Now the season gets interesting, starting with this evening’s derby clash with Wolves. September’s favorable stretch of fixtures against teams in the bottom half of the table comes to an end, and all eyes will be on Steve Bruce’s men to see how they fare against tougher opponents now that there’s some confidence and continuity in the squad.

Everyone wants to know whether September showed us the real Villa going forward or if the next five games—all featuring sides currently in the top half of the table (bar Small Health)—will burst our bubble.

Tonight’s game should give us some answers. A win could see Villa climb firmly into the top six, depending on other results, and would certainly have the side believing a real challenge for automatic promotion is on the cards. A loss? Well, it depends on what kind of loss.

On paper, Villa have done well for themselves of late, climbing to seventh on 19 points. Wolves have accumulated 23 to sit second. They’re one better on goal differential, have scored two more, and have seven wins versus Villa’s five.

Beyond the obvious importance of the match, the other talking point heading into this evening is whether Bruce learned from his mistakes following the last international break. One assumes he’ll have taken the measure of his squad, and not be putting players out there who are tired and jaded. On the other hand, he’ll be sorely tempted to stick with the side that’s gotten him four on the trot.

Given reports that Villa’s fitness levels are far better than last season’s, running “miles more” in matches according to Bruce, one hopes that we can cope putting out our best side, and that Bruce is astute in making substitutions if he sees any drop-offs in energy.

There were no injuries during the break, thank god, so at least everyone is in the frame. Jedinak is still struggling for fitness, Lansbury’s training but not ready, so one would expect Glenn Whelan, “fresh” off Ireland’s 1-0 win against Wales, to be trying to do his thing in front of the back four. This makes me nervous. But maybe Onomah will be out there from the start. This would also make me a little nervous, given his up-and-down form. But perhaps he’s better not coming off the bench. He certainly is younger, stronger and generally more dynamic than Whelan, but you’re trading Whelan’s tenacity and reading of the game. Which might not matter much if Whelan simply can’t keep up.

Then of course we’re all waiting to see who deputizes for suspended Neil Taylor at left back. This is a tricky one. Albert Adomah, assuming he’s good to go, has been running his socks off and providing all the forward impetus (and goals) you could ask for. Villa will want someone behind him to keep things tight, especially if Wolves stick with three at the back.

Bruce may very well elect to go with Hutton based on experience, and if he does, the veteran is going to have rein himself in and stay at home more than he usually does. Wouldn’t hurt if he defends better than he usually does.

At any rate, what could be a pretty straightforward derby is in reality a potentially season-defining six-pointer with a lot more than pride on the line. It could be a springboard to a memorable campaign. It could be an encouraging and tactically astute stalemate. It could be a morale buster.

Given that all that, we’ll soon see how Bruce is looking at the match. Does he stick with the 4-4-2, or does he put five in midfield on the road? Really, it comes down to whether Whelan, presumably, and Villa’s back four do enough to allow us to ask more questions of Wolves up front.

There’s no question that, even though Kodjia’s been rusty (and a bit selfish) upon his return, he’s also been finding his feet and producing the Benteke Effect. He and Davis give defenses something to think about, and his presence pulls defenders around and creates openings for others. Would be nice to see Villa setting up for a win. But one also understands that it would be much better to come away with a point on the road than a demoralizing defeat.

In a game like this, I’d generally say it has draw written all over it. But I’ve got a nagging feeling one side is going to claim all three points however Bruce sets Villa up.

We’ll soon find out. Over to you.

Comments 104

  1. JC
    Thank you for the leader.
    I’m looking forward to this match, hoping Bruce sets the team up to have a real go at winning, a draw in a tightly fought game would be okay.
    I’d rather see DeLaet at the back but Hutton is thick skinned and like you say will need the discipline to “stay at home” more than he’s used to. I’d start the match with Whelan. Wolves have a pretty potent midfield, get it wrong, and we will be overrun.
    Jedinak and Gabby still struggling with injury. Not surprised about Gabby. He’s a real sickbay ranger that one. Jedinak should do the decent thing by his club and give up international duties.
    For me, it’s a very hard match to call.

  2. Cheers, Iana.

    Agreed, seems like time for Jedi to put the international career to bed…Though I am afraid we’ll be overrun with Whelan in there.

    Very tough match to call. Basically just want to see us give as good as we get.

  3. JG…a bit, maybe. But it’s been rough stuff on both sides, lots of holding and grabbing from Wolves. Hutton earning his place, good to see some hard challenges going in.

    Wolves do look good, though.

  4. Yeah, Wolves have created better chances, but that was expected. They’re countering well but thankfully have lacked the final touch so far, Villa has had chances though. 0-0 at ht is good for Villa, who seemed to have an attacking intent until Snodgrasse’s yellow. Hourihane getting yellowed is a worry. Hutton has pulled off some important tackles.

  5. First half a very much holding on situation for Villa, Kodjia very poor, and could be doing more, Hutton doing a good job, but WTF was Hourihane doing with that stupid trip and getting himself a yellow card.

    Villa really need to step up if they are going to win this.

  6. Disappointing substitution,I would have liked to have seen Kodja off,hopefully he rams these words down my throat with a goal.On the back foot since 1st whistle.

  7. 2-0….The show is over…..Villa’s man of the match, Alan Hutton says it all….and now Onomah on for Adomah.

    Davis off for Hogan, when it should have been Kpdjia who came off…more poor Bruce substitutes…

    Goodbye Steve……Blues will beat us too….at this rate.

  8. O’Hare has done more in ten minutes than Kodjia in over seventy minutes, and it really makes one wonder about Bruce’s choice of player.

    Congratulations to Nuno and his team for being top the league, and a man that knew what he wanted, and how to get there.

  9. Look at that! Another clean sheet.
    The Bruce way.
    Maybe this is all part of the master plan. The 51st cog in rise to the Premiership. I wonder what the hero’s of the 19th century are thinking? Maybe dig up Ramsay.

  10. Not a good outing…Given Wolves’ turnover and Santos’ time in charge, it really does raise the issue of how well Bruce has done after 51 games in charge now, including the recruitment.

  11. Recruitment hasn’t been bad John, but when you buy Audi’s, BMW’s, and Mercedes and use them as tractors nothing gets done. No wins and no ploughed fields

  12. Ah, well, Villa’s players looked as though they had been on holiday and forgot how to play footie!

    This is deliberate tactics on Bruces’ part you understand? Just to give the oppo a false sense of security! 😀

  13. Paul Whiting – Its John Lerwill, not Lerwill.
    Anyway good decision – sack Bruce. Because there are loads of top young, non-dinosaur managers just chomping at the bit to come and manage AVFC? So lets do it now!
    And then he will turn these players into the goal scoring, sublime footballing team that we know is there if only it wasnt for that dinosaur bus parking Bruce.

    Oh and Hutton best Villa player today.
    Yours in total knee jerking Bruce out mode,

  14. paul whiting
    for bruce to be sacked now wyness and round would need to get same treatment
    another shocker from bruces team no shot to near the end,when will bruce wake up and learn playing old men doesnt work any time our defence stepped up wolves cut threw like hot knife on butter,adoamh was so close to hutton we had no out let on that side of field,whelan sat beside terry in the slowest man to half way line race,kodja lucky to get away with pen shout first half back to last season non show matches,less said about spuds subs the better,and then to goalie beaten twice on near post

  15. JG…

    It is one of the points I’ll make in the review…Villa too ponderous moving forward; players with backs to goal trying to receive, turn, find someone; no real running in the channels, too wide, as you say; getting sucked up to support slow build-ups and then undone on the counter.

    Looked very much the way the we did against Cardiff.

  16. And I really do think Whelan needs to sit. It’s like playing with 10. He can’t keep up, can’t carry it forward, can’t make a telling pass, keeps Hourihane further back. Just one player, I know, but…If you’re playing 4-4-2, you need much more in the middle.

    Also looked like instructions to hug the touchline, wingers moving out there automatically and they were easily hemmed in.

  17. WHY (!!!!) are we getting so judgmental after 1 defeat – OK a poor defeat. If we have a run of bad matches then I’ll be worried, but not just one match – and against a footballing side that is now top of the division.

  18. Well that was disappointing
    However . . . . I suspect that we’ve seen the league winners this evening. I hate saying it, but Wolves were very good.
    They e spent big but they seem to have spent well. They have a very good manager who knows how to get the most out of his players.
    I wouldn’t read too much into this game to be honest.
    Good to see O’Hare come on and do really well and you have to take your hat off to Hutton. He comes in for so much criticism but keeps bouncing back.
    This one’s now behind us . . . Fulham is a more important test

  19. As stated by Aston Villa Worldwide – “Do you reckon some people are constantly negative and only come out of the woodwork when we lose, have some strange feeling that telling you “I told you so” makes them some kind of football tactical genius and that it makes them feel superior?

    I just can’t fathom how you’d be so negative about the team you, allegedly, support.”


  20. Contenders or pretenders? We now know the answer. No complaints whatsoever about the result.

    Men and boys come to mind except the boys were men and the men looked what they are, a Dad’s Army. I will exempt Hutton from any criticism. Adomah had a stinker and should have been hooked at half time. So too Elmo. And Whelan……so slow. Codger never threatened and Davis was fouled every time he was in possession. O’Hare showed more movement than anyone and if SB is going to keep his job then plenty of the Dad’s Army squad need pulling and replacing with the young kids.

    Wolves were very good and looked comfortable on the ball but I wouldn’t mind betting they thought afterwards that the game was pretty easy. The difference between Nuno and Bruce was crystal clear tonight. Next up is Fulham and I’m not confident.

  21. Wolves, noticeably, got away with several fouls in and around their penalty area in the first half. In my view we should have had a penalty. They just were not spotted by the officials and (apart from one or two) Villa didn’t get any free-kicks at the Wolves end until after Wolves went 2-0 up!

    Sometimes it makes you wonder about the officials – particularly in the Championship.

    But I accept Villa didn’t play at all well. If we can put Fulham and Small Heath away then all would be vindicated i.m.o.

  22. jl
    the ref didnt hurt us tonight
    kodja high foot was a stonewall penalty
    houriane booking they didnt even get a free
    hutton bodycheck in 1st half didnt get booked
    couple other times ref stopped play with wolves attacking

  23. JG
    It’s up to SB to get on Adomah’s back and bark instructions at him if he ain’t doing his job. And if he still ain’t doing it then hook him for someone who will.

    If he was doing his job as instructed then SB is left wanting.

  24. Hi all.Sacking SB would be 100% daft IMO.What was revealed today was that Wolves movement off and with the ball was class.We couldn’t cope nor replicate it.We knew what we were getting with SB,organisation,hard work,and (hoped for)results,proven in this division.Xia wanted to go down the experience route and this is what we nowhave.
    I did feel SB didn’t know how to adapt our formation to counter Wolves,and his use or lack of use of subs was 2 out of 10 IMO.He brought on creaativity at 2 nil down.On the back foot,negative from 1st whistle.Only one team went out to win,the other hoped to win.
    Have a good weekend all.

  25. if you take bit of time all huttons tackles came in centre of defence ,yet 1st goal came from a cross from our touchline on his side ,2nd goal he cleared to wolves player,snodgrass booking came from his pass to an under pressure elmo,you could see snodgrass giving him both barrels and pointing up the field saying clear the f<<<<<< ball

  26. For me SB and the team should be watching a video of the Man City game twice a day until Saturday, so that it is drilled into them the pure simplicity of unselfish teamwork, coupled with simple movement, executed with perfection. de Brune is outstanding, and produces amazing passes, but it is his reading of the game, knowing where his team mates are, something totally missing today.

    We will be struggling to win this month.

  27. I always say you can’t read too much into one match. But after a string of wins that had us feeling good and looking like the team was coming together, it’s rather disappointing to see them look so outclassed playing a team now sitting at the top that hasn’t been together any longer than we have. They’ve spent, we’ve spent. They’ve got a new manager, we’ve got a new-ish manager.

    So, I think today’s game is a reasonably fair measuring stick. If it turns out to be a blip, then great. But it is concerning that we looked as poor today as we did against Cardiff and Reading early on.

    Saying that really has nothing to do with supporting the team. For me, it’s about being objective, which is what I think people would expect of me or anyone else expecting anyone to take us seriously. I wouldn’t bother doing AVL if I were “anti-Villa” (it’s the exact opposite, of course), or if I thought honesty didn’t have a place in talking about Villa or anything else. I’d much rather be raving about the side, Bruce, everything Villa.

    But at the moment, the top two sides have both dismantled us. Yes, it is going to give ammo to those who don’t rate Bruce. But if we’re being honest with ourselves and want to discuss football, it seems fair to ask what these results indicate. Could have nothing to do with Bruce. Could have everything to do with him.

    Point is, there are lots of doubters, and these kinds of performances only serve to help them make their case. It’s up to Bruce and the team to prove the doubters wrong. When faced with stern tests, we’ve simply not been up to it. If Villa’s fate were all just down to us being positive regardless of what happens, that would change things. We’d form a prayer circle and will them to victory.

    But how the team is built, coached, set up and plays has nothing to do with any of us. The only time supporters have any influence is at the ground, where they can help galvanize the side and push them on. So, I’m not a fan of booing, or any of that. Doesn’t help anyone.

    But, one has to play devil’s advocate and then ask whether you should give someone a kick up the backside when they appear to deserve it.

  28. Perfectly put JC.

    I am sure there are many like me, who support the team whole-heartedly, and have done for many years, but in the after match, can criticise the failings, when they are so apparent.

    Bruce is the manager, he picks the team, sets out the tactics, and finally it is his words that are given to the team. It is their job to fulfil his demands, commands and if they fail then he must accept that he got it wrong somewhere. SAF not only told his teams to win, but convinced them that they would win.

  29. Hey JC,a fair summary above.It’s important(to me) not to over or under react to any result.Today we were dismantled,by a vibrant team.It was the difference between watching your favourite movie on VHS or blu ray.One was functional does the job,the other is more refined.Chalk and cheese the two managers.
    I will sort of repeat my post Bristol rant.We went to get a point and left with nothing.As a footie fan,the creative team won,the team who came to contain and restrict left beaten.We were negative in our mindset and approach.
    Have I over simplifiied things.?Probably. Footie is not black and white,there a many shades of grey.That said under pressure SB reacts with fear,in his set up and selections.Why be positive with the subs at 2 nil,why not at 1 nil.?This is a manager who has played with 1 up front at home this season.
    I would rather we lost 4-2 in a superb end to end game than go and fail to nick a point.Negative mindset,negative performance,positive subs,but too late.I thought out tempo was tooo slow,labooured and hesitant.
    Anyway on to Fulham a real footballing team,who came from 2 down today to score in the 96 minute and pinch a draw.Another tough game on the cards.
    As I wrote earlier we knew what we were getting with SB,and I like the man.Is he the right man for us at this moment?I don’t think so,but Xia does so I ‘ll back him until that changes.Off course we are all disappointed,but to call for him to go tonight is barmy,but stranger things have happened.This is Aston Villa after all..

  30. Forgot to add,I think we are in this division for a few years yet.The recent run of wins I enjoyed and welcomed after 6 years of being urinated on by all and sundry,it feels great to win against anyone.Please prove me wrong Bruce,you are doing your best,but I believe the club needs a lot more to be repaired before we can progress.

  31. I was worried Villa would be rusty after the break, they seem to be a late sleeper. I think this team will wake-up now. Wolves are probably the best team around. I think Villa is a top six side
    O’Hare put his hand up and we know Hutton can play on the left. I would prefer a Davis/Hogan partnership with O’Hare at # 10 and play Kodjia as a lone striker when only one up front. Considering the ease at which Wolves broke out, Villa’s defence took a lot of beating. Hutton did especially well, considering he’d been out for a long while. He, at least, kept fit. Johnstone looks like a top keeper. Overall, I’m not worried by the result, just got beat by a better team on the day. Wolves are the benchmark Villa should aspire to. Sounds a bit odd, but it is what it is.

  32. John,

    Excelllent message, but i.m.o. far too early to write it! 😉

    When a team has a good run it always has to come to an end at some point, and this was it. So it’s just one match, and only to be concerned about if we have a series of outcomes like this.

    Let’s keep some perspective. As Iana says: “just got beat by a better team on the day”.

    And it is just the kind of wake-up that the players need. They came out of the last 2 weeks break looking as though they’s had slept on over-confidence pills!

  33. James,

    I’m a bit shocked at your reply to my point about Wolves’ rather rough defensive play.

    Yes, you could say that Codger’s head-high clearance was dangerous play, but he was – after all – only clearing from a dangerous situation. He was not playing dirty. On the other hand we could have had TWO penalties when Codger looked as though he was pushed off the ball when put through by Davis, and Snodgrass definitely was pushed in the back to stop him connecting with a centre. Both of those incidents were just two of the dirty play they inflicted, but inflicted cleverly.

    Not saying that Villa were totally innocent, but Wolves did play with an attitude that Villa should not get through at all costs, legitimate or otherwise.

    But they of course deserved to win. I don’t doubt that. Villa were in complacency mode when they came on the pitch.

  34. JC, PP and Brasil you say exactly what I’m thinking. Iana still believes (like many I’m sure) that Villa are a top 6 team. Well, we are a quarter of the way through the season and still outside. When in doubt SB goes defensive. He will say that was not the case against Wolves as he played 4-4-2 but JG rightfully complained that Adomah spent his time mainly at LB whilst Codger was busy in his own area rather than up the other end far too often.

    SB…….how many red lights do we need to pass before realizing the danger? More of the same will lead to more of the same. Try putting young legs in the middle of the park and attacking rather than containing the opposition. Use your subs more proactively. Nuno didn’t mess around, his first sub was at half time when Wolves were doing fine. It was obvious to most by half time that Adomah and Whelan needed changing. That was the time to bring on Onomah and O’Hare. Mourinho once brought on 3 subs at half time. When asked if that was a risk as any subsequent injury would leave them short handed and maybe lose the game, he said the game was already lost if he hadn’t made the changes.

  35. James,

    We’ve been talking about the lack of quality of officials in the Championship all season.

    That’s what the conversation is about.

    For you to infer that I’m looking at that as the reason for Villa’s defeat indicates that you do not read what I’ write, sorry to say.

    Villa were beaten by a better team; no doubt about that. And I have said that if only you would read! But if the officials had done their part it’s possible there might have been a different result, even though we might have lost 4-2 and not 2-0!! It would have been more entertaining at least!

    As for Codger and that high kick, he was merely clearing his lines in his intention. If the ref had whistled for that then, hey, he should also have whistled for the 2 at the other end! 😉

  36. jl
    you mentioned wolves thuggerey, i gave you 3 different villa players who made cynical fouls and kodja was early in game dont think villa had crossed edge centre circle at that stage,if we had lost last night with us showing a tiny bit of effort it would been bad but it was as bad a showing for a long time

  37. James,

    Yes you did “give me” such facts. I’ve already commented on those.

    Just what are you trying to prove? We’re in agreement that Villa rightly lost. That’s not the question.

    Though you’re right that Villa also committed fouls, I di not see any “thuggery” on Villa’s part at all. I don’t even agree that Hutton fouled in the way you say he did. But if we disagree about that then so be it.

    What I was getting at, James, is the insidious way that Wolves were fouling, committing fouls in such a way that the ref would be less likely to see them.

    That’s all I’m saying. That’s NOT an excuse I’m putting forward, simply a discussion piece.

    Like the great William McGregor, I have a hatred of insidious fouling, and when I see it I see it as bringing the game into disrepute.

  38. Morning lifers,
    Hope you’re all well. Think yesterday’s game sums up Villa under Bruce to a T.
    Found wanting against good ball playing teams as there is no plan B.
    Good time to be a wolves fan – the type of football a number of us wished Villa would (or could) play.
    JL how can you accuse them of thuggery? Not sure where this comes from? If anything we were the thugs. And the challenges on Snodgrass and Kodija – not penalties for me.

  39. JC, thanks for a really good justification of why it’s ok to criticise our team, players, manager, owner etc.
    I agree with you completely.
    Such criticism is fine when accompanied by rational analysis of what is wrong, or a genuine questioning of why things are not right.
    Some of us, (and I include myself in this) sometimes have a sense that something is wrong, but don’t have sufficient background knowledge to analyse exactly what the problem is. I reckon it’s then fair enough to raise the concern and ask if anyone has any suggestions for a solution.
    Where I and I’m sure others become irritated is when individuals appear to criticise for the sake of it, with no apparent rational reasoning , questioning or analysis.
    A tiny few on here appear to revel in being negative and trot out the same tired criticisms whilst offering nothing insightful or constructive.
    I could name names . . . but let’s face it, there’s no need. We and they know who I mean.

  40. Villa were played off the park last night against a team that finished 15th in the Championship last season.

    There was a difference in class and the football Wolves played was a joy to watch.

    Steve Bruce was left scratching his big head again.

    Both clubs have benefited from a takeover and investment from new owners

    Wolves have a vision , a manager who knows how to play attractive football and a recruitment policy that matches that vision.

    We have Steve Bruce, trying to make us hard to beat and buying players like Glen Whelan.

    And so Villa’ s transformation continues .

  41. richards
    your 1st line says it all,wolves finished below us with was it lambert in charge,so new man in few signings and they are a joy to watch,running at will ,passing movement on/off ball,
    questions need to go to round who i thought was full of knowledge of players from all over the world yet we sign 2 of bruce former hull players, whelan from stoke

  42. Wow … and all this is after one defeat against the (now) leaders of the division…

    Up to yesterday we were 5 points off top spot. after 8 games undefeated.

    Anyone would think the world has come to an end. Hang on …

  43. James Gill – exactly. With the money invested by DR T we should be sitting at the top of the table. Unfortunately both DR T and Bruce are clueless. We have wasted millions on players like McCormick and Hogan and we still don’t have style of play or an identity.

    We are play off contenders at best.

  44. I think yowm all mad [if thats what it takes to be a villa fan].
    I could name names but it’s a long list.

    Seriously, I could only get it on talksport as was driving, but the reception was mostly diabolical on am, so got very little sense of facts of what was going on in the match other than the tone of the commentary & the crowd noise, so thanks everybody for the facts as you see it.
    Yes I also agree that Bruce does have a defensive default position unless jarred out of it by events outside his control, which incidentally is when we usually do well, or at least play football.
    Also to be fair, Wolves apparently had a good day & we were cr*p & were rolled over.
    It’s not rocket science, & I also tend to advocate dinosaur control legislation!

  45. JL,

    It is a balanced view which also gives Hutton MOM with a rating of 6.75, second is O’Hare with a 5.75 rating, and the rest of the team, within a range of 4+ to 4.75. This is because of the poor set up, as 7500 says of playing Adomah as a back up to Hutton, and playing 4-4-2 instead of 4-3-3.

    It hardly defends Bruce’s tactics.

  46. Paul.

    I wasn’t suggesting that it was defending anyone’s tactics! I just gave the link to a fair article. 🙂

    In point of fact, I don’t think the result was much to do with Villa’s tactics at all. It’s more to do with the players in my view. They looked to me as though they’d gone into the 2-week break on a high and played the game anticipating that they would win when they got their mojo working … which clearly did not happen.

    Losing against Wolves was good shock therapy in my view. I expect them to be awake against Fulham and will want to know why if they aren’t.

  47. PP
    With the personnel we’ve got I would have thought it was obvious that Park the bus [we always end up under siege with 442] will not work against teams like wolves away unless we are lucky & they are profligate.
    It makes far more sense, & more suited to the players we have to use a flexible 433/451 as you say, & make a proper game of it with teams like Wolves.
    You can’t say that it’s all down to the players & nothing to do with the system, as they follow the script that they are given, & with the best will in the world they would be at a disadvantage if it’s the wrong script.
    Which happens far too often with SB so far it seems.

  48. IanG: “You can’t say that it’s all down to the players & nothing to do with the system”

    But I didn’t say that Ian.

    I said: “It’s more to do with the players”, in my view. “More” not “all”.

  49. JL
    It’s easy to blame the players [all or more the inference puts more blame on the players], but you can’t dig a hole with a pair of shears quickly enough for it to make any sense.

  50. JL,

    “So it’s just one match, and only to be concerned about if we have a series of outcomes like this.”

    I’ve enough perspective to see that this is what we’ve looked like each time we’ve played a non-relegation candidate.

    Now, as I prefaced my comment, I generally don’t take too much from any one game. However, we’re starting to build up a series of games against good sides where we haven’t been competitive. To me, that’s troubling. If the trend doesn’t continue, then that’s wonderful.

    But the trend is there…As I said, it’s up to Bruce and the players to do something about it.

    Wolves have had massive turnover, a new coach, and look like they know how to play football. We’ve had massive turnover, a new coach, and looked totally outclassed. Those were the facts on the day.

  51. As far as the “fair” article goes:

    “Like Villa, Wolves have spent a lot of money to get out of this division, but unlike Villa, they’ve done it with a coherent plan for how they’re going to play. There are two reasons teams succeed: they have a superior system or superior talent. Wolves have both.”

    So Villa have spent a lot of money without a coherent plan, by this writer’s admission. Which is pretty much the point most everyone is making about Bruce: There does not seem to be a coherent plan.

    Which means the questions remain: Is there a coherent plan? Is he capable of making one? And do Villa actually have superior talent since we don’t, apparently, have a coherent plan for how we’re going to recruit and play?

    I’m all for patience and optimism, but Wolves are giving us a lesson, at the moment.

  52. John,

    Yes of course Wolves have given a lesson. I don’t think I said not.

    But I do think that a lot of people are being hugely impatient – and about their own club too – when improvement of (in my opinion) of sufficient magmitude has been shown in recent weeks, albeit against lower teams.

    I think it’s wise to keep thy powder dry John, until after another match or two have been played. That way we will all see the bigger picture, not just a one match situation after a break of 2 weeks. As said above, we always seem to fail to ignite after such a break.

    I live in hope still. I hope you do too.

  53. JC: “And you have to have seriously superior talent if you’re going to win without a coherent plan.”

    Frankly I don’t know what that means. I don’t see an absence of a plan particularly, just that the players didn’t come up trumps as I see it.

  54. IanG: “It’s easy to blame the players [all or more the inference puts more blame on the players], but you can’t dig a hole with a pair of shears quickly enough for it to make any sense.”

    But I saw the match and the players Ian. I’m not going by what I’ve read in a report so I don’t know what you mean here about it being “easy to blame the players”.

    I’m talking about their actual input into the match. For me they looked stale and did not seem in control of their own play well enough. Those are individual issues and not really connected with any notion of team plans.

    As I said above, the manner of the defeat should act as shock treatment. I hope the Villa show the effect of that shock and will be prepared on Saturday.

  55. In fact I’ll elaborate on my reference to the players being “stale”: for me the Villa looked as though they thought they were still playing the Bolton match! 🙂

  56. I look at the squad we have assembled over the last 15 months and it is clear that it is one designed to have the ball – well certainly with the summer additions of CH, HL and SH. So why the dire anti-football tactics? The mind boggles!

    JC – you’ve got it spot on. There does not appear to be a plan, and at this stage of Bruce’s tenure it is very worrying.

  57. John, yes we’ve been lacking against the very best teams and we can all come up with our own reasons why.
    We have shown progress this year though and it feels to me, as it did at the start of the season, that we’re in with a good chance of ending the season in or around the top 6
    I don’t think many (any?) of us expected us to get automatic promotion this year so what’s changed now?
    I think it’s that expectations had been raised by recent results and many ‘had’ started to feel that top 2 is now possible. The Wolves game has brought those hopes down to earth with a big bump.
    This doesn’t feel like a time for knee jerk reactions.
    If we change our manager, my belief is that we will be ‘less’ likely to get promotion this year.
    Take a look at relegated teams in any division . . . . most have them have changed their managers. It really isn’t the panacea that frustrated fans of any team think it is.

  58. JL,

    I know you think people are being impatient. But, as you admit, Wolves are, at the moment anyway, showing us that you can spend, spend wisely, and become a much better team in a relatively short amount of time. Less time than Bruce has had. And Santos only started managing in 2012.

    Of course, we’ll go round and round about whether Villa are a special circumstance. Maybe they are.

    But these sorts of showdowns against teams you have to measure yourself against…Well, you’re either competitive or you’re not. Villa weren’t.

    Does it change? I certainly hope so. Have no idea how Wolves will fare over the season. Have no idea how we’ll respond. But I can say with certainty that when summoned to the big stage yesterday, Villa were sorely lacking in virtually every department.

    It’s fine to look good against poor teams. What counts is how you look against the teams you’re ostensibly supposed to be as good as, if not better.

    I’m not calling for anything, powder dry and all that. I am saying, quite objectively, imo, that Villa were outclassed on the day, and have been before against good opposition this season.

    A blip? Yes, I hope so, too. But I’m not encouraged that we never threatened to get a result, break or no break. As always, I hope to be wrong in reading too much into it.

  59. Gareth,

    It is worrying. Like I say, I try to call it like I see it. The match could be a one-off. Except that that’s the way we’ve looked playing anyone with a shot at promotion. Wolves have an identity, we don’t.

    If we’re all going to say/accept that promotion (automatic or otherwise) isn’t reasonably on the cards this season, then one has justification to ask if we should be going about this differently, because Wolves have certainly done more in less time than we have.

  60. How much preparation is done before each match by Bruce and the team. Virtually every team these days are studying the opposition, checking their players, tactics and working out the best way to play them. Steve Cotterell made sure he was at the match, studying the opposition, and you can bet he will spend hours preparing his players for the game.
    He has hit the ground running, and been bringing his players up to full fitness, to the extent, they were still doing training after Friday night’s game.

    I do not see the same commitment from Bruce…We go again…we hope for a result…hope never won anything..!!

  61. JC
    This is why I mentioned Bruce’s default position, because there’s a pattern there, as even when he didn’t go 442 he still played defensive based football.
    There appears to be a balance problem, & although there have been times when it worked [usually against lesser sides as you said], it didn’t usually last long.
    This last purple patch although welcome, was better & welcome, but not completely convincing [after 50 games?
    I wonder what the problem is, or the resistance is to Bruce’s ideas are that he has mentioned.
    Tactics changes are also there to freshen up the players when stale, which can sometimes inject energy & a change of focus, but he doesn’t usually do this unless forced to.
    If you just keep doing the same thing you lose the game or hope for some luck, at which point Bruce appears to run out of ideas on how to influence a game & it all gets cumbersome not skilful, or something to get the players up again, & we do have a large squad & some reasonably good players who sometimes appear to look confused.
    In the mid 80’s I remember one game [I can’t remember who we were playing]at Villa park, which was strikingly dull with no energy anywhere, but it did improve & we didn’t lose because the lads despite how difficult it was came together a team, but these games were the exception not the rule.
    Currently these situations appear to be not so much an exception, so something basic hasn’t been working very well.
    I hope it improves drastically otherwise as we all do, but if the approach doesn’t change much then the players will be the scapegoat & we will be told that we have to spend loads more money to get promotion.
    I hope not as the pattern is depressing.

  62. JC – Yes, if according to some, our expectations of promotion are unrealistic, then the “dinosaur project” is even more pointless!

    PP – Not once have we out thought the opposition this season. Training must be boring as hell, it’s all plan A.

  63. you’ve probably seen Paul Magrath’s advice to the team:

    Just a little suggestion, to Some Villa players , if you actually close the opposition down as a group. Believe me you can win the ball back

  64. IanG…That’s some solid advice, and I can’t say I’ve seen Villa do that week-in week-out since I don’t know when. Wolves were all over us.

    Which is the thing that makes me wonder. If there is a lack of commitment from the players, then what’s it down to? Them, their instructions, or their lack of belief in each other…or the instructions?

  65. PP…

    I really have no idea what we’re working on, and you’d think we would by now. I’m seriously baffled by how we looked yesterday compared with Wolves. You’d think we were playing a top-tier PL team.

  66. jc
    of the 14 players used v wolves only adoamh kodja davies and ohare wherent signed at one stage by bruce and if that performance last night was a team playing for a manager we are in big bother

  67. robbo
    your post at 11 19am was full of s**te ,what gives you the right to say that yourself and a few others know whats wrong at villa and can analyse properly not the first time you have been patronising on here

  68. They did look rusty, couldn’t get the ball, especially in the 2nd half of match. This match was their shot over the bow, so I’m not panicking, yet.
    They’ll either wake-up or be sorely exposed against Fulham. If they have any brains, they will have realised there is no room for complacency or day-dreaming. Yes defend as a team and hold on to the friggin ball. A greater sense of urgency is needed.
    Xia will be demanding better from SB. He’s still under the cosh, no doubt about it.
    I still think he should play Hogan and Davis up front with O’Hare at #10. When we need to protect a lead he can bring on Kodjia as a lone striker.

  69. JG – “robbo
    your post at 11 19am was full of s**te ,what gives you the right to say that yourself and a few others know whats wrong at villa and can analyse properly not the first time you have been patronising on here”

    James – I think you should find some other hobby to moan at. You say the same things ad nauseum about the Villa and also about your national team.
    And I would ask the moderator on here to censor these type of inflammatory comments or ban those who say such things. Especially when those who say them constantly tell most of the blog how wrong they are in every post they make…….


  70. JC: “Wolves were stronger, hungrier, faster, more skillful, more disciplined and better organized.”

    Did I say they weren’t, John? Why are you starting to look into things I didn’t say as well?! 😀

    While Wolves did look as you state, that doesn’t mean to say that Villa didn’t contribute to that appearance by being stale themselves.

    That’s why it’s said that it takes two teams to make a match … if one team hasn’t shown up for it in the right frame of mind then the other team *will* look the stronger. And they’re better going forward, no doubt. Yes, the better team (on the day) won.

  71. ov
    back again another comeback,or no another post giving out to some one saturday night it was paul whiting last week mark king ,today me again ,yet no mention of match how we played setup or how bruce is doing a wonderful job in your eyes,this is a football blog

  72. Iana: “Yes defend as a team and hold on to the friggin ball. A greater sense of urgency is needed.”

    Yes, that’s about one of the best statements made here about the match i.m.o., and gets to the root of it.

    It it is down to the players. They are good enough individually as I see it, but they lacked those very attributes that were so badly needed against Wolves.

  73. James,

    The test is what happens in the next match. I repeat: one defeat after 8 games undefeated. Let’s take a breather and see what happens next game up before we get into slanderous discussion again about managers.

    Your hate for Bruce will not get us anywhere. Nothing’s going to change in that regard.

    We are still in 7th place.

  74. Hello happy campers
    I am really looking forward to the home game against Fulham. The team will need to prove themselves at home against a good team, a real test of character. After the disappointment yesterday, a win will be just the tonic the Dr ordered.

  75. john l
    where have i been slanderous about bruce,where have i said i hated bruce
    i stated bruce is not fit to manage my club,he has had 50 games etc, and is saturday performance any better than when we lost to leeds last december when we were within touching distance of play offs

  76. James Gill, your comment at 12.19 suggested that my comment at 11.19 on the 15th was full of s**te and patronising because I claim to know what’s wrong and can analyse properly.
    Want to go back and read it again?
    I was actually admitting that I do NOT have the answers.
    There are others on here with far more footballing knowledge than me whose balanced and sensible analyses and opinions I look forward to reading.
    You won’t be surprised to hear that your name isn’t on that list.
    Now THAT is patronising

  77. Nice one Robbo, but TBF I don’t think James read the bit in brackets where you say i include myself, as i missed it first myself. I believe all of us on this site want one thing, and that’s to see us playing well and with that hopefully winning. Issue is how long do we let things play out, before the inevitable happens. I include every single contributor in that last comment, as JL and the other OLD Villa ( I include myself in this group) seem to be in agreement that Steve is not likely to be the guy to lead us in the Prem should he miraculously manage to get us there.
    So the big question, is not should he stay or should he go, but when should he go. Time and again we have fallen way short against quality opposition, these are the teams that will win automatic promotion, so we will have to play them and better teams should we fluke promotion via the play offs. Again I ask the question then, when should he go, every now and then I think along with John we are moving forward, but alas, that feeling doesn’t last and we serve up tripe, and with or with out the onions I cant stand tripe.
    My problem living over here, is I’m limited to the amount of games I get to watch other than the Prem and Champions League. So I accept we will not be able to attract a manager from any of those sides and I don’t know enough of managers in this or any other division in the UK to be able to come with a viable alternative. Yes, Moyes and Sam are available, but wouldn’t that be reinventing the wheel? Same mold same out come? It would be interesting to hear some viable alternatives to the Bruce, any suggestions chaps?

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