Football is a game, right? Although it might be heresy to say football is “just” a game. If nothing else, supporters identify with their team. And when you identify with a team, how they play is going to affect you to some degree or another. It’s personal. Whether it should be or not.

And because the last few years have seen Villa circling the toilet before finally being flushed, Villans, looking for answers to what’s been degrading their sense of identity, have seemingly had to fall into either a pro/anti camp regarding the manager or ownership. It’s what we do.

But that sort of thinking misses the mark right now. To my mind, the only meaningful question is where can we reasonably expect to be at this moment. Which inevitably makes you pro or anti something.

Villa carry big expectations, deserved or not. And that drives the argument. Are the expectations unfounded and undermining the team, or do high expectations set a standard for excellence?

As I’ve said before, I don’t really care who the manager is. Whether it was O’Neill, Houllier, McLeish, Lambert, Sherwood, Garde, Di Matteo, or Steve Bruce, I’ve wanted all of them to succeed. And I’ve rated each of their chances to varying degrees based on timing and circumstance. I didn’t really care how it got done, because at the end of the day, I agree with Tony Xia that results are all that matter. I also agree with Xia’s implication that the time for excuses is over.

Some think where we’re at at the moment is entirely reasonable. Some don’t. If you think the current state is about right, then perhaps you’re more realistic. If you think it isn’t, perhaps you’re guilty of asking too much.

The flip side would be that those thinking the state of the Villa is okay and more time and patience are needed are being a bit naive, and those asking for more are the ones being realistic.

Either camp could be right.

I’ve been leaning toward the side that thinks we should be doing better, based on the nature of our performances in 43 games under Bruce. So, as we’ve said for many years now, it’s signs of progress I’m more interested in, as that’s what tells me whether Bruce can do the job.

Which brings us to Brentford at home. A fixture that most of us believe, right or wrong, should be an automatic W. Me, I think it should be, regardless of what’s gone on before today. We’ve spent enough. We have enough quality to be beating anyone in this league.

Does that mean we will? No. And that, for me, is the fundamental issue.

September has been labeled a critical month for Villa and Steve Bruce. I can’t disagree. We’ve a number of entirely winnable fixtures ahead of us. It’s a congested set of fixtures, but we have the necessary depth. The measure of Bruce will be taken now, because we simply should be winning far more games. In short, it’s time to put up or shut up.

I really want Bruce to succeed, because that’s best for Villa, obviously. Looking at results and performances in his tenure leads me to wonder whether he will.

I should also add, somewhat parenthetically, that I don’t think you’re not behind the team if you think Alan Hutton or Gabby Agbonlahor, for example, shouldn’t be starting. What you’re doing there is questioning the manager’s judgment, and the players’ contributions, based on what you’ve seen on the pitch. I’m pretty sure that unless you’re talking about one of the super squads, virtually every set of supporters has the same questions.

Anyway, September is here, and Bruce’s future will, it seems, likely be decided this month. It’s been an up-and-down start, but Villa have to lay down a marker if we’re going to take this season seriously. And what season shouldn’t be taken seriously? Which means that what Bruce does will be a sure sign of what he believes the winning formula to be. If Villa don’t produce, then…?

As always, I’ll be cheering on the side. I’ll be rooting for every player to have a great game, whoever starts. But if we are once again disappointed, I can’t promise that I’ll be charitable.

Over to you.

Comments 110

  1. John C
    “…the last few years have seen Villa circling the toilet before finally being flushed, Villans, looking for answers to what’s been degrading their sense of identity,..”
    Classicly said.
    You’re right. You should be a football psychologist. That said after being a Villan for so long, you might need to be the patient sometimes like the rest of us, especially John L and IanG.
    It is a very interesting period indeed because, as you and TX have said, this is a month where so much will be revealed. Make or break September will live on in memory.
    Villa 3-1.

  2. JC,

    No, I see something a little different to the options you list. 😉

    I actually don’t think the current situation is ‘OK’, but I do think that we have lately seen developments taking place which – hopefully- we’ll see the benefit of in the next few weeks.

    I don’t hold that 43 games under Bruce has too much to do with where we are except that that’s the time it’s taken for him to get a proper team off the ground. As I said last week, we lost miserably at Bristol last year (at the same time in the season) but this time around we were holding up a lot better and against (arguably) a better Bristol side. And I believe it will get a lot more better.

    What is it that I keep on saying? “We shall see…!”

  3. jc
    first class post
    as for brentford flash harry took 3 players on deadline day so should be lot weaker,bruce allowed no more excuses for me on team selection formation results

  4. if this month doesn’t go so well, I can see Xia pulling the trigger on Bruce, which would be nice. He’s been with us 10/11 months now and it’s not good, lets be honest

    At work today so wont make the game, but I imagine it will be 451, Whelan and JEDI both starting. Park that bus Bruce

    I wouldn’t be so against the next 3 games going horribly wrong if it means Bruce goes, I really don’t like the guy. I don’t like his football, I don’t like how he kept going on about no money in the summer, or how our expectations are to high. What a twat

  5. Great leader JC and sure to cause much debate.

    Myself I can see the need for both urgency and Patience, The clock is ticking on villa’s funds and its ability to churn over the Squad, our wage bill is huge still and lets face it Dr Xia started his tenure in a rush to not only be in the prem but winning it and the Champs league. If thats not setting expectation levels then what is? That led to the appointment of RDM as a grand gesture just as the self promotion machine John Terry has turned up to save us this season, mistake number one.

    We then go for the specialist in this division (who’s so specialist he only aims for second or play offs) Are there managers out there that can do it with any club any situation in short order? probably not. Bruce is trying his best to replicate Hull at this point after his first attempt in Jan failed to acquire goals and use Gabby to plug a gap in Jan without much idea how that would go together, that is Mistake two.

    Mistake 3 was not blooding the youth in the last couple of months of last season, if we had I think it may of shaped the buying/plan this season a little, the focus from Bruce was finding a forward/goals so he tried Davis and the ever injured Hepburn- Murphy was looked at and moaned about while ignoring the rest of the youth Players (yes they were this good last season). A place on the bench showed us nothing of what they could bring, a spark. We now have a lack lustre start punctuated by evidence there inclusion is a godsend only to carry on down the experience is best route. We are told we missed out on a further 2 prem players before deadline and with the seniors to come back I think Bruce will head that direction.

    For me we are a step behind where we could of been with some foresight and a more progressive manager more tactically astute and able to formulate a plan to use what we had and add judiciously to it. For all the talk of Villa way etc I can’t say I have seen what the Bruce way is, I think his inflexibility to adapt a different style has cost us and thats why I’m impatient, Dr Xia had no plan as such and neither had Wyness, Round, Bruce, RDM etc only now is it being formulated.

  6. A good piece JC.
    ME.Well,I would welcome an unconvincing gritty 1 nil today,all that matter is the points not how you acquire them.
    Anyone can beat anyone in this division.
    Last night Hull had more possession 58£ to 42%.
    More shots 18 to 15 I think and more corners.
    They got battered 5 nil,played well by all accounts.
    The difference..? Finishing,we have Hogan,a proven finisher at this level,why not use him?After all I keep reading SB has the track record in the Championship,well so do some player too.

  7. mk
    i think your third point is the one that shows bruce up most park the bus even when season is over
    just imagine if deadly had sold to arabs instead of lerner ,augero top non european goal scorer he could been wearing claret and blue instead of gabby

  8. JG – prior to buying us Recon were looking at Southampton a team with a structure they would of mostly left alone bar injecting some cash. We however had no structure/ ethos/team even, trying to bounce that back was a mistake. Someone has to have that initial idea and direction and we lacked that or at least recon had no idea. A manager to implement some structure and a two year plan would of suited our position to my mind. The focus and the type of manager employed was wrong. Don’t even want to think about Arabs mate 🙂

  9. only reason i was city are on sky ,they have 6/7/8 players attacking all the time ,3 supposedly defenders bruce would have nightmares about managing them fullbacks getting crosses into box not row z ala hutton

  10. JL
    Looks like a pretty sensible selection for today. Good experienced bench. Hope the younger guys can do the job earlier on then bring older players on later if needed. That forward line lookes lethal.

  11. JL,

    Makes me think of Steamer every time I see you disagreeing with me. 🙂

    However he’s gotten there, Bruce seems to have seen what the rest of us have by sticking with the side that’s been most dynamic. I applaud him for that, whatever the result.

  12. Iana,

    Cheers…Had written something else, but didn’t put it up. Went out for a few beers with some guys from work last night, and you get flushing toilets.

  13. Very disjointed play for Villa, Brentford looking more composed on the ball, luckily not effective in the final third. We had a few half chances in the box but not taken.

  14. Oh well pretty much even Stevens at the half not exactly what I was expecting, Villa park Quiet and a bit of booing, lets hope Bruce fires them up for the second half, I expect to see Snodders on 60.

  15. Dreadful,Brentford’s 1st clean sheet in 15 games.
    18 shots on goal… AWAY side….we managed 1 shot on target,never mind, according to SB we have only played poorly for 45 mins at Cardiff.Next thing you know he’ll be pi££ing down my leg and tell me it’s raining.Times nearly up.

  16. Dr. Tony is certainy putting on the pressure. I’ve been working on the match review, which I won’t end up getting posted for a little bit, but Bruce was right to persist with Davis, Green and Hourihane. Questions for me on the day were Whelan, Elmo and perhaps Onomah.

    The performance was obviously lacking, and I don’t know that I can say how much of it was down to Bruce. Green’s substitution was obviously forced, but Bruce doesn’t seem to know how to change things up, and I’d have gone with Bjarnason over Gabby. Snodgrass offered nothing, which might be expected seeing as he’s not been playing much and just arrived, leaving one to wonder why Adomah has disappeared given that Elmo isn’t really setting the world on fire.

    Hogan? Well, you can see that change coming in the late stages, but we don’t know how to play to him (Elmo being the only one who seems to understand what’s needed).

    Anyway, I’ll stew on it a bit further while you all get there before me.

  17. Haven’t heard his after match spiel yet but apparently its all about how tired and jaded our players were particularly the young lads. Blames himself for the selection and now they are all injured, Davis has had hip problem for 10 days??? Onamah a groin pull green a hamstring problem.

    He then goes on to praise Middlesbrough our next opponents and their 4 clean sheets??? and how we will struggle to get something, its just excuse after excuse. Thats not to say we don’t have problems but no wonder there is no fight. sounding a lot like self preservation.

  18. Wrong selection at Bristol.Had to reshuffle after 20 mins.
    Wrong selection today,choosing tired,jsded,injured plyers.
    Not my opinion,Bruce has said this.
    Bizzare,muddled,incoherent and confusing in action and thought.
    Bruce out.

  19. JC: “Bruce was right to persist with Davis, Green and Hourihane.”

    Except that Bruce now says that the first two plus Onomah were all carrying knocks in this game. Better that they be rested for this game and played on Tu8esday I would have thought.

    Now it looks as though they’re not available for Tuesday.

  20. JC: “Hogan? Well, you can see that change coming in the late stages, but we don’t know how to play to him “

    I’m sorry, John, I don’t think he’s quick enough of mind … what chances we do give him he usually misses and then we say he doesn’t get chances. I think he had just the one today, but I think he should have done better with it – not necessarily have scored, but at least be in better command of the ball.

  21. Once again we see well run clubs,who have to sell their best players,come to VP and school us on possession,movement fluidity and thought.Johnstone has kept SB in his job today.
    I thought our MF were static, and nobody carried the ball,or wanted to,it was receive and get rid IMO.If in doubt bring on Gabby.Why?He has scored his annual goal.A bit unfair,I know,but he is anonymous,and just tuns in straight lines.Very little recovery now for Tuesday,he may have to play more teens.

  22. B6,

    SB is making noises about Codger playing on Tuesday if he gets through Monday’s spell on the pitch with the reserves.

    He did say it before today’s game, but in the light of what we know about the youngsters’ knocks it’s looking very likely he’ll be playing – perhaps as a sub.


    Why is Ena Sharples preferred to me? 😀

  23. I drifted off to sleep at around 2am local time. Just as well by the sound of it.
    Anyway, I see we are already 10 points adrift of the leader and still -2 in the goals department.
    SB knows draws won’t save his position at VP. He says he should have managed the youngsters fatigue better. Maybe. I wonder how international youngsters at other clubs went?

  24. JL I like the hair net. Nice touch. Something you should consider
    Talking of hair nets, Bruce should get one for his next job selling pies

  25. Gentlemen … vs M’boro on Tuesday…

    Do you remember a player we had called Traore? Do you remember his set up for Cil’s goal at Sunderland around 18 months ago?

    Well, he did it -twice -against Bolton today. He was absolutely devastating and set up 2 goals on a plate.

    On Tuesday, Taylor will have to play world class to stop him if he’s in that mood again.

    Oh, and Boro have Downing too. He’s still no slouch.

  26. It’s strange, isn’t it, how we let Albri go and now Traore.

    I for one could see something in Traore that would explode at some point. It looks as though he’s been ignited.

  27. As far as Hogan goes, it’s a natural move to change up the striker at that stage of the game. Hogan can score, he’s shown that. We’re not getting it out of him, obviously. But if you have him on the bench, the players out there are “tired and jaded,” he’s your only out-and-out striker, and you’ve not had a shot on goal, it’s a move most managers probably make.

    Now, not saying that him coming on inspired any confidence in me, but given the paucity of shots, etc., it’s a reasonable roll of the dice.

  28. Round in as interim manager now, get the Villa Way in the first team and see how good football will get results, better then the non-performances under Bruce.

  29. John C- the players don’t give a “f” and won’t until things change on the sideline. Everyone of them were successful until they came to Villa. They don’t forget how to play, just couldn’t be arsed.

    Is Round interim manager? I can’t find anything

  30. Know where you’re coming from Ian, and don’t disagree that’s what it looked like. Yet the same players looked lively enough against Norwich and Wigan, buying Bruce time.

  31. JL
    Your observations of Traore and Downing don’t bode well for Villa. Evidently Boro go in to Tuesday’s match as favourites.
    The Villa addicted will remain, but Xia must see all the potential Asian millions flying out the window rapidly.
    SB’s team selection looked good on paper…

  32. Ian
    Exactly. Extracting the potential is where the failure is. Some hark on ad nauseum about it, but it’s the apparent situation Villa are in. On to Boro, a must win for SB.

  33. JC,

    Of course Hogan was a natural sub. I don’t think I said he wasn’t.

    What I was saying is that I don’t rate him. You say “he’s shown that [how to score]” but he hasn’t with us – except against lower-level teams.

    I accept that the service to him hasn’t been too brilliant, but at the same time when he’s had chances he’s not impressed me at all … that chance yesterday being a case in point. The keeper’s mind was way ahead of Hogan’s.

  34. Iana: “On to Boro, a must win for SB.”

    Yes … but Bruce has got to find a way of stopping Traore. If Taylor can’t handle him then Terry won’t be quick enough to provide backup.

    Mind you, it seems that Snodgrass looked pretty decent yesterday … If he and Kodjia play that could be interesting, but to expect too much from Kodjia just now would obviously be a wrong thing to do.

  35. JL
    Yes, expecting instant miracles from Kodjia wouldn’t be right for numerous reasons. Like the rest of us, I was hoping the lack of an established striking partnership would have been sorted by now.
    Snodgrass at #10 and Adomah back on the wing?

  36. Jimmy danger is playing 45 mins Monday night and I expect he will be playing the next league game on tues if he gets through probably on the bench as Bruce has already intimated. Bruce is a desperate man and he has form for playing unfit players at other Clubs The comments about having to play tired players and injured ones yesterday says it all.

    Its no good trying to play Hogan in a Bruce set up ,Hogan has an astounding scoring record, 21 goals in 27 games for Brentford, 42 in 78 games in his league career and 5 goals in 7 cup games. Clearly Bruce has no clue how to service him and the blindingly obvious thing is he scores freely when paired with Ohare, Doyle hayes and a more attack minded team. If he had been on the pitch for Brentford I am pretty sure he would of put away a couple of there 18 chances. worryingly our central defence and DM are worse than last season. The only way to stop Traore is don’t let them have the ball or an easy pass to him so we are stuffed if we play our usual tactics.

    Aston Villa V Wigan
    de Laet

  37. So its all the youngsters faults then? don’t get the logic, the fans booed the team performance which includes Bruce.

    “I understand their frustration, of course I do,” Bruce told BBC WM. “I wear it on my sleeve like they do. There’s nobody more disappointed than I am.

    “Just to remind them we’ve got four 19 and 20-year-olds playing, which is a lot and they do need their help a touch. I agree the performance wasn’t good enough so they’re entitled to boo, I understand that, I could boo myself – but they need encouragement.

    Rookies James Bree, Josh Onomah, Andre Green and Keinan Davis all started yesterday’s stalemate, but only the former completed the 90 minutes.

    Bruce will attend the under-23s’ match with Southampton on Monday evening to watch star man Jonathan Kodjia complete his first 45 minutes of football in over four months.

    Bruce added: “It’s a big game on Monday for Kodj to see if he can get through it. If he can play 45 minutes, can he then play some part of the game on Tuesday night?”

    Australian midfielder Mile Jedinak made his long-awaited return to the Villa bench following groin surgery for yesterday’s match and could be in line for his first start of the season against Boro, while Robert Snodgrass is expected to start.

  38. Well that was hard to watch , a bloke said “ballbag face done us a favour buying their best player or they would have murdered us , Bruce is f**king lucky today ” , and l had to agree , l don’t really blame the players at the moment l blame him , he hasn’t got a plan z never mind a plan A , as lv said before , l never wanted him , but as stated on here ,”who is going to come here ? ” , at the moment lm in it for the company of my old mates and the cider , not bothering in the week as lm going to Barnsley , think going to need a few braindeaders Saturday ,
    Frem good to see your post , l did text and email you months ago ,have you changed numbers ,
    OV great to read you know Dee Harris of the Band Fashion , best brummie ever IMO , saw them when they came out in a bar /winebar in brim off corporation street ,
    Oh and steamer would probably be banned off here tonight after watching that yesterday ,
    Jenny xxxxxx
    Enjoy your Sunday all

  39. vs. Brentford

    There’s 10+ minutes of extended highlights at

    What I saw from that was (of course) not going to give me the whole picture, but what it did show was that when it came to finishing Villa were completely lacklustre.

    Six (6) good chances went begging after quite good build-ups. And three first-half chances of those were missed by the youngsters Onomah and Davis.

    Frankly, when it came to finishing they looked as though they hadn’t recovered from 2 weeks holiday, but of course some of them had been in action, international-wise.

    Having seen it, I think it was a case of if Villa had scored from one of those chances early on the whole game might have been very different.

    Having seen Hogan’s chance three times, I almost think he’d been paid to give the keeper chance to get the ball! No… just like Hickson at Villa all those 60 years ago, Hogan is a mismatch i.m.o. It happens. If he left he’d probably do very well with another Fulham-type club.

    Codger and Davis look like Villa’s best hopes as strikers, but Davis needs to get one under his belt.

    Hey ho, 2 days before we see Traore and Downing…

  40. “just like Hickson at Villa all those 60 years ago, Hogan is a mismatch i.m.o. It happens. If he left he’d probably do very well with another Fulham-type club.”

    As, indeed, Derek Pace did for Sheffield United after he left Villa. Pace was a good player but just short of something at VP. Same for Derek Dougan – he was massive with Wolves.

  41. Jl- then we are clearly no further forward than under RDM as far as finishing is concerned but creating far less. Kodjia has the ability to generate his own as does adomah. so as they are either injured or not playing something is very wrong with our play. Incredibly we have 5 of the divisions highest assist and chance creators, hourihane snodgrass, adomah, Lansbury and McCormack .

  42. MK,

    With the difference that we did score 4 – twice – with Villa’s league cup progress this season a few levels above last year’s Luton performance.

    You can look at results and their similarity until we’re blue in the face, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. We’re in a better state than this time last year, definitely, but the question for me is when will it be translated into promotion form.

    With the injury list we now have (up front in particular) and Traore in the form he is it may well be we have to suffer a reverse on Tuesday … but perhaps it can then get turned round.

    We still have to see how the whole of September develops before we can truly make jusgments.

  43. Mark,dontchajust love the acrid stench of panic eminating from SB’s rear end?That is where it would appear he is speaking from.
    He is clutching to the youngsters excuse.Look at the ages of the teams thriving in the division,there are plenty of teens and lads 20,21 doing very well in the Championship..
    Brentford had Henry 20,Ganos 19,Maupy 21, etc.why is itonly Bruce that whinges about the youth in the side.?The Championship is full of ’em.Some sides with tiny resources prrobably have 17 year olds on the bench Only SB is blaming international week,lots of sides have experienced this.Why is SB whinging about injuries?All sides will have their best players out at some point.
    Bruce out he’s had 40 odd games,please,I can’t hear the stabilitymyth again.Lets be nice and stable at 16th shall we? Hooray.Have a good week all.

  44. ST75 -“OV great to read you know Dee Harris of the Band Fashion , best brummie ever IMO , saw them when they came out in a bar /winebar in brim off corporation street ,”

    Hi, hope the beer and meeting the lads was better than the game yesterday.
    I was at Infant, Junior and Secondary school with Dave Harris so have known him many years. Fashion wasnt completely my cup of tea like most of the 80’s music but thought Dave was pretty sound in it. I’ll have a word with him and see what he can dig up for you mate. Maybe some old momentos or music …….


  45. JL- The two 4 nil games came with almost entirely different line ups and level of opposition, we beat Rotherham 3-0 second game last season what difference did it make? And the Luton game while shocking was just a chance for RDM to assess the likes of Richards etc.

    Surely with this being the crunch month for Bruce you would expect to have seen more fight from us and him but?? I don’t buy into the theory we will magically suddenly gell and become world-beaters. We are constantly tactically out manoeuvred. The two games we won well looked like us just having a go rather than being fearful vs any grand scheme from the manager, they were not even the players he would of liked to have picked, thats why I have no faith in him to get it right to the extent we will challenge.

    So far Bruce has made two big statements, In Jan it was we need goals from midfield cue influx of mid-fielders and Hogan and awful run until Kodj and jedi returned.

    Then this season the missing ingredient was prem experience to help us manage games, if this was truly the answer surely we would not be getting a lesson from Brentford at home? as it is we are awaiting Kodj and jedi’s return again in hope it sparks something, nothing has changed.

  46. Just watched the highlights, truly misleading as we appeared to be all over Brentford in the first half but the big stand out was the quality of our chances, we had half chances at best apart from Chester in acres at the end. Brentford carved themselves 4 gilt edge chances.

    The only problem I saw when Hogan burst into the box was the lack of a runner into the space near post which he looked up expecting, hourihane I think was other side of the goal behind 3-4 players and Whelan just inside the area, can’t see what else he could of done, no point passing into an empty area so he delayed.

    still onward to tues with three youth players out I wonder who he will play? I reckon thor for green, Snodgrass in behind Hogan if he doesn’t chance Kodjia.

  47. As always, I just cannot see where you’re coming from … but c’est la vie! 😀

    You say we beat Rotherham 3-0 … but they got relegated and were a push-over, and yet you said that Norwich were a good team when I suspected their defence!!

    And as for Hogan, he was still deciding how to control the ball, his mind hadn’t got to thinking about where the ball was going to go!!

    Ah, well, it’s all good fun…

  48. JL- vive la difference 😉

    Norwich clearly are not that good they are one place above us 🙂 pre-season they were at least expected to compete like us, they have kept two clean sheets though and won two games and drew 1-1 at Fulham so they are not entirely rubbish either but on the day we deserved the win(they did score twice and could of had more)

    I’ll bow to your superior knowledge on hogan but can’t see what else he would of done with his run angling away from goal and the ball played in the outside channel. Also appears to be his only chance of the game how dare he not score.

    heres an article showing us with and without Jimmy Danger, comes to the same conclusion I have we don’t create enough.

  49. AbCDEFgHI’ll bow to your superior knowledge on hogan but can’t see what else he would of done with his run angling away from goal and the ball played in the outside channel. Also appears to be his only chance of the game how dare he not score.IJK/b>

    Mr. King, would you *please* read in an earlier post what I said about Hogan. I intimated then that a goal was certainly not a certainty, but that the fault I found was because he was so lackadaisical in getting the ball under control … he seemed to think he had much more time than he in fact had. And he did it in such a way that I found strange for a supposed top goalscorer.

    But, of course, that’s my view, not yours.

  50. JL- I know mate 🙂
    I don’t think having to look over his left shoulder helped his positioning to begin with by the time he got to look around at goal the Keeper was on him. If he had been facing the goal when he receives the ball then I might agree he could of done better but with the acute angle (almost on the line edge of six yards box) with the ball ending up on his Right a shot was not really much of an option and nobody in place to receive a pass. I don’t think he was lackadaisical just the weight of pace seemed to take forever and him not facing goal to begin with.

    Do you think Bruce will see out next weekend if we don’t win?

  51. JL- you might find this interesting as it explains an awful lot of the misunderstandings on here 🙂

    “Turns out that Facebook does not count as connection. When we’re talking about interpersonal connection, we’re talking about eye-to-eye,” Lustig says. “The facial emotions of the person you’re talking with activate a set of neurons in your brain called ‘mirror neurons,’ which are the drivers of empathy and specifically linked to serotonin.To be able to generate a feeling of empathy, which ultimately turns into contentment/happiness, you actually have to connect. You can’t do it over the internet. You can’t have a connection with ‘anonymous.’ It just doesn’t work.”

  52. Had a lovely day yesterday. Drove to the Aston Tavern and had two lovely pints of Peroni and a pork baguette, and then went on to Villa Park, but could not get a programme, as they had not printed enough, as I usually like to buy one, so that I have a memory of the match. Chatted to the two guys I sit next to, and then eventually drove home about 5.5pm.

    Oh! yes there were two teams there playing football, one superbly organised by a Dean Smith to totally frustrate some guys playing in claret & blue, and totally succeeded, by the account of only having one shot on target. Apart from that there is really nothing worth mentioning…
    Except maybe that a guy called Snodgrass had his debut and Gabby made a guest appearance…

  53. PP
    Glad you enjoyed the day. There’s certainly more to a day at the footy in Aston than a limp result. The tavern is making a name for itself with those pork baguettes. Wish I could join you but am 11000 miles away, haven’t been to VP since 2013.

  54. MK: “you might find this interesting as it explains an awful lot of the misunderstandings on here”

    Absolutely. That is exactly why blogs are not good for discussion, in one way. On the other hand it can be that the lack of eyeball contact might simply mean we’re more clinical on the blog, and brings out what we really want to say.

    Swings and roundabouts…

  55. Morning JL- Very interesting wasn’t it, I think on here its more like things get said as a reaction to how the reader interprets the writers emotional state when no visual clues are there and its usually wide of the mark invoking an emotional reaction.

    This is the kind of thing that makes the blood boil though because both statements are ridiculous. 40+ games, a pre-season and no idea what his team is?? and we have to have better performances Steve because we are not winning home or away, I can’t believe the tripe he serves up, who is the “we” its you Mr Bruce.
    And how in the world was Bruces “style of play ” a plus factor Mr Round? Unless you felt the only problem was defensive (now its both ends of the pitch), I really do think you failed to see the bigger picture.

    Steve Bruce
    “We certainly haven’t settled on a team because we’ve just got the squad together.

    “But we’ve got to have better performances at home because the fans want to see us on the front foot more often.”

  56. Always worth hearing what the opposition manager thinks I feel.

    Dean Smith

    ““We’ve come a long way in a short space of time and there is a uniqueness and the connection between the players, staff and the supporters and I feel you have to have that to compete at this level.”

    Aston Villa’s weekly wage bill is more than five times what Brentford pay their squad and Smith feels they can out-think opponents.

    He added: “We have a great belief in what we do. We know our resources and how to compete smartly against the likes of Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday.

    “We’ve got a style of play that we believe works for us and players who want to prove themselves at this level. Games like this whet the appetite for them.”

    Smith also felt the criticism in the wake of the transfer window closing was harsh given the strength of their squad.

    He explained: “There’s been a lot of talk over the last week as we’ve lost three big players in the transfer window to the other side of the city here and I brought 19 players here today. Flo was here today.

    “I showed the players that we’ve got five or six full internationals and five or six youth internationals.

    “We had Andreas Bjelland, Josh McEacrhan and Kamo Mokotjo on the subs bench and a couple of full internationals back home. I felt it was harsh to criticise the squad we have.”

    “If it wasn’t for Sam Johnstone we would have left with three points.

    “We dominated the first-half.

    “Our movement and build-up to get the two higher midfielders on the ball was good but we didn’t make Johnstone work enough.

    “We restricted them to one chance and one shot on target,” added Smith.

    “Apart from that I can’t remember them hurting us. Defensively we didn’t give big chances away and created big chances of our own.”

    The lad in centre mid which ran the show for Brentford comes from brum apparently, the only player we have of his ilk is Doyle-hayes imo, we don’t take charge of the midfield and Bruces style tends to bypass it mostly.

  57. Have to say and this maybe a reflection of me but I’m just not able to digest any more post-match comment from Bruce. I learn nothing about the game or any intention as to how he’ll change things which seems to be a point he relays after every game, he talks in generalities. Look at Dean’s assessment about movement, build up play and recognising they didn’t make life hard enough for Johnstone in contrast with Bruce’s, we have young players, we have tired players, only Johnstone earned his salary. It appears to me that for all this likeable Steve Bruce stuff, he’s either inarticulate or not very intelligent and if that’s his media persona, how is he telling his players that he wants a certain system. I’m completely underwhelmed by Bruce.

    Bruce only provides a litany of excuses, there is an attempt or admission of guilt in that he sent out the team that wasn’t fresh which in itself as an experienced manager ranks up there with his admission last season he played too many new players at once, these are basics, surely. It feels to me that the players are doing enough to not get blamed but more than enough to get Bruce sacked. But that fault lies with Bruce in assembling the most expensive squad in the championship that fails to deliver performance and in turn fails to deliver results.

    If, in this promotion year, results are the only thing that are important then we’ve lost two points with a further 120 to go, makes good reading on paper, however results only come about from performance and we’ve never earned our tag of pre-season favourites beyond bookies giving low odds to protect themselves from the threat Villa possesses on paper only.

    I don’t see Bruce changing things around, it’s a continuation of last season and already Villa fans are steeling themselves for the arrival of Kodija but then is his own ability to get goals a further indication that Bruce doesn’t have the nouse to get goals out of his current team. It’s truly scary that we should be so heavily reliant on one player.

    We need a 180 in terms of performance and results for Bruce to keep his job and to get us back on track for promotion and we then need to continue it for most of the season, however, if he fails and Dr. T pulls the trigger let me be the first to say there is no pressure from me on the incumbent to get us promoted, the only pressure is to make use of our capable squad. I hope the next round of CVs make no reference to promotion achievements and focus solely on the quality of football.


  58. As ever Darren a sensible post,of which the last para was the most significant.
    I too would accept further seasons in this division if I could see aplan,a method,a structure to our playing style.
    If Bruce or whoever wants to play route 1 then set up for such and selection the appropite personnel.If he wants to press,then selection younger players,and set up to play this way….etc.etc.
    Presently SB does not know his best 11 or his best set up in relation to the squad or the opposition.Just read a Brentford players say they welcomed Villa pressing 1 on 1 as this created space and helped with ball retention.
    He seems to be making it up as he goes along and our play is predictable and reactive.
    Right now we need a ball carrier,maybe Snod,can fill this void,Grealish for all his shortcomings is the only other I can think of who can play this role.
    I would like to see Green inside rather than out wide,and two players up front at home please,far too negative and cautious.

  59. It took me a bit, but post-match thoughts are up…Just in time to forget about them as we look ahead to tomorrow. But it’s a clean sheet of paper, if nothing else.

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