You watched it one way or another. You listened to it. You might have bravely traveled expecting something different. But Aston Villa again looked well off the pace and fell 2-1 to Reading for a second straight defeat (5-1 on aggregate, for those of you following along at home), and one point out of the first nine.

Let’s get to it.

The Good
No one died. Although we all probably died a little inside today. But wait…Connor Hourihane scored a late consolation goal, so at least someone in midfield has the ability to produce a nice finish. Three games, two goals.

The Bad
We’re still Aston Villa and we still haven’t got a clue.

The Ugly
All of it. I actually felt sick watching.

We knew heading in that Bruce’s likely response to the 3-0 thrashing by Cardiff would be to park the bus and play for a 1-0. And for the first 15 minutes or so, Villa looked fairly disciplined and competent with 11 behind the ball. We were even pressing a bit, but not terribly ferociously. We missed another early chance when Green was clear in on goal and passed it straight to the keeper.

As the game wore on, though, we dropped deeper, and Reading were soon firmly encamped around us. Villa basically played the role of cones on the training ground.

Reading were relentless in winning the ball back. We weren’t. We had no time. They did. And if you pressure us, we crumble. That’s the book on Villa. We couldn’t even summon nastiness.

Watching Reading’s movement compared with ours was like watching Barcelona play a pub team; they’d get a tougher test at the park on a Sunday afternoon. Villa’s “pattern” of play is simplistic and easily sussed. Whatever the personnel, it doesn’t change. Always too predictable, always too slow. Reading were mesmerizing in comparison.

The failings were almost too numerous to count. Hoof ball without a hold-up man. Poor passing. Timid pressure with no one marking the outlets. Couldn’t get out of each other’s way. No discernible plan. Woeful passing. Second to almost every ball. Out-anticipated at every turn.

Why do we look like we’re playing two men down? Is there any coaching going on? How can professionals who’ve excelled at this level look so out of their depth?

Bottom line, we looked a shambles, a team with no confidence in the game plan whatsoever, and maybe no confidence in each other. They certainly didn’t look like they were killing themselves for Steve Bruce. Hull’s resurgence in the second half of the season opener turns out to have been a prelude to two disastrous performances. Where, and how, does it end?

Final Verdict
Again, as so many have said, it just beggars belief. This team hasn’t progressed. It’s regressed. If I were Jonathan Kodjia, I might very well start agitating for a move. It appears that Bruce has no answers and that at this moment he’s inevitable for the sack. Without Kodjia, we can’t do anything. And we can only do anything with Kodjia because he does it by himself.

Some might be tempted to point to the possibility of scraping a draw as a positive. And I suppose it is. Or could be. But that would be ignoring the preceding 170 minutes. We only ever came into the game once Reading decided it was over.

Is it time to sack Bruce? Well, it might sound ridiculous except for the fact that the team is going backward after months of him being in charge and two windows to work with. The players he signed are shadows of what they were elsewhere. Sure, he’s a “promotion specialist.” But if there’s a method to his madness, I’d dearly love for someone to enlighten me.

I’m sure I’ll have something more constructive to say later. Or maybe not. I might force myself to watch it again, just to get more insight into…what, I’m not sure. But at this moment, barring a drastic change or divine intervention, it’s looking like another season in the Championship awaits us.

As ever, I hope I’m wrong. I hate panic. I hate being a downer. I wish I had a ray of light for us all. But right now, this doesn’t look good in any way, shape, or form.

Over to you.

Comments 78

  1. Morning fellow morners,

    Lost count of the cliques ln Bruces after match excuse machine, one Greens missed chance, the only one of the first half bless him, we have got to put away the only chance we got. next best excuse We are missing our two bets players, Kodjia and Jedinak, holy s**t what a put down for the others I am amazed anyone talks to him let alone plays for him. And the last best among many, I saw enough fight in the last ten to think we can turn this around. One thing I noted, Bruce continually hedges his bets with a maybe?

    PP posted this which aligns with what I have heard myself and seen in the pressers, talk about Bonding etc, you don’t talk about liking someone its evident in the way you smile and recall funny stories or your admiration for them, its all to forced, I wonder how many feathers were ruffled by JT’s arrival and captaincy in such a situation?

    “I see players clearly not getting on with one another on the pitch and, apart from officially sanctioned and demanded statements on the OS, I see nothing to suggest they get on off the pitch either. I see nothing by way of fist clenching motivation on the pitch and I see no players applauding one another for attempting good passes ….. I see stares, I see head-shaking. I see players on the bench not even watching the game.

    On top of that, I have heard rumblings from Bodymoor Heath that suggest there is significant unrest between players and between players and the manager/coaches.”

    Right now a few Churchillian speeches wouldn’t go amiss like Warnock would give,oh and a plan, and some coaching, and some youth.

  2. John

    Brutal and all true. Even as a promotion ‘specialist’ I never wanted the ‘win ugly’ style of Bruce at my club.

    Given the money burned already under Xia I have no idea where they go. Wyness, Round, Calderwood…the club is still riddled with clueless old-school thinking.

    All of Villa’s opponents look like Barcelona. How can Reading and Cardiff be so much better?


  3. JC
    Thanks for motivating yourself to write up a match summary for us. I hope it was cathartic for you.
    This is yet the most damning report of a Villa match, I’ve read on AVL. It’s true, though. At the moment, Villa’s football sucks.
    I used to think McLeish, Houllier and sometimes Lambert were unfairly treated, which sometimes they were. However the verdict on the current situation is unanimous and plain to see. There simply is no where left to hide. The only hope Villa have for Saturday is that Norwich are also struggling. It’s still early days, but hope springs eternal, and when do we stop kidding ourselves?

  4. Just read more of Bruce ‘s comments. They are insulting. He whines about poor finishing and mistakes being punished.

    He forgets to mention that in the last 2 games we have been totally outplayed for 90 minutes, and were quite toothless against Hull.

    Where is the “this is not good enough; I will sort it out” message?

  5. I was lucky enough to go to the Hull game, its a tradition to go to the opening game at home and then get up to VP when I can. You could see the problems then. Yep we were brilliant for about 30 mins and then it just stopped and its stopped ever since.
    I will offer this as an opinion. In so far as Brucie is concerned I think we are way too big for him, I think the buys in January were panic, because he was trying to stamp some type of authority on the team, why buy Lansbury, not good enough for Arsenal, brilliant at Forest rubbish for Villa. Why, Lansbury great player in average team, with all due respect, we may be rubbish as a team, but some of these players are good enough to play in the PL, Lansbury is just not good enough to play in that sort of company. For me he does not appear to understand how to motivate or organise. The one creative player we have, or at least the only player who has that little bit extra, he wants to get rid of. Yes we all know he has issues, but I watched the boy play against Rotherham and he was untouchable. Little flick here and there, makes the difference and I suspect given an arm around him, he is that type, he would become a goal creating and scoring machine, add in the big lad and tell him he has team mates so pass the thing occasionally and we could be reasonably good going forward.
    Sticking with him would be a disaster in my opinion, I wouldn’t wait, you have to plan long term, even if he does get us up, could we stay up, we aint Hull, we aint Wigan and we the other lot either. What Villa need is a Rafa, not a Moyes – I am starting to get behind the bring back Sherwood concept, at least it was fun watching him have an eppy every 5 mins.
    Its going to be a tough ole season folks, I love the Villa, its the team I have supported for way to long and its the only reason I can think of coming to Birmingham every so often and that wont change regardless, but its time to move on and quick!!

  6. I watched the whole game and it was grim. I have no issues with sitting back and soaking up pressure, if we had some sort of counter attacking plan. There wasn’t one. We were OK for the final 20 minutes but only because Reading took their foot off the gas and tried to sit on a 2 goal lead.

    I really don’t know what the answer is. Getting into the sacking managers every few months rut doesn’t work. A new manager would want to ship out loads of players and bring new ones in. We can’t afford to do that.

    Bruce has made these signings. He’s made his bed and now he has to try to turn these inexcusable performances round. I’m going to the test match on Saturday thankfully, so I don’t have to watch this garbage at the weekend.

    There were NO positives to take.

  7. I think we are in trouble. The focus has been promotion or bust and the former is probably not going to happen this season even with a new manager. Too many new faces, too much churn over years, it’s been a blueprint on how to destroy a club. I see Xia probably bailing on us at the end of the season which means we may go the Small Heath or Portsmouth way. Some people may say its 3 games only but actually its been six years. Six years since we have dominated a game with possession and goals, six years since we’ve played decent football. I don’t see anything changing tbh.

  8. Something Is At The Centre Of It All

    For me, I’m seeing that the central issue (without having actually watched the last two matches) is the reported failure of Chester and Terry.

    Chester was usually majestic last season- with Baker. Was Baker in fact better than we thought? Despite his occasional gaff? With Terry Chester appears to be losing his way. And as for Terry? The man who was supposed to be the guiding leader. Away from Chelsea he seems lost.

    Yes, we can (rightly) talk of the lack of creativity, but if we have a central problem such as this, what chance at all do we have? And with the manager and asst manager both old c-bs, how come such a problem exists?

  9. No John, I don’t think Baker is better than we thought. He’s a decent Championship defender but we were right to get decent money for a back up player.

    Chester was decent against Hull and not bad last night. He had an absolute shocker against Cardiff. He had the odd shocker last season as well. He is one of our best players and Premiership class. It’s the cr*p that’s in front of him that is the problem in my view.

    We need a quality midfielder to improve and a big man up front. We also need a left sided attacker to compete with Green, who doesn’t seem to be able to finish.

    Although judging by the last 2 performances, we need 10 new players!

  10. Droyd,

    Well, I’m going by ratings on Villa websites that show ratings for both Chester and Terry are of the 4/5 category. Or worse!

    But even if Chester looks a bit decent, he seems not to be playing with last season’s confidence. So … the question remains … is the signing of Terry big mistake?

    If you haven’t got a good middle defence, what chance does the whole team have?

  11. As some have intimated before, Terry had strength in front of him at Chelsea, and that may explain his situation today. But to sign someone like Terry was meant to indicate (1) capable leadership and (2) ambition.

    It seems not to be occurring.

  12. John – In my view the signing of Terry is a coup for the club and he hasn’t been at fault for any goals. The goals have generally come from poor defending from the full backs and a lack of protection from the midfield.

    I agree that a sound central partnership is essential to any successful team but I believe we have one. This isn’t our problem. The problems are from what I have seen so far:

    1) Poor midfield signings. Lansbury, Bjarnason and Whelan look way short of what we need. I have higher hopes for Hourihane but he hasn’t set the world alight. It’s a bit early to judge Whelan but he looks abysmal so far.

    2) No method of counter attacking. Without Kodjia scoring goals out of nowhere, we appear to have nothing else. All of our coaches are defenders (except for Clemence who was a defensive midfielder).

    3) Whilst we don’t counter attack, we don’t even have the hoof option to a big forward. It’s just hoof it to Hogan, who tries to feed on scraps. Hogan is struggling to live up to his big price tag. He works hard, makes good runs but has missed some good chances already this season. We have spent that money because he is clinical. Well he hasn’t shown that in a Villa shirt. Unfortunately, we looked better with Gabby on his own up front than with Hogan last night. I’ve always thought it’s Gabby’s best role, the lone striker but if we play that, where do our goals come from?

    Defence and goalkeeping is where we are strongest. OK, the defence had a total shocker against Cardiff but it’s midfield and attack where our problems lie.

    Adomah and Kodjia are by far our best attacking threat. We need another Adomah type on the left.

  13. Steve Bruce should leave the club now. He has no footballing style or philosophy – he is out of date. He has purchased players not built a team to suit a style of football. The game has moved on and Steve is a dinosaur.

    Santo at Wolves, Wagner at Huddersfield have a vision on how the game should be played. They purchased players to suit their idea, and the results followed.

    Villa are a mess. The Dr Tony has no clue about football – the guy has wasted millions already. Wyness is a fool and Bruce is useless

    John Clarks match report is brutal but brilliant. The Villa fans are not stupid. The people running this football club are.

    It’s deeply frustrating and upsetting. It is going to be a long and difficult season.

  14. Droyd,

    Well, though I definitely agree that we need more strength in midfield, Terry’s performances so far do not seem to indicate the ability that some would have thought he should have brought to the side, both in leadership and commitment.

    We had a similar problem in the mid-60s, yet Slogger (Sleeuwenhoek) would put every sinew of his body into defending his area. I don’t see it here … mainly as we have a man at the very end of his career, not a young man like Slogger, as he was then. May he rest in peace.

    So the suggestion is that we have to get yet another defender to cover Terry’s inadequacies? Because even the Jedi is getting on and if he’s out who then to cover? Whelan? Another who is over the hill, really.

    It’s all gone a bit pear-shaped, innit?

  15. Droyd- sorry mate JT might be ok when we are in our box but the minute the team pushes up he is hopeless, Cardiff breezed by him more than once, what use is it if the defence cannot come further than our penalty box. Bruce is trying to attack and wheelan is in no mans land with the team strung out. Against cardiff JT played almost at LB meaning Chester was covering the middle which also meant Hutton was left to his own devices. There are problems of balance all over the pitch which all relate to each other, 50 games and you want to give him more?

    In fact I fear that in bringing him in instead of an attack minded coach we have destroyed what we had and now anyone coming in of that vein will likely struggle as Shon Said RMC is not a bad player he is just in a bad team. RDM’s team should of been built on rather than dismantled and it was short sighted of the management to think Bruces style would suit it.

    Fed up of watching fearful players floundering about.

  16. What decent manager would want to join us currently? Big compensation will have to be paid to Potato Head. More players shunted out and new ones to settle in.

    If we carry on doing this then we will end up in the division below.

    None of us have the answer but of course it is very easy for anyone to say sack the manager. We’ve sacked 4 managers in the last 2 and half years. Not worked out too well for us. I would argue that we would have done better had we stuck with any of them rather than the constant merry go round. Agents must love us. Lots of signing on fees and compensation for them to skim all the time.

  17. aint bruces contract up soon?

    it only takes getting the right man in to transform us.

    look levi at spurs Is now lauded but he wont through lots of crepe and wasted the bale money before poch took over and got them where they are.

    the thing is finding the right man!! over to you steve round. take it that’s his job?

  18. Droyd
    You make some fair points about agent’s fees etc.
    Dr Xia has a big call to make then. Does he sack or retain? At the current rate (early days), Villa might go down anyway. Is the football going to improve under SB? Ominous signs to begin with. I think most would welcome a change.

  19. Leeds have sacked many more than us and did better last season then sacked him. How many times have we said who would want to join us yet someone does, cometh the hour cometh the man, if he hasn’t got the Gonads why should we want him. I would take Smith or the Barnsley manager.

    we cant buy more players we are skint so thats out, we need someone with coaching ability and who is not afraid to use the youth we have.

    How do you know the manager is ok? the teams plays reasonable football and wins more than it loses, it should not and does not take years to achieve, wolves manager has been there a few months. If we judge what could be on what has gone before we will get pretty much the same. I cannot see Bruce turning this around, his team is hiding.

  20. If Bruce was to go, I wouldn’t actually care because things are dreadful. But, I just don’t think it is the right answer. It’s always the easy answer but not necessarily the correct one. None of us were alarmed when Lambert, Sherwood, Garde or Di Matteo were sacked. Did any of the sackings do us any good? No. We continue to slide, whomever the manager is.

    What we can all agree on is that Bruce’s performance to date has been nowhere near good enough. Completely sub-standard junk.

  21. Well you have your answer mate, sub standard junk vs losing from winning positions and needing to tighten the midfield up under RDM. Even Garde got some sort of shape going and tim, I haven’t seen that once yet to my satisfaction under bruce, just all hands to the pump and rely on kodjia and adomah to conjure something up, I am shocked, didn’t like his style and didn’t want him for various reasons but didn’t think he would be this bad.

    The answer has to be in the people choosing the manager and their reasoning, it appears incorrect conclusions are being arrived at such as we need more experience, leaders etc instead of we need a system and some dynamic players on the pitch and a manager that can read the game..

  22. andrew
    bruce has a rolling contract,so if we sack him its one years wage from that date a sum of 3.5m plus staff,whatother championship manager on that level,wagner hughton hardly getting it in pl
    then next problem round wyness they backed bruce surely then there time are up as well
    great to see somany older blogers back its a pity its for wrong reason

  23. Droyd: “What we can all agree on is that Bruce’s performance to date has been nowhere near good enough. Completely sub-standard junk.”

    And if that be the case then the Doc will not live with him … surely?

    I’d say the Doc will have patience for (say) another 3 matches.

  24. I don’t know. Is the compensation paid to sacked managers included in FFP?

    We employ a technical director – Steve Round. He will have a big say. It was largely his choice to get Bruce in the first place.

    I would imagine Bruce will get 10 games but you never know. He could win the next 2 and all this talk will go away. We’ve only played 3 games.

  25. droyd
    he has had nearly 50 with all bar couple halves same story ,whyis going to change with more,agree we got good money for baker but terry has came from a club that have played zonal marking for years with decent players now for some reason chester looks like he hasnt got a clue

  26. Bruce has got promoted 4 times out of this division. If he’s not good enough to succeed here, then I’m not sure who is.

    Removing a manager and putting another one in to manage Bruce signings is no guarantee of improvement. In fact looking at our last 4 appointments, it would seem it is a guarantee of things getting even worse.

  27. droyd
    twice with hull in3/4 years and twice with blues nearly 15 years ago both teams he had also relegated so it seems better than is,warnock has a better record and even the 2 where appointed same time last season cardif have made money in transfer market and still gained more points,it seems de ja vu all over again we picked tim when pullis was also available

  28. Droyd: “I would imagine Bruce will get 10 games”

    But in the context of the Doc wanting promotion this season, I would say that would leave too few games left for a new manager to work his magic.

  29. Droyd- so do we stay where we are and hope a ship finds us and risk drowning? or do we strike out in a direction using the best of our Knowledge gathered so far? nothing is without risk, signing Bruce and giving him money certainly isn’t going on his past, we have to learn from this and since two managers that went up last season had 21/2 seasons between them in the champs I suggest its worth the risk.

    Ranierri won the prem with leicester got sacked, didn’t do it with Chelsea ,sometimes things just fall together at a club for a manager some times they don’t. Really good managers don’t move around to much either because they are getting results.

    we have not won without Jedinak in 2017 alone, so what does that say about the defence? which Bruce says is stronger this season.

  30. Mornig Lifers,mmmm do I detect the acrid aroma of panic on AVL…?
    Like the mosquito in the nudist colony…I don’t know where to begin.I,and others have long stated there is no quick fix to our woes,and this is still true IMO.
    Throwing money at issues and problems seems to be the default position of governments and footie clubs alike.
    Villa needs a Chris Hughton who I have wanted for 3 years,that ship has sailed.
    Welcome to real footie Dr,Xia,put the cheque book away and build something,of sumstance,character and longevity.Stop the short term spending on players at the fag end of their careers.
    Sherwood might keep us up,but then what.Keep us up?Yep,thats how seriously I view our predicament.
    We can’t even scrap and fight our way out of this.,which is a minimum requirement.There must be 2 dozen managers in the lower leagues with nowt to spend who compete season after season,wheel and deal,yet have a pattern of play and get the best out of what they’ve got.Until we find ours we will keep throwing money at men like Bruce and other has beens.
    Anyway keep chins up and sense of humour intact and at least AVL will be fine.

  31. read on another blog ,saying we have best squad
    rb we have 2 decent ones yet bruce plays hutton
    lb no cover what so ever
    ch our cover for 37year old terry is elphik richards and samba who hasnt played for couple years
    midfield bruce has signed 6 yet we cannot win without jedi incredible that stat,bruce cannot get mix right either
    strikers kodja out for while yet,hogan seems injury prone and we are left with goal machine that is gabby
    bruce has spent about 30m on 13 players and thatis what he has left us with

  32. Brasil for the position we are in (skint) I would definitely be looking at these

    Paul Heckingbottom (Barnsley)
    I’d take Heckingbottom in an instant, because he ticks so many boxes. He’s young, knows how to get the best out of Conor Hourihane, and plays attacking football; only six Championship sides scored more often than Barnsley last season. He’s also been damn impressive with the Tykes — he arrived in February 2016, taking over a mid-table side, and ran them all the way to promotion via the play-off, then survived comfortably in last season’s Championship.

    Heckingbottom with Villa’s talent would be a joy to watch. Certainly not the dire dross we’ve seen so often from Bruce.

    Lee Johnson (Bristol City)
    *copy and pastes Heckingbottom description*

    It isn’t hard to see why Barnsley replaced Johnson with Heckingbottom when the former moved to Bristol City in 2016. Johnson is young (36 years old), and his Bristol City teams have done well while playing attacking football — they’ve already scored six times this year.

    Six goals in three games? When’s the last time that happened at Villa?

    Dean Smith (Brentford)
    In just under two seasons at Brentford, Smith has posted a pair of upper mid-table finishes, placing ninth and 10th. He did well up the road from Villa at Walsall before he left, too, taking the Saddlers from relegation fodder to early promotion candidates, before leaving prior to the halfway point of the 2015/16 campaign. Brentford are a club that do their work with the data, too, so you know I’m a big fan of that.

    He also knows how to get the most out of Scott Hogan. That shouldn’t be written off as insignificant.

    And he grew up a Villan. Our perfect candidate?

    Graham Alexander (Scunthorpe United)
    Again, we have a building trend: Alexander is 45 and has been incredibly successful playing attacking football at his current gig. He took over at Scunthorpe near the end of the 2015/16 season, leading the Iron to a 7-1-1 finish (including six wins from the final six matches) as they just missed out on a play-off spot to Heckingbottom’s Barnsley on goal differential.

  33. Yes Mark,even 18/20 years ago on FA courses the top brass often picked out Brentford’s use of data and their preparation for games even then.
    How relevant that is to today I am unsure but looking at how they set up and play since his arriival ,I am impressed.

  34. Brasil- Panic? relief more like, its been like watching the train thats going to run you down approach for months. That said he will spawn a couple of results now.

  35. For the love of all that is good, I can’t see where SB goes from here other than out the door.

    Having spoken of getting a reaction to the Cardiff defeat, we were rolled over by Reading who were actually very poor.

    Said it before, Bruce tried to fix something that wasn’t broke in bringing Terry and our best defender has suffered as a result, it was a kick in the teeth to have the captaincy removed for no reason other than maybe Terry demanded it because he couldn’t have earned it. Last season despite playing park the bus for most of it we were quite frugal in giving away goals.

    That should have been the platform to build on this season, we had cover in Elphick and Samba was angling for a contract. Terry is a complete waste of salary in my opinion. The platform to build in involved trusting his attacking players more to be able to carry out their undoubted attacking threat based on the performances at their prior clubs. Instead, they weren’t given a plan and have attempted to play football by numbers based on experience. Most footballers need a plan or at least a plan they buy into, we don’t have one.

    We probably have a consistently better defensive mid in Whelan over Jedinak not least in terms of injuries so the back four should be protected but Whelan is finding himself in areas of the pitch he shouldn’t have to be in.

    We’ve not progressed under Bruce during his full tenure, he failed to get a reaction out of his players last night. We’ve found ourselves in the same situation as the relegation years in that the players are playing to get rid of the manager. I think it explains Bruce’s interviews being more and more frustrated because on paper we do have a good squad.

    Whereas RDM lasted 12 games, Bruce shouldn’t last any longer if anything to give the next manager as much time as possible to get his methods across and get buy in from the players. In addition, Dr.T needs to stop deluding the fans in terms of each year being a promotion year but set promotion as a longer term objective so that fans don’t get wound up by failure and the new manager is actually given real time, something Bruce hasn’t got because he hasn’t earned it based on the promotion now philosophy that exists at the club. Bruce has had his time, it hasn’t worked, it’s time for him to go.

    MK great set of options as managers, Dean Smith for me but would take any of them as long as they hire with the Villa Way in mind, I assume it’s a refreshing/attacking/controlling brand of football or we might as well give up on any long term impact the Villa Way may have if there is a disconnect between youth formation/tactics and the first team.

  36. If nothing else, we’re a resilient bunch.

    I’m very much of two minds. I appreciate Droyd’s view on stability. It’s crucial. But I also have no idea how we can be so disjointed under an experienced manager at this stage.

    Defending: I do think it’s a question of what’s in front of them—Largely. But I can’t see persisting with Hutton (maybe he was brought on for some nastiness, which he does have), and we could use another LB. I could write a book on permutations of what goes wrong, but if nothing else, the back four are constantly exposed, and apparently incapable of playing up and pinching in.

    Midfield: On top of that, when we do sit dip the midfielders basically collapse right onto the defenders’ line. There’s acres of space outside the box, no one jumping in to break up the obvious pass. Wingers, FBs and midfielders overlapping and being left free. Everyone standing off, even that deep. No decent outlet option when we do get it back. No pattern to breaking. Each man seems to lose his individual battle.

    We dwell too long on the ball. Either from lack of options, fear, or having someone in our face. Players continually receive a long-telegraphed pass with their back to goal and a defender pressed right into them. Never mind that the pass usually comes in too slow, or too hot. Players are often hiding.

    We don’t win the ball back quickly or with enough frequency. We’re constantly turning it over in midfield and the opponent has two or three dangerous forward options to choose from. Reading we’re dancing around, three-four players interchanging and Villa having trouble tracking, doubling a man (to leave others free) or just ghosting to “cover” a passing lane.

    We can’t play in tight spaces. It doesn’t help that no pass is crisp, but the two-three pass interchanges required to break pressure just don’t come off, or the players just aren’t there.

    Attack: Simple enough. Gabby doesn’t score, and we’re incapable of playing the ball through to Hogan. Knowing we wouldn’t have Kodjia for a while, I’d have thought we could’ve figured that out over the summer. I’d also have thought Kodjia would benefit from working on that as well.

  37. Chester and Terry:

    Chester’s a good player. Terry doesn’t seem to have the requisite pace, which we knew was a possibility. Our CBs are nowhere near as aggressive as the ones we’ve played against. They press right up into us, slip around and intercept passes/through balls. Of course, we make it easy on them, as there’s no movement to worry about and we can’t pick out Hogan’s runs.

    At least De Laet was trying to quickly close down players out wide. But usually wingers and FBs have all day and enough space to pick a pass or put in a cross.

    We also seem either too old/slow overall, or not in good enough shape. Of course, hesitancy and fear can produce the same appearance.

  38. Hi all

    JC – great summation – bang on the money mate

    Droyd – agree with you on midfield & attack being the main problem on the pitch, disagree about sacking Bruce. If you weren’t good at your job you’d be sacked. Bruce has had plenty of time !

    Fellow sufferers

    Most of us agree that Bruce is a 1 trick pony with the wrong sort of jockeys to play in his kick & rush manner. So a dynamic manager is required to at least get the best out of the current group at his disposal with a tweak or 2 before the window closes.

    Xia is definitely not a football man but should have the balls to fire Bruce after consultation with proper football men, not Whyness ( out of date ) or Round ( schooled by Moyes & McClaren )

    From “Mess comes Messiah” & what we need is the next Saunders, Taylor or dare I say O’Neill

  39. I agree with all that John. Hutton is a strange one. Awful since we signed him until Bruce gave him a chance but then I would say he has been one of our top 3 or 4 players in 2017.

    He played well against Hull but had an absolute stinker at Cardiff as most did. I do think De Laet is probably our best option in that role.

    Things are that bad that I wouldn’t be surprised if Bruce tries 3-5-2 again. We may as well away from home but I think we must persist with an attacking 4-3-3 at home. We have players for both formations. Left wing back would be a huge concern in a 3-5-2 as Taylor is an out an out full back.

  40. I looked at greens chance and it should of been nailed on he could rounded the keeper but took the harder option of going for the near post. What was also striking was the supplier of the chance Hogan, nothing wrong with that other than if it was the other way around you have to think goal. Even under lambert or Tim there was a team aspect to breaking and we stretched play quickly as we attacked. This went straight down the middle all three players. Maybe we have been practising to play with the unavailable freakish we have forgotten how to counter 🙂

  41. The suspicious side of me is wondering wether the grealish build statement was a bit of a smoke screen for suck it and see tactics that we saw last Jan?

  42. Perhaps what condemns Bruce the most,is post match,he points out our deficiences as if the had nothing to do with him.
    Long balls,diagonal balls from the FBs played in for an old fashioned 9 which we don’t have.I feel for Hogan,quality modern forward being given 1970s service.

  43. Well despite all the critcism of the midfield/attack and “70s service” it was a simple bit of 70s service that got our one goal. 😉

    Adomah floats a nice ball in, Gabby chests the ball down (there you are, he does create goals!!) and bash into the back of the net from someone who kept awake and followed up.

    Perhaps “70s service” works for Gabby. Or would work better if we had Crouch.

    I get fed up with the talk about Gabby always being in a -ve sense. I totally agree he’s short as a striker from what we really need, but I also question the signing of Hogan when our system doesn’t fit his play. And we haven’t anyone else just now except youngsters.

    We do need experience up top, and if RHM is picked on Saturday to accompany Gabby, it may well work in my view.

    But, oh dear, we still have to sort out the midfield, though, although Hourihane upset his doubters last night by the looks of it. Kepp Green too … despite missed chances.

  44. Hourihane has been played in the wrong position, One look at Barnsleys style will tell you he needs to get forward and on the ball a lot, in an attacking team he excels in park the bus no chance. Gabby did ok to chest that ball down totally unmarked in the reading area while they watched the ball bounce to Hourihane. For that to be a common thing we need A: to attack and B: the opposition to switch off, three reading players just watched the cross come in, the cross was a very accurate one no doubt but talk about time to a have a cuppa tea 😉

    For gabby to work you need the team to support him and for 90% of the time they are nowhere near, a decent coach would sort this pronto and we would be up and running instead its the same old rubbish with the odd glimpse of hope. Better still get a target man! oh yeah we sold one and bought a footballer.

  45. john l
    you are taking the pis### if you thimk gabby deserves an assist for goal last night,that was him trying to control it
    fair point on hogan why buy him if you cannot play him in your team,but also why sell rudi if you want to play route 1
    bruce is gone past the point of return,we are lucky that he got only 3/4 m to spend in summer ,on showing of last january buys

  46. James,

    Well, I disagree. Our opinions differ – as usual! 😀

    I certainly don’t think that “Bruce is gone past the point of return” – for Dr. Tonix that is. He may not have long to go before he does reach that point, but he has got the excuse that he has 2 c-fs out, plus the Jedi (till next week), Elmo and (of course) Grealish. That situation may just gain him another 4 weeks. But if it does and all still fails, it doesn’t leave enough time for a new manager to try to put things right (for promotion this season)

    Whether you have time to have a “cuppa tea” or not it’s still a well-worked goal, and the sheer accuracy may have had an influence in their defence looking so frozen. There are always two ways of looking at things! 😉

  47. johnl
    every team has injuries suspensions, usually a lot worse when bruce signs old men
    ,why where davies rhm not on bench
    ,what was age of liverpool scorer last night,
    read in one papers report ooamh gave gabby a bollocking for not working last night ,
    shows he is new and not under the fat waster spell
    as for jedi missing bruce has signed 6 midfielders a bit like crying over spilt milk which only thing bruce is good at

  48. JL- 12 players bought to still be reliant on two that the previous manager bought is a bit much since the previous manager was sacked whilst only having them there for half his matches and Jedi got injured as well and swam to Australia and Asia. Add to that You don’t even rate Grealish, we are supposed to have the best squad well were is it? 😉

  49. I watched the lowlights earlier and was surprised to see our £12m striker defending in our Box??!!
    who the hell plays like that??!! oh us I forgot. No wonder the poor sods Injured.

  50. well read all the comments but it is pointless sacking spud unless wyness round and calderwood go as well as we have dionasours through the club and charlie chan has not got a clue how did an oap like wyness get this job and round assistant to moyes for 5 years says it all unless the doc sacks these dionasours and gets a forward thinking ceo in its pointless as this lot could run a pi ss up in a brewery and as for spud clueless

  51. Hello John…….same ‘ol, same ‘ol…..I wouldn’t disagree with you though.
    Like JD I was all for firing SB out of a cannon last night, I still may be.
    I’d let him go with it, whose going to replace him? nut job Pearson, punch drunk Moyes. Jimmy Floyd Hasslebank. No, Steve Bruce has got make his squad deliver, bang some heads against the wall. I’m not saying he will do it for us, far from it but he’s got to start getting some performances from these very highly paid individuals.
    By the way, what is it with Scott Hogan, is he injury prone or what, and I do hope the lad recovers.
    JD….Still an opti’…….sigh…
    The journey continues….Archie

  52. Actually, I’m surprised we’re all still concerned as to whether the manager gets sacked … we’ve had so many this past 7 years, and each time we’ve demanded a change we still complain when the next one doesn’t work out! 😉 … As well as going more pear-shaped each time.

    Perhaps we should just stand back and let ’em sort it out for themselves?

  53. dor
    put on rte seen caption ast in corner thought didnt know we had friendly v celtic dawned on me then champions league match and nothing changed cel 2 ast 0
    sinclair scored a fine 1 on 1 with keeper gabby should get lessons

  54. as for new manager those two brothers from lincoln have done miracles on f all money might as well take a chance as going for dionasours has failed every time spud round calderwood and wyness out now wake up charlie chan and get rid

  55. As Archie said – SB has to start getting some action from these highly paid players. Why do they fail to deliver when they come to Villa? Then they regain form when they leave.

    For example, I have just watched Celtic thrash a good Astana side 5-0; 2 of those games came from last season’s Celtic Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year. His name? Scott Sinclair.

  56. Clive,

    First para – totally agreed … it’s the players that really are the crux – there’s enough talent in the squad, and it should show.

    Second para – sorry, I’m always sceptical about players that go to Scotland. If you’re playing for Celtic up there it’s easy-peasy. And I don’t accept that Ascana are “good”. They might be better than Smal Heath though!

  57. Heard from Steamer75 yesterday.

    He says: “hi to everyone and when lm in a better frame of mind l will post a comment”

    Further sad news is that Steamer’s old sidekick – Bella – had to be put down. That’s not helped S75 at all.

  58. I’m very scared by Bruce’s recent comments, the focus is on the players and how they aren’t performing, I get it they have to improve but equally there is no public acknowledgement that their under-performance has anything to do with him beyond he has to change it.

    I don’t expect any manager to admit their failings publically but I hope his pronouncements don’t have a negative effect on the relationship he has with the players, if he gets into a public blame game, he’ll have a further deterioration in the performance levels.

    Norwich’s goals looked good last night not typical of a struggling side

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