Villa got back to winning ways at the City Ground yesterday, riding a Scott Hogan goal through to the finish line and a 1-0 win over our European Cup-winning companions. They’re all important wins, but it was good to see the A team put things right after the cup exit, and continue on in the vein of the Boro and Bristol matches in the league prior to that.

The Good
Professional, workmanlike win that, for the most part, felt comfortable enough. Scott Hogan scored a true poacher’s goal to bag his second in two, which is nothing but good but everyone. Really pleasing to see him get going, and I’m sure he’s feeling a lot better about himself. One is nice, but to go out and score again, that’s what a striker feeds off—the idea that given a chance, he will score, and that chances will come.

Grealish is looking a real footballer more and more each week. Snodgrass keeps doing something important, assisting Hogan’s goal, providing the cross for Terry’s opportunity, and always looking to drive into the box. Adomah kept Villa threatening down both flanks, and continues to be clever with the ball and his pace, likewise driving toward goal. Bjarnason was much more useful anchoring the midfield than Whelan, even if he’s doing the shop-window bit. There’s always been a decent player in there, and I don’t think he’s really had an opportunity to play to his strengths and find his feet at Villa. Certainly doesn’t hurt him being slotted into a side that’s much more settled.

Chester, apart from one miscue, had an excellent game, and Terry looked more like himself. Shame he didn’t sneak that header under the crossbar. Sam Johnstone had only one meaningful save to make, and it was a tricky one, so well done.

The Bad
I can’t really see anything bad in the game other than starting Whelan. I just won’t be convinced he’s not over the hill. To be fair to Bruce, though, Bjarnason turned out to be a more-than-worthy replacement.

We probably should’ve had three at least, in the end: Terry hit the woodwork, and Hogan was clear through with the goal at his mercy only to send it straight at the keeper. And Adomah, if found just a bit quicker would’ve had one. I think if it had finished 3-0, we’d be talking about the game a bit differently. Jack wasn’t far off on his trademark, cut-in curling attempt, and Snodgrass almost snuck in a well-taken free kick at the near post. I’d like to see Jack shooting a bit more.

This isn’t really a bad thing, but I’m still a bit perplexed about the fullbacks. Hutton has been playing well, had an important tackle in the box he had to get just right, but I think the fluidity going forward is better when Taylor’s in there. Could be a case of match-ups, never know, but I’m not sure Hutton is that much better a defender than Taylor, and Taylor is better with the ball. We keep seeing good things from De Laet when he does get a chance. But when you’re winning and keeping a clean sheet, there’s not a lot to argue with.

The Ugly
Once again, nothing to point to.

Final Verdict
Three wins in a row, and up into fourth. You have to like that. Higher pressing and decent organization, have to like that, too. We’re generally not easy for teams to get behind, and that’s a good foundation. Of course, we’ve done much better against teams that lack the ability to really make you pay in the final third…But you’d expect that, if you’re any good at all, and that’s a big component of the final standings, in the end: Those who can score and those who can’t. But you do have to at least split the six-pointers at the top, and probably come off a bit better than that.

Always said I’m a results guy. So when we’re getting results, and they don’t look like smash-and-grabs, I’m all for it. Don’t mind the odd lucky win, of course, you need those. You just want to be consistently not needing a miracle against the run of play if you’re going to stay the course. And yesterday was a solid, professional outing on the road. There will always be a few nervy moments in a 1-0 game, and I wasn’t entirely comfortable down the stretch, and yet somehow I was. So that says something, probably about Forest and Villa both. Still, I can’t help but feel the side could be more dominant more often.

Jack Grealish has obviously been a massive boost. Always dangerous, intelligent, and now working hard at both ends of the pitch, he truly is like a new signing. And this is a funny one, because before his injury, he wasn’t as complete a player. When Bruce said he was going to build the side around Jack after he went down, many thought he was being silly, or only saying it after the fact as a bit of an excuse, and even then, many supporters didn’t think Grealish was a two-way, 90-minute footballer. He was a luxury, icing on the cake. And up to that point, they’d have largely been right.

But since he’s come back, Jack’s starting to come into his own and finally looking like he might realize his potential. He really is a quality footballer. Whether his maturation is down to Bruce, Terry’s influence, the weight room, a conversation with himself…Could be all of the above. Main thing is that it’s happening.

The last three games have been more encouraging in terms of the upcoming six-pointers (though Forest have been on a bad run apart from the Arsenal shocker). And I think yesterday’s game would’ve looked closer to the Bristol performance than the Boro one if Terry’s header hadn’t come back off the bar.

At any rate, we find ourselves in a good position with enough games left to matter, including the six-pointers that will likely determine automatic promotion versus the playoffs. The depth in the side has, as many predicted, turned out to be a blessing instead of a case of having too many choices, given that injuries have dictated almost everyone getting a look in and the right balance finally seems to have been struck. With almost the full side fit again, Villa finally have decent options, and one hopes that it doesn’t create problems. It’s easy for a manager to outsmart himself.

Whereas I’d said Hogan was a waste of money since we apparently couldn’t play to his strengths, we’re now finding a way to get him the right kind of service. I can’t help but think Jack’s a big part of that, and maybe Agnew as well, as we’re keeping the ball on the carpet much more and making him a point of focus for opponents. Since he can handle that, it opens things up for others, especially especially since he’s giving us a ball-carrying impetus in the center of the park.

I’ll keep finding other players besides Hogan and Snodgrass who seem deficient in any given spell, as they obviously read AVL and decide to up their game when receiving criticism. But no one gave me a chance yesterday. So well done, the lads.

All told, we should feel pretty good right now. Was chatting with a Forest mate during the match, and he reckoned Villa looked more like a PL side. I said we ought to, given the money spent and number of players who have played at that level. But he had a point. There was organization and composure, threats from different areas, and a general sense of steadiness about us.

I like to think of myself as a realist, rather than an optimist or pessimist. The realist in me is a reasonably happy guy today.

Over to you.

Comments 96

  1. JG: (Previous thread) “You have to learn from defeats, especially if you get played off the park. “

    (Bluntly) 😀 Firstly, at no time have we been played off the park this season. We may not have come up to scratch on occasion, but not played off the park.

    I think we see Villa differently, John. For me there is simply the issue of re-definition of who Villa are after being in such a sorry state less than 2 years ago.

    I just do not see the issues that you, Mark and others put forward. The style may not be as everyone would like it, but Bruce’s way is putting pride back in the club and that to be happening is a miracle a.f.a.i.a.c.

  2. there is still much to improve,,, from sloppy passes,,, to using the ball better through the middle and feeding hogan,,,,
    plus its all to easy to concede a silly goal out of nothing when its only 1 nil
    yesterday adoma didnt quite click and we need to see more from hurihane,, plus more end product from jack,,,
    big positives,,, terry and hogan scoring again,, and davis i thought gave us an outlet later on as hoof ball is not hogans game and you can see why someone like ulloa would fit in,,,
    one thing i will say is well done to bruce,,, he had a big decision at half time and he could have played lansbury, onoma hurihane or even elphick as dmid,, benny banana showed we would be silly to let him go considering the fragility of the aging dmids we have,,,
    he was so good , i would start him against barnsley and give him another 60mins to see if he can keep it up
    all in all pretty positive

  3. John,

    Having just said what I’ve said I’ve now read your post-mortem and don’t disagree much with it.

    BTW, Whelan reached 34 yesterday. He went off at half-time to celebrate!

  4. JC. Thanks for that long, realistic, and enjoyable posting.
    A stat I read (but haven’t checked) is that we haven’t lost a game in which we’ve gone ahead this season.
    If true then that speaks volumes for the change in attitude and professionalism in the squad.
    I still generally get nervy as the clock clicks down but I guess that’s inevitable after the (many) years of watching us throw games away.
    The culture /attitude change that the team needed does seem to have finally taken root.
    Let’s hope it holds now to the end of the season.

  5. Excellent leader JC.

    A very good summary of the game and where we are. I am not certain I agree with you re Hutton and Taylor, as I feel we tend to be more defensive with Taylor, and Hutton gets much further forward. Perhaps you are under-estimating the influence of Lichaj yesterday, as he was a very influential part of the Forest team yesterday, and Adomah, who was the poorest of the Villa team yesterday, failed to curtail him, besides giving too many poor passes.

    Terry did ok yesterday, but wonder how much more influential Elphick would have been. Hopefully Terry will improve with match fitness, and he will be back to where he was before his injury.

    Would prefer to see De Laet at right back, but understand that Bruce probably feels more comfortable with his own man El Mohamady, who has a reasonable understanding with Snodgrass.

    A big difference to come, will be looking at the team and being happy, while the bench then still has impact players to call on. Something which has been missing during recent weeks with injuries.

    We now have some reasonable players to fill the bench in Green, Onomah, O’Hare, Whelan(please only on the bench)RHM , Lansbury, Bree, Taylor, Elphick, plus any new loanees.

    Dr has tweeted that Ulloah is close and the Man Utd lad, Axel Tuanzebe, according to the translation of his cryptic messages.

  6. JL
    i never mentioned learning from defeats,as far as i see bruce hasnt learned anything apart from how to moan

    PP
    pool and villa same points and thats where similaritys end pool are great to watch we mostly are fingers over eyes from behind the sofa

  7. r0bb0,

    You are right on the fact re winning this season, whereas before in the Premiership, we were known as the 60 minute team, as we lost so many games from a winning position, after the 60th minute..!!

    Most of the solidity has come with Terry, who has made a world of difference in seeing out a game.

    JL,

    Don’t quite agree with you, as I feel that in the Wolves and Cardiff games, we were maybe not quite played off the park, but certainly put to the sword…!!

  8. We’ve definitely been played off the park, JL. So maybe we see football differently as whole. 🙂

    But when it comes to how we see Villa, yes, I’m looking at £80 million, new owner, new managers, new set of players. I’d think a year is enough time to get that gelled, and as we’ve talked about before, I think the young players’ attitudes do not point to a lingering hangover of mystical proportions. We’ll differ there.

    If anything, I would say that Xia’s public expectations may have put too much pressure on the current squad.

    As I say above, I’m good with how things are trending. And I’m not as fussed with style as I am results.

    But the style is definitely improving with Grealish in, and it’s not Bruce’s fault Grealish was out. Or Kodjia. The main thing about style for me isn’t the entertainment factor, it’s whether you’re giving yourself the opportunity to control or dominate games and play to your squad’s strengths, or, by playing a certain way, not realizing potential.

    As far as the ongoing debate about Bruce goes, we both know it all comes down to how the side he thought was his best XI and started the season with has changed, and whether Bruce would’ve found it himself. At this point, I don’t really care, because what we have is working. Bruce for me is now a “if we get promoted” scenario. And I’m not going to worry about Bruce in the PL now.

  9. Paul,

    Yes, maybe … but Cardiff was very early on and before we had settled down i.m.o.

    The Wolves match was after a break and they were wound up for the confrontation, no doubt about it. And we should have been equally ready, agreed … Villa’s attitude was all wrong in that match/

    But that’s what Bruce has been concerned about since he came … attitude. And gradually he’s put a squad together that is much closer to the right level of attitude.

  10. Paul,

    Hutton does indeed get forward, and I’ve always appreciated his work rate and effort. And for some reason, he seems better defensively on the left than the right.

    With Taylor, I think he’s better on the ball, links up nicely with Adomah and Grealish on the left. But like I say, if what we’re doing back there is working, then it’s working and hard to argue with.

  11. John,

    Have we been defeated 3-0 or worse by anyone (other than Cardiff before we had a side that you could call a side)? No. Unless we’ve lost by that kind of margin then I’d not consider any such match to have been played off the park.

    As stated above the only other match where we’ve had our pride dented is the one against Wolves, and that was (i.m.o.) resulting from an on-going attitude issue that I believe has now been fixed … or is very close to being fixed.

    You see I believe Bruce has been perfectly correct. The attitude in the Club was all wrong and that has been the real on-going issue until of late. The rest is virtually superficial stuff i.m.o. Get the will to win injected in the team then anything is possible.

  12. JC From one realist to another I can’t argue with much you have said and definitely agree about style being more about using what you have to its best potential and on that level I don’t think we have entirely and that has been the view of many fans this season or Bruce would of had an easier ride, even the management have said similar prior to the Middlesbrough game.

    I am more than happy with what I am seeing as it is pretty much what I have been asking to see, a higher press and ball on the ground to maximise Hogan, less of wheelan would be a bonus.
    questions are could the likes of Elphick, delaet, ohare and Thor been used to better effect when we had injuries I would say yes.

    PP- if we get those two then what will Bruce do with Hogan and Thor? Elphick must be off as the man utd lads a CB or a DM doesn’t look good for Thor’s further chances at DM, though you have to wonder could he have been able to deputise for Jedinak instead of getting wheelan this season?

    I am also massively happy that I have got permission to unleash my unparalleled knowledge of the game on you all happy days.

  13. We’re both tenacious, JL 🙂

    For me, it’s not the scoreline that determines being comprehensively outplayed…It’s when you look like training cones, and you’re also counting the number of missed opportunities the opponent had that they really should’ve converted.

    I’d like to think we’ll look better against Cardiff and Wolves, for example, when we next play. Will come down to whether they once again seize the initiative, or we offset/nullify their pace/strength/energy/movement.

    Could be they just match up better (younger, faster, stronger), could be we’ll be much better prepared to deal with that and ask questions ourselves.

  14. JL- I think there are several games where we were outplayed other than the two mentioned, both Brentford games spring to mind especially the first at VP , Millwall could of had 4 and I think the game where Johnson pulled off 5 saves from one on ones was also a bit of an embarrassment, I don’t think you need to lose or get hammered score wise to be hammered as such.

  15. Looking forward, we have Barnsley on the horizon. They’ve just held Wolves. They haven’t conceded many goals of late. They haven’t scored many goals of late either. So I’m expecting a tight competitive match. We could do with an early goal to open them up a little. But you and I know this is unlikely to happen as we tend to start off slowly and cautiously.

    The home game against Millwall comes to mind. Likewise the home game against Brentford. So I hope we do a Sheff U and grab an early advantage. But not then hand them the freedom of VP.

  16. Cheers, Mark.

    I know it’s contentious sometimes about Bruce, but I do think you know your football.

    “I am more than happy with what I am seeing as it is pretty much what I have been asking to see, a higher press and ball on the ground to maximise Hogan, less of wheelan would be a bonus.
    questions are could the likes of Elphick, delaet, ohare and Thor been used to better effect when we had injuries I would say yes.”

    Can’t disagree with any of that, and when you’re dissecting tactics, managers, etc., that stuff, to me, is the sort of thing a person talks about. I see it in every other sport I follow.

    In American football, I’m a Packers fan. Endless debate about the head coach. Some think he’s a moron and holding the team back from winning it all. Me, I think he’s pretty solid. But even when the Packers are on a roll, it’s still a bone of rabid contention.

  17. When it comes to Bruce and high pressing, the question I have is this:

    Does Bruce have the players stand off? If so, why? One assumes it’s to keep them from getting behind. Pretty simple, keep it in front of you. Or is it because the backline isn’t particularly fast, the players themselves are playing a bit scared, they’re not fit enough, a bit too old on average, etc.

    Would love to be able to have an honest, off-the-record conversation with him. Would yield a world of insight.

  18. Plug- I think these last three games give me more confidence that I’ve felt all season that we might put in a professional display whomever we play but we have been there a couple of times and been disappointed, fingers crossed.

    JC- Its half the fun for me, I can appreciate its not for everyone but there are certainly many on the net and in pubs that have a view that differs to their teams managers, they and we are only human afterall 🙂

  19. JC- yes I have wondered what he actually says because to my eyes he just asks players to get in front of their man and jockey and wait for the mistake. Other teams use pressing in two’s and threes to force mistakes, I would love to meet Bruce to guage whether he is the man we here at pressers or whether there is more depth that that between his lugholes. He doesn’t seem to have much love for the modern game to me going on comments lately.

  20. JC- oh and I think its due to the concious lack of mobility he plays like that, against Bristol with a quicker back line and no wheelan we pressed high quite well and coped with their attacks which became the big hoof to flint.

  21. Hello Lifers.
    And so say most of us, JC. I can see Villa’s success of late has put some lead back into your writing pencil, so to speak. Good football discussion going on here.
    Agree with all the above re Jack Grealish. I thought his serious injury might sober him up a bit so he sees life in a different life. At his age, I thought I was bullet-proof. He’s learned early on, he isn’t. I’m really pleased he’s working hard. As fans, we’re all so happy to see the likes of Jack overcome our past (mostly fair) criticisms and step up to the plate. He looks bigger in a good way.
    I’d be sad to see Thor go. He’s done okay and hasn’t really had too many opportunities but he’s taking them, now.
    Adomah mightn’t have been at his splitting best yesterday, but he certainly worries defenders.
    When can Gabby be released? That’ll save 45k pw, wouldn’t it?

  22. JC: “I know it’s contentious sometimes about Bruce, but I do think you know your football.”

    And the rest of us don’t? 😀 Mmmmmmm….

    John, Mark does of course have interesting things to say embedded in a lot of other statements, but you lot have already forgotten how bad a state this club was in and treat the Villa situation is though we’ve been a stable club like Liverpool who have never forgotten (since Shankley) what the right attitude is. I don’t think any other club (yes, even Man U) has maintained a top-8 position for so long – around 50 years.

    Psychology has been the major issue to face at Villa … not training cones. When you have got the attitude right then other issues can be put right as well. And we’re only now getting over that hump.

    In short, that has been Bruce’s major triumph – in getting the attitude turned around.
    I think you can see that in how Jack plays these days, though he still has a little way to go.

  23. MK: “I think there are several games where we were outplayed other than the two mentioned,”

    The issue was about “being played off the park” and that has not happened in reality apart from the very early-on Cardiff game, though the Wolves match saw us severely wanting.

    Yes, you’re right that other matches have seen other teams playing a ‘better’ kind of football, but to the chairman and (hence) Bruce it’s promotion that is the major issue and they clearly want to sort out the pretty stuff later.

    Now there is a big potential problem in that management criteria, voiced by yourself, Darren and others very often, but if that is their criteria then so long as we get the points to get that promotion is really all that the current situation is about. Particularly bearing in mind the poor state of the art within the club that has had to be turned around, and which people on here are now willing to recognise.

  24. Liverpool

    Mentioning Liverpool above, I’ve just checked their record and found that they’ve not finished lower than 8th in the top tier since their promotion in 1962. Their average appears to be about 4th or 5th over a 55 year period.

    That’s an astonishing record.

  25. Big Cyrille Regis has died at 59 no age at all RIP.

    JL- There seems to be disconnect in how me and you view style. Managers play a certain way because they believe it to be effective or they would lose by trying to be pretty and ineffective. I want to see effective football and that generally looks better than tentative overly defensive stuff we have seen this season. Even Bruce has cried out many times that they are not doing what he asked, not keeping the ball etc and bemoaned that people think he’s a defensive manager so even he doesn’t see it the way you express it, its not a case of trying to look pretty or do that later imo it comes as consequence of playing better. Wyness himself said we need to score 80+ goals to reach our target, that is not a defensive mindset to me either although he said he would take any win as we all would.

    And now Agnew has turned up (someone Bruce wanted from the start) we are starting to see what good coaching can achieve I think, apparently he has been working closely with Hogan recently. Bruces forte is not coaching its man management which would also explain a lot of what we have seen in the slowness of things coming together and the apparent luck of finding “the team” by Bruce several times while bemoaning his lack of options. No doubt Psychology has come into things but not to the degree you state this season for me other than the pressure to succeed.

    I have no Problem with the management wanting success its the what comes after that is the grey area for me as we will try and keep our heads above water in the prem if successful rather than using our time in the champs to build a platform. Totally understandable financially as this club will struggle to do well with a reduced income next season unless the focus changes and coaching improves.

  26. wonder how this one will turn out? I think if Bruce gets a striker he will play him.

    “The striker has now been discussing his own form and Villa’s striker search, delivering a defiant message to the Birmingham Mail, he said: “Forget signing a new striker, I’m your man!

    “I will tell the manager ‘don’t bother’.

    “If you want to go and get someone, go on. But he isn’t going to play because I will keep my place.

    “I ain’t giving it up now.”

  27. MK: “There seems to be disconnect in how me and you view style. Managers play a certain way because they believe it to be effective or they would lose by trying to be pretty and ineffective. I want to see effective football and that generally looks better than tentative overly defensive stuff we have seen this season.”

    You seem to be still concentrating on footbal style/method as being the underlining issue here and ignoring my main point.

    I am saying these are not the foremost issues at this point in time. The foremost issue has been in turning round a club that was allowed to run itself down without motivation over several years and which the current chairman and Bruce are working hard on to get tunred round.#

    Talk to me about style when those issues have been sorted first! 🙂

    The underlying issues that have needed sorting at VP have been to do with psychology – first and foremost.;

  28. MK: ” yes that is some record by Liverpool I hope we can attain similar under the docs years.”

    Let’s not forget that Villa was the first club to set a big record when they averaged a position of 4th over the first 27 years of the Football League. Liverpool were the team to break that record and have now doubled it!

  29. Interesting to see that American Football has been rated in the UK as one of the most boring sports to watch…

    …Soccer could be going the same way if it’s being turned purely into a science and assisted line-side technology.

  30. JL- well thats the beauty of opinion, I don’t deny we have had problems but with such a huge turnover of players and the team being in a bubble with Bruce and the doc taking centre stage I think we are over that first hurdle, is any club ever 100% mentally strong? only take a few matches for doubt to creep in but if you have a system of playing to keep at it with rather than chaos then things will fall for you. Coaching is more than just a few cones these days, includes visualisation techniques, technical coaching, may sound daft but players do learn and get better and it matters who’s teaching them. If you are confident that you Know what you are doing then you are more assured on the pitch or in an walk of life, its when the doubt sets in you struggle, coaching helps with that, you wouldn’t give an apprentice mechanic a spanner and say go fix that car he’d be petrified of getting it wrong and probably would.

    Heres Hogan on Agnew, now you have to ask why this has not been done previously? to me its because Agnew is a better coach than Bruce or the others at Villa.

    https://www.avfc.co.uk/News/2018/01/15/hogan-on-agnew-influence

  31. great comments lads

    but its all good. We are looking very strong of late, players coming back from injury. Tweek to the formation. 19 games left and 5 points off 2nd with home games against the ones around us.

    The dr was right….all we need to do is support and get behind the team.

    vp should be rocking from now on and go all out to support them.

    Because frankly its been dead .

    can make all the difference.

  32. MK: “well thats the beauty of opinion, I don’t deny we have had problems but with such a huge turnover of players and the team being in a bubble with Bruce and the doc taking centre stage I think we are over that first hurdle”

    We are only *just now* getting over “this hurdle”, Mark. But the thing is you repeatedly harp on about all the games this season without taking that factor into account – and it has been a big part of how we are where we are. Unless it’s recognised as the primary issue to date since 2016 then we’ll not properly understand the situation at Villa.

    As for “Coaching is more than just a few cones these days”, you take me too seriously. I was using the expression that JC used to simplify my post! You think I don’t know about footie? 😉

  33. MK: “Heres Hogan on Agnew…now you have to ask why this has not been done previously?”

    Yes, that’s an interesting article. Thanks for putting it up.

    But my take on that is that Bruce has directed Agnew to look at that area. I get the impression that Bruce’s role is to direct his coaching team – in other words to be a true “manager”. If it’s him that directed Agnew to look at that area of the squad then it should indicate that the set up at VP is now working more effectively…

    …thanks to Bruce.

  34. JG – They don’t learn do they. Stoke have given him a 2 and a half year contract. We learnt that lesson with RDM – finally and gave SB a one year rolling contract. All coaching staff should be on no more than 1 year rolling contracts due to the transient nature of the job.

  35. Good to read Hogan’s piece on Agnew, which is probably the biggest part of the key to Villa’s previous demise, not having the right coaching staff at senior level. Remember Paul Lambert and his bully boys.

    Managers have come and gone, but maybe the real problems lay in the back room and the coaching staff.

    I tend to agree with the remarks about Bruce and his frustration over players not doing what he has wanted from them, but again that is at least partly down to his coaching staff, and also whether the players are capable of performing the way he wants. If they do not, then he has to look at his team selection.

    The great thing at the moment is that he now has the coaches, the players and a huge incentive, after winning three on the bounce, and needs to continue in the same way.

    The outstanding game on Sunday demonstrated that football is still one of the greatest games in the world, played by two world class sides, managed by two world class managers, who believe in their style of play and will not change it.

    It was so refreshing to listen to Pep praising his team who still gave a master class in not giving up on a game. It is the first game they have lost, using their system of play, so of course they will not change it. Klupp was exactly the same. His team still won, and how many other teams could have come back against them and almost salvage a point, they kept going for goals and scoring, knowing that City are more than capable of scoring 3 or 4.

    No VAR was needed….and VAR in the future will improve the game, and stop the cheaters…!!

  36. John

    re bruce and agnew.

    Brucey learnt imo under fergie you need a strong number 2. fergie swore by it and let them do most of the training.

    worked for him!!

    and as you say its bruce who is responsible so well done to him!

    loving the 4141 with jack and hourihan being freed up

  37. very interesting re pool and city game.

    I thought the first half was pretty drab!

    lots of mistakes and goals scored that never should of been allowed.

    it was far from a masterclass to me.

    Just playground type footy

  38. JL maybe Bruce did direct him to but you have to ask why he didn’t do it himself sooner? hasn’t got the skillset is my thoughts but doesn’t mean that he doesn’t know whats worked for him in the past, he does seem very trial and error as a manager admitting after the forest game he had no idea how Thor would do at DM? so Getting Agnew is a no brainer and if its mentioning Agnew has been promoted with two managers now, both defensively minded at that in Bruce and Karanka, maybe he is the man that gets the team moving forward something Bruce really has failed to do until lately in my eyes.

  39. JL,

    Would probably guess American football is boring to UK fans due to the very stop-start nature of the game. And some games, like in all sports, can be very turgid, only amplified by the constant interruptions. Not fluid. However, a great game can be exciting beyond belief, miracle plays galore.

  40. PP: ” VAR in the future will improve the game, and stop the cheaters…!!”

    Perhaps … but you know how things work – give another 20 years and people will depend on it as they do mobiles today!

  41. Now he’s been suspended.
    There’s not much comeuppance either for Championship referees with eyesight problems or making the game about them.

  42. JL,

    In 20 years time you will appreciate that from your nursing home bed and you will probably be able to change the final score….!!!!

    By then Villa will be playing in the World Super league…..!!

    The refs will all be Chinese and superfit…!!

  43. JL – “I’m still waiting for Dan Dare and Miss Peabody to come and save the world.”

    Better look out for the MeKon then John!! With emphasis on two letters ……… 😉

    oldvilla

  44. Probably the key job of a manager is to identify the resources they need to fulfil their plan and then find a way of getting hold of them.
    If Steve Bruce has now done that then well done him.
    It does seem that Agnew’s influence is being appreciated by at least one player. . . . . let’s hope that Hogan gets an extended chance to prove it!

  45. U-23s

    Well, I went away from the screen after Green scored the opener against the Saints, then came back after 50 minutes to find that Villa were 3-1 up!

    But it was 3-1 at half-time and the second half looked like a repetition of the Forest first-team match s-h with Villa just doing the necessary to keep the opposition out … until Villa actually scored a fourth.

    Green, Bree and Tshibola played, but no-one seemed to have to raise much sweat against a club that’s supposed to be showing the rest of the league how to grow players. They showed little i.m.o.

  46. Bumped into my mate at the sauna and he was telling me about his mates son Oli a local lad to me who is an ex team mate of Grealish but now one of Villas physio’s and trainer. Getting rave reviews from Jack and Bruce and apparently has been head hunted by Everton lets hope he stays, he should as he and his dad are both Villa fans. He told me that Jack had given an interview so I looked for the article, its interesting stuff.

    https://www.avfc.co.uk/News/2018/01/09/grealish-on-gym-boost-hospital-dash-clarity-moments

  47. I too have been watching the U 23’s at Southampton tonight. Pass and move with plenty of energy, effort and skill. A breath of fresh air to watch. As JL says, it ended 1-4 to Villa. Wouldn’t really want to single any players out from a team effort but Green and O’Hare were a handful.

  48. Mark. That’s a great interview with Jack. Well done to him for turning things round . . . . and his support team too.
    We’ve all noticed the difference it’s made on the pitch. I bet we can all think of players who we suspect could have made much more of an impact if they’d had the same self awareness.

  49. Plug
    Yes a breath of fresh air, except for Tshibola reverting to type & badly losing the ball to allow an easy goal giving our defence no chance, which is a shame as he scored a nice goal & generally played okish, but sadly typical.
    Love O’Hare as he takes the ball off players a lot, & is great at getting in their faces legally, & we have some good players coming through [Doyle-Hayes], so lets hope SB plays them more.

  50. Robbo- Yes strange how things work out, Bruce pushed Grealish to do gym work so fair play probably a bonus his mate was training him. I suppose if you damage your Kidney you can’t drink either so double bonus, no more p*ssed Jack. Seems to me that at Villa we have had the facilities and not the staff, Kids that breakthrough early tend to be more muscular like Green but our academy always seems to do ok in matches but we don’t turn out finished product so much, must be a reason. Could do with selling green for £75mil, Grealish could turn out to be our first real star in a long time 🙂

  51. Trinity- I had heard of Dan Dare form Eagle comics its donkeys years old but not miss Peabody one of his side kicks. Looked her up and had to laugh when I saw her abilities and her love of weird Eye fluff 🙂

    Professor Jocelyn Peabody is a character from Dan Dare. An expert on nutrition, botany, agriculture and geology, Professor Peabody (whose interests include skiing and netball) is Space Fleet’s permanent Special Adviser to the Exploration and Research Department, and a trusted ally of Colonel Dan Dare, lending him invaluable assistance in his efforts to defeat the evil Mekon. She is attracted to men with square jaws, a good sense of humour and very unusual eyebrows.

    Powers and abilities
    Strength level
    Young human female who gets regular exercise.

  52. Dan Dare

    Once-upon-a-time the Eagle was “the” children’s publication to read!

    Even my 75-year-old grandmother back in 1950 thought so!

    That dastardly Mekon and the Treens were always trying to better Dan Dare but never succeeded.

    But the Eagle was more than about Dan Dare … it was truly educational as well as fun.

  53. The Eagle (continued)

    At an early age (about 7 or 8) I learnt about people such as Albert Schweizer and Marco Polo.

    Ahhhhh … the days before TV. With the Hotspur and the Wizard as well you could build your own dream world!

  54. The Eagle…

    This quote about the Wagle is interesting (from the link above)…

    “The comic was not universally popular, however, as it was quickly banned in South Africa”

  55. JL – The Eagle ……………… was almost sort of highbrow reading because of the factual stuff it contained, but loved Dan Dare and his battles with the evil Mekon. My comic of choice was the Valiant (Captain Hurricane was in it) but swapped my Valiants for my cousins Eagles every month or so. It was a busy life lol …..

    Happy days eh?
    oldvilla

  56. Plug – I preferred the Beano to the Dandy which was sort of its competitor. Much like Tiswas and Swapshop ………….. but thats for another day lol…….

    oldvilla

  57. Plug- I read the lot at times, Dandy, the beano, whizzer and chips, Victor was one of my favourites. and those small quarter sized comics about war called commando?

  58. Commando, War Library, DC and Marvel were the popular comics here when I was a kid. If I still had all my Marvel comics, I’d be a rich man. I basically learned to read from those and the Look and Learn magazines.

  59. Professor Peabody sounds a bit like a kind of British proto- Wonder Woman. She was definitely ahead of her time. Be nice if fish & chips were still sixpence.

  60. Trinity- Same here had all the marvel and DC stuff, gave them to my best mate at 14 when we left Tamworth and I had decided I had grown up along with my Airfix stuff, my old mates are still wargaming now except they all get together and drink whatever plonk their general drank (Napoleonic) 🙂

    JL- Miss Peabody would be in hogs heaven these days, probably be a femanazi 😉

  61. You guys have slipped off the edge today. Anybody who knows comics knows Mad Magazine was the one to read with the hero Alfred E. Neuman.

  62. Monty python cracked me up. Took a first date to life of Brian. Who knew that wasn’t her go to humour. It was a last date. A good line for BCFC would “be throw out your dead, throw out your dead”

  63. Ian- My gran loved Monty python particularly the cartoon of the dancing teeth I can still here her laughing Now good times. A women that doesn’t like Monty Python? lucky escape mate

  64. Have to confess to being an avid Dandy and Beano reader in the day, and for years had all the comics and annuals in mint condition stored in my parents loft, but that is probably where they remained!!!
    I also was a keen reader of the Eagle, borrowed Mad off my mates, and sometimes had the Hotspur…!! Then progressed onto the Railway Modeller and Private Eye..!!

    Not much happening on the Villa front yet…. Looking forward to Saturday, and looks like we will be playing against a very weakened team, so we should win..!!

  65. I think Bruce has put all the pieces together along with the right attitude and a level of confidence not seen in a while. Agnew is a big fit for the club.
    A method to his MO that is/was not quick enough for a lot of us. Xia included.
    I’m looking forward to Saturday.

  66. Ian – Absolutely, Agnew is one of the most important signings that Bruce has made IMO.
    His positive impact has happened very quickly, & can only increase.
    Yes it’s nice to look forward to a Saturday as a positive thing, after so many years of jaundiced tendencies & feeding on hope most of the time.
    I never want to see another yellow Villa away kit.

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