Tony Xia talking recently about financial considerations, FFP, and a team coming together rather than throwing indiscriminate sums around in search of a solution can’t help but make a person recall the broad optimism that greeted Randy Lerner’s arrival and initial investment, then the agony that ensued once he tightened the purse strings.

At the time, I thought Lerner was right to rein in Martin O’Neill, not only because of FFP, but because of the players MON continually signed for four years and £40k a week only to forget about them after seemingly targeting them at random. And I still think he was right about that. Lerner’s failings were of a different and more insidious variety.

Is Xia is the second coming of Lerner? No. But that doesn’t mean things ultimately couldn’t go the same way. Dr. Tony spent a lot of money, and in season one, the returns were meager at best. We know that Xia is not interested in seeing his investment languish in the second tier away from the big stage and the big money. He has much bigger ambitions, and they require cash coming in at least as fast as it’s going out.

Xia has been the opposite of the detached and seemingly clueless owner that Lerner turned out to be. But we also have no evidence that his enthusiasm will remain if Villa’s fortunes don’t improve, and still have no idea whether Steve Bruce is the man to make it all happen.

Right now, I think Xia is also right. Throwing money at the side last summer and this past January was necessary since so much of the relegated squad, arguably the entirety of it, were simply not up to snuff.

But providing money and spending it wisely are two different things. Given the summer recruitment binge, then the change of manager, new support staff coming, and more players coming into the mix in the January window, the spending seems to have been a bit disjointed, and did not necessarily conform to a plan. Many have noted how much better other sides performed this past season with far more modest resources.

Regardless, demanding that Steve Bruce fashion a real team from what appears to be more than adequate talent is completely reasonable. The staff to create a cohesive recruitment program and footballing philosophy are supposedly in place and working away. We’ve paid top dollar for a number of Championship luminaries, players that were doing very well before they showed up in B6. On paper, we should easily be a playoff team at the very least.

The issue is whether Bruce can make sense of what he’s got. And if the real issue last season was that the players were feeling pressure, they’re only going to feel it more in a looming promotion-or-bust campaign. If they don’t actually have the bottle for it, we’re in trouble.

As noted by several commenters, Villa are not aggressive or dogged enough. We play scared for large portions of most matches. We’re not clinical. We can’t seem to play to the strengths of the strikers. In fact, we seem to play almost opposite to those strengths. Forgive me if I’m not filled with confidence that Ross McCormack is going to fill the scoring void we face at the beginning of the season, never mind the fact that Kodjia and Hogan will not be integral to the team’s preparations over the summer. Rushian Hepburn-Murphy and Keinan Davis have got to be given more than just a chance.

So, it’s a nervy time at Villa Park once again even as our thoughts stray from football for a little bit. Bruce has to quickly come up with answers that seemed to elude him in the second half of the season. If he doesn’t, Xia must have a replacement lined up. Christmas could be far too late, and we’ll still face the same old conundrum of trying to find a quality manager with a magic wand in the middle of the season. I know I’m not alone in wondering if anyone has thought to give Monsieur Garde a call.

I can’t say that I have any answers at the moment, but I do agree with Xia that we really should be able to kick on with two or three quality additions. For me, a left winger, a true ball-winning midfield dynamo, and a dominating partner for James Chester are the biggest needs. Maybe Jedinak drops to the back line. Maybe Andre Green is the winger. Perhaps Bjarnason will be the dynamo. Or even Jordan Lyden. It seems improbable that between Hourihane, Lansbury, and Grealish we don’t have a way to link up and play the forwards in. If we do go for a striker, we need to replace Gestede if we’re going to keep lumping it forward.

In the meantime, Gardner, Amavi, Hutton, Elphick, Richards, Cissokho, Tshibola, and Bacuna are surplus to requirements, as is Gabby. Kozak has gone. They’re not the way forward and I wish them well. I’d still have taken a look at Carlos Sanchez if he weren’t 31, and quite happily playing center half in Italy now. Neither Veretout or Gil want to come back, either. So, there’s plenty of players to offload to ease the financial pressures.

But the financial issues will not be what holds us back this season. It will be Bruce, the players, and whether Xia knows if or when to pull the trigger on Bruce.

It’s all about to get very interesting.

Over to you.

Comments 75

  1. Good morning JC.
    Thanks for today’s leader.
    I hope those players you’ve mentioned as surplus are considered surplus from Bruce’s perspective. I don’t want to see anymore indulgence of players that rarely play.

    This will probably be the season that will define Bruce’s managerial career. He knows he needs to walk the talk this season. Until now, Dr X has provided record funds to rebuild the team. Now, as you said, it’s all over to Bruce to make a team from the talented pool of players he has at his disposal. There’s no place to hide. All eyes are on Bruce and expect Villa to win games and gain promotion in 2018.

  2. Profile photo of wilson1874

    I agree with the money situation, and the squad needs trimming, the thing that bothers me is this. After watching the playoffs last night Wednesday v Huddersfield, the free flowing attacking football they both played and balance they have. Villa seem miles away, I’m not anti Bruce but unless he and the staff can get villa playing like this, I see another season in the championship.

  3. Profile photo of Mark King

    Thanks JC for a timely reminder where we are and a brief break from the coming of the messiah be that a Wagner,smith,Silva or Jesus 😉

    As the season has finished its fairly plain to me that we Gambled on an immediate return, not once but four times in one season, RDM was a gamble as was the lets buy all the strikers and leaders we can think of, we then gambled on the promotion specialist working his magic and gave him a second rebuild of the season to achieve this. Neither rebuilds were successful entirely and I think getting the manager bit right in the summer was the biggest blunder followed by getting a polar opposite manager regardless of Record, those two managers got clubs promoted with fairly stable teams in place, sometimes their own teams.

    However with our disjointed squad and bloated wage bill and unwanted players it was never going to be plain sailing for us, low moral and a huge job assessing our squad in no time flat meant it was likely to be a two season process unless we found a manager capable of finding a complete first team to go, and used the rest where needed. The rise of Wagner and stam this season and benitez say it can be done.

    We also missed the chance to bring in a manager that could actually improve what we did have by coaching them, neither Bruce or RDM are known for this ability.

    As yet I have no idea what will happen next season, maybe the players will rise to the occasion to save the now ailing super club they have joined and save it, or wilt. I wont hold my breath because last season was handled so badly by all concerned.

  4. Profile photo of Mark King

    wilson1874- hello mate welcome if you haven’t posted before, I agree this league has changed a lot in the last few seasons and we have gone backwards.

  5. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    Iana: ” All eyes are on Bruce and expect Villa to win games and gain promotion in 2018.”

    In fairness, Bruce has already said that he recognises that situation and that unless he delivers he’ll not be here by this time next year (or even before).

    JC: “Many have noted how much better other sides performed this past season with far more modest resources.”

    Yep, but no other club had been run down as Villa had done, plus the weight of expectation of a club with Villa’s record. The players can’t take it (they wail!) – you can almost see that in the way they’ve played no matter who has been signed apart from 2 or 3.

    But this upcoming season has to be different. This is where the buck is truly in Bruce’s court – there’s no place to hide now, if that was ever his need, which I doubt.

    But generally I agree with your comment, JC. And it *is* about to get interesting!

  6. wilson1874
    Most fans agree with you about the playing style. It needs to be a lot better. It’s not just about looks. Good football usually produces more wins. Even basics like passing, holding the ball up and being adequately comfortable on the ball were all to often missing. Even Bruce said so.

  7. I’d be happy with Big Sam. Like I said, wish Steve Bruce well, but 13th in Div 2 doesn’t look good after being in Div 1 one season before. If I don’t exude confidence or optimism that is why. 33rd best team in England.

  8. Profile photo of Mark King

    Iana- And less than two months really to make them a team when he didn’t in 7, it does look a car crash but all we can do is hope something changes or clicks, DR Xia is sticking with Bruce and with the financials playing their part we are unlikely to want to pay him off and spend more getting another in is the fact of the matter.

  9. Profile photo of Dave Blurton

    we need to get mccormack and hogan playing in a 442 pre season to see if they can work together and get the best centre back we can get to compete with baker
    delaet /bree chester baker taylor should be ok for playoffs ,, and will get better but if we can strengthen it will allow bruce to be less protective of the back 4 and play better football
    we have some very good midfielders who are really not at there best,, we just need to find a way of getting the best from them
    and when you look at videos of mccormack and hogan you realise that a change of manager just might be the answer
    no doubt watkins would be a decent aquisition too
    without being spectacular we grinded out a few decent runs, the squad once trimmed is good,
    but its clear unless bruce gets the confidence from a few new players it will be more of the same
    and he will hope we will get better as the season progresses
    this will probably happen as we are underperforming on a massive scale

  10. Profile photo of Mark King

    Dave Blurton- can’t see Bruce getting his 4 prem quality players unfortunately having announced we are broke so that leaves playing to our players strengths not Bruces which I also cannot see happening.

    I don’t understand why the likes of sellars and mason are off either, mason could be a very decent CB/DM only player on loan to have kept his place

  11. Mark
    It’s up to the chairman. I guess he is staying with SB. I do think we have most of the players we need. The foundation for a winning side is there. Two months to grow a winning mentality. Villa has to become an attack minded team.

  12. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    Mark: ” And less than two months really to make them a team when he didn’t in 7, it does look a car crash “

    Does it? “Two months” it may be, but it’s 2 months without trying to re-organise in the middle of a hurly-burley season! Instead, it’s two months of total planning and training ground activity in calm surroundings. It’s also 2 months after the players have had 3 months to get to know one another and with few big disturbances to the squad they should be primed for the big push after the summer.

    If it doesn’t come together, then we’ll have something to moan about, but we just have to see what transpires.

  13. Profile photo of Mark King

    Iana- well he has already had to bring back McCormack that just may be to much for him, hopefully RMC has it in his head to prove everyone wrong, when he played with Ayew and Kodjiah he was not a happy bunny, Hogan if fit and lansbury/hourihane could just make it work, hopefully RHM will get a look in too. Davis is very capable of leading the line, its his goals record that lets him down.

  14. Profile photo of Mark King

    JL- He reorganised in season twice before and went up, I understand what your saying but what we have seen is not really that encouraging for the time span in charge, as I have said the change in emphasis in play from all out attack to counter will take a lot longer than if he had inherited a hard working side to begin with as he did at Birmingham and Hull.

    By the way I am not Moaning as you like to call it just stating things as I see it from the facts presented so far. All sorts can happen so I suggest you don’t get to happy just yet 😉

  15. Profile photo of Darren O'Rourke

    Well it’s already click bait season and we’ve been linked with or writers have suggested players that Bruce should buy. I hate this time of year.

    I’m firmly in the wait and see camp, there is nothing we can do but hope that Bruce removes the correct players that are surplus to requirements and signs some quality. I’d assume that for any of the youngsters that left that Bruce had no part to play and that the assessments are down to having better players coming through in those positions.

    Undoubtedly, this is make or break time for Bruce, the evidence to date is not encouraging but I will offer some generosity of spirit and say that last season is over, however mis-managed I feel it was and however much I think it was a lost opportunity to get a coach in the hot-seat as opposed to CV focussed arrivals, it is now old news and will only be referred to if we see a continuation into next season.

    For the immediate future, we’ll need a sea-change in game approach and in-game mgmt., we need to be progressive, we need to better in ball retention and we need the only fear on the pitch to be the opposition’s fear of playing us. We also quite simply need goals from all areas of the pitch and not just Kodija.

    As mentioned above by other Lifers and it may be through the eyes of hope more than reality but we have the makings of a first eleven that should do well in this league, just need the manager to develop a system and tactics that play to their strengths.

    In terms of players I’d let leave Gabby, Gardner, Hutton, Amavi and Bacuna immediately spring to mind, disappointed that Veretout and Gil talk more about wanting to leave Villa but understandable given the particular season they joined us, that clearly has clouded their judgement on what Villa truly is.

  16. Profile photo of John Clark

    Darren:

    “For the immediate future, we’ll need a sea-change in game approach and in-game mgmt., we need to be progressive, we need to better in ball retention and we need the only fear on the pitch to be the opposition’s fear of playing us. We also quite simply need goals from all areas of the pitch and not just Kodija.”

    Too right.

  17. JC,

    Excellent leader which is following the same thoughts as mine, and agree with DOR’s comments as well.
    Sad to see Sellars is going, as in the clips I have seen of him, he was just the type of young player who should have been getting an opportunity, especially with the failings of Gardner.

    I really cannot see the point of keeping Bruce in charge. He had his remit and his opportunity, but unfortunately failed.

    We need to be finding the new Maurice Pochettino, or Eddie Howe, at least, and like JC, still think that Remi Garde still has a lot to offer. I don’t care how many weeks Bruce has got to make this team work, I just do not see his formations, tactics or player selections working in this fast changing Championship league. The days of the bully boys have gone. Now it is about skill and tactics. We are so poor as a team now, I just could not see us ever coping in the Premiership now.

    Just watching games like the Chelsea v Watford game, and the commitment, desire by both teams to win a game that no longer had real importance for either side, was a revelation to watch. Maybe we should be loaning Deeney until we have some fit strikers…!!!

  18. Profile photo of Andrew

    keith has been speaking!

    3-4 targets in negotions. money there too get them.

    jack needs to turn up and the season review is must do better!!

  19. Andrew
    Let’s hope he has been getting the team to get its act together for the coming season. As for signings, I can’t wait to see who joins Villa to “improve the team”.

  20. Profile photo of Clive Evans

    Mark – 4 quality players? All players have qualities but the words missing here that we would like to see are ‘high’ or ‘top’.

    I await the season with trepidation and just hope Dr Xia knows when to pull the rug if needed.

    Welcome Dave Blurton and wilson1874 – the more the merrier!

    Iana – I’m watching Chiefs v Crusaders this afternoon – good luck v Stormers

  21. Profile photo of John Clark

    Andrew,

    We’ve said it many times, but Jack really must kick on. It’s very frustrating because the boy oozes class, yet is so lackadaisical, like a kid picking flowers in the park while the rest of the team is chasing the ball. How can he not know what’s required? All he has to add is more graft to his game. He should be able to run all day, and surely someone can teach him to slide.

  22. Profile photo of John Clark

    Iana,

    Cheers, mate. Out of those mentioned, which seem to be on everyone’s mind, I could see maybe keeping either Bacuna or Gardner as a utility player, but neither will want that.

    What actually angers me is the way contracts are written allowing players who know they’re not wanted to just collect a check because no one else will match their wages. Rational self-interest, I get it, but there really needs to be a change.

    If Hutton can get an automatic extension for a set number of appearances, why isn’t the reverse possible? Don’t make the game-day squad more than X number of times in a year and you’re out of contract. Teams would have to be careful, as they wouldn’t get a transfer fee, but it would make the market more fluid. I think (haven’t quite gone through it all in my head).

    Moreover, we seem to keep ending up with players on long deals and good wages who fail to deliver anything to interest other sides. I mean, Tshibola barely getting a game at Forest? How can we get something so wrong?

  23. Profile photo of John Clark

    Mark,

    It was a great conversation, hated to break it up. Been doing a bit of reading along some of the same lines lately. One of these days Villa will be transcendent as well. If we can just focus our energy on that quantum outcome…Who knows? God knows our minds and hearts are aligned.

  24. Profile photo of John Clark

    JL,

    I do agree with you somewhat sideways (if that makes sense) about the players stepping into the malaise. Many of them are coming from places with no real expectations. They’ve maybe not really known any pressure. I just wish someone at Villa could figure out a way to get them to bond, play for each other, and shed their fear.

    That’s kind of why I never minded the idea of Joey Barton. I know he’s hardly someone you’d want your daughter bringing home, but you’d have to think he’d put the fear of god into the rest of the team. The manager can’t punch you, but I probably wouldn’t have stopped Barton from punching a few of ours.

  25. Profile photo of Trinity

    Neither Gardner nor Bacuna, IMO, could be anything apart from squad utility players. Too inconsistent. The likes of Hourihane need to be played in their specialist positions otherwise the team will never gel. RMC is a #10.

  26. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    JC: “I never minded the idea of Joey Barton. I know he’s hardly someone you’d want your daughter bringing home”

    … and a step too far for me, sorry! 😀

    I know what you’re getting at, though. It’s a bit similar to the signings we made way back in the early 70s – the likes of George Curtis and Trevor Hockey. They did the hard bit – but mostly fairly I have to say. I never had quite the trepidation about them that I do of Barton! For me there’s one side of his behaviour that totally negates any good that he might add to the side.

    On the other hand, I can’t readily think of anyone today who could replicate the kind of service Curtis and Hockey provided.

  27. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    Trinity,

    Totally agreed about your summing up of those players. Thing is about RMC, though, is that he was bought for his goals capability and I suppose that’s how he’s thought of at the club.

  28. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    BBC Question Time

    Anyone saw the “handbags at dawn” event on Question Time last night?!

    Priti Patel and Angela Rayner. It brought life into politics! 😀

  29. JL
    It sounds like they’ll have no problem generating plenty of money from outgoing players to buy the incoming players they want.
    RMC can team with Hogan in two up front. JK seems destined to be a lone striker. RMC has some silky ball skills suited to a #10. Wouldn’t be surprised if we start with Hogan and RMC up front given JK’s injury.

  30. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    The Express and Star reports this on the change-around on approach in player recruitment:

    A major overhaul of the club’s recruitment department following the arrival of technical director Steve Round last September has seen the club’s former reliance on data and analysis for tracking players give way to a more balanced approach.

    Though modern methods remain very much in use at Bodymoor Heath, Round has also overseen a return to more traditional methods with dozens of scouts now out watching players in the flesh.

    “In terms of recruitment and scouting, the last regime had a big reliance on computer analysts,” explained chief executive Keith Wyness.

    “With Steve Round’s development we’ve gone to a much greater balance and taken back a lot of the flat-cap brigade as well as the mixture with the analysts.

    “We’re getting people who understand and watch thousands of games and really understand players. We’re getting that mix back of real football people as well as the computer side. It’s that blend we’re trying to get into – which I think is the right way to go.”

    Villa’s former head of recruitment Paddy Riley was known to prioritise the use of statistical data when scouting players but this led to some high-profile blunders in the transfer market.

    Wyness believes the new approach means the club are able to better assess a player’s character as well as their skills.

    “We’re getting a different assessment of the players,” he said. “Whereas before a lot of the European players coming in looked fantastic on the computer but couldn’t do it.

    “We’re getting that assessment of the player’s character more than anything else as well.”

    Wyness reckons the infrastructure developed by Round will begin to pay serious dividends as Villa enter the second year of Tony Xia’s reign.

    The Beijing businessman walked into Villa Park following his £76.2million buy-out of Randy Lerner last June with ambitions of making the club one of Europe’s best.

    And while Wyness is quick to acknowledge a 13th-placed finish in the Championship fell well short of everybody’s expectations, he feels Villa will benefit from a more stable environment moving forward, with Steve Bruce the club’s first manager since Paul Lambert to serve for more than one transfer window.

    “The season was not what we hoped for at all, 13th is not good enough,” he said. “As Steve said it is the lowest he has ever finished in his career.

    “But there was just too much change. Last year we only bought the club on June 15. Then there was a bit of a rush of appointing a manager, bringing in players.

    “There was still confusion as to the top level of management here.

    “This year we haven’t got that. On purpose we are not going on tour, we are letting Steve do everything proper football-wise so there is a stable, properly-planned, properly-drilled pre-season.”

    Read more at https://www.expressandstar.com/sport/football/aston-villa/2017/05/19/computers-ditched-for-flat-caps-in-aston-villa-scouting-revolution/#f5hI6IgDSC3pkqE7.99

  31. Profile photo of Andrew

    yep, music to my ears. trim the squad down and get it balanced. Each window that passes will help.

    literally starting at ground zero. we will be ok long term I have no doubt. It just a case if its with bruce or without!

  32. Profile photo of John Clark

    JL,

    I read those…Here’s to hoping that the pre-season plan goes, well, according to plan. Wonder if we’ve had one of those since Lerner showed up?

    Anyway, it’s good to hear/see honesty. If Bruce’s assessments from last season can be backed up with the proper approach and results…Who’s to say what we might look like.

  33. Profile photo of Darren O'Rourke

    Expect Amavi to make near half of that 25m so the rest can be sold at fairly reasonable prices which allow them bar wage to move quite easily.

    I’ve a feeling that Gabby will still be around for next season without any justification for his retention. Hope Bruce or even Round makes the decision to bring an end to his time at Villa, then all the Gabby fans can reminisce about how great he was 6 years ago.

  34. I see the Birmingham Mail has been sounding out the fans for a John Terry deal, and most are worried about his wages and fitness. Perhaps he is the George Curtis that JL is looking for…and Begovich could be another with Frank Lampard coming out of retirement…Villa would be halfway up the championship without kicking a ball!!!
    Wages may not be an issue, as Terry is looking more to do his coaching badges and move into a position that would lead to management.

    I thought the whisper was that Terry and Begovitch were virtually a done deal with Bournemouth, which would make common sense.

  35. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    DOR: “Hope Bruce or even Round makes the decision to bring an end to his time at Villa”

    I think that Bruce has already said that it’s up to Gabby to earn a new contract (due next year) – presumably meaning over the forthcoming season.

  36. Profile photo of IanG

    DOR
    Thanks mate, we don’t want to be ruined, & I do agree with your Gabby post.
    Nice write up JC & some good comments & new people, it took me hours to catch up.

    lana
    Thanks for the good wishes, am in antibiotic territory, but all is ok.

  37. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    A quote from Fred Rinder, discovered today:

    Our players are imbued with the creed that it is their duty to do the best they possibly can and to look on every match in the light of their reputation and our reputation.

  38. IanG
    Morley and McNaught are straight shooting. We need former players to speak up.
    Looks like Gabby will be sticking around. Morley thinks he should be long gone. Agree. I think, unless he’s brilliant, this will be his last season. Be interesting to see if he suddenly overcomes his chronic injuries and finds some old form. Too complacent at Villa. There’s a lot of honest hard working fans on Struggle Street. Clowns like Gabby need to realise this.

  39. JL
    Our players are imbued with the creed that it is their duty to do the best they possibly can and to look on every match in the light of their reputation and our reputation.

    Is Fred Rinder someone from the distant past?

  40. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    Iana,

    Fred Rinder was, arguably, Villa’s most dynamic chairman – chairman for 27 years (1898-1925) and even returned to the Board to help bring Villa up from the second tier after their first-ever relegation. He had previously been on the board since 1893 until 1925, in fact.

    Hope you’re not winding me up? 😉

  41. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    Iana: “Be interesting to see if he suddenly overcomes his chronic injuries and finds some old form”

    Bruce found that a number of players that were here when he took over were not anywhere near fit, and said that accounted for the injuries that kept on cropping up.

    He got Gabby mostly sorted – as you say, let’s see if he can redeem himself this season. How about 2 hat-tricks against the Blues?!

  42. JL
    Thanks for the explanation about Fred Rinder. No, I wasn’t intending to wind anyone up, though I thought you might think that. It just seems that too many of this generation’s players aren’t imbued with the creed Fred described. Even the experienced ones, so it seems.
    Speaking of such, I really hope SB doesn’t have big plans for Gabby. A squad impact player, at best.

  43. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    Iana: “It just seems that too many of this generation’s players aren’t imbued with the creed Fred described.”

    No, but it was there within the last 20 years – players like Mellberg and Laursen and Dublin, for example.

    Seems to me that players need to think more about their responsibilities.

  44. Profile photo of James Gill

    john l
    bruce saying about injuries, well they keep going where he does ,hulls squad this season have missed most matches, same last season hull where in pl,same at sunderland under bruce

  45. Profile photo of Mark King

    I am highly suspicious of the not fit enough line, if we look back over recent years then its an often repeated line by many managers. Incredible in this day and in light of the fact players are monitored for everything, so VO2 max would be measured, which is the mark of fitness usually used as the gold standard.

    when Bruce brought in his new players were they all unfit? Thor definitely was but the others? why several months down the line is he pointing at the players not being fit and getting injured? non-attendance of the gym and incorrect practises for there sport has also been highlighted. A modern manager will be well versed in every aspect of what it takes to produce a fit player, if he is not then its because he has never been bothered to find out or not around enough to see.

  46. Profile photo of Mark King

    IanG- I completely agree with the old players don’t tell me whats wrong and why you can’t or haven’t improved things get out there and improve things or Jog on

  47. Profile photo of IanG

    MK
    McNaught & Morley describe a professional attitude which is necessary to be successful [&survive] at what you do, & it’s not just orientated to sport.
    Anything else is just an excuse in my experience, & I’m sure everyone if truthful have found out by experience by getting it wrong, or simply don’t care about anyone else but themselves.
    I think Tony Morley has it correct, & you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

    Regarding fitness, it all starts in the mind, & if you get that right & do the work you don’t get so many injuries, so it’s also why we need to get rid of some players, not just that they have reached their talent level.
    Ordinary done well from the heart is better than self centred talent.

  48. There appears to be very little new at the moment, and nothing happening at Villa Park to suggest that there is any real intent to move things forward, except to get rid of a few players, and maybe bring a few new ones in.

    The board are giving their full support to Bruce, while at the same time admitting that since he was brought in, in October, the results have not been satisfactory, and not up to a pass mark.

    we talk about players, their fitness, commitment and how Bruce is a great man manager, but I do not see where the results are. If he is this man manager, then he should know what is happening, be close to the players, spending time with them on the pitch as well as the office, and be able to get the best out of them. This is what I see in top mangers in sport and elsewhere, but I do not see it at Villa Park

    Of course players themselves have a responsibility, but they also need to feel there is a place for them, and a plan for their future and development. None of which seems really apparent at the moment. All we have to look forward to at the moment is a few friendlies against some very poor opposition.

  49. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    Well, Paul, the article quoted by Mark states Wyness as saying:

    He is fantastic and the best I have seen in football at that sort of thing. For him it’s also been to be a bit of a learning curve because he’ll say himself it’s been the biggest club he’s managed. He’s had to adjust to that as well.

    Surely Wyness has more chance of seeing what is going on than we, and Wyness is no duffer in football. 😉

    But we’ll see when the season gets under way. Until then it’s just guesswork on our part really.

  50. Profile photo of John Lerwill


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    The first of a weekly series of historical articles for the summer is now up!
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