Villa continued their 2018 winning streak in convincing fashion yesterday, making it four in a row, and sending Barnsley home on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline. Two quick goals from Scott Hogan provided the necessary cushion, and Conor Hourihane’s seventh of the season kept Barnsley at arm’s length. As a result, Villa pulled within thee points of second, and only failed to overtake Cardiff in third due to the Swans 0-0 draw with Wednesday.

The Good
Wins are what’s required, and winning is what Villa are doing. In fact, they’re ticking over quite nicely at the moment. A fast start was rewarded with two Scott Hogan goals in two minutes. Conor Hourihane’s made it three, and it was good to see him back on the score sheet. More important, it was good to see Villa grab the third following Cavare’s powerful header to get Barnsley back in the game at 2-1. Shame the lovely move putting Hogan in for the hat-trick ended in his effort coming back off the woodwork. Sam Johnstone made a couple of good saves in the second to keep the game from getting too interesting down the stretch.

There was good energy, good pressing, some tidy play, nice deliveries.

The Bad
As Steve Bruce mentioned, Villa tend to relax and allow goals after scoring quickly, and did so again. Didn’t matter in the end, but the side have to keep themselves grounded and switched on when it looks like a romp is in the offing. Eighty to 90 minutes is a long time for a team to get back into a game.

Villa also got a bit sloppy down the stretch. But I don’t think it would’ve looked quite like that had the scoreline been tighter. Villa have shown they can close out 1-0s, so I think it’s more the case that when they’re feeling it going forward and looking for more, they’re likely making Steve Bruce very nervous by leaving the game more wide open that it might need to be.

The Ugly
Once again, nothing here. Except maybe my work week, but that’s unrelated.

Final Verdict
This is the sort of run that looks like progress. Goals have been coming from a variety of players, and Villa are playing more quickly, combining nicely, and finally looking cohesive. We’re not looking like juggernauts just yet, but it does look like it’s finally coming together and that the potential in the squad is starting to be realized.

It would be hard to ignore Grealish’s impact, since he really is showing quality and leadership on the pitch, a far cry from the puzzling player he was before his injury. With someone to carry the ball who always offers a threat and an outlet, Villa finally have someone to run things through the middle and aren’t reliant on long balls to a hold-up man, or the very predictable build-ups down the touchlines.

On Hourihane’s goal, he scoops up the failed clearance, gets directly into the box, deftly dribbles to make room, looks up to see Hourihane’s clever run, and slots the ball perfectly across for the Irishman to pass into the net. Quality stuff at an important juncture in the game. Of note was the way the excellent Cavare, wary of fouling Grealish right on the edge of the box, allowed him to slide by.

But Jack isn’t doing it alone. Elmohamady’s fine delivery for Hogan’s first is exactly the kind of service the striker feeds on. Hogan’s second, courtesy of an excellent delivery from Snodgrass on the corner, was another poacher’s gem. Hourihane’s little run into space was intelligent (and attacking), and you could see how gratified he was that Grealish picked it out.

Johnstone has made all the saves you could ask him to make. Hutton is playing the best football of his Villa career, and even though the goals may have dried up a bit for Adomah at the moment, he offers constant width, pace, and creativity down the left. James Chester has been quality throughout the campaign, and John Terry is doing what John Terry does.

The players look happy and confident, and that self-confidence bodes well for the final stretch. They’re winning close ones, and comfortable ones, and it looks like a goal is always in the side. Now, of course that’s the way things look when it’s going well, but things are going well. With a little luck, one starts to believe this is the sort of overall performance we can expect more often than not. We won’t always score three or five, but we don’t need to. At the same time, we can, and that’s what makes teams hesitant and creates openings.

So, once again, I’m a happy man, and I’m pretty sure everyone in claret and blue is feeling pretty good, too, right now.

Over to you.

Comments 160

  1. Hello All.
    Thanks for writing a good summary, enjoyed reading it.
    It is pleasing to see things working out at the moment for Villa. I thought it was an entertaining match too, despite Villa slacking off a bit. In general, they played well.

  2. Hi JC thanks mate, not a lot to say other than the Goal was probably down to JT, why he didn’t mark the man who scores and I’ll never know especially with Hutton marking the same man as him? Not Johnstones fault for me who with the best will in the world would of struggled to get out to that and when had about 5 defenders to two around that area. Feels good to not have much to be critical about, play more like this and our losses will have to be truly earned by the opposition for once not given. Doesn’t look the same team to me.

  3. MK,

    Nope, looking much different and more assured, that’s for sure. With JT, I did see him getting pushed down, elbow across the back, kept him from getting up. Didn’t seem pleased about it. Don’t know if he would’ve gotten to it…Just one of those things. That Cavare kid could be a real find. Made life very hard for Adomah.

  4. jc
    a villa fan and happy in same sentence pushing it a tiny bit,peterboro was only 2 weeks ago and the way this league is crushed together 2 bad results and you are out of top 6,would love to see a run of a dozen games unbeaten with mostly wins

  5. JG,

    It’s sort of giving me vertigo writing that, but no reason not to enjoy the ride. Who knows how it will end, the league is tight, and we have to keep winning. But I’ve got hope that we actually can. All about focus and will now.

  6. And like I said at the time, not worried about the cup exit. Way too makeshift a team. The A team has finally played together enough that they’re starting to play up to potential. A settled side makes a huge difference.

  7. JC- I just question the organising and his starting position is all, yes the bloke was holding I think but who was supposed to be marking the Goal scorer, I’m guessing JT or maybe it was none of them 🙂

    Heres a thought, looks like we will get the Manure Kid who potentially we don’t really need imo (unless we sell some players) and we have missed out on the Leicester forward. RMC is smashing the goals in down under which requires confidence which he seems to have found, Hit one from about 25 yards out this week, if it wasn’t for Bruces public spat with him I’d have him back and let Agnew have a look. He’s the one thing we don’t have at the moment a free kick specialist and maybe an alternative to jack to switch things up, Big shame in my eyes things got so public.

  8. MK,

    Well, I don’t think that RMC is the player that Villa want anyway. Smashing goals in down in the land of small football stadia is his lot I reckon. That’s why he was so good at Craven Cottage I suspect.

    As Bruce says, some cannot cope with a big club scenario.

  9. JL- Thats become a broken record hasn’t it? according to Bruce nearly all our new players couldn’t cope with being at a big club yet with a change of tactics they suddenly look made for Villa.

  10. I still can’t believe the comments on this site!
    JG – “maybe the job managing villa is to big for bruce as well” …… so that’s why we’re 3 points away from automatic promotion? What you said doesn’t quite add up does it?

    MK – “according to Bruce nearly all our new players couldn’t cope with being at a big club” Where on earth has he said that about all our new players? And the ones he has said something similar to, then it has worked hasn’t it as we are where we are now?

    Can’t you just enjoy what is happening and support what is going on instead of picking faults with imaginary things that the evil Bruce has done …….

    Yours in astonishment and total dismay about the toxic Villa ‘fans’ …..

  11. MK: “Thats become a broken record hasn’t it? according to Bruce nearly all our new players couldn’t cope with being at a big club yet with a change of tactics they suddenly look made for Villa.”

    No more a broken record than your keen-ness about having RMC around, Mark! 😀

    And Hogan has not acted up as RMC has done which is why the club has been patient with him (Hogan). As far as I’m concerned it’s too late for RMC to be repatriated, especially after the attitude matters of his.

    Otherwise I’m in agreement with OV.

  12. JL- Just being practical we want a striker and we have one in form and we now play more in the manner RDM started out with for which he was bought in the first place. We are buying free kicks a lot more but don’t seem to score directly from some good positions and that is RMC’s forte.

    Just asking the question and so far I have only heard from yourself, believe me the same question is being asked all over the webb and I would think its been talked about at Villa too he’s an expensive asset. He may not of kept quiet like hogan but then he wasn’t a Bruce buy nor getting much of a shout, it happens. He has got on with it though by regaining form, at least he will be easier to shift than Gabby who refused to go out on loan as I recall when asked.

    He most certainly has mentioned players finding it difficult at bigger club this is from August and he’s said it several more times or words to the effect.

    Bruce said: “The enormity of Aston Villa comes into play and unfortunately at the moment I am not getting the best out of them.

    “Some of them have shied away from it and have found it difficult to get established and find the form which is the reason why we have brought them to Aston Villa.

    “They have to grasp the nettle and go forward with it. They have to improve and I have help them improve.”

  13. no surprise JL you are in agreement with OV he is your number 1 fan on here,all he does is bully people who he disagrees with,yet never once put forward any ideas of his own

  14. Excellent leader JC in summary of the game, backing up the eleven minutes of football on YouTube .

    You have saved me the job of doing a full summary of the match, but will add what the highlights do not show, and that is the superb shift put in by Bjarnason, who could turn out to be the find of the season. The ground he covered, blocks, tackles and passes he made were the difference to Villa yesterday. Whelan or the Jedi, would have been another story, on top of a couple of mistakes by JT.

    The handling by Johnstone in the first half was also excellent, moving the ball on quickly to players, and rarely hoofing it up the pitch. The second half, we tended to revert back more to the old Villa, and Grealish and one of the Barnsley players were lucky to stay on the pitch. Fortunately the referee just saw it as a couple of kids with handbags, and gave them both a final warning, but no cards.Jack needs to be careful, as we cannot afford to lose him through suspension or being sent off!
    There were a few good moves on both sides, but not a lot to set the crowd on fire, like in the first twenty minutes, then towards the end Steve Bruce decided to tighten things up and s**t down, Adomah already having been replaced by a very average Onomah, Whelan coming on for Hourihane in the 86th minute and then Davis for Hogan in the 90th.

    All in all, it was three well won points, with Villa coming out of the blocks firing on all cylinders, and just so glad that Bruce stuck by Bjarnason, after his display against Forest. We now look to have a good solid team, but Terry may not be the man for every game. Great captain, great positional play, but is he quick enough, and can some of the big boys knock him off the ball??
    I would be much happier if we hang on to Elphick, but we will see what happens with Axel.

    Just hope the rumours are true about Onomah going back to Spurs, although he has had a couple of good moments.

    Once again I have to say well done to Steve Bruce, Steve Agnew, the team and everyone involved in making Saturday another great day..!!

  15. PP,

    Thanks for that. It’s very interesting that the Icelander may have been the ‘missing link’! 🙂


    I’m not denying that Bruce has said what he has … where did I say otherwise? The point is that you are interpreting it in your own inimitable style without having the insight to know exactly who Bruce was referring to. And why do you imply that Bruce has got it all wrong? I say he’s got it right and we’re now seeing players who want to play and do a job for a great club. NOT as it was before.

    And do we really need a striker? Hogan seems to have stated a case for his inclusion and there’;s always Davis. And Gabby! 😀

  16. OV
    “according to Bruce nearly all our new players couldn’t cope with being at a big club” Where on earth has he said that about all our new players? ”
    Try reading The Birmingham Mail online…

    “Can’t you just enjoy what is happening and support what is going on instead of picking faults with imaginary things that the evil Bruce has done …….”
    Just you on your hobby horse mate

    “Yours in astonishment and total dismay about the toxic Villa ‘fans’ …..”
    Bit like an old record isn’t it?

    If you think this is toxic you’ve been in super clinically non toxic switzerland too long mate.
    Here we’re a lot more positive, & see the positive in looking at the ins & outs & discussing them.
    I’m beginning to wonder if you are a windup sometimes concerning OV, who wouldn’t realise if you were, as he apparently has difficulty seeing the wood for the trees.

  17. PP
    Yes I watched the 2nd half on a st re am, & the viking was very good even with the lads taking their foot off the gas & getting a bit lax.
    I would imagine he will play better the better the team plays, which shows his class & the fact that he’s no dummy.
    Interesting that he bought Whelan on for a bit to tighten up, but left the Viking on to hold the fort as it were.

    SB mostly talks in generalities, which is understandable if he doesn’t want to be pinned down by media, fans & spokespeople, but it does mean he tends to talk Boll***s a fair amount of the time.
    Plus, how else do any of us comment except with a take on what we see?

  18. JL
    Also it’s only since Agnew came that SB has not had to carry what he’s not so good at, & the team has suddenly got a fair bit better.

  19. In full agreement with PP. The viking has done an excellent job in his current position. Give me his legs and mobility every time over Whelen and Jedi but I don’t pick the team. Between the 3 of them we surely have enough cover for DM so I’m not certain why SB is wanting another one. Perhaps he’s worried about the lack of pace at the back?

    In answer to JL, I do think we need another striker. Hogan and Davis are all we have. RHM may not be quite ready yet. I’m discounting Gabby and the SB/RMC relationship is dead . If injury occurs to either two, we risk wrecking the season.

    OV, rest assured most of us are satisfied with the current situation given where Lerner left us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t debate all matters AVFC. Those of us who do attend the home games have suffered some wretched matches this season. Whilst I would never boo a poor performance (which isn’t supportive) I’m not averse to criticism when it’s deserved or debating matters that could be improved.

  20. I think it’s fair to say that we now have expectations of Villa winning matches, which is a relief to most of us I would think, & a lot less bumpy a ride.
    SB certainly seems a trifle lucky, which is not a bad thing to be when you manage the Villa, so I hope it continues, despite how he gets there.

  21. Plug
    Glad you can get down to the match, & those of us who can’t go appreciate the comments from you, PP, SWV, Andrew & anyone else who can make it, as it fills in the blanks & confirms & expands what we see via the media.
    The Viking is quicker than he looks, with a fair bit of acceleration.

    Maybe SB wants to keep JT fresh for important matches, & at least we would have someone with pace when needed with the manure kid, & 2 players per position.
    Looks as if SB/Round etc are looking ahead to the EPL concerning Whelan & the Jedi.

  22. JC
    It appears only the Mirror has been saying that Ulloa has been signed by Crystal Palace.
    I doubt if we could pay 60 grand a week.
    Who knows-only 12 days to go.

  23. Docsays signing done tomoz maybe?

    What a good win….4 on the trot! Anything can happen though, lets just go one game at a time. Look how we controlled forest and they go and do wolves 2 nil!

    But things are sooooo much better on and off the pitch. Happy.

    Ross mccormack….banging thrm in in oz….a
    Mostly part timers!! I judt hope it earns him a move away. His comments the other day sum him up. Just wants to coin it in. Dont wont him near our new settled spirit we have.

  24. Andrew
    All the signs are that it may be the MU defender coming, but you never know, & as Plug said, we really need a forward, & for me a certain type of forward, not someone to play instead of Davis.

  25. JC
    RMC is still either moaning about being transported, or bragging about how much financial security he has with his contract with us.
    Self centred arrogant mercenary who shouldn’t be allowed back in if possible.
    Leave him in the land of milk & honey where he a big fish in a small pond.
    USA would suit Gabby.
    Just what is the state of play with Richards?
    Is he injured, or just not up to it or not fit enough?

  26. OK, it’s pretty obvious from IanG’s comments and the usual well thought out and well written comments from James G that I am not wanted on here.
    So for the last time you will hear my words and I will join the ever growing band of former AVLers who have tried to break the clique but have failed. And therefore given up.

    Those of you I ‘talk’ to on other media, I’ll keep in touch …………….. ST75 maybe we’ll catch up face to face this year, if not I’m still working on that Fashion stuff for you. JL – we’ll talk elsewhere. Iana – will be down your way for about 5 weeks end of the year but I think we are staying in Oz and not heading to NZ but I’ll let you know.


  27. JL- I asked a question of basically would it be worth bringing RMC back thats all, your take on that was I’m his biggest fan now? I can see many reasons why it would be detrimental and few that would be helpful such as his free kicks. As for being anti Bruce maybe your own defence of him has you reading what I write with more than a little prejudice? many other comment about Bruce but don’t get the attention Me and JG seem to get.

    you said you agreed with OV who claimed what I’d written about Bruce and his comments was false. I do think he says an awful lot to hide his own failings and the Players not being big enough for the club gets a bit much when most of ours are Internationals, what kind of transfer policy do we have if the last 30-40 players are all suspect? as IanG said he speaks in generality’s.

    OV- Two weeks ago you said you would never read what I have written again yet? leave or don’t leave that is your Prerogative. Clique? many of us on here talk outside of the blog by email for the life of me I don’t understand what you see as so bad but each to his own.

  28. IanG,

    Not sure why you take the poke against OV as you do.

    OV referred to the fact that Bruce has not accused **new** players, not that he hasn’t made any comment at all about certain players and their inability to adjust to a big club.

    OV was simply putting straight one of MK’s exaggerations.

    As far as Agnew is concerned that appointment – as I’ve said before – is a sign of good management from Bruce in getting an appropriate coach in to look after what he clearly does not do. And why expect the manager to be the coach when it seems to me that’s not SB’s function. There’s a tendency to think these days that the manager is the coach and though that is the case in various places I don’t think that’s SB’s main job at all.

  29. Plug: “In answer to JL, I do think we need another striker. Hogan and Davis are all we have. …”

    Yes, I have some sympathy with that argument. However, unless we’re signing Benteke (!), I don’t expect another such important position to be filled easily by anyone that’s drafted in at this stage of the season. It’s taken 12 months for Hogan to settle!

    Regardless of all the cons against him, I’d still say that Gabby should be the standard 3rd choice until Codger’s fit. I know you’ll not like me saying that but at least he knows what Villa’s all about and in fact would probably do as good a job as any temporary import. Look at Onomah for example – obviously has talent but is wayward and gives me the impression that his mind is not really on what’s wanted at VP.

  30. I guys , I’ve been reading this blog since Matt started around 10 yrs ago.
    I’ve read all the rows, all steamers posts , Jenny’s when she was here.
    I don’t really comment as I enjoy following.
    I feel like I have to comment as im not biased poster. Every time Mark King posts and this has been going on for about 2 yrs. John lerwill seems to take it as some sort jibe at himself. Even though mark is just posting his own feelings and ideas. This is a blog for debating all things villa. Last night old villa waded in hard on Mark. It was quite petty from old villa. I don’t know Mark personally but he seems like a very nice fella and one of the best posters on here. I have the greatest respect to you John, But I think you are reading to much personally into marks posts.
    On another note for the first time In 10 years I actually believe, first time in a long time we have a proper hungry team .
    Regards Woodzy

  31. Hello, Woodzy…

    Been a fairly long ride here on AVL, glad you’ve been enjoying. Starting to like the look of this squad, as well.

    And I should’ve given Bjarnason more attention for his second excellent display. Neither Jedi nor Whelan are bad footballers. Like them both. The position can just contribute more to the team when the player can cover more ground more quickly. Thor talked about running all day when he first came in, been true to his word, given a chance.

  32. I’ll also say, I do read and check in when I can’t comment, and perhaps I’m mistaken, but compared to the exchanges I seem to run across elsewhere, AVL is hardly ‘toxic’.

    People always have and always will take the odd pop. But it’s generally quite tame and about as polite as the internet gets.

  33. john l
    why did you have a go at ian g ,OV is the only coming on here bullying people,why every time he post he has to name myself mark king ,that carry on goes onTVB,

  34. Sad that we have to have the upset on here over various postings. When I first joined AVL it was a lively blog, full of banter, some quite strong verbal attacks, but all take in good humour. It seems since the passing of Steamer , and Matt not being here that the mood has changed.

    I thought that I could have banter on here with JL, but now I have to choose my words carefully, and OV just seems a very tired and “grumpy old man”, who has lost his sense of humour, and ability to come back in the right way to other bloggers.
    Is it time that we all take a look at what we want. if there are no differing views, occasional slatings, and other things to discuss, then there is no blog, and it dies a death.

    Just lately it seems to me that some are now holding back from commenting here, in case they receive a personal attack for their views, or just get totally tod they are talking tripe. Let’s lighten up guys, and start getting the humour back here with a winning team of posters….!!!!

  35. Blimey whats happening on here! where is the love we are all villans.

    no one thinks the same and debate is good. we are all grown ups! chill

    Did read the other day agnew getting a lot of credit but It may be just coincidence its timed with grealish coming back like we have never seen him before! good players make the difference on the pitch no matter what you do in training.

  36. Hi Woodzy, welcome to the blog. Like you, I was reading it for years before I joined. It was Villa’s dreadful start to this season that shifted me into action mode. Either accept the situation or kick up and I chose the latter. Things on the footballing front have since seen an improvement.

    Nobody on this site can offend me. I’ve been called some names in my years so a few sharp words is taken as all part of the blog. I have to say I respect everyone’s comments and diverse opinions are healthy. No one person is right or wrong and we often get some useful information about the club.

    I’m an SB sceptic as most people know. But if he delivers promotion I’ll be the first guy on here to thank and congratulate him. Next up is Sheff U who have a cup match on Sat against Preston so I’m hoping we’ll be fresher and get a result a few days later.

  37. plug
    i dont mind a bit of slagging that is what the blog is all about ,but the constant name calling no need for it, no one on here is right all the time ,maybe not even half the time,its just a place to let of steam usually after a defeat [plenty of them last 6/7 seasons] after a bad performance [plenty of them last 6/7 seasons]

  38. JG – Couldn’t agree more mate. Some of the comments on here about SB have me rolling over in stitches. Long may it continue.

    What is SB’s annual salary? A million? If so, each year he is in work he wins the lottery. I would take any amount of flak for that. As did the mumbler and now at Stoke he wants some more.

  39. Woody and PP,

    Well, so tit’s anti-JL day today is it? 😉

    I don’t know where Woodzy’s comment about me taking Mark’s comments personally come from … my comment above was alluding to OV’s comment. Hey ho, it seems that everyone posting here these days is a Mark King supporter and don’t want anything but a free run from Mark on what he says. Any comment against Mark’s approach is to be condemned is it?

    Well, that’s alright. Love Mark King! If it helps the world go round then that’s fine by me! 🙂

  40. Hiya woodzy, takes courage to stick your head above the parapet and express your opinion online these days, welcome mate hope you consider staying and adding your own flavour, thanks for your kind comments the cheques in the post 🙂

    Andrew- I think until Agnew turned up Grealish never really had the platform, he’s been back since we lost to Sheff wed thats 14 games in the matchday squad. He has usually looked impressive without having much effect until Agnew turned up and we ditched wheelan giving jack quicker ball. Whether its just a combination of factors or Agnew organising our team better in training or fresh ideas who knows. players who were considered surplus are now looking the part, hard not to put 2+2 together because we look so much better.

    JL- MK’s exaggerations? people in glass houses and all that. I put up Bruces statement from the the 15th of Aug 2017 with a new squad, unless he’s exaggerating of course 😉

    Bruce said: “The enormity of Aston Villa comes into play and unfortunately at the moment I am not getting the best out of them.

    “Some of them have shied away from it and have found it difficult to get established and find the form which is the reason why we have brought them to Aston Villa.

    “They have to grasp the nettle and go forward with it. They have to improve and I have help them improve.”

  41. john l
    you made comment from bruce about club to big for some of players
    i commented that maybe club was to big for bruce to manage
    OV comes on attacking me but not a word to you why?
    i mean bruce is doing just ok for money spent, wages ,after 4wins we are still only 5 points from falling out of top 6,not top 2

  42. Correction…

    I’ve just looked back and see that it all started with me *daring* to argue with MK about RMC.

    Tut, tut.

    Well, to me “banter” includes straight-forward argument and in the pub we’d do exactly the same! What’s the difference? Why are some people getting all narky about a bit of argument?

    Puzzles me…

  43. James,

    Why should OV have a go at me? I don’t see your point at all. If OV disagrees with you (as I do most of the time) then that’s OK isn’t it?

    And I certainly agree with OV that Bruce has proved his ability already by getting the heads of the players looking in the right direction after 5 sloppy years before Bruce arrived.

    And Villa is too big for SB you say?

    I don’t think there’s more than another 1 or 2 managers who could have turned things round at Villa. SB’s playing style may not be as good as many managers/coaches but (1) that’s not been his main problem (which was the state of attitude in the club) and (2) the day-to-day coaching job is not SB’s anyway as I see it. SB offers practical experience as his main qualification, and that’s worth a lot to my mind.

  44. Mark

    Yeah I agree….think its a bit of both from jack and agnew. love having Bjork in cdm. having some legs in there is quality. some great comments from him today, wont be going anywhere!

    Agree above that finding a st in jan who will improve us is so bloody hard. everyone wants one! If we get ulloah it would be a coup imo.

    that utd lad is meant to be quality.

    james the playoffs sure is tight. Fulham going on a great run, boro and leeds will be there. there is no room for a bad patch now. loose yes we will again but have to follow it with a few wins.

  45. john I agree with you on bruce.

    Villa needed someone like that who demands being a pro and someone who puts the effort in behind the sense etc. plenty of time getting someone in who plays more attractive footy when they actually have a proper club/set up to build on.

    for now starting the club from scratch bruce is ok. rdm was apparently really aloof around the place, had no time for a lot of people etc.

    If we did go up maybe go for silva now he has been sacked?!

  46. Of course it’s great that Villa are in 3rd and pushing for 2nd and probably give Wolves a bit of a run towards the end of the season. Any reasonable fan would expect that when £80,000,000 have been spent on players. Bruce, up until now never gave me that nice warm fuzzy feeling of imminent success. And funnily that feeling corresponds to the arrival of Agnew who apparently is a good coach and can set up a team to win in my opinion. I’m thinking that Xia was at the end of his tether but changing horses mid race is a fool’s game in his mind despite getting rid of RDM. Dance with who you came with. So it made me wonder, who exactly hired Agnew? Round or Bruce?

  47. Hi Andrew, do you think Thor will be there next game? I’m not so sure, SB used him after the game as an example to others that if you play well you will keep your place, then went on to mention that neither Jedinak or Wheelan were fit. Knowing how quickly Elphick got dropped for JT I have my doubts, I hope I am not right he does deserve another chance.

    whomever they get in the forward department he has to be ready to go, can’t afford 10 games to get in the swing, it will be tough but did like the look of the Leicester lad.

  48. hi Ian – I think Bruce wanted Agnew last season when he came? but he was at Middlesbrough with Karanka, they did work together at Hull. Makes me wonder why we haven’t got a more attack minded coach in last season as Calderwood was employed originally at Brighton to stiffen them up as they conceded to many the season before.

  49. JL, the players have completely changed bar Gabby and Richards. So where does the bad attitude come from? Having to get their heads straight? Getting used to playing for a big club? Who the hell did Bruce bring in then? Basket cases for big money? (Well RDM was in on that too) why would it take 12 months for hogan to finally shine? Bjarnason sat for ages now he’s gods gift in the middle. Adomah was to be sold. Taylor has disappeared. It’s because Bruce didn’t know how to use them. Yep they are in 3rd and that’s great but don’t give Bruce credit for all of that.

  50. I suspect that Agnew coming in was a plea from Bruce, after they worked so well at Hull. I also feel that Calderwood may have been a problem, too defensively minded, and held Brighton back, as they only improved and gained promotion after he left.

    Bruce, as a manager, may well be the right man, but he does lack the coaching skills and tactics, of the modern manager. The combination of him and Agnew could well become the new Clough and Taylor.

    Glad to see we are stirring some life here at last…..

    Will RMC now come back into the fold, with possibilities of him playing up front with Hogan, and perhaps dropping Adomah to the bench. Leeds fans seem to be keen on him returning there to do a similar thing. He could still have a role to play, and does not cost us anymore money, and may become saleable in the meantime.

  51. wouldnt say agnew is answer to villas woes it was more like the bug that took taylor and whelan from starting lineup,hutton went back to left back where he has been better than bruces big buy taylor which is saying something,elphik played centre half which any sensible manager would have done especially after jedi performances in previous few matches,whelan has been kicking his heels and suddenly we pass the ball forward which in turn makes chances,plus we are facing right way not our own goal every time whelan gets the ball

  52. john l
    i dont agree with most of what you write which days is plenty but i dont come on here and be down right rude or try to bully you do i,OV has been racist recently, bullying why is he really a sad old git

  53. ian
    it would a real sign of a poor manager if mccormak wasnt given a chance ,how many has gabby had,i am sure bruce will be rolling gabby out in few weeks for the blues even thou he doesnt deserve it

  54. Ian: “the players have completely changed bar Gabby and Richards. So where does the bad attitude come from?”

    Sorry, Ian, that’s not really correct. Bruce didn’t bring any players of his own in until 12 months ago, that’s 3 months of playing with what he inherited and now getting the best out of both Hutton and Grealish from the old squad.

    Those that didn’t make the grade have clearly proven that they were a lost cause, though Gabby is still there (when fit).

  55. Ian: “Yep they are in 3rd and that’s great but don’t give Bruce credit for all of that.”

    You may not agree but I do give credit to Bruce “for all that”.

    Pretty well all of Villa’s managers have been at fault in some respect and Bruce has not been perfect, but it’s to him and his involvement that we are where we are.

    In my opinion.

  56. ian
    how any one can criticize grealish an praise gabby is rather funny
    grealish and other youths player looked up to gabby as one of their own yet last 5/6 years all gabby did was cause trouble show bad example act big man when all was falling apart,even roy keane quit rather than put up with spoilt brat gabby

  57. James: “how any one can criticize grealish an praise gabby is rather funny”

    Meaning me I suppose? 🙂

    If so, do you think I believe that Gabby is not to be criticised? I challenge you to quote anywhere I have given reason for you to think that of my views. I do not believe I have given you any reason for you to think that. I have merely indicated that he was (and is) a resource to be used and has had a function to play. If he would only get himself fit!!!!

  58. James: “it would a real sign of a poor manager if mccormak wasnt given a chance ,how many has gabby had,i am sure bruce will be rolling gabby out in few weeks for the blues even thou he doesnt deserve it”

    I’ve just spotted this comment but the fact is that Gabby was at one stage doing fine and then the club’s management failed to manage and let the club go downhill. Gabby was clearly not mentally strong enough to deal with the situation, particularly after 2013 or so.

    The big difference between Gabby and Ross is that Gabby has been at Villa for (what) 15 years or more and has genuinely played at the top, and at times played well – within his skillset. We know what he is capable of though age and fitness has pretty well overtaken him now.

    Ross? At pretty well the same age as Gabby he has latterly shown petulance while (in the same period) Gabby has made an effort to turn himself around, attitude wise.

    Gabby knows what a big club is like … Ross has not adjusted i.m.o. And we don’t know all that went on between Ross and Bruce.

    But I do see how you think what you do.

  59. James Gill – take warning.

    You said – ” try to bully you do i,OV has been racist recently, bullying why is he really a sad old git”

    That is 12 times you have called me bully and 9 times you have called me racist – neither of which is true. Have you heard of slander? I’m sure you won’t have a dictionary so please check the meaning as I am ready to seek legal action against you constantly slandering me.
    And while you are at it, check the true meaning of bully and racist. Maybe you have a few expensive problems heading your way.

    And why do you have to add in the ‘sad old git’ bit? Probably because you are a keyboard warrior and say things behind your keyboard that you wouldnt say face to face.


  60. Hey mark
    Yeah for sure i think birk will be in next game. Bruce is old school likes to keep a settled winning team.

    Jt for elphick you cant compare…..its a no brainer. Terry fit he plays.

    Someone on twitter put it well. Its like scmica keeping mcgrath out the team.

  61. Would any one like to see Benteke coming in on loan from palace. I for one would love it, could just hit some form at the right time.
    Maybe it’s just fanciful thinking

  62. Sounds like there could handbags at dawn drawn out here…!!!

    Time for a little calm….

    Could be that we may have Benteke on loan, and Ross may be off to the MLS, as apparently he cannot pay here for anyone, except Villa. LA Galaxy are apparently interested..!!

  63. PP
    Only a little calm I hope, otherwise some of us oldies may go to sleep.
    LA Galaxy are always interested, just not very interesting.

    It’s got to be Cadburys Bournville mate.
    Although the factory at night was like that Orson Wells Kafka movie

  64. OV,
    Yes, I rather agree with Ian’s prompt…(f.w.i.w.)

    I would tend to agree with you John except – when I question what people write on here in my usual robust and blunt way, I am called everything under the sun and yet Mr Gill can slander me 21 times in the last couple of weeks plus call me a sad old git and everyone still thinks I am the one who is out of order. And not a word about Mr Gills comments.

    Now to me, being called a bully and a racist is pretty serious, especially on a social media site and when i doubt if the person calling me these things even knows the true meaning of them.
    And yet I am always in the wrong apparently. So time to stop these accusatory slanders one way or the other.


  65. Belatedly, thanks for another good write up John. Always good to read, but even better when there’s only good, and no bad or ugly.
    There’s a lot of love around for Birkir at the moment and rightly so. Not only has he put in a couple of excellent performances but he’s now come out and professed his love for Villa (always good to hear)
    His work rate was phenomenal on Saturday and he was popping up all over the place when needed. He unsurprisingly seemed to be tiring mentally a little towards the end of the game and defaulting to kicking backwards when there were opportunities to push forward but it feels almost churlish to mention it. Having said that, it would have been nice to be able to give him a break and bring Jedi on for the last 20 minutes or so.

  66. PP, I saw that article about us getting Benteke and wished I hadn’t been suckered into reading it. Blatant click-baiting without a single shred of evidence to support it.

    As for RMC, I won’t be forgiving and forgetting and hope not to see him again.

  67. IanG. . . I’d have agreed with you about the hot chocolate needing to be cadburys bournville but I won’t be buying any cadbury’s products till Kraft start paying some taxes.

  68. Hi r0bb0,

    Just like to keep feeding the tit bits….sometimes they come true…like the arrival of JT…!!!

    Great to see the Swans frustrate the Bindippers and take the 3 points. Thought Ayew was outstanding tonight and did not like being substituted for the last 10mins by Boney. That is the sort of desire you want from a player.

    Great result from the under 23’s . 3-1 winners over the Baggies with Green (2) and O’Hare scoring the goals and both being outstanding. Green should at least be on the bench against the Blades.

  69. PP, my wife’s from Swansea so it’s a happy house tonight!
    Couldn’t help smiling when Ayew was subbed off looking totally petulant and fed up . . . . . now ‘that’s’ the Ayew I remember!

    Talking of ex Villa players, I see that Adama Traore seems to finally be fulfilling some of the promise we all sensed was there. . . . who’d have thought that Pulis would be the one to unleash it!

  70. r0bb0
    Yes it isn’t cadburys any more anyway, half the recipes have changed & soon it’ll be nothing but hershey bars.
    As for tax, yes it’s about time all the corporate b’stards paid their due & remembered they’re SUPPOSED to be human instead of slave masters.
    Hiya Woodzey, welcome to the madhouse!

    It’s hard for all of us to let things go sometimes, but we all have to for our own sake.
    If you’re anything like me [& possibly many here] we’re all sad gits at times, so maybe admit the holes in the cheese get to you sometimes

  71. Ah, I can just feel the love.

    Here’s an idea I’ve put out there more than once. Have your say, ignore/talk around those who rub you the wrong way.

    Easiest thing to do. I’ve had to for years.

  72. JC
    Even better, deal with it rather than let it fester, but intelligently & proactively rather than just react.
    It is healthier for all, as a blog is human interaction so it means allowing for humanness, which includes dumbness, stupidity & above all humour.
    Merely trying to higher the tone our kid

  73. Bjarnason…

    He’d played three games, I think, and in the third he was having a terrific 20 minutes before he was injured. Since then, been plugged in occasionally, asked to do things he’s less suited to.

    I don’t disagree, sadly, that SB will probably put Whelan or Jedi back in there. Jedi I’d have more time for. Whelan would be dereliction of duty.

    But based on the last game-and-a-half, he deserves a good run. Not sure I’d go so far as to say “revelatory,” but he makes so much more sense in an athletic and footballing sense partnering Grealish and Hourihane in the middle. Start Bjarnason, bring on Jedi if you’re looking to get really defensive and Birkir is beat.

    And this is where I, like others have pointed out, have had my differences with Bruce. I think he’s a good man. I think he’s honest. I think he genuinely wants to succeed, and I think he’s proud to be at Villa. And when he’s been in the hot seat, he’s gotten good games from the players. That says something.

    But…He really didn’t seem to know what his best team was, and didn’t seem like he was going to figure it out on his own. It’s largely been forced on him. To his credit, he’s smart enough to stick with a winning side. But I have to honestly wonder how bad Birkir could look in training for Whelan to come right in and for Thor to never get a chance there. And I wonder how long would Bruce have persisted with Whelan if not for illness/injury.

    Of course, we have the wild card in Grealish, who has made the team look much better in fairly short order. And his absence certainly wasn’t Bruce’s fault any more than Kodjia’s is.

    Anyway, it’ll go round and round, but that, to me, is where I have my doubts about SB overall. If he’s now getting help from Agnew, and knew he needed it, then well done.

  74. Well said, IanG. I heartily endorse that approach.

    I enjoy everyone in the community. Don’t always agree, but think it’s a really good group of supporters.

    And I can tell you from the traffic stats that plenty of people who don’t post do read. Which says something about the quality of the conversation. It’s good football talk. I learn something every day.

  75. JC
    Just heard the american expression “It’s easier to plough round the stump”, but the problem is that then the stump continues to be a stump, which unfortunately enshrines it for perpetuity.

  76. PP: “Spot on r0bb0 about Kraft/ Cadbury….like many American companies…never paying taxes…”

    Well, we’re very good (as Brits) complaining about all those foreign companies not only not paying taxes but also ruining the product (with some exceptions like JLR owned by Tata) but I put it down to this culture we have that wants to sell off the crown jewels when there’s enough in it for the shareholders.

    Our famous household names are virtually all foreign-owned … only this week I heard that McVitie’s is owned by a Turkish company who are just about to take 7 biscuits out of the large pack (because of rising costs they say).

    “Let’s make Britain great again” cry the Brexiteers! Yes, a Britain owned by the rest of the world! 🙁 Including the water supply.

  77. JC – on SB

    You may be right in your comments on SB, but though I have also had similar doubts the fact remains that I believe he has a profound understanding of British football that Villa should be thankful for. I mean in particular about what he has perceived to be the root problem at the club and what he’s done to change around that mentality.

    As I said before, which other Villa managers have been perfect. Since I started following football in the early 50s the best managers Villa have had in my opinion have been Eric Houghton (curtailed by lack of cash), Joe Mercer (curtailed by lack of cash), Ron Saunders, Graham Taylor (Mk 1), Ron Atkinson, Brian Little. And were they perfect and made spot-on decisions all the time? No, of course not.

    But what pervaded all those managers was a sense of real purpose and in-built wisdom to get results one way or another. I believe SB has a big chunk of that. It’s an unfathomable commodity.

  78. morning folks has the smoke cleared? 🙂

    First off Bruce cannot be all bad or he would not be in management full stop, Nor is he the man who never got a chance at a big club because he is somehow overlooked, clubs see what they see. He seems slow on the uptake and fairly blind to all but the obvious, this is not fact I add but appears to be true to me. I agree he had a big hand in changing Villa’s culture even though he took the root of keeping Gabby in it and Richards.

    Odd moments to me were the bigging up publicly of Gabby as Villa’s goals solution when he was actually completely overweight and unprepared while not bigging up RMC (who had come to his office and asked why he wasn’t playing) until the dam burst and a public spat ruined any real chance of reconciliation (despite this summers pre-season inclusion). Do I think RMC is a wonderful human being? probably not, can he score goals? yes he always has at this level, unlike Gabby. Despite RMC being considered not able to cope with the Villa Platform this was his big chance at a big club and he ain’t getting any younger so not surprised at his frustration at being handed Bruce after signing for RDM like chalk and cheese in styles.

    So fast forward to this week and we find that Villa look like a different team at least going forward, yes a fit and focussed Grealish has made a difference but crucially he made little to no difference until Agnew turned up, thats 10 games before Agnew out of 14 he’s featured in where we didn’t look anywhere near as good going forward nor the chances we are creating look as nailed on. This is the crucial part, for once in a very long time we are creating tap ins, close range headers and the like. Before that we had to hit teams while they were strung out usually through Adomah which is typical Bruce tactics (see hull goals on youtube) now its doesn’t matter whether the defence is back or not and that hasn’t happened much since pre-lerner. Even under RDM the chances were long distance individual efforts.

    Now heres where all Bruce fans get upset 😉 I’m hearing fair play to Bruce for bringing in Agnew, well done for seeing what we needed and the like and if you want to big him up thats seems correct at face value. Personally I think why the hell has he not brought in an attacking coach when he came in? why now after almost a year of looking fairly impotent (going forwards) are we now able to service Hogan and bring all our other attacking talent into play? Many of us have said this every week ad nauseam that the team has more than it is showing and now its showing?

    Anyhow I read this which is Kieth Wyness on WM radio and a question was raised about Agnew.

    “Presenter: What has Steve Agnew brought to the club then?

    Keith: Okay, we were a coach light in terms of numbers. Steve is a gifted coach with an attacking focus. He’s been accepted by the players, Hogan’s a great example. Agnew has spent 1-to-1 time with our strikers – Rushian, Keinan, Scotty. It’s helped and helps our group of coaches concentrate on their focus – Colin [Calderwood] can now focus on the defence. It’s about attention to detail.”

    A coach light? attention to detail? it just makes me wonder who came to that startling revelation after 12 months? and also where we actually could be today had those conclusions been reached from day one. Sorry for the long post but Its worth reading wynesses answers anyway even if you don’t like mine.

  79. JL,

    Fully agree with your last statement on Villa managers, and my feelings have now been confirmed by Wyness, in that the role of the coaches are Agnew deals with attack for the forwards and midfielders, movement of players in attacking formations, while Colin Calderwood deals with defensive side, while Steve Clemence deals with his own specialities.

    In other words, Steve Bruce is responsible in an overall way, but not in coaching or tactics.

    looks like there could be a few exits in the coming days with serious bids in for RMC, Elphick and De Laet, according to many press reports, Gabby will not be likely to get a new contract, and Richards will be paid off in the summer. This would free up a lot of the ties on Villa.

    Press reports raving about the performances of Green, O’Hare, RHM and Davis, calling them the fab four, after the West Brom game. There is still Doyle-Hayes and Harry McKirdy not far behind, with Harry scoring on his loan debut!

  80. Apparently , the display of almost exhibition football by our youngsters last night was a pleasure to watch according to the report in the Mail.

    Like your post MK, which confirms the more defensive mind of Bruce before the arrival of Agnew.

  81. PP- I missed this bit from wyness, it does appear to be true and really just goes with what we have witnessed.

    “Steve is a very gifted coach and he focuses on the attacking side and the movement of the players in attacking formations and individual performances,”

  82. MK,

    While you’ve made some interesting comments about Bruce it’s not an area that I want to get into further dialogue about – especially as I see/feel that he’s doing the job and will produce results i.m.o. For how long Bruce will remain is a moot point, but as PP has confirmed, Bruce is clearly in a director-manager role over coaching and may well last at that for some time. Only time and results will dictate just how long.

  83. JL- I can see were your coming from as to his role but I feel that is more Rounds role at the club, managers these days do have coaching capacity and Bruce himself had a dig at the 6 years of coaching badges etc managers are expected to complete these days and that he would not go into it again given the choice today and due to time allowed in jobs after completing said 6 years.

  84. JL,

    I feel that Wyness has now got the right formation and team around him to take Villa forward, and somewhere along the line, I am sure that Dr Tony spelt out to him what he expected for the future.

    I think that Steve Bruce will grow with his team and is now strong enough as a manger to take this team back to the Premiership, and at the same the development of the under 23’s and under 18’s to back up a Premiership side are well on course.

  85. PP,

    We’re totally in accord on that.

    The kind of setup you speak of – or something like it (not as well-organised perhaps) – was kick-started by Eric Houghton, then Vic Crowe, then Graham Taylor – but eventually all those good intentions rather failed in one way or another. It does take good leadership from the top to keep it going and properly evolved. I hope we have that now.

  86. I think that if you look at Bruce and his peers like Warnock, Big Sam, Pulis, etc the difference IMO is that the others mentioned have a better grasp on the coaching/tactics side, they are all (Bruce included) big personalities which is part of what they bring, I just feel others have moved with the times with less aversion to change than him looking from the outside. He does have great contacts from being a manure player and that is one of his ace cards.

    Tony Xias statement when he spoke to Bruce has always stuck in my mind, it was that he was surprised how open to new ideas Bruce was? whether thats proven to be true or not I don’t know, from the outside not so much or Maybe he is but the learning curve is to steep? either way I wish him the best in getting us up.

  87. MK quoting KW above – Colin [Calderwood] can now focus on the defence.

    Spud was a defender but needed a defensive coach? And it’s taken them the best part of a year to realise we are much too defensively minded and need an attacking coach. Holte enders have been saying that since the early days of SB’s appointment. As an aside, I wonder what gems Calderwood could impart on JT.

    PP – Press reports raving about the performances of Green, O’Hare, RHM and Davis.

    Now if those 4 were on our bench at Sheff U next week I’d be excited. What an attacking threat they would give us coming on as legs tired in the 2nd half. But we all know it’s probably going to be Jedi, Whelan, Taylor, Elphick on the bench, just in case we ain’t got enough on the pitch. It’s wins we need to be going for.

  88. Plug,

    I agree with you. What an exciting bench that would with De Laet, Sarkic and Elphick to cover the defensive roles, but we know it will not happen, maybe Green will play and Adomah drop to the bench, with possibly Davis, or RHM on the bench.

    Bruce, very much like Mourinho, will just want to grind out a result, and hope to take the three points. It is their way, and we will not change them. I just hope we start on the offensive, take the lead and build on it.

  89. Plug- I was going to add as much in my post above, I think a fare bit of diplomacy going on from Wyness 🙂 I think it all stems from the reaction to conceding late goals under RDM being the answer. I can imagine the board thinking we are great going forward but can’t defend if we get Bruce he will sort it and we will go up.
    The disconnect for me was the squad was nothing like a Bruce team and required better attacking cohesion to maximise chances created imo, and the other bit may have sorted itself with a little time for jedinak to get fit and putting games to bed while on top.

    We now play 4141 rather than the 4231 we employed so potentially less defensive than RDM’s set up with two dm’s but we press higher. There are many factors but they should of either got Bruce in first or someone who was less of a 180 in style after RDM or god forbid given him the stability Bruce enjoys until Xmas but I except times and tempers were different then after the drop.

  90. MK – Not just late goals but the fact that we were hovering in the bottom half meant that survival was the primary objective. Hence the focus on defense first which is why attacking football took a back seat, with good reason. However I agree with you that we should have been better setup this year which like most noticed came through injuries rather than positive intent. Apparently only Agnew knows hows to setup an attacking team and SB had to wait till 2018 to figure it out 🙂

    We did it wrong, we should have hired SB first, sorted out the team spirit and the defense and then sacked him for RDM, maybe we would have been up there with Wolves.

  91. Great posts today lads, & a lot of sense in them all.
    Not only is it sense, but a many have been saying much of this for the past year, but couched in frustration more.
    As Plug said, I have a sneaking suspicion that despite the improvements, SBs very conservative focus will sneak back in when he picks the team for the next match, & the changes will be more the bench who may not even get on the pitch.
    Great result from our very talented kids, & showing the results of flexible thinking & a focus on a club continuity that is only now starting to filter through to the 1st team.
    I think his apparently being open to change manifests in being unable to sit on it when something throws a spanner in the works, & makes him change his defensive mentality a little because he has no choice.
    RDM seems so long ago now, let alone Joe Mercer.

  92. Villalore- yes never thought of doing it that way 🙂 Don’t think either have done a rebuild like Villa needed in a hurry and neither have proved long term to be healthy for a club.

    yes Delaet what a waste, I think his injury and Bruces subsequent buys meant he was never going to feature even though he’s looked class when he has, not british enough 😉

  93. everything the doc did in first 3months was to fast,and didnt remember anyone saying rdm was right choice when he was appointed but to only give hima dozen games after spending a fortune was hasty especially that its took bruce nearly 70 games to make us look like a team
    bruce never had it so good taking a team over, multi million pound strikers ,international midfielders ,defenders and this is a team in championship,rdm had got rid of most of trouble makers ,all bruce has to do is put out a winning team has he achieved it ,not really when he playing a stacked hand, as read else where you cant complain of having no money if you are living in a mansion with 4 cars outside, we have biggest squad,spent most money on squad ,biggest wage bill so why are we not where wolves are

  94. I dunno … he we are with a run of 4 straight wins, 10 goals (1 conceded), a rejuvenated Hogan, Grealish and Bikr and all we can talk about is the chance that Bruce is going to put all that aside and go back to the ‘long-tooth brigade’. And that to add to the churlish talk inferring that it’s not Bruce that’s helped n that but the appointment of Agnew and just a touch of luck.

    For my part, I am just looking forward to the upcoming match and expect it to be quite tasty. As I recall, that’s how we used to look at footie all those decades ago and probably enjoyed it more as a result.

    BTW in case you didn’t know, the Blades match is now on TV.

  95. I genuinely can’t wait for the game JL but I do hope we continue in a similar vain attacking wise and not revert to counter attack unless under pressure by sheffields good play, not just our strategic withdrawal to invite pressure or wheelans inability to move the ball quick enough, a lot may depend on how Bruce reacts to the last meeting, sheff utd only seem to know one direction so they won’t change IMO, but we squandered a 2 goal lead so I doubt that will have slipped his mind despite recent Victories.

  96. Number 2s are vital. Fergie was a master at finding a great assistant.

    I remember when gregory left for wycombe when he was littles number 2 we wont the same.

    The days of one or 2 staff are over.

    Think i saw a pic of peps coaches etc he takes everywhere with him, theres about 30 of em!

  97. JL- And as far as being Churlish to consider that Agnew has had a greater effect on our attacking play than Bruce? then both Hogan and Wyness are both very Churlish indeed and Hogan doesn’t mince his words.

  98. MK,

    No, no, no, no,,,,, 😉

    There’s a difference here … it’s *your* interpretation of what they’re pointing to. If you were to ask them as to who takes the overall credit I’m sure they’d say it’s Bruce.

    It reminds me of the story of the Blind Men and the Elephant. Each one made a judgment as to what it was they were touching as they couldn’t see the whole picture.

  99. JL Mate you do me an injustice I know Bruce has stabilised the club etc but I have been saying the coaching of the team is not there for most of his reign and truly I am only seeing what I was expecting now since Agnew arrived, So why wasn’t this addressed 12 months ago? It may not of taken effect immediately but it would certainly have moved us there quicker IMO and without Steve Bruce bemoaning that his players are not doing what he wants, are we to believe they now are? Or that he’s waited for this specific moment to introduce an attacking coach?

    I have heard one comment by Grealish about Steve bruce coaching him and it was telling him to stop the ball getting out the oppositions area so they can’t counter, thats how he hurt his Kidney trying to block a clearance. Watching him now he’s not the same player, neither are

    Fans have been frustrated watching the games and its a massive reason why Bruce has received pelter’s, being awful on the pitch has been offered up as an inevitability but I and others don’t buy that. With the level of knowledge available today 150 years of accumulated knowledge is in coaches hands today. One other consequence of good attractive effective football? sold out grounds and happy fans even if you lose a few and blimey even players are happier.

    And must I remind you that its also your interpretation your putting forth 😉

  100. It does seem that there are a few people who are a little bit too interested in justifying their previous positions.
    We are within 3 points of automatic promotion and playing good football.
    That is down to the owner, the manager, the support team he has built around himself and the players.
    Success requires all four of those to perform well.
    It’s self evident that Bruce at the moment is doing a decent job.
    It does seem however that some are prepared to praise Agnew if things go well and blame Bruce when things go badly.
    That really isn’t a tenable position to take.

  101. what kind of football needs a dressing room coach according to wynes in bir mail agnew is attacking coach ,calderwood is defensive and clemence is dressing room coach,does clemence job entail dressing bruce

  102. r0bb0
    “It does seem however that some are prepared to praise Agnew if things go well and blame Bruce when things go badly.”
    What’s wrong with that?
    The Agnew positive effect is documented by SB, & SB takes the blame as manager when it doesn’t work [he does pick the players & has the responsibility & the £’s].


  103. IanG,

    Huh? Surely the point is that win or lose Agnew reports to Bruce and the credit ir debit belongs to Bruce overall.

    And are any of us flies on the wall and know all that goes on? We are fed tit-bits by the media … that’s all.

  104. MK: “And must I remind you that its also your interpretation your putting forth”

    Not at all … I don’t feed off snippets and don’t get involved in detail about what’s going on behind the scenes purely because I don’t know enough and I don’t believe any of us do. In my view the only thing we can judge is what we see on the pitch – whether we played well as a team, or didn’t, and who played well, or didn’t. And the question of whether we’re making progress. Anything else is pie in the sky really, and beyond our ken.

  105. MK: “One other consequence of good attractive effective football? sold out grounds and happy fans even if you lose a few and blimey even players are happier.”

    Then Villa must be playing “good attractive football” then as an average of more than 30,000 in the Championship is pretty well “sell out”! 😀

  106. JL- ok baring that in mind lets look at the evidence this season.

    wyness comes out with the Villa way to be implemented and talks of us needing to score 80+ goals to achieve our goal this season so clearly this has been discussed with Bruce no?

    The season has been fairly up and down with Bruce coming out in his own defence about hysteria etc Players have been brought in through injury not design and brought us some success. players like Hogan have been next to useless with yourself and others questioning whether he was any good at all despite scoring freely before he arrived, similar goes for Grealish really and Hourihane, all attacking players used in a defensive manner and not given the platform or the licence to perform. This I have seen with my own eyes.

    So on to December, Bruce goes into Hysteria mode aimed at fans club and all, Dec called a disaster by the owner and then Wyness comes out and says we are looking at ways to turn things around, thats “we ” not Bruce on his own so you suspect Round the owner wyness and Bruce sat down for a chat as to why things are not working such as their expensive players that don’t do what they once did unless they all sat down and said what shall we do steve?

    Now in amongst this (22nd dec) Bruce announces Agnew who’s been available since the final day of last season

    “Bruce confirmed his appointment today and said: “It’s something I’ve been working quietly on over the last couple of months in particular where I knew Steve was a bit dormant, if that’s the right word. I have always worked with three if I could. He’s an excellent coach.

    “Colin (Calderwood) is still my assistant but I’ve put Steve as the head of coaching. I’ve had a word with Colin and Stephen Clemence in particular and they’re fine with that.

    “They know he’s part of the team going forward and he’s here to help us.

    “I had a great relationship with him at Hull so let’s hope he can work a bit of magic on the training pitch.”

    He goes on to say he’s been brought in to freshen things up in training, no mention of attack minded Coach just head coach.

    Within a short while and yet another injury born change up, (Jedinak is found out not to be a CB which Bruce said last season is his future, wheelan and Davis ill). The team start to press higher up the pitch and create better chances for Hogan, keep the ball on the ground, all witnessed with my own eyes.

    Hogan then give to crucial interview (after Bristol) saying this is how to play in the champs, move the ball quicker and press high, then goes on to say he has been trying to do what Bruce asked because he’s the boss and we know thats the opposite of what we are now witnessing, shortly after he waxes lyrical about Agnew spending hours watching vids of strikers, instructing and building his confidence up, so it appears Agnew is an attacking coach.

    Wyness comes out and confirms he is indeed an attack minded coach and Calderwood does defence.

    To me they don’t all seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet? I can come to a couple of conclusions, one is that Steve Bruce cannot explain what he wants to his players or hasn’t got a clue about attacking play hence his defence minded tag. Its also not churlish to wonder if he normally works with 3 coaches presumably with different attributes he’s decided to forgo an attacking coach for his entire tenure up till now? even when one he knows was available? and if not him then get another when we have been so blatantly poor in that department. I don’t entirely blame Bruce as Round is the man overseeing football matters but as you insist its Bruce that has the bigger part? what can I say? I have seen this with my own eyes on the pitch and read statements that back it up IMO.

    We have made progress defencelessly but without the magician Kodjia last season and adomah this we would be nowhere, we now suddenly have access to goals from all over, Even faced with a hat trick from Hourihane Bruce continued to play him deep, so either he’s a slow learner or there is someone else’s hand in our upturn.

  107. JL- Is it?

    “Will we get the upper tier of the Trinity Stand open?”

    Keith: We want to, the Birmingham game is one where it’s going to be open. It’s not easy, because everyone just assumes we can fill the stadium. Even with lower prices, if we bumped them down, would it sell out? It’s just an assumption. It’s not that simple. It’s all about how we are doing on the pitch. I think there’s a few games where we will sell out. We think 32,000 will head to the Barnsley game, and that could be a spark. The Villa fans will come out in numbers if we start winning well. We can get people in with ticket promotions and schools, we will do what we can to increase the crowd.

  108. Robbo- I think there are many on both sides of the Bruce debate trying to justifying their positions only the ones that refuse to see any down side attack those who do with the its obvious ploy. Whats wrong with Agnew being good at his job and bringing something Bruce doesn’t have? I have seen Bruce go from the best Champs manager on promotions to a man manager to some kind of DOF to justify what we have witnessed. If he gets us promotion great he will get the plaudits not Agnew thats the nature of his job.

    Don’t you wonder just a little bit what this season could of been like if Agnew was brought in this Summer? maybe if we had solved the Hogan puzzle in the summer Kodjia might not have been rushed back? or god forbid RMC made usable, Maybe you think he’s had no effect whatsoever? I do and its not so I can attack Bruce with it its because its how I see it. I have no interest in berating Bruce I just want to see good effective football and thankfully it seems to have arrived with Agnew seeming to add the final touches. No doubt we will be gnashing our teeth in weeks to come thats football.

  109. For my part, I think all of the debate is akin to writing a history of Bruce, at least a history of Bruce at Villa. As with all outsiders, conjecture’s necessary to a certain extent.

    With Agnew, I again think of American football, where there are position coaches everywhere. The quarterback often gets his own coach. Wide receivers, linemen, linebackers, defensive backs, then offensive and defensive coordinators who run those units as a whole. They often double as one of the position coaches. The head coach, who generally fulfills the role JL is describing, is always a former position coach from some point in his career. Doesn’t always have to have been a player of any note. But usually doesn’t get hands on in the actual training and development. Often is not responsible for the game plan other than by virtue of the people he’s hired to do that.

    Anyway, the point is that teams change dramatically based on changes in the offensive and defensive coordinators. Some head coaches are different insofar as they insist (or not) that the coordinators they hire mirror their philosophy/predisposition.

    Which is to say I wouldn’t be surprised if Agnew has brought something to the attack that was lacking. I wouldn’t necessarily imply from that that Bruce didn’t want a better attack all along. Seems simplest to assume that Bruce adheres to the basic approach of being hard to beat as a priority. And there’s plenty of precedence to back that up.

  110. Adding to the above, the best head coaches are generally the ones who hire the best coordinators. My old saying is that if other teams aren’t trying to hire either of your offensive or defensive coordinators, then the coordinators aren’t any good. If they are good, they will get a head coaching job. But many of them are not good head coaches and go back to being coordinators. So it could well be the case that Bruce is a good head coach, and not a good position coach/coordinator. And that’s alright.

    At any rate, the main point is that, surprise, having the right staff to train and develop players and the various aspects of the team’s play/approach is essential in modern sport. Football doesn’t need to be as insane as the American version, but if you have a goalkeeping coach, you should likely have someone sitting down with strikers and midfielders and getting them all working together.

    So, whether Bruce was forced or not (he obviously had Agnew before), it’s legitimate to wonder what effect Agnew has had.

  111. MK:

    Don’t you wonder just a little bit what this season could of been like if Agnew was brought in this Summer?

    Nope. Things happen when they happen. I’m sure when he arrived was the right time and not the summer. But that’s then … we’ve moved forward.

    maybe if we had solved the Hogan puzzle in the summer Kodjia might not have been rushed back?

    Yep … maybe. But that’s then … we’ve moved forward.

    or god forbid RMC made usable, Maybe you think he’s had no effect whatsoever? I do…

    Well there’s clearly a problem with him and Villa so it’s probably best he’s out. In my opinion.

  112. MK,

    I don’t deny that what’s been said through the media seems to indicate some questionable issues, but I refuse to accept that what we’re told is the complete picture. My view is based on my time at VP when what was going on there was either completely hushed up or massaged heavily for public consumption.

    I accept that in the Doc’s era communications is ‘better’ – even a lot better – but it’s also dangerous to try to link threads together that make truth (or history) in our opinion. Doing that too deeply can generate a lynch-mob mentality. It’s just as well we’re making progress at VP otherwise I hate to think what would be dragged up and thrown at Bruce, and based on what?

    As far as the analysis you’ve conducted is concerned, and deductions therefrom, at the end of the day Bruce is still in overall charge of squad matters but primarily because of his big experience factor and him finding a solution to the attitude problem at VP. His solution may not be the only solution, but so long as he’s got or getting results then that’s all that matters in my book.

  113. MK – Your big script above. I agree.

    JL – It’s just as well we’re making progress at VP otherwise I hate to think what would be dragged up and thrown at Bruce

    If we hadn’t made progress, SB would no longer be our manager I’m sure. Getting the right manager is always fraught with danger. I didn’t want Ron Saunders when Herbert appointed him but his effect on the Villa team was pretty much immediate. In my lifetime, he has been the best and deserves a statue in the grounds of VP. Instead we ghave a stand named after the guy who appointed him. Sorry for digressing.

    The debate about coaches is interesting. I wonder how current keepers are coached regarding control of the 6 yard box. I see plenty of keepers staying put but Heaton of Burnley effortlessly takes everything out of the air that comes within that zone. He’s not fazed having 1 or 2 guys trying to disrupt his movement. Current thinking has changed from my day. We now have zonal marking at set pieces. Space doesn’t kill you, it’s the players so mark them. Thankfully SB prefers man marking.

  114. re dressing room coach
    clemnce boss i have 5 right socks and only 1 left sock
    bruce turn worst right sock inside out and it will do as left sock
    clemnce boss why didnt i think of that ,bruce thats why i am paid big bucks

  115. andrew
    think its more like bruce transfer buys if you buy enough eventually some will come good,even after a year,same with coaches if you surround yourself with people surely someone will know what to do

  116. Jl- To my mind nobody is claiming to have all the facts? history must be based on fact in your eyes but it is also based on who’s written it so may not be fact at all in some aspects. Yes our final position will be a fact for good or bad but in the meantime there are many things that effect that final outcome and effect that final points tally. Things are being shaped by decisions made on and off the pitch present and past. If Bruce is to be lauded he is also to be questioned for those decisions or lack of , taking a position that he’s somehow all knowing because of experience ? Can’t buy that. Having seen the apparent effect of Agnew I would be surprised if Bruce isn’t kicking himself right now and if not maybe he should?could of saved himself some aggro.

    You yourself have taken the position that it’s all about attitude problems at Villa something that would prove very difficult to prove as fact or even how it was achieved if it has been cured or ever existed at the level you ascribe to. Coaching deficiency’s clearly existed because now we have an attack minded coach just as we brought in a sports phycologist? that didn’t get Hogan or others scoring thought did it?

    We may be all Partially right or we could all be completely wrong but I doubt that we know as little as you seem to think, can’t watch and play football for all our lives and be completely oblivious.

  117. Jl – the impact hub looks a good idea, could do with one in my locality and many more places things have been going down hill about 4 years now. Most shops in my town sell coffee, false nails, things for a pound or charity donations, oh and people sleeping ruff.

  118. JC- I don’t think Bruce was particularly forced although it could of been the findings of a meeting, I just think he has taken an eternity to come to the conclusions that many fans have, our attack was less than the sum of its parts even when we had injuries.

    Found this on Peps staff

    “At Bayern and Barca, Planchart analysed the collective, individual, strategic and tactical aspects of the team’s play after which Guardiola will often work one-on-one with a player to enhance particular areas of his game.

    Like all of the backroom room team, he is renowned for his attention to detail and in an interview in 2015, he revealed some of the secrets of how the coaching team operate

    “There are basically two parts to this job: the analysis of your own team and that of your opponent,” said Planchart. “And they are two entirely different tasks. You’re working in a club that has a game every three days, so you just don’t have time to correct all their mistakes on the pitch. You therefore need to use other methods to communicate the corrections which are impossible to get through to them during a game. If you happen to have a whole week of training sessions then, of course, you can plan a series of exercises to correct the errors. Often, the most efficient method is to show them visual images, because that gets the idea across very quickly.”

    would love to know more about coaching

  119. MK,

    The Impact Hub has a number of branches in the country and the world. Perhaps there’s one in Oxford.

    On your comments about history and the facts about it, that’s a sweeping generalisation of course. Certain things are more easily ascertainable and confirmable than others, but whatever is quoted should have sound references. What I was saying is that the basis often used in this blog could not be utilised as “sound references”, particularly as they are mostly soundbites.

  120. MK: “You yourself have taken the position that it’s all about attitude problems at Villa something that would prove very difficult to prove ”

    Firstly I’ve never said that it’s “all” about the attitude issue though it would seem to me that’s been a key issue to address before anything else can properly succeed.

    But it was clear to all on this blog that many of the Villa players were not focusing. Gabby and Jack were two of those that could be readily identifiable.

    From my own fairly lengthy experience and study in all aspects of life I have deduced that”attitude” is a key element of how life is made to be successful. And by “successful” I’m not speaking about material gain, of course.

    But we, as always, can’t agree so sadly there’s no point in continuing the discussion.

  121. JL
    When you don’t like something said, you most always refute it, then you usually say that as there is no agreement, then there is no point in continuing the discussion, thereby building a wall [I’m not saying that you’re doing a ‘Donald’].
    As this is a football blog the analogy of “I’m taking my ball back” comes to mind.
    As it happens I have a lot of time for you, so please don’t take this negatively

  122. IanG,

    I have time for everyone! 😉

    To answer your charge, I do so as I can’t find a way to appeal to MK’s better instincts, and also there’s the fact of life experience that’s pertinent here that cannot be formulated into anything that would be meaningful on this blog.

    But the main issue I argue with MK that can be talked of is the tendency to keep pulling up the past and to attribute blame and credit as though we know all the facts and, indeed, as though it’s still relevant. In my view the past is the past and we move on… especially when progress is being made.

    So from my point of view there’s no point in going round in circles and for me the issue is about where we are *now* and hope to be in the future.

    And speaking of which there’ll be a new piece up in a few minutes.

  123. JL- yes some are soundbites from the mouths of those involved, interviews with questions asked, pre-match pressers, after match pressers. Some people seem to judge me by my stance and words on here yet the subject and characters involved in our club words are unreliable? null and void? don’t get or believe that.

    As for your own lengthy experience and study I don’t have anything to measure how accurate that is or how it makes you an expert in anything other than your own studys as I am in mine? who knows what goes on in anyones head anyway? I know you have written many fine history books on Villa (which I have not read personally but others have) But how do you measure one persons experience of life against another’s or what they have learned?

    I have to take what you say at face value. I only have your word yet I don’t judge you and I am inquisitive as to why you come to your conclusions but you say you more or less can’t explain it and have shut down the conversation on several occasions. I may not always agree with you and you certainly don’t always agree with me and thats fine, we will leave it at that.

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