Well, Dr Xia, you have a dilemma. Actually you are on the horns of a dilemma. In fact, you are on the horns of several dilemmas. I don’t envy your position as chairman of Aston Villa right now.

You have ingratiated yourself with tweets to the fans which has given them (falsely) some level of say in what the club does. You have installed some intelligent football people in the backrooms of Villa Park to run the team but ultimately they are beholden to you and your wishes. You have promised a return to the Premiership and in a moment of hubris a place in the Champions League in the near future. Heady stuff. Nothing wrong in having dreams or goals in one’s life, but telling everyone leaves you open to only one result, and that is results. No room for error in the minds of the fans, you told them what you want.

What exactly is your motive? Is it exciting innovative football? Promotion? European football? Or is it all about money—Premiership money? Piggy backing Villa onto your holdings as a bauble? Raising Villa’s star in the east to generate income?

None of the above motives are bad, actually they are all good as all would be wonderful for the club. But what exactly are  your personal thoughts? Your dreams exactly? What drives you to own Aston Villa Football Club? I’m guessing it’s the money. Your transfer behaviour and choice of manager give you away.

At first it was Roberto, a known entity and somewhat famous in the footballing world, a successful Champions League manager, and someone to promote in China. Then with huge spending a quick trip up was envisioned. Spending that was supposed to be swallowed up by Premiership payouts. A not-to-worry situation. Exciting football atop the league was envisioned.

Exciting football takes time and needs patience. I’m not suggesting that Di Matteo was the answer, but after 13 games he was sacked, leading me to believe that Premiership money was more important than exciting football. Hiring Steve Bruce strengthened my thinking. Again, not saying that the Premiership shouldn’t be a target.

Bruce’s MO is promotion and nothing more than promotion. He promoted Hull and promptly resigned, either not willing to work in the Prem, or the backroom at Hull realized he wasn’t the man to lead them on. Resignation being kinder than sacked.

Bruce set about putting his philosophy in place and more than a few players became surplus to the equation. His additions a year ago January were seen as good acquisitions. Acquisitions that look good on paper never looked good in Bruce’s master plan. The master plan became forcing square pegs into round holes, letting talent sit as they just didn’t fit, and playing players out of position just because they are favourites or perform well in Bruce’s mind by magic.

The squad is huge and the inability to mix and match the talent is telling. There is more than one player sold, traded, or loaned out with intention to buy that has made one wonder. The missing factor in these transactions is the agent. What agent is his right mind is going to let one of his assets cool his heels on the bench or periphery of the team? Any agent worth his salt is going to do what’s best apart from lining his own pockets. And that is a quick exit from Villa. Especially youth as they just don’t rate for Bruce.

So, Tony, here are your big dilemmas: Are you going to accept the fact that promotion could be a longer process than you promised? And that a place in the Prem is easier said than accomplished? How are you going to tell the fans? Are you going to let seasoned professionals run the team as they see fit? And finally how are you going to accept the team you didn’t envision?

Whether Steve Bruce is going to see the end of the season with Villa is the looming question in a lot of people’s minds. Villa are in the same position as Birmingham last year when Rowett was shown the door, and now Monk this year was shown the door with Middlesbrough in exactly the same position. In fact, Boro have won two since that decision was made and Pulis isn’t in the dugout yet. A bold move by Chairman Gibson.

In reality places 7 through 21 in the Championship are equal. The payout isn’t great. It’s a place to put a team together for a run next year or perhaps a year or two. For some it’s the best they will ever do—or purgatory for some big teams. Bruce is on the edge and the question is can he do it? Or should someone be brought in to retool and have a go in the next year or two? How do these two thoughts fit with Xia’s profit making?

Right now Villa is an expensive older team that has to make the jump. Should the change in manager be made now and the rest of the season used to retool and rethink the process? Or go for it and take a chance of mid-table in the Championship next year?

Who would you pick? Or would you go with Bruce—with a hope and a prayer?

Me? I’d hire Monk. He definitely has something to prove, he’s young, ambitious and patient.

Comments 56

  1. Very well written Ian and it says what many are thinking. Most Villa supporters do not follow the club blindly. To do so would just lead to unscrupulous people taking advantage of them. Now is the time to ask these questions.

    Garry Monk? He’s had 2 clubs in just over a year. Something not right there. But hey, we are just discussing options as we see them. Dr Xia has to make the all important calls.

  2. good post ian
    me i dont know who i want ,as long as it is not one of dinosaur click ,why cant we get a silva wagner type ,for me we still have bases of team for promotion push just a different driver no more square pegs in round holes,no more players [snodgrass telling where he is playing]no more playing ooamh just because spurs said so send him back,try ohara and some of other under 23
    for me
    delaet/bree terry /elphik chester taylor[lack of lb thanks bruce]
    houirane jedi/whelan [never in same team] lansbury grealish adoamh elmo green
    davies hogan
    enough quality there with right manager

  3. Thanks Ian the question on everybodys lips stick or twist. As a quick fix Warnock or maybe Pullis (now gone) would recognise the quality and how to use it, I’d like smith, I like what he has done elsewhere, seems smart in his assessment of games and players and adept at tactics and his team have the most shots and chances created while looking organised in defence. Lost his best players to Birmingham in the summer rebuilt and is on the way back up 4 points shy of us now while Birmingham are bottom. I am open to anyone more progressive that can cast his eye further than 11-14 players. I also recognise that its likely Bruce will stay regardless just in case and due to the stability tune we have played this and last season, oh and we are skint.

    Bruce has said post match that we are going through our bad patch and names other teams that have also had a bad patch and come good, to me this is our second bad patch the first is why we are not anywhere near top 2 to begin with. He has also said we have returned to the bad ways of the team he inherited while not explaining why the team he has built almost entirely should do this considering they were the answer. I think he has run out of answers and it will now be in the lap of the gods whether we come good or fade away.

    Good luck Tony who according to Wyness has bought Villa for life like that dog you get at Christmas, hope it s not your pension fund.

  4. Thanks, Ian. Very timely and everything you write is top of mind for supporters.

    Like Mark says, Smith looks a very good manager, proving it over and over. Not sure if Monk is headstrong or what…something seems not to be working, but he has gotten results and he’s available.

    That said, also agree that Bruce probably isn’t going anywhere. As soon as I type that, though, I wonder if Xia, looking at the finances, is going to be content to sit tight. We’ve really thrown everything at it for this season, and there are enough games left to make sure we’re in the playoffs, and just maybe improve enough to win through.

  5. Top notch writing Ian.
    No Mark,no quick fixes please.
    I said months ago that I thought our stay outside The Greed League would be a lengthy one.
    Too much damage,too many repairs required.
    When will stop throwing £££ at our problems?
    The players need to be coached,we don’t need new faces.
    HNY everyone,good luck in 2018.

  6. The midfield are in decline at the moment, so no wonder the forwards get no decent service.
    As has been stated our main creator Houlihane, is always played out of position, & the rest of the midfield are easy prey to organised championship teams as they seem to have little sharpness.
    I did see Grealish, Onomah & others play some neat one touch football but nowhere near enough.
    Brentford did an Icelandic job & psyched them all out.

  7. Taylor tweeted we need fresh legs in the midfield in Jan thats to add to the 6-7 bruce has brought in and the 3 out on loan, what a mess. I still haven’t seen a player better than Doyle hayes in CM

  8. MK & All
    Why not give Doyle Hayes, O’Hare et al a good run? A few so-called experienced players aren’t doing a job for Villa at the moment. They’re just getting worn out and breaking down. You can’t rely on loans forever, they have to be paid back. There’s always a catch.

  9. Taylor could have tweeted that comment last Sept. It has been so obvious for so long to the fans. It doesn’t help when SB keeps picking them week after week. Time to give the oldies an extended rest from duty and not even a place on the bench.

    I wouldn’t give SB a penny to spend in Jan. I’d tell him to promote his U-23’s who I’ve almost given up hope of seeing. But I’ve got my cup ticket for Peterborough so I might see a few then.

  10. I see that Leeds fans now genuinely believe that they can win the league.
    They were below us two weeks ago
    Villa fans don’t even believe we can make the play offs
    I am not ‘excited’ by our current position by any means at all.
    I’m not ‘convinced’ that Bruce can get us promoted
    I would ‘prefer’ that we played some more of the younger players.

    But. . . I don’t see them in training,

    I don’t believe that I would make a better manager than Steve Bruce

    And I do believe that when Terry is back our results will

    And I do still believe we can make the play offs.

    Nobody on here expected automatic promotion this year so are we maybe over- reacting on here?

  11. I hear good things of Doyle Hayes but haven’t seen him play
    O’Hare did well when I saw him so would like to see him again
    Davis started really well but needed a break to then come back strong again (hopefully)
    Green will probably get back in the side when fully fit
    Jack looks as if he’s here to stay this time
    Anyone I’ve missed?

  12. Robbo- the cup games before SB took all the first team players out against Borough Doyle hayes looked decent, has a great passing range and during those games picked out Hogan, its the only time Hogan looked happy. Shouldn’t be surprised because even though Adomah was looking great in those games too he never got a look in until Greens injury forced Bruces hand. Doyle hayes has great vision and quick mind and the ability to boot, when green, davis , ohare and him played together you could see the understanding was there.

    Yes we can make the play offs as can so many others, this month should of cemented us in the top 3-4 and with the way we are playing against the top teams I don’t fancy our chances beating them in the play offs but any things possible. There will be late runner into the mix as usual and that could be any of brentford, fulham or PNE I reckon. Bristol and derby looked nailed on leeds have come good too, its going to be very tight and it really should not have been IMO.

  13. r0bb0 – I agree with everything you say with the possible exception of your last sentence referring to automatic promotion. I do believe the Villa hierarchy funded SB to attain automatic promotion.

    It’s true we don’t see them training. I did see Brentford try several different moves against us from set pieces that were clearly organised on the training ground. I don’t see that from Villa. I do see Snoddy banging set pieces into the wall or over the bar. SB is using injuries to key players as his excuse. My eyes tell me that some of his non injured players are struggling. This is why we have a squad. But SB doesn’t use it.

  14. Well the tide is turning…..more and more fans are coming to the conclusion that Villa have no future under Bruce.
    Not many are in the just sack him brigade, most are looking for a better solution in the process.
    The betting puts John Terry in second place at 7-1, and I am in the Terry brigade, because, I feel that he would bring the missing ingredients to the team in desire, leadership, and the experience of winning on a regular basis. He could become the next Alex Ferguson, and yes, that may take some time, but I am sure we will be able to see a different mindset on the pitch, and a more logical team selection.
    Cannot see Bruce changing much for the Boro’ game, but without a result, it could be his last. I would have loved to see him succeed, and for JL to be able to say I told you so, but it just has not happened, which is what I feared.

  15. Perhaps the most sad thing is that Villa fans are now questioning themselves, and their right to expect better.

    Newcastle fans have struggled, but supported their team, expected better, did the business last season with a manager who KNOWS WHAT REAL SUCCESS IS, not a championship journeyman, and are still holding on in the Premiership, and perhaps with a decent owner will go places.

    Maybe, Villa should cast their eyes over Raffa once more, if they want a really experienced manger, who may be able to be tempted to jump ship..!!

  16. r0bb0,

    No, haven’t missed anyone, those are the ones in the mix. We’ve talked about Jordan Lyden, midfielder, as well. He’s listed as first team on the OS, never really seen hide nor hair of him. Those who have reckon he has something to offer.

    I understand being wary of putting players on you’ll be criticized for, so young players, you never know, and the manager is more open to criticism. And when games are tight, as almost all of ours have been, it’s tough to gamble.

    So normally I defer to the manager, he sees players all the time, especially kids training with the first team, we don’t. Right now, given the persistence with certain veteran players who aren’t doing much, one wonders whether, as part of freshening things up and rotating the squad, some of these younger players shouldn’t get a look in.

    I always come back to Whelan, as I think, along with Gabby, he’s an indication of Bruce’s dilemma. Knows what to do, where to be, etc., but is past his prime. It’s an athletic, high-tempo league with lots of young players. I wonder if you’d really be losing that much putting in a Lyden, for example. The experience wouldn’t be there, but you’d get pace, athleticism, and energy, with far more upside for improvement. Doyle-Hayes is another who’s shown real ability when given a chance in preseason games, and O’Hare offers the sort of doggedness, with good ball skills up front, that seem to indicate he could step in for Snodgrass and help create (though Snodgrass does have six assists) when we’ve lost the plot going forward.

  17. Paul,

    I desperately want JL to be right, as well, and would very much like for this to just be a rough patch. I’m sure we all feel that way.

    I’d be very curious to know JT’s thoughts, what he would do differently.

  18. As far as the playoffs go, we should be able to make it…The trick is that right now, enough other sides are playing better to make it a question. We certainly should be able to do it with the squad we have. Things can always change, but right now, I can’t see the side making up a lot of ground if we fall further out of touch—the pressure will be immense and the atmosphere could well turn toxic.

    As many keep pointing out, the remit given Bruce and Villa may have been too ambitious. But like Ian says, Xia has put it out there, and supporters are focused on it.

    I think we’d all be looking at it differently if we didn’t have a new owner who was throwing money around and making us feel as though promotion was almost a formality.

  19. Ian
    Thanks for the leader.
    Looks like the veterans and odd in-form player in the squad won’t get Villa promotion and there’s little development of the younger players. Villa isn’t winning games at the moment and Villa love to lose when televised. To a generation of football fans, Villa must seem like the other team, the opposition, the also-ran that always seems to lose.
    Someone on AVL recently lamented the decline of Brum football. Brum isn’t represented by any well-known rugby or league clubs, either. Why not?
    I’m still hanging out for a playoff spot but not holding my breath cause I don’t want to suffocate in the process.
    For SB, the next week is going to be like going to the Colosseum. Will it be thumbs up or down? Sadly, the mob smell blood.

  20. I can imagine that our squad playing each other in practice must look impressive until they get into a real match and their opponents can actually run fast.

    JC- Lyden got injured last I saw, he had scored about 6 from midfield this season and looked the part so we don’t want him.

  21. Hi all,watching football generally and our division in particular,I notice how slow our game is.By that I don’t mean slow players in terms of pace,I mean our build up play is slow,laboured and tentative.Too many touches on the ball.Our better opponents play 1 and 2 touch quick play,quick movement allowing us little time to adjust.They seem to use the long hoof downfield as a last resort not their main tactic,just a thought lads,not a recent thing mind,noticed this months ago.

  22. Well I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We had the grand kids up for presents and turkey dinner, twas a great day. Despite a dozen or more new toys, my little princess reverted to playing with Mr Potato Head, which after not very long dropped down the basement stairs. I’m hoping that was an omen to be honest, because we cant carry on treading water, it’s time to swim.
    Didn’t even bother to tune in boxing day I just can’t be arsed right now we are that cr*p to watch.
    For me I’d like to see Spud gone sooner than later, and get in either Deano from Brentford or even have a go for Johnson from Bristol, and keep JT as a player coach. Lets face it the back room boys are no good either, so a John Terry coaching with one of those two as manager might be able to get to the play offs this season, if not then we will be playing next season here in the chumpionship once again. Won’t even be a local derby next year, Wolve’s are going up and the scum are going down.
    Well I hope every Villa fan has a happy new year, and to make mine happy now we have to clear the deck.

  23. Good evening each, Archie at the controls so take a night off…..
    As much as I wanted SB to be successful this season, and I really thought he would be, the reality is we will be very fortunate to finish in the top six. Against Brentford we looked indecisive in defence, as we have the last two or three fixtures, predictable going forward, lacking in creativity and generally not very good. I think SB took a punt on one or two old sweats and it hasn’t worked as he may have thought it might. Very disappointing.
    SB will see the season out and once its done and we’re in 7th, or 8th position he’ll be gone, which is disappointing. This Aston Villa managers job is one of the toughest there is. I personally think SB has been too soft and thought they would play for the shirt, it just doesn’t work like that. Disipline is the key and we’ve lacked it everywhere.
    Start again in May with who ever in charge, massive job that requires a massive personality.
    Pay the money……. Sean Dyche…he’d come.
    The journey continues, Archie.

  24. Interesting piece by Steve Bruce on John Terry, saying about how he is almost ready for management, and will not probably be fit to play until the cup game against the Posh, but will it be as a player, or as player/manager.

    Terry was in for training at 6.00am on Boxing Day, he has made sure staff get presents from Harvey Nicholls, rather than Woolllies, and is putting his stamp everywhere.

    I still say that Terry will replace Bruce sooner than later…!!!

  25. Excellent post Ian – it has generated plenty of comment and highlighted the predicament Villa and its supporters are experiencing at the moment (I copied the link in a Tweet to Dr Tony – perhaps he will register and read it!).
    I knew I shouldn’t have watched those 2 live games on Sky, especially as I expected the Bees to sting us. I have not a lot of faith in SB – he has no plan B when things go awry. He might have got promotion from this division in the past but he took Hull back near the drop before he jumped ship; even the excellent Silva couldn’t save his inheritance.
    Iana – no professional rugby league played in the Midlands; Moseley was one of the top Rugby Union teams some time back but has gone into decline, I suspect around the time players wages shot up.

  26. Oh ye all of so little faith….:-(

    Clive, a plan ‘B’ is fine if there i*is* a plan B that is viable!

    Goodness me, we lost a rock at CB 8 games ago and have also lost last season’s match winner, and also Green and Samba. It’s difficult to find a plan B in those circumstances, with players like Hogan and Grealish still only showing slight signs of being able to make a difference.

    Bringing in youth is a favoured mantra, and it’s an attractive one I know. But too many youngsters in one go is not a practical idea.

    Terry will be back soon and he will fill an important spot as it’s clear there’s no real backup for him. The team has recently lost its way recently mainly (I think) as Terry was not on the park to get ’em to think straight, When a team lacks a definite leader and the rest are mainly sheep, a team will not get very far. With Terry back the situation should change, though it may take a match or two.

    It’s not SB who is the main problem i.m.o. but the players that lack enough bottle. The old Villa pride went a long time ago, probably when the likes of Dublin and Mellbeg and Laursen went.

  27. JL
    Moseley village is itself a dump full of drunk students.Moseley Rugby club has moved from it’s spiritual home, so is neither Moseley nor interesting, except as a soulless entity for professional players.
    Yes it did all change when the game turned professional, as Moseley was in the top division often in those days, & as lana says, Mike Teague amongst other illustrious figures of the game played for them.

  28. JL, you are right Terry is a rock but Samba played sparingly, grealish has been hurt as has Green all season so really their contribution has been small. Bruce doesn’t know how to use Hogan, ran McCormack off sold Baker and played everyone else out of position. Also his rescue man is Gabby who also has been injured. He bought a shitload of talent, inherited a shitload of talent and has basically skunked it up a wall. Plan B? He had plans C, D, and E to fall back on. And he would have sold Adomah if he had a chance.

  29. jl
    you can say what you want about injurys,but bruce had 29 senior players including green grealish etc at start of season,and if he had got selling adoamh where would we be,sky commentators just said preston squad built for less than 2m something like we are paying slow snodgrass for 1 year

  30. Nice to see you comment JL

    well thats us in 9th as PNE beat Cardiff,

    How can Steve Bruce be excused from this season I don’t know? he has made more changes than RDM had chance to, so has to take the blame for us remaining a one man team, his team, his tactics and plenty of teams have had injuries and smaller squads than us, we just don’t use what we have in a productive manner. We have a pretty attack minded squad on the whole but use them to defend above all else. He has talked about our blip when in truth its our second or we would still be top 6 min. We can’t beat the top teams with or without a full squad.

    The youth certainly could be used, we are only talking about playing OHare and maybe a young striker on the bench or Doyle hayes, maybe even our U20 world cup captain could get a run at CB? we don’t need to play all but we certainly don’t need a a team with so may old heads either they have shown very little. I don’t see youth as a problem certainly not when Brentford’s average age is 24.7, PNE have fielded teams with an average age of 22 in some matches, I see it as an excuse for bad coaching and tactics personally.

    This is very serious for us because no promotion this season will see a lot of players go and looking at the calibre of teams looking likely to drop I don’t fancy us beating any of them next season either to the title, unless something changes drastically, we certainly won’t have JT to rescue us if indeed he can this season.

  31. Without a major turn around, the writing is on the wall for SB and Villa’s ambition of promotion. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Villa hasn’t proven to be top three tough. At the end of the day, it’s the numbers that count and they aren’t quite stacking up for Villa at the moment. Maybe too many players have their minds in far off places.
    Hopefully, we see the turn around starting this weekend. At least SB can’t afford to play for a draw anymore. It has to be a win.
    I feel sorry for Chester.

  32. Ian: “… but Samba played sparingly, grealish has been hurt as has Green all season so really their contribution has been small. Bruce doesn’t know how to use Hogan, ran McCormack off sold Baker …”

    Just to comment on this bit…

    1. The point I made about Samba is that he is clearly Terry’s deputy and therefore his added absence has left a big hole.
    2. The sale of Baker is down to he wanting to go as he could not be guaranteed first team football. Much as I liked Baker he was one of those prone to making big gaffs.
    3. Grealish was supposed to have been the player that Bruce was building his team around so that before the season started we were into plan B (Clive!).
    4. Green we have missed i.m.o. Yes, Adomah has picked up and used his chance at reinstatement well, but I feel that Albert and Green on the wings would be more productive. So Green’s absence is significant to my mind.
    5. As Bruce has stated, Hogan has not settled well in a big club. Yes, you can argue we have not played to Hogan’s strengths, but he has had a number of good chances to score. H might still make it though. But I think he lacks physical presence.
    6. McCormack? Ugh.

    My point is, Ian, is that Bruce has had to make do with a second-choice team all season and I think to a large extent it’s been Terry’s presence that has kept the show on the road.

  33. jl- All valid points that can argued for and against.

    By the time green got injured Bruce was being hounded out and Adomah was not even considered above elmo or snodgrass and beings Bruce is the manager and not you maybe greens continued presence would of sunk us unless he came up with 12 goals. Don’t get me wrong he’s a miss and a valid option but as the story of this season has unfolded its been Adomah in his position thats kept us in contention, who knows where we would be otherwise because it wasn’t really working.

    Our two senior centre halfs plus rookie (jedinak ) all have horrendous injury records of late and Bruce was relying on them to stay fit, that is a gamble just as much as Baker. Baker I don’t think has been on a losing side this season and I wish to god we had gone and got his partner Flint who was looking like leaving in the summer, all poor decisions when you know this league is physically demanding. We have to many in the 30+ bracket, derby have an older team with lots of 29-30 year olds that can still run we bought for experience and seeing games out neither of which the players seem to have without JT? Should of got Rowett when he was available very competent who’s absence at City is plain to see.

    Lots of ifs and buts and plenty of excuses but the big decisions that have shaped our season have been Bruces, the biggest of which was going for players he thought should walk this league with their experience, which in turn blows that specialist championship manager rubbish out of the water as we barley look competent next to the teams we play at times, how well does he know this league now? Not surprising as the teams he has managed have never got better with time with him at the helm, winning promotion in one season or less is his norm.

    Saw a quote from a Brentford player that they used Bruces pre match presser as fuel, he stated they are just trying to stay in the champs??

    Still lets get back on track toady if we can or have the most miraculous January window ever


  34. MK,

    The fact remains that Villa have been very badly hampered by injuries, and in significant areas of the team. Losing both Terry and Samba was a freak.

    Whether we don’t have the perfect manager or not, that fact of injuries is enough to create the situation that Villa are now in. With the return of Terry I see Villa picking up their thread again, though play-offs is the most we can hope for.

  35. MOMS article is excellent, and hits the nail on the head. Thanks for that MK.

    It sums up my thoughts, and all the nonsense about injuries. I am sure Elphick could have done more as a replacement for Terry, alongside Chester, and de Laet, I thought, had definitely earned his place at right back for the Brentford game. Surely Hourihane should have been playing, and not consigned to the bench. He and Hogan along with Grealish would have combined well.
    Bruce’s failures in Snodgrass, Whelan and El Mohamady were all too plain to see. What a difference O’Hare would have made in Whelan’s place. Young talent are making their mark in both the Premier league, and the Championship.
    I cannot see us picking up a single point from today’s game against Boro’. I am sure Pullis will make sure that if they are fit, that Traore and Gestede play havoc with Villa’s defence.

  36. An excellent post by Peter Rosie on “All things claret and Blue”

    Friday Morning post. I can’t do an evening one , for those that hate them……… tough s**t !
    As the year comes to a close it makes sense to reflect on the performance of our team, our manager and our supporters , and look at what might lie ahead of us .
    I start with our supporters and can only praise the lot of them. No criticism at all despite our outbursts of anger . We’ve all been through a hell of a bad time over the last 6 or 7 years and still we turn out in huge numbers both home and away. That’s got to have some kind of impact on the attitude of our squad. We have expectations and quite rightly so. We took the pain of relegation and have stood by our club. For the majority I reckon there was a belief that our stay in the championship would be a very short one. We should all realise by now that this ain’t gonna be plain sailing but regardless of that it’s not a completely lost cause at this stage of the season. Villa are very lucky to have us. It’s difficult but we have to remain hopeful that things are in place in the new year ahead to address the obvious problems we are still seeing. Well done Villans , keep the faith and better days will lie ahead .
    Steve Bruce and his back room team
    Wherever this man has been you get what it says on the tin.
    He’s been around for a long time in management and has never really changed his approach , however it’s noticeable that he also hasn’t spent too much time at any of his long list of clubs. There is a reason for that .
    1 The football has always been drab.
    2 He has managed to negotiate the championship and gain promotion with most of his clubs
    3 On gaining promotion he has also overseen relegations . ( This highlights his limitations and something we can all easily see why he has a sell by date on his can ).
    Now the Championship is seeing teams arriving armed with premier league cash and at the same time we are seeing other clubs with very wealthy new owners. He will not be buying his way out of this league and has got to start working in close proximity with his large team of staff that he has brought in and communicating with our players better. We have undoubted talent and he personally is not getting the best from them. It’s scandalous!
    1 Does he try and motivate them? It’s very questionable and for me it doesn’t look that way.
    2 Does he put square pegs in round holes because he truly can’t see that player talent alone will never work. It has to be done in a manner that will suit a style and be a threat to the particular opponents we face. I think his football brain and worse still, the rest of our backroom staff are severely lacking ability.
    He has now started the repetitive post match interviews and has been trying to put the blame on player mistakes . These mistakes are ultimately his doings as he sets us up to invite pressure sometimes on a large scale ( our possession stats tell the story) . Can he not see that mistakes can be eradicated simply by being on the front foot and not just going through the motions of trying not to lose ? I’m not buying it and I don’t think anyone else is. He’s looking very forlorn and clutching at straws. Yes mistakes can be costly and every team makes them. We’re spending far too long defending so it’s inevitable when we make one we will probably be punished.
    Team selection with a game plan and a balance.
    Homework to do on our opponents.
    As a minimum a plan B
    Accept the grief if we screw up.
    Take a long hard look at our training routine as it’s having an impact on our stamina on the field.
    Set piece practice with corners and free kicks need attention.
    We are realistic fans and deep down can accept we’re not going to trounce every team we play. He has to make steady progress for the rest of the season ( if he wants to remain in the job ) . He has the ingredients there and should use them correctly. No more cop outs Brucey. We’re not stupid .
    We’re now in a position where it’s not exactly great but at the same time not a disaster. We’ve been inconsistent but at the same time had a lot of fortunate results to mask the reality.
    JT returning can’t come quick enough for me. He’s always been a model professional on the field and we have definitely took a downslide since his injury. Some of our players need to talk and listen to this man as he has been an incredible leader virtually his whole career. As it stands I see him as the only man that might save Bruce’s bacon. We now need to salvage our season in the next few games so he had better be saying his prayers for a fast return. No pressure JT .
    The transfer window is almost upon us and we haven’t got a pot to p*ss in so I’m hearing. Apart from the obvious desperate need for a big man up front we may well need to hang onto first team regulars and get someone at the club to remove the rubbish that claim huge sums for doing nothing.
    Somebody must be able to do it ! Mc Cormack also needs to be closely monitored and stop this ridiculous ‘ I don’t like you ‘ nonsense. Grow a pair Brucey and sort it out. You’re supposed to be the bigger man ! It’s time he realised just how lucky he is to have what he’s got at his disposal .
    Boro next and I’m still staying positive. Our defeat last game was not as bad a performance as some have made out and I can recall a touch of bad luck too. Davis wasted a gilt edge chance. Hogan was inches offside for a very well made goal. Their keeper also managed to scramble one off the line. All gets overlooked I suppose after a devastating loss. We can turn Boro over in my opinion and I’m going for a 1-2 win and Brucey to have his skin saved for now.
    Here’s to a very welcome win and a kick in the teeth for our old friend Pulis

  37. JL- unlucky or not it’s plain we have had to cut our cloth, Baker would never have gone if elphick, Richards,Gabby and few others had been sold. Samba unattached for a reason he’d had a herniated disc that kept him out for a season a gamble as no3 CB in my book as was the injury prone hogan.

    Where we went wrong is in hiring Bruce full stop, did we really need to stop conceding so much as we needed to convert more of the umpteen chances we were creating? Bruce has had to change things to much to suit him rather than a manager who could of got more from what we had perhaps with less outlay and better prep if things went awry. It’s a theme we have followed for some while, settle on a style and build from it regardless of manager.

  38. Same old same old from Steve Bruce:

    Steve Bruce says he is sure of one thing ahead of Saturday’s trip to Middlesbrough – that his side will perform better than against Brentford on Boxing Day.
    The manager was unquestionably frustrated after defeat in the capital earlier this week, and believes the result now represents the ultimate motivation for improvement.
    He said: “We have to batten down the hatches and work hard at it now.
    “It’s only been two or three weeks since we were in the thick of it. We are having our blip.
    “Cardiff have had it, Sheffield United have had it. We’ve now hopefully had ours.
    “It’s still all to play for. It’s a difficult game at Middlesbrough but one thing is for sure – we will be better.
    “That is the only thing we have to focus on.”

  39. Mark, at the time, it was reported that Baker went because he wanted to play every week, so as soon as we signed John Terry he was destined to leave us.

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