So here we are, third game coming up to close out a week of revelations that’s seen Villa score—score, not concede—eight goals in two games. Count ‘em: Eight. What in the world is going on? This is not our Villa.

Now I’ve read the banter, had a couple-three pints, and I really have to say that to my mind, none of what we saw the last two matches was down to Steve Bruce. I’d be happy if it were. But this is not the football we’ve seen since he arrived. We were 3-8 on aggregate in four games in all competitions heading into last Saturday. We’re 8-3 in two games this week alone.

Maybe we got lucky. Maybe the opposition were poor. Maybe it is down to Bruce in some byzantine way. I don’t know anything more than what I see on the pitch in any given match. You play who’s in front of you. If they’re poor, you put three, four or five past them. Colchester? That was a tightrope and are they really better than what Wigan had on the field? How about Villa answering goals in both games this week with more goals?

What we saw the last two games seems simple enough to me.

When we play more than one of the kids at a time, the kids do better. They understand each other. They are truly young and hungry. Moreover, they’re pretty good footballers. They’re young, yes. But they play on the front foot. They’re good on the ball. They work hard, can run all day, and pick a pass. An ambitious, forward pass. They’re on the same wavelength, and are playing to win rather than not to lose.

In short, they’ve injected life into a turgid set-up and started giving us what we expected to see this season.

Andre Green and Keinan Davis were a revelation…not just because of their own performances, but in how they instantly connected with Hourihane. Like minds. Hourihane apparently wasn’t the problem. It seems to have been more about the supporting cast. Or how the supporting cast were playing (either by instruction or on their own lack of initiative).

Against Wigan? Same thing. All of a sudden Hogan was looking for a hat-trick. Adomah was good, Bjarnason was good. They’re good players. But in both matches, the veterans were freed up immensely by the energy, creativity, skill, and fearlessness in the middle of the park that got Villa off script. Jake Doyle-Hayes and even Gary Gardner were playing like we’ve wanted the starting XI to play. And I was all for getting rid of Gardner.

Obviously these players will have good days and bad. All players do. But I really don’t think the side that started against Hull would’ve put four past Wigan, whatever changes Wigan had made. And it’s not like the side we put out Tuesday was unchanged or well-drilled. Obviously very far from it. Steve Bruce’s preferred XI wouldn’t have put four past Norwich, either. Just look to last season and ask yourself how long have the kids been in the first team?

Basically, Bruce has been given a lifeline, as I said before, and he’d be a fool not to take it. Davis, Green, and Hourihane may well have saved his job. Now we’ll see whether Bruce is churlish or smart.

Bottom line: on any given day, there are at least four of our young players that deserve to start as much as anyone else in the side, based purely on form.

For the sake of argument, say Davis has three poor matches in a row now. Would that really end up being any different than persisting with Gabby? He showed more potential in 90 minutes than Gabby probably ever has. He’s fast. He’s strong. He’s good on the ball. He’s a better, more complete footballer, full stop. He can only realize his potential if he keeps playing.

Right now, no one will criticize Bruce if he sticks with these players in some combination. He’s in a no-lose situation. The supporters are onside. The team is buzzing. He only has to go with the form players. That includes the veterans.

It’s all about the mix. Pick Adomah or Elmo, all good. Pick Bree or De Laet, all good. The only real decision Steve Bruce has to make this week is whether Hogan or Davis is the featured striker. Hourihane has obviously earned another start. Doyle-Hayes has, too, but he won’t get it. At any rate, get the starter wrong, and apparently we’ve got options off the bench.

Maybe I’ve had too much to drink, but I really wonder if we’d be any worse off with De Laet at RB and Bree in Terry’s place. And I advocated for bringing Terry in. I don’t think we’d be any worse off with Doyle-Hayes out there instead of Lansbury, either. And Lansbury’s not a bad player. While we’re at it, let Wheelan go for 60 minutes then bring Lyden on.

Steve Bruce has a delicious, and difficult, dilemma. He’s actually got a lot of good players. Some of them are his buys, some RDM’s. Some are just “kids” he inherited, the sorts of young players who’ve been overlooked by Villa managers for a long time. But this lot is coming of age and they seem to have a lot of promise.

I understand Bruce sounding cautious and trying to dampen expectations. That’s fine if it’s psychology. It’s not good if it’s an opening salvo in a round of rationalizations that sees us reverting back to the form we’ve previously seen.

So, up to you, Steve. If you revert to the previous selections and tactics and they yield us goals and wins, then fair play. If they don’t, and you persist, then we know you really are just running scared. I’ll give either approach a fair shake. But based on what we’ve seen so far this season and over Bruce’s tenure, I’ll simply say that Bruce can’t reasonably ignore the fact that we’ve consistently looked worse with his previous selections over many, many games and against all levels of opposition than we have the last two.

Ride the wave, Steve. If it doesn’t work, I’ll be the first to raise my hand. But I don’t think it’ll be any worse than what Cardiff and Reading did to us. And I’d rather we go down swinging than finish mid-table again by meekly playing it safe and just hanging on.

As for Bristol? I could care less who they are and who they put out there. The whole idea is that we should be expecting to beat anyone in this league. God knows we’ve spent enough. We can all look up their record, top scorers, whatever. This whole campaign is about us, not the opposition.

Over to you.

Comments 179

  1. Too right, JC. Villa should show Bristol no respect. Go out to pummel them. I bet we have better players. Use them right, Mr Bruce. Do not “run scared.” Learn to walk toward the pressure, mate.

  2. Paul (previous thread): “[To MK} Stand your ground, because you are right, and I am disappointed in Bruce”

    We’ve just scored 4 goals in 2 consecutive matches and played a lot of youngsters and yet people are still whining! ???????

    I TOTALLY AGREE that we shouldn’t think the corner has been turned (sorry about caps) but while we’re getting into a good run (oops, let’ see what happens tonight! 🙂 it’s utterly churlish to build up this theme of Bruce this and Bruce that in a -ve sense.

    It’s a fact that the media only like to publish bad news, but while I’m sure you’re not really happy with that you *also* want to keep the -ve vibes going!

    If we finish in the top 2 having scored 100 goals or so you’ll still have something to say!

    Go get yourself a cat … please! 😀 (They make you more contented – we have 3, and 7 outside).

  3. JC- I think you should drink more JC it depresses the diplomat in you 😉

    Right on board with all of that and I am praying that JT can rise to the challenge as well as Bruce. those two might as well be one because the day Bruce drops him for footballing reasons hell will freeze over. Bruce really has brought in a very expensive weight around his neck like a rappers gold chains but in playing terms it seems all show and worth less. I hope it doesn’t cost us more than just money.

    His latest statement about JT selflessly driving in bad weather to shake some hands I particularly enjoyed as unlike me he didn’t have to get up at 4.30 drive 120 miles and install an underfloor heating system and clock up 10 plus miles walking while doing it and drive back and make his own dinner and rinse and repeat., he shook hands, and worked for his £14k a day, well done JT.

    People have said why hang on every word Bruce says and dissect it? because words are important, a window into his thinking, they ruffle feathers on here for a start and mine are pretty meaningless in the scheme of things, Bruces are far more productive or damning, his choice.
    By his statement on Sky he has pretty much said I don’t care if JT is cr*p I want him in the changing room as I cannot motivate these players on my own so we have sold Baker for a £5m cheerleader that can’t do a cartwheel.Think about that? the players are not impressed by Bruces winning attitude and promotions or playing career, but JT? A good use of psychology or a poor use of money? why doesn’t every club adopt this strategy?

    Maybe Delaet at RB will give Chester less to do and balance it out but we have some very able youth like Clarke and suliman who is the U20 England captain and world cup winner. The fact he is Asian to could do plenty for this country/area let alone Villa but he deserves a go on merit.

    Oh yeah, he also Gave that other dinosaur (bruces choice of words) Kmac some praise for toughening up the youngsters ( I saw scenes in my head of the old film the Hill or a Rocky montage) no mention of the way he’s coached them to play at such a tender age, just tough rugged young men that can play anywhere.

  4. John,

    And you start off on the same footing as the other -ve hoofers! 🙁

    Instead of saying Bruce-this or Bruce-that (or pick on any individual), why don’t we simply take a view about how the VILLA are doing!

    That’s how we used to talk about Villa years ago … fans were always simply interested about how the VILLA did, and how such-and-such a player did well – or didn’t.

    It was THE CLUB that we looked at.

    Things started to change in the modern way in the 60s (after players’ salaries became unrestricted – in 1961) and I remember at the back-end of 1961-62 the Argus running an interview with a Villa fan who carried some weight and had complaints to make…

    Just as you lot have been doing, he was complaining about boring football and lack of goals.

    Guess what! On the very day that his interview was published in the Argus, Villa won 5-4 at Arsenal! And it didn’t stop there – next week it was a 3-0 win, and 2 weeks after that (over the Easter week-end) Villa won 8-3 and 5-1.

    There’s a moral perhaps … when the sun is shining, bask in it! 😀

    At least, let’s perhaps think that what’s taking place at Villa is a club approach (the ‘Villa Way’ coming into effect?). Bruce is a cog in all that and perhaps decisions being made now are not entirely Brucie decisions as they’re coming from within the *teamwork*.

    Whatever it is, it’s the CLUB that matters.

  5. Mark,

    Whatever anyone writes has a quality … be it +ve or -ve. It’s rarely the case it’s otherwise.

    To be frank, I call a lot of what is being said as “tittle-tattle”.

    Still, if JC is happy with it then I have nothing to say other than in my view it does not help to keep the blog’s standard ‘up’.

  6. JL- I posted this yesterday what do you think? doesn’t look like Xia is sold on more oldies direction and your view that maybe its a collective driving change “the Villa Way” what if Bruce is actually counter productive to that progress? the entire premiss this season was we need more experience and on face value at the moment that appears flawed and it was really more youth and vibrancy we were lacking.

    “Its hard to Gauge what Tony Xia is thinking he posted this on the 22nd about Snodgrass

    “We’ve been discussing with maybe the last in this window for one week. Hopefully it’ll be right decision.”

    and in the same conversation

    “Honestly I would like give youngsters more opportunities, maybe the same way I ran my business as always like bring young team to grow&gel.”

    Snodgrass by the way has been injury prone for the last 3 seasons about 38 in two seasons for hull and 7 for west ham.

  7. Mark: “I write as I see it that is all”

    So … in other words *anything* that *anyone* writes here is OK is it? And by “anything” I mean stuff that might be gibberish, libelous or attacking other bloggers in an extreme way?

    Where does this blog’s standard begin or end? I am beginning to want to know.

  8. JL- I suggest you read some other blogs then as the standard is pretty much where its always been on here quite high, just seems some are waging a war on the other posters and not talking about the team/manager/owner etc at all mainly because it does not suit them (thats always happened to some extent). Steamer never minced his words nor st75 and others that no longer post so I don’t see your point, they were never what I would term +ive

  9. Mark: “what if Bruce is actually counter productive to that progress?”

    From where I stand it’s irrelevant. If there comes to be too much friction between SB and the chairman then we know who will have to go, so matter gets sorted on our behalf. It’s not our concern in my view as things stand.

    The only situation where it would be my concern is *if* the club starts on another downward spiral because of the situation you state. But until that happens then I see it being irrelevant.

  10. Mark: “I suggest you read some other blogs”

    I was writing on “other blogs” for 10 years before I came on here (2011). And I rarely now write on other blogs for the reason you state. Lack of monitoring on one of those “other blogs” was a contributory cause for my exit from Villa.

    Personally, I would like to see this blog keep at the highest possible level.

  11. Mark: “Steamer never minced his words nor st75”

    Perhaps as those dear gentlemen visited my house occasionally I might understand their psychology a little more?

    I don’t recall Steamer ever straying from salient points.

  12. The main discussion in Villa circles at the moment is SB’s selection for the Bristol match. Will he? Or won’t he? Most Villans seem to wish that he will pick a dynamic young team like that played against Norwich and Wigan. That’s what is doing the rounds at the mo. And it’s no different than the current discussion here. Tres bien! Good to see people with different perspectives, a healthy thing.
    I hope Bristol get a right thrashing tonight by a youth invigorated Villa.
    UTV.

  13. JL- who is attacking anyone? if anything its the +ve half that is doing that, or at least seeking to control, most posts are aimed toward the club matters until provoked by being labelled as too -ve or not balanced. You have said there are two sides to every story, if I had to write out the positives as well as the point I am trying to get across to satisfy other bloggers it would take me forever, just take it I have seen the positive side but am raising my concerns which is deemed -ve by you and others.

  14. JL- Maybe its not down to you say whats salient? and as you have no face to face connection and humour does not come across well on here your making a mountain out of a molehill.

  15. Mark,

    Well, as you have said, you write as you see it, don’t you?

    As for “control” … I’ve already indicated it’s not my function … I’m not the blog owner.

    But I do think we’re going off beam a lot more than used to be the case.

  16. Jl- back to football 😉

    “The only situation where it would be my concern is *if* the club starts on another downward spiral because of the situation you state. But until that happens then I see it being irrelevant.”

    Up until the last two games it appeared very much like it was didn’t it? the issue is why has it changed? Bruces experience drive appears flawed and going on statements by Dr Xia not Bruce such as

    “One thing we and SB made the agreement is to trim the squad to 19-20 and pick 5-6 youngsters to train with the 1st squad this season.”

    Thats not you must play the youth is it? so I assume its not the plan and the older players were?

    then theres

    “Still bothered about the game,not just result but some issues thought we’d solve though still positive&confident we can make the season”

    and now

    “Honestly I would like give youngsters more opportunities, maybe the same way I ran my business as always like bring young team to grow&gel.”

    I can only conclude that this was not the direction Bruce planned to head in as JC has written about in the leader.

  17. Iana,

    With respect, the discussion on here isn’t just about team selection as such, it’s about all the nuances about Bruce. And those points being raised have the tendency to keep a dissatisfied ‘air’ about Bruce going despite results, even though they are +ve just now.

    For my part I want what is best for the Club … if we win and win well then good for Bruce and the Club I say, and leave it at that. Why stir things that beyond our ken? It doesn’t create a sense of contentment.

    If blogs are thought to be available just to complain in every situation (win or lose) then the death of the blog is not far away i.m.o. More, we stand chance of losing a sense of balance.

  18. I won’t predict a score cause whenever I do and the game is on SKY, we get turned over like a pikelet.
    So I will just say pummel Bristol!
    UTV.

  19. Trinity- “turned over like a pikelet.” lol 🙂

    I just hope we show up and at least try to win, maybe the away day and sky hoodoo will get them maybe its been tactics all along.

  20. MK: “I can only conclude that this was not the direction Bruce planned to head in as JC has written about in the leader.”

    In normal business matters, what goes on between the board and the manager is kept in house and the entity just continues business. That’s how it used to be in football.

    Now we demand to be told what’s going on and get caught up in the Twitters and PR sessions as though they are the focal point of the week.

    Well, they are not for me. Perhaps I’m old fashioned but I’d prefer that the club’s washing wasn’t aired so much to the extent it is. The expectancy of the match itself is (for me) far more relevant.

  21. JL- I cannot disagree but a window into the owners thoughts is revealing is it not? this is the digital age and the owner very much makes his money that way. The things that you and I baulk at are like breathing air to todays kids , they have grown up with it. I expect the telephone was once considered a nuisance, I know that being contactable for work 24/7 is both a boon and a curse.

  22. JL
    Nevermind. When (we’ll say when) the results keep coming any negative comments will lessen once people get back to the enjoyment of following Villa again. Years of failure have made cynics out of even most of the best Villa supporters and fans. I certainly don’t see any abuse on this site. What I do see are warnings against being too trust worthy of the (Villa) government. I see that in Mark. And it’s a good thing.
    I think most people see the buck as stopping with Steve Bruce.
    You are right that there is a club problem and hopefully that is improving. It isn’t only Bruce, but he makes the team selections, so he needs to get it right. The customers need to see results. He did succeed last season with home games, which is half the battle. Tonight should be a good indicator of how the away games will go. SB must be brave and move out of his comfort zone. Being a former and, very successful defender, means his inclination is to defend. We want him to attack.

  23. JC,

    Superb leader!!!

    You put into perfect words , what ALMOST EVERYONE on here feels about Bruce. Have to get on now, and will catch up later.

    JL,

    I HAVE GOT A CAT and we get on famously, and she proof reads everything I say, and she feels the same about the local gamekeeper, who keeps bragging about how he keeps the vermin down…….

  24. Iana- I am made up about the way we have played and approached the last two games, like a Villa team of my youth 70’s/80’s

    Your Right I pick up on Bruce’s words and actions because I feel its a little like the story “the king has new clothes” not because I dislike the fella, I would sit and have beer with him if he was good company and we got on, probably even if he wasn’t. I just feel the club has been sold a direction which was never the right one IMO. A progressive manager and the integration of the youth players and “the Villa way” implemented and a two season build would have been my preference but it is what it is but I feel we have gone two steps backward to come one forward.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMsgAuvEIBc

  25. Hi All
    l hope everyone is ok , at this moment lm waiting to get picked up to go to Bristol , l thought l might catch up with SWV today but he’s away on Hols , lv been to a few away games this season and went to the norwich and wigan games , enjoyed watching the kids do it for the Villa , l will be interested to see what team SB puts out (lm not a fan ) ,
    lv seen some of the comments about Steamer and thanks , l told Linda his sister and its nice to know lads .
    he would be screaming blue murder when JT signed , he hated him ,
    l didnt really intend to go to so many games , just a few aways but my brother Roff and Johny Britton have dragged me out and lm enjoying it ,
    l got in touch with JL and explained things , l still find it incredibly hard at the moment as l do miss the bloke , we used to sit and talk bollox for hours ,
    Brasil . l saw Ged at the Norwich game and intend to meet up at the Sacred Heart club in future and at some of the away games .
    l think a lot of you should take the credit for keeping this site going ,
    also Steamers niece , who lives in London got talking at work to a villa fan and its obvious he’s on here as he mentioned Steamer and he comes from Sutton Coldfield , Thanks for that , you made her very happy with what you said, ( in the nicest way )
    well all the best everyone and have a great Bank hols , l’v just realised its a Bank Hols so l can see myself sitting on the M5 for a while ,
    Jenny XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  26. ST75- Great to hear from you mate, talking Bollox is a hard one to replace when that someone is so on your wavelength and has so much History with you, felt the same when my dad passed, Hope they put on a show tonight for you and enjoy Bristol its a good night out.

    all the best

  27. HI ST75,

    Great to see you on here again, and glad you got to the games, getting as much pleasure as I did by being there!

    All we need now is to get Jenny back on here…!!!

    Hope you enjoy the game, and I am sure Steamer will watching with all the other “Holte Enders in the Sky!”

  28. Hey! St75
    Great to hear from you, man. Hope Villa thrashes Bristol for ya. Excellent you’re enjoying the games again.
    JL and JC been doing a great job keeping the leaders coming.
    Sorry to hear about Bella.
    JT is controvertial, definitely.
    UTV

  29. Mark
    Danny Kaye = great character. Hope Mr Bruce can really see things for what they really are. If he can, and Villa prosper and succeed, he’ll just be known as The Bruce at Villa. In years to come JL will be writing about The Bruce.

  30. Iana- yes something strangely missing today with people conforming to much.

    By the way if B62 villa, Runtingz, superbox, jenny ,frem, angel 8, ronnie biggs, and many other lost to the dross of recent seasons are reading where are you people? be nice to know how you are doing, all the best anyways 🙂

  31. Mark: “The things that you and I baulk at are like breathing air to todays kids , they have grown up with it.”

    Yes, but I have 8 grand-children (aged 8 months to 22 years) who have not been brought up with that inclination (with no input from me on it) and are not ‘in’ to that to any great extent. I am glad to say, because many let it overtake their lives.

  32. Paul: “I HAVE GOT A CAT and we get on famously, and she proof reads everything I say, and she feels the same about the local gamekeeper, who keeps bragging about how he keeps the vermin down”

    Very good! 😀

  33. JL- “Are” is the word isn’t it? because until a few injuries and the Norns intervened we seemed to have lost signal on our satnav and Bruce had brought his A to Z from 1960, Aren’t was looking more likely.

    My brothers best man (brothers 32)organised his whole stag do including payments on line with a company that deals with it all and gives the participants somewhere to chat about it. I found it very weird being used to talking to people first hand, not to mention the facebook page and the whatsapp going on simultaneously.

  34. Welcome to the new lad ST75 🙂

    Steamer doesn’t need to worry about JT, he’s just an over-payed cheerleader, he’ll be gone in 9 months, win or lose. Can’t wait to see the back of him myself. Strangely for our captain, there is very little interviews with him since the season started, he seemed to be a media darling in his Chelsea days.

    Everyone on here knows my opinion on Bruce, I’m very much cut from the same cloth as Mark on this, missed opportunities post relegation, the over-riding desire to get promoted irrespective of how we play football, the stated intention to build teams 2 and 3 regardless of how well those who contributed in teams 1 and 2. Each step is short termism whereas I’ve the patience of a saint and can well afford to sit back and see the green shots of recovery being placed in a tactician building his way to promotion thru’ good football as opposed to the turgid stuff last year and the potential for turgid stuff this year.

    Thank feck for kids because despite Bruce’s assertion that this is down to Terry’s winning mentality, it was as stated many times before down to Bruce’s hand being forced to play more kids and actually finding out that they have the drive and determination at the beginning of their fledgling careers to succeed and in turn for Villa to succeed.

    I’ve never looked forward to a game like tonight in a long time, we’ll truly see what Bruce is made of and we’ll hopefully see a dominant display.

    Honestly welcome back Deano and I’m with Mark, it would be great to see some of the guys and girls that were posting when I joined but a couple of years ago back along with more new blood.

  35. JL,

    Sort of a reply to you, but I guess it’s relevant to anyone who reads.

    Most often I do try to stay diplomatic, which I agree is a good thing. You can go the wind-up route, of course, but I’ve never really enjoyed that. As you say, there’s a tone you want.

    Sometimes, though, I do have say what’s on my mind a bit more pointedly. I don’t think I’ve said anything unfair to Bruce. Supporters have been screaming for some of these kids to break through for years. I’ve often thought it was premature, and that they weren’t going to make the impression others thought they would.

    But when they finally got the chance, they’ve taken it. And it’s put Bruce in a delicate situation because the team suddenly looked much better. It’s proved me wrong. (Although, in my defense, I will say that they’re older now.)

    So to my mind, it’s fair to put this to Bruce, because it was all so clearly on display. For two games, anyway.

    Prior to that, we played a good first half against Hull, then it all started looking like a repeat of last season. In the grand scheme of things, not life or death. But with FFP, the age of the roster, the contracts, etc., it was the worst start possible. Not just the loss of points, but the fact we were soundly beaten. Had no answers. Looked outclassed.

    The thing we’ve reasonably wondered is how much of our underachievement is down to turnover, to Bruce, the players, or the funk hanging over the club. This week, we seemed to get some answers. I was actually excited for the first time since we thrashed Liverpool in the FA Cup.

    Nothing gets the funk off a club like winning. And the kids don’t seem to be carrying any funk with them. They just want to play and have made their case as well as they can.

    As I said, if Bruce reverts to what he was doing when his hand wasn’t forced, and it works, then fair play. If we go back to looking like we did, then he has to put the club first and give the kids another go. If we go backward, and he doesn’t turn to the kids again, then I can’t say that he’s putting the club first.

    Me, I don’t care how we get there. I really am about the club, not Bruce. I saw something good for the club this week…and I hope Bruce is about Villa enough to accept it. If he carries us to the CL with his team, I’ll be the first to put him on my shoulders (with a bit of help).

    So, not pro or anti Bruce. Just pro Villa. If something clicks and it looks good, you have to see whether it’s a blip by giving it a chance. Water the seedling.

    The Villa youth providing a spark is nothing but good for the club and the supporters. We’ll all forgive them, and Bruce, if it was a blip and they’re not quite ready. But I think they’ve earned the chance to let that prove out on the pitch.

  36. Morning all Lifers.
    A good summary JC,like myself.not anti Bruce just pro Villa.It’s a rare feeling to be looking forward to a game and not dreading it.
    Front foot please Bruce,attack,look like we are at least their equals,not the the body language and mentality of meek under dogs.
    The last 6 years when we go away we have the look of Bury going away to Old Trafford.If we impose ourselves we can win if we are reactive and timid we will get nowt.

    S75,great to see you back and clearly enjoying the Villa again.

  37. And I also wonder to what extent the recent performances “inspire” the veterans. If we’ve been more attacking just because this other set of players are more attacking by nature, then it’s an ask I’m curious to see answered.

  38. I was also thinking in the shower (all Villa, all the time!) about Moneyball. If anyone hasn’t watched it, I really encourage them to. It’s less about baseball than old-school, conventional wisdom.

    At one level, the method to figuring out a winning formula is often the big takeaway from the story.

    But for me, the real crux of the story is the resistance of the manager, Art Howe, who was an esteemed and successful old-school guy. He was deliberately undercutting the changes, thought he knew best, and stubbornly refused to even consider Beane’s thinking.

    So, Beane goes around him, sells and trades players so that Howe has no choice but to play Beane’s way. And it worked. We often talk about managers playing their players, etc., and it’s very much of a piece.

    I’m not saying that’s exactly equivalent to Bruce’s situation…The structure is different (Beane would be a Director of Football in our setting). But it does make me think. What I’m asking of Bruce is for him not to fall into Art Howe’s trap.

  39. So JC – Leopards and spots and dogs and tricks – can SB rise above his traditional approach to football and strike a victory for youth, attacking football and assuage the doubters like me that we’ll ever progress under Bruce.

  40. JC- I have been calling for the youth to be given a chance since the next-gen days when I saw how good they were and how not good the first team appeared to be. The point I want to make is these lot coming through are not particularly older, they are around the age of the next series winners who almost to a man have been sold for a pittance, our youth players litter the champs teams and one Jonathan Hogg is with Huddersfield, Robinson and Johnson at PNE playing well, Albrighton I can barely talk about, clark and now Baker gone. Many others like Jerrell sellars sent out on loan then dumped, are this lot so much better than that generation? hayes and ohare stand-out Davis a recent acquisition but formerly a cast off from a lower league club. We have a terrible record of mistrusting our youth players or in Gardner and Grealish’s case expecting them to be the saviours without a supporting cast of like minded players.

  41. Further more they look like a team when together, Kmac may not have had the nerve to be the No1 manager but he can coach how to play. I definitley think that their enthusiasm and just plain ability to get the ball and move forward helps the likes of Lansbury , Hoagn, Hourihane who have been struggling to fit into Bruces system and come from much more attacking teams.

  42. ST75 – nice to see you post again mate.
    Nice article that as PP said, most people on here would agree, although Paul most of us who can’t get to matches cos of health reasons & have to put up with trying to find alternatives even though we put money into the club & cant even get it, don’t appreciate being slagged for it.
    Apart from that I tend to agree with a lot you say, as I do Mark (when I can keep up)
    Far too much law & order in everything if you ask me JL, I’m far happier with bollox, it’s much deeper.
    Back to the villa, if Bruce reverts to what he usually serves up, I can’t wait to be shot of him.
    If he goes forward he’ll get support as has been said clearly already.
    Look forward to the game, even if I can’t hear it.

  43. Mark,

    You have been consistent…and it’s largely fallen on deaf ears in my case. However, I think what you’re saying is spot on regarding the mix being much better.

    I really do hope it’s not just a blip. And that if we do have setbacks, but are still dynamic and threatening, that we persist. This core will have to develop together for us to stand any chance of staying up if we do get promoted. There’s a chance for an identity here.

  44. Well what a difference a week makes! I do not always agree with MK as he does go on a bit about RDM and all that. But my absence of late has been down to pure frustration of seeing the start of the season kick off with the same boring cr*p and parking the bus as MK calls it. I do and have always agreed with him though that we cant go back to the MON days and keep buying end of road players on exuberant wages that’s what started this down hill roll-a-coaster in the 1st place. Richard Dunne, John Terry , history repeating itself and we all know what the end result of that will be. So by fluke or what ever, a couple of our own youth come in and we win a couple. Lets hope the Bruce ( Mr Potato Head) for “Steamer” doesn’t follow the rest of MON’s script and sell the best of the young ones like Steve Davies and Gary Cahill to name but a couple. The definition of insanity is to repeat the same thing over and again expecting different results, let the insanity end tonight at Ashton or is the Aston Gate, and start to follow a new script with youth that will be able to carry on in the EPL and not have to leave and go down the post office for their pensions.
    OV, sounds like married life suits you mate, you seem more +ve too. Hoping to get over next year most likely September’ish so I hope my next live game i see is back in EPL, so Mr Bruce tear up the old script and follow a new plan, we’ll all support you if you do, but ride the hell out of you if you don’t.

  45. JC- Absolutely, and for it to happen Bruce has to buy into it and stop the semi-sulk rhetoric of we are not out of the woods yet etc, talk about letting the players tyres down, quietly confident should be the demeanour he presents, a win tonight and belief will grow and is that not what we have lacked for so long? along with entertainment.

  46. Mark,

    It did sound a bit grudging…Like I say, hoping it’s just psychology. The last time I saw belief was when we had that streak to avoid relegation, coming back to beat QPR 3-2, I think, that run. You just knew we were going to do something.

    As for entertainment, the Norwich match was great viewing for neutrals, Villans…everyone but the Canaries.

  47. IanG: “Far too much law & order in everything if you ask me JL”

    Well, when someone says to you that you’re talking “rubbish”, wouldn’t you say there’s something to be out-lawed?

    I think you’ve mis-read the situation all the way through – as I think everyone else has. It’s not a question of what you accuse me of at all – it’s the sheer nature of the on-going analysis of Bruce.

    To me its petty. And when I uttered an opinion about Bruce it’s “rubbish” according to the King.

    I’m much more in tune with Old Villa but perhaps we’re simply of a different generation when we can’t see the point of the deep analysis. It was not like this before and in my view if the boss is getting results why not simply say “well done”.

    Too much brain and too little heart in my view. But that’s how this world is getting itself into a sticky mess, isn’t it?

  48. JC- weirdly I look back at maybe the 70’s to mid 90’s when I could really watch a game of any club and get drawn in if it was good game. Forest were great to watch and Villa, Ipswich, early Liverpool even 70’s Leeds and Derby. Big Rons time at Villa maybe Gregory and Little but its become more and more fraught as times gone on, is this ageing or sign of the times? Classic matches in recent years? Liverpools champs league come back and Manures win in the same stick in the mind but classic matches I’m struggling.

  49. I think it’s the money, Mark.

    Every time I tune in to watch a big PL showdown, it’s always cagey, tactical. How many end up 1-1? They figure it’s best to split the points, not lose ground.

    Back in the day, seems like it was gung-ho, play for fun and goals…

    Which gets to JL’s point (hi, JL) about taking the fun out of the game. Relegation, promotion…It all means so much more now with TV and the money, and everything is analyzed to death because there’s all the money to be made around analyzing it.

    But rest assured, AVL doesn’t do it for the money. Because there isn’t any! 🙂

  50. JL- “when I uttered an opinion about Bruce it’s “rubbish” according to the King.”

    Ah I see why your nose is out of joint, the King am I now 🙂

    Your statement
    “As always you see Bruce in one light. It’s clear (as the chairman said) that Bruce is far more open to other thinking.”

    He actually said he was surprised that he was open to new ideas, and that was when they met for talks prior to his appointment, who knows whether he has been open or not?

    what I referred to as utter rubbish is your insistence that I cannot see anything positive in Bruce, only see him one way (same can be said about you by the way on him and Gabby 😉 ) not what you said about Bruce, it was a statement more about me I felt.

    Judge me for it if you like it was a sweeping statement by you and just because I don’t reel out Bruce +ve points ad nauseam to your liking doesn’t mean I can’t see them, he cannot have got this far in Management without some I just feel he is dated in his approach. You might find that wonderful I don’t, no offence was meant but I can assure you some of your own statements are just as hurtful and quite judgemental at times, your welcome to your opinion please let me have mine.

  51. so bruce buys highest rated right back in championship and then gives hutton a new contract,buys elmo as back up to hutton ,so much for giving youth a chance
    and as b6 said gabby keeping a usefull player of the bench

  52. JG,very disappointed with the team tonight.Am I suprised though?No,imo,he has gone for containment,to defend and hope for a goal.If we go 1 down,then what?Bring on Lardie?Bree,I think,has played a lot in this league,in the Barnsley team at 16 or 17.I think he might be sold this window.

  53. Three at the back with Wing backs? wow hope Samba and JT have their skates on tonight

    1 Sam Johnstone
    26 John Terry
    4 Veijeany Christopher Samba
    5 James Chester
    14 Conor Hourihane
    6 Glenn Whelan
    27 Ahmed Elmohamady
    3 Neil Taylor
    18 Josh Onomah
    19 Andre Green
    39 Keinan Davis

  54. Bristol had a boost when they saw Villa’s line up.We are conceding space and posession,corner after corner.On the back foot,negative gone for a draw.

  55. What the f^^^^!!!

    A s**t choice of players, a s**t formation, and then a s**t performance….Well done Bruce!!!

    Obviously he is following someone’s guidance that he still the Messiah…..JL…..!!!

  56. Hope Bristol don’t suss they can get down the sides second Half, we came back into it but there is nowhere near the level of players committed forward and its all about crossing the ball in,?Hourihane getting nothing to have a go with so far, no cut backs and Davis having to work like a dog across their backline. Still lets see what this half brings.

  57. Paul Pears – ”

    What the f^^^^!!!

    A s**t choice of players, a s**t formation, and then a s**t performance….Well done Bruce!!!

    Obviously he is following someone’s guidance that he still the Messiah…..JL…..!!!”

    Out of order mate. Why have a go at JL?
    We finished the half on top and had the guts to change the formation during the first half. A number of players not at their best. Lets see what the 2nd half brings.
    Pretty poor post PP ……. over reaction and picking on JL as if its his fault.

    What is happening to this blog?
    oldvilla

  58. a waste of a sub by a clown of a manager,why change formation ,o yes bruce listens to his media buddies he is best getting out of this league,quietly forgetting also 1 of best of getting into it

  59. It was nothing personal to JL,

    Just the fact that he always wants to see some side of Bruce that for most of us does not exist….!!

    John Terry very lucky to get away with another handball….

    Why did he pick Onomah, when he was not involved in the win against Norwich….and now Villa are one down…….hope DR Tony says enough is enough…!!

  60. 1-1
    Would have been good to see Adomah, I’d persist with the younger guys, Terry stuffed up for Bristol’s goal and thank the Lord for Onomah’s effort. At least SB didn’t persist with the first illy formation.

  61. Maybe we did not lose, but we should have set up with the intention of winning……another two points adrift….

    Averaging a point a game, which is worse than last season, which I am sure JL will confirm.

    Not a lot to say, except why oh why did de Laet or Bree not start the game, and Adomah after his performance on Tuesday should have put him ahead of El hamadi….

    Bruce this is still not good enough when we have the players…!!

  62. Right an over simplification…..only one team tried to win that game from the first whistle,the other hoped to win and set up for a draw,with a fingers crossed attitude.On the back foot playing like the under dog.
    He was always going to change a winning team,but too many changes IMO.
    Bad selection,confused tactics,reverted to type.May as well send the young lads on loan.
    Why treat Bristol as if we were away to Real Madrid?
    Samba?Why?

  63. Here’s a man who wears braces and a belt just in case. 2 condoms and a vasectomy isn’t enough insurance. At least I saw some youth and I never knew Mark was a hockey fan. Samba and Terry wearing skates–hahaha.
    Still, when you look at the commentary and the commentary alone you would think it was a close game. Even the stats make it a close game.
    Anyone want Sherwood back?

  64. From what I saw I’d like to see Hogan paired with Davis. Davis holds the ball up and Hogan has some nifty touches. Bring in more youth.
    Villa should beat teams like Bristol. Play the younger guys regularly.

  65. I was only able to see the second half so can only imagine that we were much better second half than first.
    Lots of frustrated comments on here but we played well enough in the second half and I enjoyed seeing some quick passing and invention up front.
    Still don’t understand why we sold Baker and bought Samba and Terry and will be thoroughly disgruntled if Snodgras on loan means that one of our youngsters miss out.

  66. Today’s Match

    Well, I saw the first half and I didn’t think it was a bad performance.

    On their home turf Bristol obviously wanted to make a point – and they did: just one! 🙂

    A couple of explanations…

    We had 2 or 3 worthy attempts on goal first half.
    The formation was changed as Samba was injured – and the reason why he had to be sub’d at h-t.

    “Bad selection” B6 says … Hmmmm… Why? It looked to me one that should work but the players didn’t control the ball well enough during that half-hour when Bristol pressured.

    Bristol are a useful side … not a bad point.

    And PP … no, we have exactly the same points as this time last season. And the team we played in the 5th match last year was … Bristol, again on their turf … where we lost 3-1.

    My feeling is that given a few more games with this side they should do well.

  67. Mark,

    I’ve just now read your message and – as usual – we have an utter misunderstanding taking place.

    To keep this blog in a sane state I’ll withdraw from commenting on your posts.

  68. Interesting hearing everyone’s takes.

    I’ll watch again, since I kept getting interrupted and had to miss a large chunk of the first half, and curious what I’ll end up thinking.

    But first reactions…3-5-2, not a brilliant idea. Glad he switched it round and Bree was out there, but a strange decision to start that way. Glad to see Davis, Green and Hourihane back out there together. We weren’t quite connecting a lot of the time, but there were some good interchanges, and there was always a threat. Just never quite came off. Thought Bjarnason had a reasonable impact coming on. I wouldn’t have waited until 80mins to change it up, though. Looked as though we might well have found a winner.

  69. PP: “Just the fact that [JL] always wants to see some side of Bruce that for most of us does not exist….!!”

    That’s not it at all. Bruce is the manager and people keep on saying they want him to succeed.

    But even when he’s doing something that people like (winning games, using youngsters etc) he still gets angst or fault-finding goes on.

    Why? Is it worth it?

  70. JC,

    “But first reactions…3-5-2, not a brilliant idea. Glad he switched it round and Bree was out there, ”

    I think I’ve already mentioned that Samba was injured and it would appear that both the change-around and sub took place because of that.

  71. JL,

    For me, the only real head-scratcher was the 3-5-2. Other than that, I can’t see much to fault today as far as Bruce goes. Green, Davis, Hourihane, Onomah…That’s fairly aggressive and certainly not over-cautious.

  72. OV- yep appears great stats for Bruce except its with the best squad potentially in the Champs not the top flight. RDM’s tenure cannot really be accessed on a win percentage because if you looked at it as a not lose percentage he only lost 3 in 11 and had sod all chance of turning it around as he got the tin tack, whereas Bruce lost 7-8? on the trot and got backed.

    Not the worst we got a point, the worst because Bruce is still peddling the 7 year away from home problem??? if positivity indeed breeds positivity Steve change the record , talk about the good performances and for gods sake don’t waste another half of football waiting for the opposition to gift you a chance, the players look dumbfounded by this tactic, second half we made up so much ground we ended up with equal possession imagine that.

    Please give us a manager that looks at the opposition and understands their weaknesses and tries to exploit them, I think he wanted Bristol to try every way they could think of to score out so they became confused in what to do next.

  73. dont get this changing of systems,when we had won a couple games,what does bree have to do to start,terry is showing why no one else really wanted him in summer bar bruce,elmo please someone tell me what he is good at,adoamh most assist last season ,now another bruces duds lands snodgrass be no place for adoamh ,please doc see sense and give spud his chips[sorry the sack]

  74. JC: “For me, the only real head-scratcher was the 3-5-2.”

    I think that part of it was because they were playing a very big man at No. 9, who could move as well. Perhaps Bruce wanted to ensure that he didn’t get through?

    At the same time the forward youngsters are good enough to win the game on their own … but they were harried and pressured by Bristol so things went awry a bit too much for a time in the first half. Apart from the first 10 and the last 10, we didn’t put too much together that half.

    As I said last week, some other team was likely to be a different proposition to Norwich … and I think it worked out that way a bit.

  75. JG…

    I think a number of players were probably trying to do a bit too much, today, taking on an extra man, making too many moves, missing the simpler, quicker ball. Probably a bit of over-confidence if anything. That’s what the new additions will have to work on, leveling out emotion, letting the game come to them. Elmo? Well, I was thinking Adomah should’ve come on, but we spent the sub on Samba, and Bjarnason did make an impact on the other side.

  76. Can’t argue with putting on a fresh striker and winger at the end…was defo going for the three points, and they were there. Just couldn’t quite grab them.

    And I think JL’s right about Bristol’s tenacity. We turned them a number of times, just didn’t make it count.

  77. JC
    Elmo could do with a rest, anyway. I hope Davis’ hammy is okay and he gets paired up front with Hogan, Hourihan just behind. Green and some of the other youngsters.
    Samba did his job for the time he was on there, especially with all the pressure.
    JT still has a bit to improve. I believe given the chance this Villa team will improve a lot.

  78. 3-5-2 according to Bruce in his after match chat on the pitch is a more solid set up. That kind of says he set up defensively and it showed. Can we say Bristol penned us in ? or did we just sit there and take the odd chance to break? I think its the latter. Why waist 40 minutes of the 90? we don’t at home why away?

    To me three CB’s and sitting back looked like a big overreaction to citys CF who’s 6’3″ but caused no problems all night, second half when we felt safe to come out from behind the sofa we really could of beaten this lot. Having 3 CB’s dictated at least one sub to be used to get back to our Norwich formation, Ideally I would of liked to have seen Adoamah on for elmo to add to the other subs made but couldn’t due to a tactical error/experiment.

  79. jc
    yes wasted sub was big problem, second playing 352 meant again to many players in our own half,not supporting strikers,green got the ball davies and houriane only support,take ooamh scored but what did he do

  80. why after signing jt do we need to give him cover either side to make us stronger,surely with money spent ,players brought we should be dominating teams attacking with wingers ,houriane following up,

  81. JG…

    I’ll have to watch again, more closely, focus on individual players. Saw Onomah have a few good moments on the ball there in the 2nd, but can’t speak to his overall performance. But obviously, the one moment was worth a point in the end.

    Another thing that stood out was the long ball wide right Bristol kept having joy with. Taylor is more solid than Amavi was defensively, but wondering if we shouldn’t be looking to upgrade there as well, at least give him competition, have an alternative. Maybe it’s Clark, and that’s that.

    Not saying the space in front of Taylor was his fault, though. Just wondering about the lack of cover when we can discuss so many options in virtually every other position.

  82. Mark,

    In theory, I don’t have a problem with 3-5-2. If you’ve got three mobile CBs, it’s fine and can obviously be attacking in intent.

    But…seemed odd to change formation like that (understand what’s being said about the CF) on the day when we haven’t played it yet this season, and when Taylor’s not a wing back. Add to that the lack of pace with Terry and Samba, and it seems to invite a lot of problems.

    Lot of words to say I don’t know that we’ve got the players to make 3-5-2 work.

  83. jc
    didnt mean to seem i was picking on ooamh ,like to watch teams that you know where each player plays
    352 under little we had mobile centre halfs pus god,width came from fbs with nice mix in midfield
    442 under ron was well set up
    442 under mon strong defence with fast wingers and carew
    bruce 40 matches in havent a clue what he prefers

  84. JC 3-5-2 No I don’t think we have the players mate (maybe with a little youthful pace Suliman?) and why change a winning formula anyway? what happened to the Villa way? or is it the Villa away way? to much bullshine being spoken and swallowed and to much made of our away record.

    Tomorrows another day why not approach it differently instead of inviting pressure, I feel he will continue like this until Kodjia is back. Every game I’m hearing how hard it is yadda yadda truly he is lucky to be in the job. RDM sacked for having no backbone well perhaps he needed better excuses, players wages came rolling out tonight?? every game he seems to wallow in the past, Bristols manager came on and gave a tactical analysis of the game and the commentator said that you can tell Bristol have a coach for a manager with their movement and passing, what does that say?

    Biggest question has to be why didn’t Bristol fear the mighty Villa?

  85. JG- Nope and switching to 352 after pre-season neither does he, there’s me thinking pre-season was for cementing your game plan? instead we have played half a dozen players that we are selling and are still doing it in the cup WTF?

  86. MK,

    As usual a pretty good summary from MOMS, and hopefully Elmo will not feature over Adomah, but not sure I agree that Onamah was as good as they say, but perhaps he appeared to shine more with the lack of an O’Hare or a Doyle-Hayes to provide the passes for Davies and Hourihane.

    I just hope that Dr Tony is not so impressed with Bruce’s bu*****t, and lays things on the line…..

  87. wouldnt it be great to be fit to sit down watch match on the box and for once in such a long time be confident that
    1 we will play well
    2 be set up right
    3 subs will be at right time
    4 we will score more than 1 goal
    5 our right back will be half decent
    6our midfielders can tackle pass and score
    7 wingers that can beat a man whip in a cross
    8 our striking options dont include gabby
    9 have a manager comes out after match and gives a proper interview not mubo jumbo like last number have done
    please santa its all i want

  88. So,SB only changed the 3 at the back because of injury?So it was really working up to that point,it was really working well wasn’t it?Jeeeeezzz, am I really expected to believe this?I give up I really do.Why was there no provision on the bench for this?Players get injured all the time.
    We have a manager who wanted to change the away hoodoo,confront the away losing mentality.So he appproached it,by playing an unfamiliar formation utilising players who are not suitable for said system,and conceded space and posesssion to a strong home team?I give up.What’s next versus Brentford?7 at the back and two goalkeepers to preserve our unbeaten home record this season.Give me a break,stop expecting me to swallow such sh$$$.

  89. B6
    One would think that Terry at age 36 wouldn’t have the legs for three at the back. Chester and Samba were having to work overtime. Samba wouldn’t be used to what he was asked to do, but put in a credible performance until injured, especially with Villa being under the cosh for much of the first half.

  90. For what it’s worth I agree with Bruce that their goal should have been disallowed. It looked so obvious to me at the time I was shouting at the tv screen.
    Having said that, I did think they should have had a penalty too for the handball (but Johnson would have saved that and we should have won 1-0 eh )

  91. I don’t mind Bruce trying a different formation as long as he changes it when it isn’t working (as he did). Without Baker and Jedinak we’re looking a bit vulnerable to injury in the centre of defence though so it seems a strange choice to risk 3 players on the pitch.
    Mind you . . . maybe we’ll end up having to play youngsters there when the oldies get injured and we’ll discover even more latent talent within our ranks!

  92. Robbo- Like Clark? praised by Bruce for being able to play anywhere across the back on tues or Suliman the England U20 cup winner? Bedeau a player we bought from Bury with rave reviews

    “Like thousands of other talented footballers, Jacob Bedeau was released into the footballing wilderness at the age of 16 after temporarily seeing his dreams shattered by Leyton Orient.

    But fast-forward six months and Aston Villa had beaten off competition from Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool to land the defender, who was watched by 27 scouts during one of his final outings for Bury.”

    http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/aston-villa-rookie-jacob-bedeau-12888632

  93. Brasil- We are choking on it at present. at least the wage ones new but the one about these experienced players not understanding what he’s telling them to do yet? let alone the others players that he bought in Jan? I suppose the youth are totally confused as they are still trying to pass and move and play football. Maybe what he wants them to do is the no longer working in this league which seems transformed to me from the hoofball it used to be not so long ago, teams are fit and tough sure but they play with the ball and have a plan. Wonder how many of the opposition have decided to change formation when meeting us?

    Wagner last season brought in 12 players and they miraculously learnt what he wanted in the Summer and hardly lost a game up to xmas.

    PP- looked to me that Onanmah like davis was Isolated so was at least trying to make runs but the rest of the team stayed put for most of the match, I am beginning to wonder why we bought wheelan and I am sure he is to.

    Robbo- forgot Toner touted for the Ireland side out on loan though.

  94. Mark
    We’ve found something we can agree on here. Those are exactly the players I had in mind.
    I know we’ve built up our youth players far too much in the past and then been disappointed but I believe that three things are different now:
    1) We have some youth players with genuine talent that are being scouted by premier league teams and up to now we’ve done well to retain the likes of Green and RHM and recruit new players like Bedeau.
    2) We are playing in the championship rather than aspiring to thrive in the premiership (for now) so this should provide a better environment in which these players can cut their teeth and thrive
    3) We have a well coached youth set up AND now a management team that want a playing ethos that runs through the club.

    I confess to having been prepared to forgo the last one of these in order for Bruce to demonstrate his proven (and unparalleled) skills of getting teams out of this division. What has changed for me is that these young players are increasingly showing that they are ready ‘now’ to help us achieve promotion.

    I know you’ve banged the drum for Wagner right from the start and I agree with you completely. He would get the best out of this current batch of players ( I still wish you’d stop mentioning RDM though because he was not in the same class as Wagner and was to all appearances a broken and failed manager for us)

    Can we find another Wagner though . . . . there aren’t so many of them, which is why he stands out from the crowd!

  95. Robbo- I only Mention RDM as he is all we have to compare with the Bruce era? and beings he wasn’t given 40+ games while achieving average to below average results like bruce, I think harsh to judge him on what he would of done but he was never my choice nor was I impressed with him. In the ganme away to Bristol last season we should of been 3 up by 50 mins and were leading and it was Jedinaks first game pre Kodjia.

    I do think as it seems to be baring out now we changed tack to defensive totally (bar a couple of games) when maybe a tweak to our attacking game and midfield would suffice, the two approaches like chalk and cheese. Scoring enough was the problem under RDM as well as Bruce, now even when he is shown the way he seems not to grasp the nettle.

    Point 2 is the most salient, I think its better to blood and form a younger side in this division rather than go up with an old side to rebuild yet again. A team should of been formed to help introduce the players we had coming through even last season (we have sold many who are just solid players) instead the remit was get us up and still is but the real path keeps coming back to haunt us. I hope we have now not waisted 2 seasons.

  96. Robbo- would be nice to drop on a Wagner but really there are many in this league that have to play their youth, Grayson, smith, johnson, Heckingbottom all know this league and play attacking football similar to our academy. I mentioned Warnock when we were linked with Bruce and if we wanted promotion then he has something that Bruce does not have “Crisis club management ”
    he has been there and done it for the unlikeliest of teams. I suspect Bruce being unemployed and 4 times promotion was all to obvious a choice.

  97. Good comments Robbo and MK,
    I agree about the lack of service for Onomah, what was going on with a crazy set up, where Whelan and El hamadi failed to give any service, and Chester was really uncomfortable, and very unhappy at taking throw -ins.

    I am concerned that he is willing to let Elphick go, when an injury to Terry, or worse still Chester, and we will be struggling. Terry seems almost a disaster in this team, even Samba is a better player, and the number of questionable handball decisions surrounding Terry, does not bode well.

  98. PP- the doc has said September is crucial in a tweet. To be fair there are 5-6 winnable matches with Middlesbrough being the only top contender involved and that’s at home. If we don’t win the majority of those I would be amazed.

  99. mk
    and if we dont win 4/5 what is doc going to do, i dont get praise for bruce for changing it at half time the harm was done starting with 11 he did,read somewhere shots where equalfor both sides i cant remember many of villas troubling keeper,and the fawning over signing snodgrass i had to check was there another player with same name

  100. Well lose and he’s gone JG but it really is on paper a much easier run of games so don’t expect it. I just hope he comes to the realisation that he’s found the golden goose potentially and doesn’t kill it with his negativity about how bad villa have been. That imo is just an excuse.

  101. Mark,I am utterly astonished that a manager with perhaps 600 games under his belt as a gaffer,played 3 CBs on a whim “because I’ve used it at other clubs”,and nobody is questioning it.He wasted 30 minutes of the match faffing around with 3 CBs,30 minutes in which Brizzie were handed the initiative.An opportunity wasted to win a game.

  102. Brasil- yes thats experience for you apparently, what appears to be missing imo is the vision to see how the players he has may or may not suit a system. Buy players to suit your system not buy them then find the system. Even now when shown that 442 4411 suits ( if we try and win the game ) he went back to what he knows and not what he has seen, or at least what the majority of people are seeing.

  103. I will add he does go through a lot of players at clubs he’s managed despite the talk about the huge turnover of players we have had he’s carried on. The answer to depressed players on halved wages? sell them apparently even though nine of the players he inherited were new and others like Westwood,Gardner not really a problem. I am hugely disappointed with him because despite him not being my cup of tea tactically I did expect him to do much better with the money and squad.

  104. As my son-in-law, an avid Chelsea fan pointed out, the system that failed, was playing with Terry in the centre of three centre backs. Terry was dropped, the system changed, and Chelsea went on to win the Premiership……

    Perhaps Bruce does not take in what happens elsewhere, and just lives in Bruce’s World!

  105. This is an old thought provoking article by Gary Neville on Manures Academy in his time, no separation and a culture with the coaches knowing what the first team Requires. That may be exactly why our academy has not worked out, along with longevity of Managers, role models have been few and the style played by the youth team does not mirror the first teams or managers requirements. At this point even the first team don’t get what the manager wants according to him? how the hell can a culture be tailored to that? exactly why all efforts should of been made originally on purchase to find that manager and style we want to emulate or produce and give it time. I don’t know if Bruce can be that manager?He played in that atmosphere with Fergie but he certainly has never been in that position before himself as a manager and his style for me does not mirror any Villa way I would want.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-united/11289726/Premier-League-academies-must-be-more-than-just-obscene-cosmetic-surgery.html

  106. Perhaps Neville could be the answer to our prayers, and the next Villa manager, now he has had a dabble at it. He surely would have to be an improvement on Bruce…..we are already in a relegation battle 5 games into the season.

  107. Bruce did change out of the 3-5-2 before the half, so credit for at least seeing it wasn’t working. Though I think we all agree it was a rather strange moment to put out something like that in the first place.

    What would make us much tougher is someone with Whelan’s attributes who’s just younger. He’s a touch off the pace, and while I admire the effort, positioning, combativeness, he isn’t quite the stopper we need anchoring things.

    Given the way we’re now getting forward with Davis, Green, and Hourihane, we need someone in the middle who can take the central midfielder on the counter and shut him down. We’ve never replaced Milner, and that’s been a big weak spot.

  108. Good to see that the depressing MK and PP blog is thriving but I think I agree with JL …… don’t really see the point of responding to the comments as most of what me or JL or other say is twisted and misread to suit others viewpoint. The Worldwide blog seems to be more balanced in what is said and people can have different viewpoints but still see others reasoning. I’ve tried on here but don’t see the point the any more. Maybe myself and JL should start another blog lol …….
    All the best,
    Oldvilla

  109. OV
    How’s life treating you?
    Na, it isn’t depressing here, especially when you post. It always puts a smile on my face. Your little pearls of wisdom are always appreciated.
    Hope married life is agreeing with you.

  110. OV- You confuse me mate, for one thing you have never engaged me particularly on any points I throw up? you generally choose a personal attack involving me being a depressive character and how its effecting you. Well I find it strange that someone like you with first hand experience of depression would choose to address someone else(you claim is depressed) in the way you do knowing the harm it can do.

    Really does me wonders to know what I have to say is completely worthless, Feel free not to respond or talk to me if you wish as JL has because it might well cheer me up not to get chirpy abuse no matter how its put.

  111. JL
    Thanks for snding the link. I notice Snodgrass complained about being played out of position and a lack of communication at WHU. I also saw commentors claiming he is a poor-average player.
    Best of luck to him, but I hope youngsters get a go first.

  112. I have a fledgling wood pigeon in my garden that appears abandoned or its mother dead. I have tried to feed it seed but the poor bugger doesn’t know what to eat. Normally they stick with the mother and copy what they do. I have tried putting seed out to attract other pigeons but they attack him when he tries to join in (know how he feels 🙂 ) any suggestions? I think bread which I don’t usually have might work, worried he might starve he’s been here a week.

  113. Iana- well he will play regardless I think, Onamah as good as he is is preferred to our youth players, I think he will play 10 or RW so Green, Ohare and maybe even Hourihane will lose game time, shame.

  114. Iana- Mikes out I called him first thanks 🙂 it can fly but chooses to sit in dangerous places in cat infested territory so catching it is not so easy although I can get within 3 feet of it.I have bought it some Warburtons lest see how that goes. nearest rescue centre about 15 miles away not sure they would bother with a pigeon.

  115. OV,

    I think there’s plenty to be positive about in what we’re seeing over the last week. And, really, all anyone is looking for is progress.

    We often have to remind ourselves that everyone wants Villa to do well. There’ll be lots of disagreement on how to get there. And as usual where we even are at a given moment.

    When I thought McLeish wasn’t the worst thing in the world, I got hammered for it. When things went worse, McLeish was elevated to the second-worst thing ever behind Lambert. Over the long haul, it’s good for a laugh.

    With only limited attention to spare to other teams, I can’t really comment on anyone else’s woes…But Villa’s been quite a story the last several years.

  116. Snodgrass had a go at Bilic for playing him out of position as he apparently prefers the right or at 10.
    Mark I think you’ve got a point considering how many right wingers we have & the loss of game time for o’hare & houlihane, wit Grealish to come.

  117. Don’t worry too much about the pigeon MK. It may be the weather, as my cat is always looking for the next meal, but the last couple of days she is just content to sunbathe in the garden

    Had more discussions with my Chelsea mates about John Terry, and they all say he is a left sided player, does not like playing in the middle or right of a back three. Cahill is the same, but a little more versatile. He is still struggling to fit in with what Bruce wants him to do. He needs time.

    How many more of Bruce’s ex’s will we end up with, and agree with the earlier comments about Green, O’Hare, Doyle-Hayes, Grealish and Davis. These boys need to be playing and challenging the Snodgrass’s, Whelan’s and El hamadi’s

    The next two games will be crucial if we are going to mount any challenge, and try and catch the pacesetters.

  118. Jl,

    Have read the Snodgrass article on Claret & Hue, let’s hope that Bruce does not let him down, as it has seemed that since being here, Bruce has tended to play people out of position, and this maybe based on his attitude that most of the players are capable of playing in several positions, rather than using them in their best role.

  119. PP- think it must of come to my Garden with its parents as it just comes back and sits there, tries the odd leaf but is generally clueless, the other pigeons come to clear up the seed under my bird feeder so I assume he’s one of there’s, heartbreaking to see him approach them and get attacked, I might have to buy a big pigeon suit and train him 😉

  120. Hi M King, good comments.

    I’ve been reading but not posting. Kind of got fed up with the game and all of the stupid wages. I remember guys like Peter Withe from the ’80’s, true class hard footballers that earned s**g all. Anywy, it is what it is…..how long the money will last is another question.

    I was disappointed with the Bristol City game. They were there for the taking. To me they looked very average and we sat off too much. Bree must be given a run of games at RB. I was all for the Terry signing as I thought his experience would rub off – how stupid I am. Bring back BOTH Baker and Clark…..have we really got 2 better center halfs now….NO we don’t.

    Whelan looks dire. My advice to him – I gave up playing in my early 30’s as I became too slow…..hang up the boots my son

    My last job…Steer is our best goalie…why take Man U lad again!

    Strikers looks great

  121. Really liked listening to Gary Neville talking about Arsenal and Wenger, and how he feels as an ex-professional, and Tierre Henri makes a lot of sense to, pointing out about preparation against each team and setting up. Something I feel Bruce does not do, and then the players let him down because he has not set up correctly.

  122. angel_8 good to hear from you mate, can’t argue with what you say, we appear to be the only side that does sit back in this league. last couple of games we shut the teams down and pressed what happened to that? got fed up watching Hourihane and Davis fruitlessly running from man to man, thats how to knacker your own players out press individually. keep posting mate.

    Nice to see Huddersfield are doing ok in the prem they really should of beaten Southampton, just could not get past the Keeper, Wagner has rebuilt them again with good results it seems.

  123. “The boss purposely targeted players with Premier League experience to stop Villa from being bullied in times ahead.

    And as he prepares to welcome back Mile Jedinak this week after a lengthy injury, Bruce reckons his group is now starting to take shape.

    “We’ve missed Jedinak and his personality,” he said.

    “He is one of them who leads by example.

    “With the likes of Taylor, Terry, Elmohamady, Whelan – all of those people I have brought to the club, we will be okay.

    “I am convinced of that.

    “They are used to performing under pressure and they have the experience to handle it.

    “They know how to deal with it when it gets tough.”

    Villa were outfought at times last season and Bruce was desperate to change things around.

    He signed players who performed well at their former clubs in the Championship but was also keen to get players with top-flight experience to help Villa over the line.

    “The reason why people are Championship players and not Premier League players is because they go up and down very quickly.

    “If they can’t stay at a high level, that’s why they play in the Championship.

    “Not just ability-wise, it’s a mentality too.”

  124. mk
    terry uncomfortable and less vocal,i would guess he has seen all types of managers at chelsea and none like bruce same with players have ivanovic as right back for 6/7 years then you get hutton,makele in front now he had bacuna

  125. JG like jC said you gotta hope he comes good and adjusts, lower standards around him were always going to be a problem that surely Bruce would of thought about?

  126. mk
    can bruce think,its either sign upteen players and hope you can pick 11 from it,try every formation even when winning,never seen any masterplan from him at any club

  127. Mark,

    Agreed. I’d expected a much different presence on the pitch from JT.

    JG makes a good point about what he’s used to. That may have hidden some decline for longer than at another club.

  128. And I don’t know what to make of Snodgrass. We’re very heavy on the right now, and while Bruce was talking about his versatility, there’s Snodgrass saying Bilic kept playing him out of position and that his position is wide right.

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