll help Saturday’s team approach their match in a better frame of mind. Our main problem recently has been not scoring. They scored a few today. Their next big challenge is to do it against a PL club.

  40. Sanchez at CB, hmmm?
    Grealish is class.
    Hope Ayew turns it around.
    Kozak situation is unusual…

    Gil Grealish and Veretout, not exactly a heavyweight midfield.

    Still fun to see TS going for it and letting these young lads and the fans have some fun after those dark, dully, dour, depressing Days of Lambert πŸ™‚ for fucks sake (just testing the curseblocker, sorry Matt)!

    Bring on Sunderland with hopefully Kozak in between Sinclair and Adama with Grealish pulling the strings and a couple of destroyers in the middle of the park.


  41. Sinclair

    Just to put a damper on it… πŸ™

    The reality is he scored with two tap-ins and a penalty kick that wasn’t ‘clean’.

    OK, a hat-trick is what it is and I must give cred that at least he was on the spot to put the chances home, but this was against a side 2 divisions lower than us.

    The striker situation for PL games does not look that promising I have to admit.

  42. Jl i know what your saying but his previos hatrick was much more convincing and as you say he reads the game and times his runs well what more can he do but score? Id put money on him scoring those chances gabby missed

  43. Sinclair:

    I think right now, on the balance of things, he’s the one who’s been showing a scoring touch, opposition notwithstanding. So in many ways that argues for his inclusion as the ‘form player’, and one who might have a bit of a confidence and a point to prove.

    On the other hand, it is about set-ups. TS’s comment about wanting Grealish and Sanchez to have 90 mins together to improve their understanding says that indeed, it was in many ways a training match. And in this instance, Sinclair also seems to have an understanding of where to be with Grealish on the pitch.

    Whatever the selections, I agree with everyone that Gabby needs to be sat down for a while.

  44. Sinclair

    I don’t understand why so many don’t rate him
    he is the type of player that will only floushish in a side that plays the passing game but has proved at this level that he can be a serious threat to any prem opposition if the team he is in allow him to play to his strengths

    anyway i am a fan of his game and i am sure he will prove the doulters wrong before too long

  45. Spot on runtingz, someone said swansea made him look good, good football makes anyone look good if they have it.

    Jc- i think him and amavi and grealish will flourish together add gil and we have something

  46. It will be interesting to see how TS lines the team up against Sunderland. This is a must win game for Villa. Tim needs to be careful about his line up and stop making the wrong substitutions.

    I think TS has purchased a couple of stars in Traore and Amavi. Traore could turn out to be a world class talent

    And Grealish also looks like the real deal. Add Gil into the equation and we have some real attacking creative talent in the team, which is great to see.

    Sinclair is also looking like a steel. On his form so far we should consider playing him as the striker.

    Gestede gives us another option.

    Gana looks solid in midfield and Sanchez was the star player at Copa America. All quality players.

    Things are looking positive at Villa Park.

    I still think we need another striker. I am not sure why we didn’t bid for Charlie Austin, he can score goals. Ayew looks like he needs time to adapt to the Premier League.

    I believe Tim will sign a forward before the window closes. And i would also like to see us sign Victor Moses.

    We shall see.

  47. Ok jl but the coverage on avfc was rubbish so you only knew what was going on when someone shot!! The est of the time was reading peoples emails!!! Grealish was the star though and hutton captain!! He was still cr*p

  48. I know it’s early days but Ayew is worrying me. To be that bad against a league 2 team is not what we need when we have spent a lot of our budget on him. And he is in the one position where we are desperate for quality and goals.

    Gana, Amavi and adama have adapted quickly it seems. Vertout looks like there is a player there and will come good i think. But ayew i aint seeing anything at the moment.

    I like Sinclair a great deal. Good on the ball, quick, natural finisher who always pops up when you want him. 2.5mill is a mental price for him. great business.

  49. I love the way Tim set up last night. Made me laugh. Obvioulsy just wanted to give them game time and just went for it… refreshing from Lambert days! My team for Sat

    Bacuna Richards Clarke Amavi
    Wstwood Gana
    Gill Grealish Sinclair

  50. Richard S:
    From what I’ve read so far it looks as though Traore will miss the next match due to the foot/ankle injury he got last night.

    Andrew — we’d pick the identical lineup. And to make your mind feel better about the Ayew expenditure versus his play so far, simply swap the price tags between him and Sinclair in your mind! lol

  51. In spite of all the Continental cash we’ve laid out this window, wouldn’t it be ironic if, at the end of the season, the best return-on-investment came from two savvy Premier veteran British players — Richards & Sinclair?

  52. Evening all

    Personally I can’t get aboard this Sinclair love-train. I do rate him, just for me he’s missing an edge. If we had an option not to buy at the end of his loan I would have taken that route and gone for Sakho on a free instead.

    That being said, I do prefer him as a striker. He has the poachers knack of being in the right place at the right time, without being picked up by markers. If he gets a few games in that position *cough* Gabby out *cough* and scores a couple then it may bring him back into international reckoning, meaning the motivation will be there to get to the Euros meaning he will step his game up. It can only be good for us, but I just don’t see it happening.

  53. Tex- hols I think?

    Just watched the 20 min highlights on the Villa site. Gil ( for JL ) was playing centre mid looked busy with vertout and had decent interplay with grealish as a 10.

    Sinclair could of had 7 he had several saved but was there for the tap in’s as john said. the ball from Sanchez through to cole for the 4th was superb.
    Sinclair looked busy all night with several runs from the halfway going around a few players on the way looked much better on the ball.

    Didn’t see much of Kosak but he had a decent shot saved and one or too flick ons worth a go.

    old Joe cole was excellent but he was playing against knackered players wish he was 26.

    Vertout looked very good in the middle and got better as the game went on was running the show by the end, here me now this lad will be a big favourite.

    Joe Bennett has grown up, looks much stronger and taller wish he could play right back. Hutton gave away the ball for the first was was generally s**te and thats the highlights, what he did the rest of the match god knows.

    Sanchez looked ok at CB with time he could play there but that would be an utter waist of a very good player. baker was just Baker

  54. Ree- me old sparring partner πŸ™‚ I think there were signs in th mnaure game sinclair was getting back to his swansea form. Again last night looked a very different player but there was a lot of interchanging players going on and freedom. I don’t think he can play a rigid wing role he needs to be in the game.

    this is worth a look to remind us

  55. B62 – i watched that game as well and he looked quality. Comfortable on the ball. I remember seeing a video a while back when one of the Villa youth teams played Arsenal and he tore them apart – then Arsenal came along and nicked him! Damn shame cos he looked such a good prospect.

  56. Not sure Mark. I watched the video back on youtube, it was an u21 match we won 6-1 away! With Selllars grabbing a few goals and Kinsella in the side too. He really looked a class above everybody else though, we seem to be losing our best players at the academy level too!

    Hopefully with Sherwood that can be reversed, theres no doubt we have one of the best academies in the country and now if prospects can see a good route into the first team, they’d be more inclined to join. He was in for Gomez before Liverpool bought him and he has looked classy at 18 in the PL. Crawley would have fit right with the type of players we have atm.

  57. Swings and roundabouts Ree, Suliman was wanted by liverpoo and bayern but signed for us. Recently we have looked at our youth for a solution not to nuture hopefully thats changed

  58. Difference is Suliman is a brummie native! Got high hopes for the kid esp being captain of England at such a young age and given his background. Also got high hopes for Hepburn-Murphy. Sellars is knocking on the door now, a loan spell probably do him some good.

  59. Stones stayed at Barnsley until he was 18 and had already played a full season before Everton came calling and bought him for Β£3m – hope they put a sell on clause in there btw, could be in line for a huge injection of cash. He was taking a chance going to Everton but he backed himself to take the step up, now he’s backing himself to take another step up. Crowley didnt play a single minute of senior competitive football before he left and neither has Suleman yet. Crowley was from Coventry in any case so wasnt that deeply affiliated with Birmingham.

    I know the culture and I know that it is deeply family orientated. The prospect of Suleman going to Liverpool and Bayern was never likely given that fact and the fact that he is more likely to see more game time at his home club than either of those.

  60. Ree I’m sure plenty of other players get tapped up before they sign their first proffessional contract. If they turn out decent its instant profit . Everton have to pay out a fair chunk of the stones money and there may be a decline in the amount they pay the longer he’s there? They seem determined to keep him and Kenwright is under pressure for not being ambitious enough. Personally 35 mil he’d be gone

  61. I think Everton know he’s going they’re just playing hardball and holding out for the most money possible. Thats why Martinez played him last night, to get them to stump up the cash. fair play to them if they can get Β£40m out of him – he’s good but not THAT good.

    I think Stones was already on a professional contract at Barnsley and playing first team football when Everton came in, they offered Β£3m and the board accepted. manager wasnt happy at the time cos he said then he was the best young defender in the country. Still, if they had the good sense to put in a 10% or more sell on clause then they’ll be rolling in dough. And Everton will have money to splash for a couple years out of this.

  62. Hello all
    Still sunning myself in Fuerta Ventura but due to free hotel wifi can still catch glimpses of what’s gojng in at AV .
    A well thought out and written article Ryan – so thank you for giving us more to think about .
    I can’t help feeling sorry for Gabby as he seems to be attracting fierce hatred from some quarters and I read on another site that villa fans were booing him when he played last weekend – a sure way to sabotage a players performance and give the opposition an advantage . Of course that is a supporters right but I hate it when it happens. Gabby looks like he’s lost his confidence and this witch hunt is going to make it worse . I don’t count you in that Ryan , more the “supporters ” saying they wish he’d break his legs. So it is with further dread that I see Matt Kendrick’s article is heaping more pressure on Gabby .
    How quickly the tide turns – gabby gabby gabby gabby agbonlahor …… The crowd would sing . Now he’s the scapegoat fir all our short comings.
    I’m not saying that Gabby does deserve his place but I don’t think he deserves the battering he’s getting either.
    As for those that boo him on the pitch , the minute they do that they may as well be cheering for the opposition as the effect on a player can be devastating.

  63. It looks likeMC have already forgotten about Delph with DeBryun being bought–just my thoughts.
    Adama wants to go back to Barca–that was quick.
    Kozak wants to stay. he should and I would play him.
    Sherwood needs a win on Saturday more thanVilla needs a win.
    How about 3 in a row?

  64. Hello Jen im sure your not missing the rain. πŸ™‚
    Trouble is gabby is supposed to be showing the way for the new recruits not looking useless in front of goal. Im sure ts wishs he had an experianced cf to call on right now so gabby can be pulled out of the firing line

  65. Fans have always been quick to criticize .. The Romans were famous for it during gladiator scraps. I know it’s part of the game but professionals should be able to keep it in perspective and shut it out to some degree. It’s up to Sherwood to bring his spirits up. That’s his job. It’s a dilemma for Gabby. Maybe an hour or two on your couch is needed Jenny. πŸ™‚

  66. Hi Jen hope your having fun and keeping the admirers at arms length from your grls
    Ian gabby on jens couch for two hours πŸ™‚ – i don’t reckon she wants anymore children πŸ™‚

    Re gabby – i also dslike when people get personal on a player they don’t like
    i don’t think he should play for us anymore as i think the hope of hm fullfilling his potentail has long gone and if someone was willing to buy him we should cash n and move on

    But i don’t think that should ever turn into insulting a person – it should be purely about the team
    i don’t thnk we are going to see the steamers until randy has gone and who can blame them – its a tuff gig being a villan
    jen remember i can always accompany you on exsotic holidays to deflect any unwanted attention πŸ™‚

    tonev gone – zog going – what a great job is being done to get the worst players out – there is only 3 or 4 left after that – hopefully a nice suprise buy before the window shuts

  67. Ian – well Kosak ? who’s he πŸ™‚

    I think most people have been reasonable with gabby but this is about playing to win, sentiment can’t come into it as Delph showed us

  68. I’ve watched our penalty and I still think it is a pen, could of been a free-kick as they can be given in the box but who’s to say richardson would not of found one of our players?

    Only a short clip of Bennett but left midfield possibly? he can cross.

  69. I’m with you Ian, Kosak should of started by now and he had a cracking shot saved last night, I really think he has more to offer than height . oh and should that be a D and not a T πŸ˜‰

  70. mark – yes gabby clearly feeling the heat from fed up villa fans
    i do feel for him as i am sure he would love to be able put these missed chances away but it rarely works out that way
    at least he is rich so it aint all bad for him

  71. “As for those that boo him on the pitch , the minute they do that they may as well be cheering for the opposition as the effect on a player can be devastating.”
    That’s right, Jen. That lot never got past the concrete stage of development. They’re not only stupid, but stupid in public.

  72. No drama over gabby. Simply he is not good enough and should not be playing.

    Adama wont be playing as he has not trained all week, maybe bench at best.

    Got to be beating Sunderland at home surly. Big game and nervous allready.

    Butch says some business still to be done

  73. Could it work both ways trin? I wonder how many team selections get swayed by public discontent? Sometimes rightly so.
    When i was going through the motions a teammate used say something stinging to get me going, can work a treat. Can also backfire i admit but unless your a wallflower its time to have a word for gabby, it may spark a diet you never know

  74. Im in the category that will never boo one of our own players no matter how s**te they’ve been. I can understand it but I dont see the point/benefit. I dont think public perception will sway Tim anyways, he’s stuck by him so far. But his performances are not up to par so he may be dropped. That cryptic post does suggest Tim’s had a word and told him he wont be starting. So I guess sinclair up front taking his place? Partnered by Gestede, this is a game he should do well in.

    Good to see our official site put the club’s foot in it’s mouth…. Tim says in the conference we have a couple out with a bug, they aint in training but he aint gonna say who – so the opposition dont find out. Then the official site decides to post pics of training straight after!

    I saw Micah, Clark, Guzan, Kozak, Gestede, Sinclair and some other kids. Think Bacuna is in the background of one, possibly Gueye. Anyone recognise anybody else?

  75. Mark
    Could it work both ways trin? I wonder how many team selections get swayed by public discontent? Sometimes rightly so…”
    We’re not talking about team mates engaging in constructive but stinging criticism. Abuse is wrong.
    It’s up to the senior team members, manager and training staff to work with Gabby. Actually, I know where you’re coming from because sometimes the truth can hurt, but abuse is something different and is all ways wrong.
    I agree that something needs to be done about Gabby. That doesn’t include abusing him.

  76. Last day today πŸ™
    Runtingz – I may take you up on the body guarding – my Roy Keane death stare has no affect on these amorous canarians and had a loved up barman chasing us down the street last night ! πŸ™‚
    I don’t do couches you lot – although I am coaching a footballer who expected it to be like that and he was very relieved that it isn’t πŸ™‚

    I can’t see Tim ignoring Sinclair on Saturday – isn’t it six goals in two games now ?
    But Gabby must play for the Small Heath game to continue his excellent record against them. When you think of it he’s the only one left who has played against them.
    Hi Texas – still here in spirit πŸ™‚

  77. The problem with the discontent influence Mark is that we don’t see them in training . If players are booed by their own fans then the manager has to take into this into account if it affects the player . So whether for protection or for team performance it can’t be ignored . I remember Paul McGrath saying that he saw players hiding when VP started getting on the players backs . It’s the reason why playing at home is more pressure for some teams .
    Yes they are professionals and will be trained in cutting out distractions , but it’s not easy when your own fans turn on you , particularly when you’ve been known as mr Aston villa . Gabby doesn’t put himself on the team sheet – Tim does .

  78. The irony with Gabby is that two of the moves he made, the bust of pace against Bournemouth and the run against Palace were awesome – he just couldn’t finish. If he works in training on just putting his foot through the ball, day in day out – it will become instinctive.

    No point in getting on his back

  79. jen- trouble with judging players in training is In my experience some people are like messi in training and for what ever reason can’t do it on the pitch, you see it time and time again.

    By his demeanour I’d say Gabby knows he’s playing badly and feels like a fraud. After all he is meant to be vice captain and showing the new boys how its done except he isn’t. I think that is far harder to deal with than the crowd, wondering what his peers think as they wonder why they are not playing. Don’t forget this new lot are not his mates (yet) they’re all leaving or left (Delph comes to mind). Whatever it is Jen his performance does not warrant his inclusion and the crowd will boo him not TS, Tim is giving him the opportunity to get it right, he cannot play for him.

  80. from tim’s presser looks like rudy is starting, no hint to his partner but I think Gil, grealish and Sinclair will start if tims feeling brave. I’d go with Gueye and sanchez in the middle but will probably be Westwood Gueye.

  81. Mark – the point is Tim
    Sherwood is picking him based on a variety of factors and he sees more than we do . That said , far better for the fans to support their players whilst on the pitch because anyone who thinks booing a player is gojng to make them better is wrong . It isn’t – if you’re going to boo your own players then go and sit with the opposition. Supporters where you will do less damage .
    Tim has decided to give gabby this club captain role for whatever reason . I am sure it wasn’t to attract hated and derision but because he’s an old timer . Who knows why he’s lost his confidence in front of goal . It is for gabby and Tim to decide how to regain it without the idiotic booing IMO. Would we be having this debate if Benteke was still here – the fact is that we haven’t replaced him and this places our other striking options under the spot light , and whether it is Kozak , Gestede or Gabby , it looks like we need a stronger out and out striker until Gestede and co get up to speed . Rudy looked great in his debut but in not sure whether he has some so well since .

  82. Jen – I think Rudy has lacked any kind of supply on the whole Jen, we have played with a defensive set up through lack of options and gabby didn’t help him much by being to far away from him.

    I think maybe Gabby is coming out the fittest of our forwards because whatever he’s doing in training doesn’t translate to the pitch. Personally I wouldn’t boo anyone at a match and it is a waste of time and counter productive. At the moment a rendition of the hallelujah chorus every time Gabby touches the ball wouldn’t turn him into the goal scorer we need either.

    Should we boo poor players no, should we ignore they are poor because we think they are our mates definitely not.

  83. Agreed Jenny, but there’s also the fact of the club’s poor record these last 5 years and the fans frustration because of it.

    True to form, Someone has to get the brunt of it and I suppose it’s anyone that doesn’t show a sign of helping to remove the frustrations – especially when missing chances.

    It doesn’t hep the player – you’re right – but the fans don’t rationalise that in their time of emotion.

    Conclusion: emotion overload can be a bad thing.

  84. John I think Gabby truly has a problem and its rolled on right through pre-season, maybe the pressure of being the goal scorer now Benteke’s gone? He had chance after chance about 5 in one match and couldn’t convert, I think even for him and his record lately its bad.

    I’m not sure that with all these new players its a case of disgruntled Fans. Its as exciting as its been for 5 years, unfortunately for gabby he’s been asked to step up and hasn’t

  85. If gotta say I’m still worried we haven’t brought in more quality this window, we have a net spend of Β£6m and haven’t replaced Bentekes goals. I think Ayew at Β£10m was brought in to replace the lions share of them, however he has shown me nothing that he can play at this level or be a success here, Gestede will always be a handful but again isn’t going to score many, leaving Gabby, whose record is atrocious and well past his best. We should have seriously gone in for an Austin, Wilson or a proven goalscorer. We are still lightweight at the back at centre half and Right back and Guzan is very average whose distribution and decision making is retarded at best. I don’t think with this squad we will be pushing the top 10 and will be in yet another relegation battle, making Saturday a vital game we really need to win, as the Mackems are direct relegation rivals.
    It looks like Lescott is coming to VP, even for the quoted price of Β£1m I’m not sure it’s a good move, he is well past his best as the baggies know and are shipping him out and bringing in Jonny Evans for Β£6m.
    Sept is a massive month, games against blues and Albion , if we lose these life won’t be worth living, and some massive league games could define our entire season.

  86. B62- we have only had half a team out so far, lets wait and see what they can produce together when Tim gets his first 11 sorted. still think we will get more in mate the fact tim wanted Ady says he feels its necessary. Yes we have plenty of gaps to fill still but still think we will be a force going forward. grealish looks brilliant and triore will trouble everyone he meets this season.

    Don’t think Ayew has been brought in as the answer to our goals, he’s never done it at this level give the lad a chance Gabbys had 12 years.

  87. Mark: “I’m not sure that with all these new players its a case of disgruntled Fans.”

    No, I’m not saying that there isn’t anything to be opti about, but this season the fans are still waiting to see something to be really opti about in terms of results. We’ve still only scored 1 goal from our own players, so anyone that’s not hitting the target when able is going to get some stick. Unfortunately.

    When we start getting decent results then there will be a more relaxed air, I’m sure.

    BTW, I don’t regard the beating of Notts County as being a measure of where we are.

  88. “BTW, I don’t regard the beating of Notts County as being a measure of where we are.”

    To be fair JL when I saw the team I feared the worst but we had 19 shots and 12 on target 67% possession with virtually no defence you have to say that’s not to be sniffed at. Add some steel and Amavi to that and we could be cooking on gas

    I think if Gabby had put some oomph behind his shots the criticism would be a lot less, unfortunately what we are seeing is poor technique. We are a new side with more promise and Gabby looks like the old days, wish it wasn’t so but it is

    nice bit about Sinclair and nice touch from Grealish

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