Cup ties haven’t been much to look forward to for Villa the last several years. Ever since Martin O’Neill set the tone in Russia, Villa have seemingly had to prioritize league survival over cup glory (though MON was trying to save the squad for the push to the top). This season might not be so different except for the fact that Villa have a deep squad and a number of players looking to either reclaim their places or earn further consideration as future starters.

So what will be interesting in tonight’s Carabao Cup match is seeing what we’d expect to be Aston Villa’s B team. Which, apart from not getting many games together, should be a reasonably good side. And of course what we’ll really be looking for are signs of life from Scott Hogan and continued good showings from players like Callum O’Hare and Jake Doyle-Hayes.

Hogan, obviously, has slid down the pecking order. O’Hare and Doyle-Hayes are trying to move up. But they seem to play well together. And over the course of a season, it’s likely that Keinan Davis and Jonathan Kodjia are not going to be available on a given day or days. Hogan is still next up as a striker if Kodjia is out, so quality minutes, and a goal or two, are important for him.

Now, of course, with Jack Grealish perhaps looking to come back into the frame sooner rather than later, a game like tonight’s might be a big one for someone like O’Hare. It’s hard to see him displacing Grealish when Jack returns to fitness since he hasn’t done while Grealish has been out. But given Jack’s propensity to tease with his abilities rather than perform up to them consistently, you never know.

Of course, they’re both going to have a hard time pushing ahead of either Hourihane or Davis, but Grealish might have more of a shot getting back in the side playing wide left. But he’ll need to have been watching Green and Adomah to see where he needs to lift his game to make his case. O’Hare doesn’t suffer from the same lack of intensity, but he’s short. Or so I’ve heard from Steve Bruce.

Players like Elphick and Samba, Bree, De Laet, Lansbury, and Steer would all like to play. Clark and Lyden probably wouldn’t mind being considered, either. I’ve never been able to see much of either, but given the lack of cover at left back, and the age of our defensive midfielders, I’d like to see more.

At any rate, instead of being a distraction, the Carabao Cup offers Villa a chance to keep developing the squad. At least for tonight. If we progress further, then Bruce will face decisions about how seriously to take the rest of the competition.

So, we welcome Middlesbrough back to Villa Park a week after the 0-0 league outing and will, for the time being at least, hope to see a couple players stating their cases for league action.

A win would be nice, too, to keep the good feelings going. You never know, it might one day become a habit.
Over to you.

Comments 92

  1. [B/F from previous thread]

    JC,

    Yes, you (Mark etc) can make all kinds of conclusions from what we’ve seen, but the fact is that Tony made it quite clear that he wanted the squad to show young talent.

    In other words, it was all part of a plan that Bruce was part yoo. Well, I assume he was … I’d say it’s a bit unlikely that he wasn’t.

    So for that reason I still say there’s more cred to give to Bruce than Mark would have us believe.

  2. JL,

    As always, unless a manager speaks out directly and honestly, which they never really do unless it’s in their memoirs or there’s been a big falling out and he wants to put his take out there, you’re not going to get a definitive answer.

    So…What we have is Dr. Xia stating that he wanted to see youth in the overall squad. You have Steve Bruce buying and selecting players and featuring no youth, other than Green, and he wasn’t a nailed-on starter.

    I’m not at all sure, based on what I’ve seen on the pitch over Bruce’s tenure at Vila, that he’s inclined toward youth. And I would read Xia’s statement as being every bit as plausibly a mandate rather than an agreed-upon plan with Bruce’s input/blessing. Given that Round & Co. are tasked with building a Villa way that links up all levels and goes on regardless of manager, Bruce would have no choice but to assent to said plan. It’s happening whether he likes it or not.

    To me, simplest explanation/deduction from Bruce’s buys and selections is that he wanted established players that he thought gave him the most experienced squad available, knew what was required in the league. If they were PL players, then all the better. His thinking, and it’s not insane by any means, is that it’s the quickest and surest way to build a team that can get up. He goes with youth, you never know, and he doesn’t have the luxury of building from scratch.

    Bruce has obviously got to think short term. No promotion, no more job. Xia gets to think both ways, even if the demands are contradictory. Promote us now…and we will not be loading up purely on veterans. Whether that’s about players for the future (and likely also wages and transfer fees), or short-term financial considerations, I wouldn’t know.

  3. JL- you can believe what you want I’m not stopping You 😉 we did watch pretty much a senior side and a youth/ + also rans all pre-season though, first game of the season? Tony said 6 youth squad training with the first anyway not playing.

    Steer, Hutton, Elphick, Samba, De Laet, Lansbury, Doyle-Hayes, Onomah, The Viking, O’Hare and Hogan

    Bench: Bunn, Bree, Richards, Clark, Lyden, Taylor and McCormack

  4. JC,

    It clearly is a matter of opinion. I’m sorry, I can’t see the plausibility of the situation you state.

    Bruce gas to be in accord with the chairman’s (and the planning group’s) wishes, and that includes expenditures. Whether he’s naturally disposed towards youth is a part possibility. but I feel he’s been ready to bring them in at some stage whether he was forced to or not.

    You seem to imfer that Bruce has acted under his own steam. I think not.

    We have to agree to disagree, John.

  5. Wigan side

    13Steer
    2de Laet
    24Elphick
    35Clark
    20Bjarnason
    16Bree
    32Doyle-HayesSubstituted forLydenat 78’minutes
    25Gardner
    37Adomah
    36O’HareBooked at 68minsSubstituted forMcCormackat 73’minutes
    9HoganSubstituted forSulimanat 81’minutes

  6. Lana- As I feared he’s scuppered the side, no real width, Doyle hayes appears to be a DM now, Hutton at LB I think, Borough having the best of it, RMC for lansbury who’s tired 🙂 I could spit

  7. Keiran Davis

    Encouraging to see that he seemed to have been fit for selection today. The way he went off on Sat I thought he might be out a game or two … seems like a toughie.

    But Bruce has “scuppered” it by not playing him tonight! 🙂

  8. JL- the wigan side is a much better balanced one John, Bruce has just brought on a winger, the first of the game, played one up top at home again, hutton at LB? with Samba thats asking for it.

  9. I think de Laet at l-b?

    As for Wigan, they’re still a lower division side and can’t compare im.o., though I agree that wingers could have made a difference here.

    But what wingers do we have with Green injured and the others being kept for the League?

  10. JL I agree but putting team out like that does nothing for their progression, Corey blackett taylor is a winger, if your going to throw the tie might as well play the youth, Bree didn’t play but Hutton did? confuses the cr*p out of me, RMC? is he getting him fit for Saturday 🙂 Clark a standout last time misses out.

  11. Why why why didn’t
    I just carry on up the m6 home instead of pulling off to go watch that , seems a lot fans knew something , l will stick to the away games in future ,

  12. Howdo 75 … Yes only 11,000 thought it worth going to.

    MK,

    Bruce has said that we have 3 league games in a week to finish off September. It’s understandable that he didn’t want to risk his regulars last night, and it appears that Lansbury and Hogan have knocks that may deprive Villa of their services. Those 2 are clearly some of our man backups, so they being out doesn’t help at all.

    Just shows that the Villa squad does not have as much depth as we like to think, and with £25 million worth of strikers on the pitch (Hogan and McCormack), no breakthrough could be achieved. Thank goodness for Davis, who really does look to be full of potential. And Codger of course.

  13. jl
    i honestly think if bruce had messi ronaldo and greizeman he would still end up with no goals,hogan and mccormak where good goalscorers to bruce got them ,same with houirane and lainbsy 9 points from next 3 games are crucial with octobers fixtures to come

  14. Jl well as you have to have balance in a team usually to create much why go 4141 have we played that this season? Could of played the entire under 23’s if injuries are a worry and I you are running about thinking what the hell is this then you might just get a little p*ssed of and tense then injured. No player wants to walk out and feel they have little chance of winning.

  15. JL
    Only 11,197 at VP tonight. That is poor.

    Yes it is. Starting with 1 up front is negative. Three home games now without a goal using this formation. The fans will vote with their feet.

  16. JL,

    I was one of those who decided that a 160 mile round trip to watch Villa would not be worth it, after the tactics used in the previous game against ‘boro.

    Yes Steve Bruce did use O’Hare and Doyle-Hayes again, but I suspect that they did not have the same licence given to them against Wigan. They needed to be in a free role, and we should have had two up front. Maybe if Tommy Elphick’s goal in the 12th minute had stood, there could have been a different outcome.

    Listening to the WM radio interview with Bruce, you could take it that everything is fine, and that Villa were just a bit unlucky. However, I do not get that impression from murmurs going on with players, and obviously Steamer 75 did not see anything in the game that lit a spark of promise.

    The jury is still out Mr Bruce, and the next three games will reveal the verdict.

    Funny how Gary Mon k has managed to get the ‘boro firing and doing well. Another good manager we missed out on.

  17. PP,

    In those highlights (just 10% of the game) I didn’t see much that Bruce did wrong except that (as MK righly stated) Hutton played l-b firs half and the defence I thought was not a good one in general.

    But our £25m strikers just don’t seem up to the job, and you can’t say that Hogan hasn’t had enough game time.

  18. Last night the game was all about Tommy Elphick. He scored a perfectly good goal that would have put us 1-0 up but it was disallowed. He then inexplicably got himself sent off for two stupid tackles, one of which gave away the penalty. So as team we were unfortunate. Onomah played well as did McCormack when he came on and the youngsters worked very hard without showing much technical quality. Not much more to say. Disappointing night but it’s all about the league really.

    The problem we have is not Steve Bruce but certain players are on big contracts that just aren’t providing us with any value, even at this level. Richards, Elphick, Hogan, Agbonlahor, McCormack and Bjarnasson just aren’t doing it. The problem is, how do we shift them? Even on free transfers, who would take them on at the wages we paid when signing?

  19. I don’t think going out helps us win the league, its about getting the youth and second string some match time and the club a lift, what will happen now is the second string will take the U23’s game time to keep fit.

    One really frightening fact was that Bruce thought that defence was OK and that maybe he was running the rule over Hutton as a left back??

    Droyd- O’hare shows plenty of technical ability in the highlights? the ones with no TA were seniors mostly

  20. Mark
    “I don’t think going out helps us win the league, its about getting the youth and second string some match time and the club a lift, what will happen now is the second string will take the U23’s game time to keep fit.”
    Your views in this matter make sense and seem logical. Villa have enough players for two teams.

  21. Have to say, I’m disappointed Bruce didn’t take the cup seriously, not in terms of winning the thing but the further we could have got in the cup the more chance for our youngsters to impress, clearly the likes of Hutton and Elphick have no future in the club so why play them, I’d much prefer to see the like of Bree being given game time.

    Perhaps in all the ‘mass hysteria’ otherwise known as fans wanting the best for their club and not seeing it on the pitch to any great extent, has led to Bruce reading the praise the likes of O’Hare has received that he didn’t want any more selection headaches or demands for the inclusion of Doyle-Hayes or any other youth player.

    Clearly in the scheme of things, the League cup never rose to the prominence of the FA Cup, how can it compete with that history but for fans to be so dismissive of the one competition that we have excelled in and given us so many fantastic memories, it’s a shame that it has been written off so quickly as a distraction from the job at hand, as MK says we’ve a squad big enough to cope with further rounds.

    Roll on the FA Cup and our quick elimination from that competition, who needs it. 13th in the league and a few points away from automatic promotion, we can do this and look back at our elimination from the cups as part of the reason for our promotion, then when back in the prem, we can field our kids again to lower league opposition that gives the game time but the priority is to remain in the prem.

    This may well be were we find ourselves and our reality is managing the remaining 37 league games but it’s pretty sad from where I’m sitting that many Villans have such a poor view of cup games based on what I’m seeing on social media.

  22. Mark,

    You’re right about the Cup giving opportunities to the younger players and other squad players, and that it is important for that reason, but Bruce has said that the side he chose was mindful of the 3 league matches coming up this coming week. And that the league is the main issue.

  23. Weird thing about injuries is you never know when it Will happen. Adomah injured preseason should he have been saved? How did we cope when we had 14 players for a season?

  24. Truth is after 50 games and umpteen players Bruce has 11 that won an away game and is afraid to lose any of them, that bodes well for the rest of the season then 🙂

  25. Apart from doing stuff like playing Hutton at left back, I don’t think Bruce is wrong to prioritize the league.

    I understand our fondness for this particular cup, but if we can’t progress without fielding more of our starters, then it’s best we’re done.

  26. Droyd,

    Wasn’t able to watch or listen to this one, so commenting on the game apart from selection is going to be silly from me.

    However, you’re right about the players we can’t shift. As I’ve harped on about more than once, the urgency I feel about getting back up has everything to do with the wage bill overall, and the contracts we have tied up in players, both those starting and wandering in the wilderness.

    If we don’t go up, I fear we’re too close to the FFP line to make any moves of significance, and that we’ll lose players like Kodjia, Davis, Green, etc. Not saying better-off PL clubs won’t come knocking even if we do go up (Green and Davis, especially), but the thrill of promotion, etc., and being back on the big stage might help us keep hold of these players. Kodjia, maybe, is one on the cusp in terms of desirability in the PL, and we’ll see how his season pans out.

    But we’ve set our stall out to get up. If we don’t, we could be stuck with RMC, for example, while losing the players with real futures. I can’t believe Richards is still on the books. Seems like he’s been here forever.

  27. JL,

    I think Bruce talking about using cup ties to work the youth, etc., is fine, but not telling…most clubs will do that to some extent.

    In the end, us disagreeing about Bruce and youth is, again, pretty irrelevant, as you know. He seems to have stumbled (and I will say stumbled) on what looks to be our best XI most days, so if he sticks with that, then I don’t think he can be faulted.

    They’ll have good days and bad outings, just like any other team. And different opponents might call for a tweak or two. But if the current set feel like they’re not going to get yanked for the odd bad game, they have a much better chance to grow in confidence and apply what they learn when they’ve not done well. And the repetition of the players and system is invaluable, obviously, to getting everyone playing fast and cohesively.

  28. It seems we now just have to resign ourselves to the Bruce way for the foreseeable future, and nothing much is going to change, unless we get some horrifying results.

    It maybe that the Bruce way will work well enough to keep us in touch with the play-off spots this side of Xmas. We then must hope that we have a settled enough team, barring injuries to take us through to the end of the season.

    I will keep an open mind, but still am not full of the optimism that should be prevailing now, with the time that Bruce has had to establish himself.

  29. PP,

    Largely agree. Like I say, if he stays committed to playing a more attacking, less cautious game, then I’m behind that. If he sticks with a side, I’m behind that, too.

    If he reverts to things that weren’t working, then no. Never mind the money spent, I don’t want to see Hogan if we can’t get him scoring (apart from cameos or because of injury). I don’t want to see Gabby, either. No more Hutton. RMC is a lost cause, there’s no one currently playing that he should replace. I’d rather not see Whelan, but that may be something we have to live with.

    At any rate, the path seems clear for Bruce. The fans are onside, the current XI has shown the most spark…He doesn’t really have to do much other than get in-game changes right.

  30. The problem I see is when the 1st eleven are not available what will we see. Most teams that get promoted have a good squad, they are not reliant on 11 players. I looked at it when RDM arrived and most teams have 1-2 really important players that have a good season and play 40+ games a smattering of Players who play 30-35 maybe 3-4 and the rest are all in the 15-25 games bracket. The chances of having 11 now clock up 36 games to add to the games they have played is zero.

    That means Hogan and many more will have to play and when they play they have to be effective for us to go up. I think Snodgrass would be right up Hogans street and would of liked to see them play together against Borough, it was only last week Bruce was saying he needs games and he could of done with him playing for Scotland!!?

  31. Its taken Bruce this long to find his blend, a problem I can see is we have two very individualistic players that are undroppable, Adoamah and Kodjia in that set-up ether of those get injured we have nobody like them, so how do we play then? thats where cups are so useful because you can drop in a few of those on the fringe with some first team to gauge your options if disaster strikes. Throw a bunch of unrelated players together and you learn nothing much about your options.

  32. Good points, MK.

    It really is going to be anyone’s guess how the squad gets composed, like between Saturday and Tuesday games. With Green out, no real replacement for Adomah. Lansbury doesn’t play like Hourihane. No one plays like Davis or Kodjia.

    So, I’d hoped we might see that Hogan, O’Hare and Doyle-Hayes could work in as a unit, for example. Elmo seems to provide the kind of service that Hogan can score from. Maybe Snodgrass will, too. I guess you can rotate those two, as required, since we have options at RB. But on the left? Not so much.

  33. JC- Totally mate, With the right combination of the 1st team plus Green, Ohare,Hoganand Doyle hayes we could change the point and style of attack without disrupting the teams solidity depending on the opposition or how the games going. If they are sat back then Ohares quick mind and passing and dribbling can unlock defences just as surely as adomah and Kodjia in their more unorthodox style suit open counter attack. Can’t wait to see them on the pitch with Kodjia,snodders and Adomah could be really exciting.

    I read the other day that Cowans told Bruce about a few of the youth players last season when he arrived and was told to mind his own and left, don’t know how true that is but its out there

  34. something that is also out there in media land apparently all was not happy familys on tuesday night, don’t know the source or how reliable.

    “don’t wish to jump the gun here but two incidents tonight not sure if it was witnessed by others but Bruce and Elphick were having a row from early on, at one stage Elphick offered Bruce the armband, with bruce, making the calm down sign, the second incident was when Lansbury went off Calderwood I think it was put his arm around him and Lansbury shrugged it off and told him to f**k off, far too many players tonight looked like they didn’t want to be there”

  35. I Think that there could be problems, as you say MK. Bruce may well be creating more problems in the squad, as he brings in his own warriors, no matter how good they are, and I am sure some of the players may not be happy with his set-up and tactics, because failures affect their careers, and earning potential as well.

  36. I think players need to realise too that they’re there to do a job and not be too judgemental about how the manager does his. Instead they should do everything they can within their own abilities to be better players for Villa. The manager is their boss not the other way around.

  37. Iana- True enough but when you are bought for certain attributes such as goals and assists and are used to getting them in a more progressive attacking style you might feel a little fed up with what you were sold or promised by the manager? we have no way of Knowing but Bruce does love a bit blarney and quite a bit appears contradictory to me so who knows what he says to get them here. That goes double for players brought in by the previous manager. Your career is a short one and is easily derailed and if you have ambitions not just a want for more money like some we have I can understand the frustration. Elphick particularly is decent man from what I am told he continued to be supportive to the team even when relieved of the captaincy and his starting position.

  38. Bruce, talking about his team selection and why he went away from his favoured approach…(B’ham Mail)

    Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce believes that his side can now play the more expansive football that they need to in order to mount a serious promotion challenge.

    Speaking ahead of the game with Nottingham Forest, the manager explained what the fans can expect from the Villa side in the games to come.

    He stated: “I have always liked two up top, but we haven’t always been able to play that way.

    “I had to stop the trend of getting beat and I had to set my team up to do that.

    “In that respect to put a bit of resilience back I had to do that.

    “Now we have a squad capable of having two up front and can play a bit more expansive with Kodjia up front and go into games looking to win them rather than staying in the games and the division.

    “Hopefully now we can mount a challenge.”

  39. I agree with Bruce’s analysis. Hourihane and Whelan looked good enough and complimented each other well enough to suggest we can play with just 2 in central midfield now, with 2 excellent wingers in Adomah and Snodgrass, with Kodjia and Davis up front. There’s no need to play that extra man in central midfield now. That’s a midfield an strike force to ensure that we should be on the front foot in most matches in this division now.

    The back 5 (including goalie) are looking very solid. We are finally there or thereabouts as in how we should be setting up as a team, so now is the time to get results. Lots of 3 pointers required, including away from home.

  40. I would be in agreement with Bruce if he had discovered his team by playing on the front foot, we haven’t,We beat Barnsley on the counter. If we now go on to pressures teams and control games I will be surprised and it will depend on Bruce’s version of front foot.

    The team picked itself before the Tuesday game quite literally because they won and Bruce got the cotton wool out.

    Can’t blame Bruce it’s his job on the line and but if he gets through this period unscathed then I think we will be in for a few more periods of winning and losing streaks depending on availability of players and the opposition.

    Jl- yes I read that good news just need some continuity in our play at the club for it to truly be useful.

  41. JL
    He stated: “I have always liked two up top, but we haven’t always been able to play that way.

    Has he been reading these pages? Or is it the mass hysteria? Or has the boardroom been prodding him? Perhaps the penny has dropped at last.

    Droyd,

    I have a problem with your suggest eleven. Average age of back four is 31. Average age of midfield four is 30. Average age of front two is 23 so that’s good. I’d prefer some pace at the back and in midfield. Room for Bree and Onomah with O’Hare on the bench? Maybe De Laet at LB?

  42. Does make me laugh the thought that Bruce has taken this long to enable us to attack 50 games to suddenly change tack entirely? Mr Bruce is playing to the audience I think.

  43. Hi all!
    lana – thanks for the mention, am in rude health if slightly battered around the extremities.
    Back in blighty thank goodness as AVFC found another problem for me with an ipad on the int audio stream, so only got the 1st match very badly, so glad to be on a computer again, trying to get sense out of avfc drones is like talking to children.
    Very frustrating as has been the results & Bruce’s yoyo.
    Never seen the sight so much in agreement.

    Mark – laughable indeed, although I also hope Bruce suddenly gets a spark somewhere & accidentally wins some games, as the stats do not agree with his diatribes, where you’d think we were in the top 6.

    Plug – definitely O’Hare to come on for Codger from the bench or if an injury, & Onomah as cover or to replace Whelen if he gets too slow, & Mitch Clark as LB cover.
    I also favour De Laet for the midweek match as right back.
    Otherwise as JC said, the team picks itself [until the next injury or Bruce induced emergency.

  44. IanG- nice to see you posting mate.

    As I see it Adomah and Kodjia basically equate to our creativity within the Bruce universe which mainly consists of hard working types. Lose those two and we need to change an awful lot to supply
    the goals again, unless the cross to Davis can produce goals every game?

  45. Mark
    Yes, I also saw some merit in suggestion of bringing on of Doyle-Hayes, O’Hare & Hogan as a group [especially if Hourihane is playing] if injury to the forwards needs a change along with Whelan, good for the 70th minute maybe.
    Better than wishful thinking & sending someone else on to prop up what isn’t working.

  46. Plug/Mark,

    In fairness, Bruce was talking “two up top” last season as his favourite ploy.

    I think you’re all just cynical of him, to be honest. Is life that bad? 😉

  47. JL- Well that makes it worse, especially when you see manager-coaches come into teams like Huddersfield and Leeds with a preferred system and buying players to suit and making it work pretty much from the off.

    Bruces preferred 442 can only now be employed? the most common system over the last 40 years and its taken 50 games to implement? jumping Jehoshaphat thats got to be the most condemning part of the whole Bruce era, no plan, skipping from one to another in search of results, only the other week did he say I used 352 at Hull last promotion and it worked there!!! in defence of the Bristol shambles. If you can’t coach your preferred system to professional footballers then???
    Thanks for your concern can’t speak for plug but I’m overflowing with happiness 🙂

  48. IanG – you said “Never seen the sight so much in agreement.” I presume you mean ‘site’.

    Thats because there is only JL and latterly, The Droyd, left to put forward the voice of reason! I could name 8 or 9 who will no longer post on here as it has sadly become a blog for one or two people to constantly write things that are perceived (not just by me) as being against Aston Villa FC and the hard work going on to rebuild our club.

    It now actually makes me laugh as I can judge exactly what is going to be said based on the result the club has had ………. and I’m never let down lol ………

    Yours in wonderment ……
    oldvilla

  49. OldVilla,

    I think there’s a definitely a big distinction to be made between “being against Aston Villa FC,” and questioning whether Steve Bruce is good for AVFC.

    I have my questions about Bruce, but I certainly want what’s best for AVFC. And at the moment, the easiest path to what’s best for AVFC is for Bruce to succeed.

    Now, I certainly think there are folks who are anti-Bruce, full stop. And I know there are some supporters who would rather see Villa lose in the short term if it meant Bruce’s departure because they feel so strongly that Bruce is not the answer and it’s better to get rid sooner rather than later.

    However perverse it may seem, there’s logic in that argument, while at the same time completely understanding a fellow supporter finding it repellent.

    Some just want to see their opinions vindicated more than anything else, and maybe those folks can be said to be “against” AVFC. Or at least not actively “for” anything but their own egos.

    But as I’ve said many times, I think everyone who cares enough to follow along and comment is “for” Aston Villa. We’re all on the same side.

    If there those who don’t comment because of anti-Bruce sentiment, I encourage them to come on/back and speak their minds. I can guarantee them as respectful a reception as is possible on the internet. What I can’t guarantee is how many will agree.

    The more people of varying opinions participate, the more any particular position/bias is diluted, including those that folks may feel are unfair or even detrimental.

  50. I should also say that for Bruce, the only way he can silence critics is to win, even though it’s certainly up for debate as to how much we should be expecting of Villa right now.

    I’ve spent a lot of time arguing on behalf of basically every manager we’ve had, including MON, up until he walked out.

    I’ve understood the challenges, the money required, FFP.

    I’ve understood negative football. Bomb squads. Poor signings. Dressing up “I’ve got no money to spend on real quality” as “Young & Hungry”. I was late to criticize Lerner because I found the apparent lack of rational self-interest in his actions to be beyond…rational. But they were, in the end.

    Anyway, to my previous point, and I think this is true for supporters in almost every sport in every league in every country in the world, good people will disagree in good faith about “what” is good for their team at a given moment.

    But, I do believe that the vast majority of supporters are certainly “for” their team, and not against it.

  51. And I always enjoy seeing you on here, OV.

    I like different points of view. I’m not going to learn anything new unless I hear something different than what’s in my head.

  52. morning folks

    If not liking the way Bruce has gone about things is perceived as anti Villa to some then so be it, My arguments have never changed their point of view so far and theirs mine, if their argument is they perceive me as anti Villa then thats tough, I am not going to change my views to suit and I see no reasoned argument behind that statement anyway just a repeated assertion .
    As for those that won’t post that goes both ways, many got fed up with being labelled negative and left. If you wont post because you fear someone else will not agree with you and that upsets you then no point in posting at all, someone always will. This is just a snippet in the blogs history and over time many have argued for against various managers/players and expressed pro/anti views toward club policy often changing from positive to negative and back. Just because someone thinks they are right doesn’t make it true, so I will continue to give my perspective and enjoy my time on here with those that want to debate.

    For what its worth I think In buying into the Bruce 4 promotions and even the RDM champions league myth (both were obviously achieved by those managers) the club bought into the experience is best over Talent and a progressive manager/Coach being the way.

    What that brought has been a very expensive time that Villa can little afford, we now have a ticking time bomb of non- promotion that IMO will prove to be quite disastrous if we don’t go up and the ageing mainly Brit squad we have will get less effective or be gone and the few decent players will be cherry picked. Even half of our better youth are still to sign contracts.

    Last season I highlighted Wagner as one to watch and me and Andrew had some banter over that one 🙂 but with a spend of £3.5m net he revitalised a club because he is a bright chap and has a plan he sticks to. This season we have Leeds rebuilt by Thomas Christiansen for £0.26 m with some 16 in 14 out. This was after a season where Monk really should of nailed the play offs and could of got top two at one point, Christiansen has bought two very good young wingers in by the way worth a watch.

    I would say that so far this season is wide open and if ever Bruce is going to do it is now but I look at what we could of done and been at this point with better manager choice from the start and its quite criminal. We either needed a Benitez Level manager or gone the other end of the scale in a Wagner type IMO smart in himself and able to identify smart players and buys but we went middle road to suit a championship that existed 4-5 years ago.

    I look forward to Villa playing on the front foot this evening and marching up the table to glory and auto promotion (that was the aim of Bruces buys) and then I look forward to the massive rebuild we will need just to survive if we do.

  53. Life’s good JL, thanks for your concern though 🙂 I’m only grumpy when Villa don’t win so that’s about 75% of the time this season! But JC above says it all really to which I wholeheartedly agree. The pursuit of excellence goes on and I would love to see it obtained under SB. If Villa win this evening I’ll have a great evening.

    But as MK says, other managers in this division have done much better on a shoestring budget. The best way to kill the criticism is to run away with it like Newcastle and Brighton did last season. This is still possible but like many fans I don’t think it can happen playing 1 up front on a regular basis.

    If SB does fail and Dr X calls time on him, then finding a suitable replacement is the difficult part. Since MON left, I think Remi Garde was probably my favourite. He was a scapegoat of course, but under his short time at VP I did notice some smart interplay beginning to appear in an attempt to work through tight defences.

  54. JC: “… there are some supporters who would rather see Villa lose in the short term if it meant Bruce’s departure because they feel so strongly that Bruce is not the answer and it’s better to get rid sooner rather than later. … However perverse it may seem, there’s logic in that argument… “

    Yep, well it is perverse logic, isn’t it?! 😀 And totally against what’s best for the club … in the context of what has happened over the previous 5 or 6 years!

    This is the real issue i.m.o. That people are just not willing for all the damage of the past to be *well* behind us before we go on the critical rampage again. In other words, we’ve said that damage should just now be behind us as of this August, but let’s at least give some breathing space as well. Just a few months to see what happens instead of fearing the worst all the time.

    In the Brum press today Bruce seems ultra confident that we are about to really get going. Let’s give him until October 1st (3 matches) to see whether we can see evidence of that.

  55. Plug: “Since MON left, I think Remi Garde was probably my favourite. He was a scapegoat of course, but under his short time at VP I did notice some smart interplay beginning to appear in an attempt to work through tight defences.”

    But the issue with Garde and also RdiM is that they failed (or were not allowed to) address the bigger problems at VP … the whole gammut of things that make up a football club including the players’ attitudes.

    While technically speaking those overseas managers had their strengths, they seem not to have cottoned on to the bigger picture and addressing that.

  56. Jl- depends an awful lot on what you call criticism. You criticise hogan when there may be reasons you don’t see or understand while supporting gabby and claiming we don’t see what you see. Does not mean anyone’s right. I would wager you will struggle to find a club in any era that’s fans sat back watching thebigger picture evolve and saying nothing about the poor performances they see from team and manager. In an ideal world maybe you would get that but it’s never happened in my lifetime the immediacy of modern media just accentuates it to my mind. Instead of reading it in the paper the next day it’s straight there on line while the disappointment and blood is still flowing.

    The whole changing the clubs mindset has been with us since Lerner appointed a new board nearly two years ago, it’s no secret that Bruce has discovered. Rdm tried to clear the worst offenders and Bruce forgave them.

  57. MK,

    Let’s keep the conversation in context, please! 🙂

    I’m not against “criticism” per se – that would not make sense, would it.bearing in mind this is a football blog! 😀

    I was referring purely to the criticism of the whole picture of which Bruce is a major part, but only as part of a management team.

    When it comes down to individual players then of course we all have our preferences, and Hogan is not one of mine.

    But it’s the bigger picture I’m really concerned about and what I feel we should all bear in mind when talking about actions by any of the management team. I still feel we’re giving kneejerk reactions about Bruce without enough contemplation. And that — i.m.o. – is not worthy of us.

  58. MK: “The whole changing the clubs mindset has been with us since Lerner appointed a new board nearly two years ago, it’s no secret that Bruce has discovered.”

    Now this is the kind of statement I’m referring to. It’s like comparing silver plate with the real stuff.

    The point is here that whatever Lerner and his merry men did only helped to propel us further into the stew. What the current regime is doing is emminently better and utilising better people, too. So whether Bruce has re-invented the wheel or not is irrelevant i.m.o. -The question really is, is the current regime now getting anywhere, and I’d say it is. Not like the previous out-of-touch chairman.

  59. JL,

    I do get what you’re saying. And I appreciate the holistic view. For my part, I think we have an owner and structure in place that serve us well. As long as Dr. Tony remains committed, I think Villa overall will be in a good place.

    The flipside of what you’re saying about Bruce, etc., is that many fans simply don’t think that Bruce is “good” for Villa. We’ve heard it all…whether it’s a lack of tactical nous, an overly cautious approach, a strange reliance on older players who are either past their prime or just not as good as some we already have.

    I’ve seen merit in those criticisms, though I’m perhaps not as ‘strident’ in my position regarding Bruce. He still has time to get it right, and I really would think he should be able to.

    To your point, we probably all agree we desperately need stability. Again, when it comes to Bruce, does he represent the kind of stability that will move us forward, or is he just stability for stability’s sake?

    At this particular juncture, those who don’t think Bruce is good for Villa see us risking the good feeling around the big picture and the enthusiasm we should be feeling about a team and club coming back to life by inviting the bad days right back in by underachieving and getting ourselves in another financial mess. Of course, sacking Bruce could well be a return to the bad days. Unless, of course, the players want him gone and think Villa would be doing better under a different manager themselves.

    So, of course, it always come back to the for-now-impossible-to-answer question of where Villa should reasonably be at the moment…obviously, no real answer (unless we’re flying), but that’s going to frame the debate until the direction of things seems more obvious.

  60. A complete change was looked at by Myrvin king and his crew and he was then dropped or left as the club was sold out under them. They had begun preparing for the drop and the changes needed.

    Right now we seem to have half a club moving toward one future while Bruce has his own way, its seems an odd way to unify a club. Get a manager that fits your direction seems a better idea to me. Bruce got the nod last season as the goal was still promoting the club. Well here we are talking about the club making great strides while Bruce saying he needs 3-5 years and maybe we hope with a bit of luck….??

    If rumblings I have read are true then all is not that rosey between Bruce and the squad either.

  61. OV – Originally it was a typo, but after reflection I decided it fit what I was trying to say better.
    Thanks for the spelling lesson, it’s nice to know you read my first post in 2 months, even if you don’t appreciate it apparently, although it escapes me exactly what it is you find in it that prods you so much specifically, or how you think you can talk for numerous other people, but hey ho it takes all colours to make the light shine claret & blue.
    Like JC I’m happy to see you post, & everyone else that joins in.

    JL – thanks, I’m quite happy in myself, not with the various aspects of the club that impact me, but personally I look at the whole picture before I comment on the parts that strike me as most relevant.
    Nice to be back!

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