Well, we wait … and we wait … to see what materialises this ‘window’ in terms of any incoming names. But the surprise to me is that Leicester City striker Leonardo Ulloa is still being talked about as a loan. Though the availability of ‘just’ Hogan and Davis might lead to the thought we’re a bit vulnerable if they’re both injured, I do wonder whether Ulloa could slot in immediately, and be productive. I suppose there’s only one way to find out, but I can’t see him being very happy with having to sit on the bench for 75% of the time if our key strikers remain fit.

Meanwhile, we’ve collected 10 goals in a 4-match winning streak so far this year, and we’ve seen both Grealish and Hogan ratching up their game, greatly helped by Snoddy. Albert, having apparently decided to suspend his temporary striker’s role, makes sure that the opposition defence doesn’t think the threat comes from just one wing and is possibly doing just enough to keep out Green, who is sparkling for the reserves. And now we have Birkir showing that he has something substantial to contribute from midfield.

Meanwhile, we have become aware that the main coaching credit for Villa’s new-found potency up front lies essentially with Steve Agnew, who has latterly filled the much-needed gap in the coaching team to give some added sparkle to the attack-minded players. But there’s clearly room for a touch of nervousness for the fans as the way Villa have played out their match-leading position for 70 minutes in each of the last two matches. It has to be said, though, that the Villa defence is good enough to keep most teams out most of the time. And perhaps Villa fans are getting used to being on tenterhooks; perhaps it helps to create character in the Villa supporter.

It does seem to me that having had such a confidence-boosting winning run, the upcoming match against the Blades increases the level of expectation against our promotion rivals. Villa has the advantage of having got their game together since their previous encounter (at VP), when Villa’s injury list was quite long. That encounter saw Villa go into a fairly quick two-goal lead but the Blades pegged Villa back to take a point from the match.

I seem to recall that over 60 years Villa’s encounters against the Blades were never easy. Even in Villa’s promotion season of 1959-60 Villa only lost one home match, but the team that won that one was our upcoming opponent. In fact, Villa oldies will remember a certain ‘Doc’ Pace who was sold to United to enable the signing of Gerry Hitchens in 1958 (yes, Villa were short of cash again!), but whenever Villa met the Blades, the ‘Doc’ gave us a lot of trouble. In that 1959-60 VP encounter he scored all three in their 3-1 win, and scored a number of goals against us in subsequent fixtures during his long service at Bramall Lane.

Returning to the present, the reason why we meet the Blades on a Tuesday evening is because they’re playing in the Cup this Saturday. Now, which match is more important to them, and will the extra time without playing benefit the Villa? It will be interesting to see what transpires, but I have to say that bearing in mind the karma that exists between these clubs (and has done for more than 120 years, though with a few gaps in time) I suspect a draw may well be the result.

We wait to see, as indeed we wait for news of a new incoming player or two.

UTV!

P.S.

I know you will enjoy my latest book, “The Villa Way – 1874-1944”. Please look into my bookshop (click here) and purchase a copy. 

Michael of Herne Bay says: “Being a villa fan, I thoroughly enjoyed John Lerwill’s latest publication on my club. I have all of John’s publications to date, and they take pride of place in my ‘Villa Library'”.

Alan says: “The Villa Way 1874-1944 is just the thing for Villa supporters of all ages and I can’t wait for a sequel, if there is one..”

Comments 99

  1. Thanks for that John . . . we’re being spoiled by regular, well written new articles these days.
    Shall we carry on where we left off IanG?

    There seems to be consensus that Agnew has made a positive difference but I still find it odd that some don’t give Bruce any credit for our upturn in fortunes.
    It seems likely that he has always wanted 3 key support staff and he always wanted Agnew to be one of them.
    Circumstances finally allowed Bruce to add him to his team and with Grealish now fit again, the teams both on and off the pitch are finally starting to resemble what Bruce has been seeking.

  2. the way we are closing out games is a bit disconcerting,,, but when you look at it
    forest just beat wolves,, barnsley held them to a draw and bristol city should have drawn with them
    so getting 9 points from these games is very very good,,,,,
    especially when the side has had so many changes,,, mostly caused by illness to the underperformers,,,
    its clear that snoddy and elmo are effective,,, rather than hutton or the other right backs
    and hutton and adoma as a combination is good too,,, which i dont think anyone would have thought possible,,,
    the big change however is the quality of the wing play and its quality and consistency,, and were
    starting to score from corners ,,
    the biggest area to improve is the centre of the park,,, i think we can be better here when it comes to the central pairing feeding hogan,, we dont seem to be finding his runs and if you watch hogans goals for brentford its clear we are missing a big trick here,, grealish tends to over run at times and its little tweaks to his game and decision making that hopefully will be improved as the season progresses,, the hogan grealish hurihane combination is very very exciting
    especially when we have 3 decent defensive midfielders and lansbury, green and ohare sniffing around the side,,,
    personally we do need to bring in cover for davis and ulloa probably is a good shout,,
    but i like playing football and not hoofing it up all the time although it too can be very effective if the ball is won and played in from the wings,,, hogan struggles with this type of play while davis is excellent at it,,, he just does not score enough,, but it will come,,, hopefully,,,
    its getting in a player that will be prepared to play second fiddle at times if hogan is firing or not effective,,,

  3. Yes thanks JL, last game against Sheff utd was with the Jedinak experiment at CB where he virtually gave them two goals with wheelan at DM. The teams we played at the weekend was entirely available bar JT though so only him and Samba missing of note, it was however one day after Agnew turned up so we can forgive him for not performing miracles 😉

    Dave Blurton- its nice to watch isn’t it, If we get a CF then he has to be of instant worth and that probably means not a kid, we could however try RHM as a Hogan alternative/addition who seems to be over injury and pulling up trees but that means staying with and expanding on keeping it on the deck mostly and going 2 up top. My one fear with a big athletic forward is if we resort to sitting back and launching it but I don’t think we will, oh for Benteke eh? Totally amazed by our sudden attacking ability after months of toil. Add doyle hayes to that midfield trio, he could be the answer to Hogans runs and Hourihanes but jack seems to be defining a new role for himself so early days, from bare bones to swimming in options.

  4. Mark
    Jedinak at centre back against Sheffield Utd wasn’t actually a new experiment.
    He’d been tried there in the previous season and looked every bit the part there. He’d also played in that position prior to that.
    Bruce said last season that he saw it as a way of extending his playing career and last year that seemed very sensible. In the game it was tried this season he had a bad game. . . . s**t happens.
    You say that ‘Jack is defining a new role for himself’. But in fact, Bruce defined it for him before the start of the season. He’s now starting to repay the faith Bruce placed in him
    I’m with you in not wanting a big target man striker. We are starting to see more creative forward play and it would be a disappointment to throw that away now.

  5. JL – I too think we may have to settle for a draw at Sheff U. In itself not a bad result but now is the time to start stepping up the pressure on our fellow challengers. A win would make a huge statement to them as well as our fans. So I hope SB goes with an attacking mindset that doesn’t settle for a draw if we are level after 80 minutes. We need an attacking bench.

    Tuanzebe is being talked up by Luke Shaw who has called him frightening with his fitness, pace, strength and vision. The last guy we bought with that kind of bluster was Balaban. In fairness, no way can Tuanzebe be as useless.

  6. r0bb0
    As I posted on the last post, I think he is a lucky manager, & as long as he is here, long may it continue, as long as it isn’t at snail’s pace..
    The luck of injuries, his mistakes or the team’s inadequacies, that he is responsible for turning into good fortune by accident.
    then he has been forced to do something unplanned & lo & behold the results, individual & team performances rise when he’s not in a position to be fully in control.
    Now he is where he’s familiar with & can perform better [I hope].
    So as he’s never gone much beyond promotion, maybe it’s his ‘win the lottery’ moment, which would be good for us.
    But whilst I am appreciative of being in the promotion places, I am still sceptical of any long term voyage with SB.
    Then there is his limited approach if he is not balanced by his coaching team, which is depressing.
    But looking ahead to the next match, I must disagree with JL & think we will win, as long as we haven’t hibernated in this mini winter break.
    Especially with them being involved in the cup on Saturday with a potentially hard match against PNE.
    I think after a break & some drills & training we may be quick off the mark again.

  7. Robbo- yep I remember that to in fact he spent almost the entire season
    Heading the ball away for the defence but as for successful? It was one game and the way we played wasn’t as exposed to pace, just like Jt he’s fine blocking and heading in a crowded area get him one on one different story. I won’t go into elphick or wheelan who’d looked jaded for a few matches. Needless to say jedinak played there twice with the same result vs him playing at DM where he was unstoppable for Bruce last season. Turned out we were not quite as bare bones as Bruce said in the end that’s why I question what he sees in training and how to apply that to a match.

  8. IanG: ” I must disagree with JL & think we will win”

    If things went entirely to capability and plan then I’d agree.

    But – you will note – I used the word ‘karma’ when describing the history between these two clubs and that is the basis of my judgment. Against all the science that some people try to use on this blog I’m of the belief there are a lot more influences on the outcome of things than our current science will admit – and the meet against the Blades is one of them! 😉

    But of course I do hope for a win.

  9. excellent leader JL,
    which brought back the memories of “Doc” Derek Pace, and another name Billy Myerscough came into my head..

    I sincerely hope we stick with our attacking methods, keeping the ball on the ground, not going back to hoofing in and out from the wings, letting sides drop back and cover, shutting us out in the process. I also feel that we now have a solid and progressive squad that needs very little addition at this stage of the season. Ulloah may be a useful addition, but then Onomah should return to Spurs, and we should now be using Green and rotating some of our young ones to build their experience.

  10. Tuanzebe loan deal to be completed today with the departure of De Laet to Royal Antwerp. He will then be available for the Sheff Utd match on Tuesday. Awaiting confirmation from the OS later today.

  11. Agreed, Paul. Don’t think we need much else, barring injury.

    If we could get a quality striker that hits the ground running, that’d be fine. Course, Hogan’s only gotten started, finally, and I’d hate to mess with his head. He’s kept at it and started paying dividends. My only real concern up top is injury.

    Onomah…You can see why Spurs haven’t given up on him, but why he can’t get a start there. If he’s not making himself indispensable to Villa, his future at Spurs looks tenuous. With Green back and Bjarnason all of a sudden contributing, hard to say he deserves a place on the bench, other than as cover.

  12. Dr Tony has confirmed that Tuanzebe deal is done, and meanwhile, RMC is already on a flight back to the UK, to discuss his future…..Will he stay, or will he go….MLS, back to Melbourne, doubt he can do the Leeds nonsense, as he has already played for Villa this season???

  13. there is a lot of talk of alex being very very good. had to beat off a lot of comepetion for him. looks like the cm role for him….lansbury off?

    There is a stat released that over the last 22 games we are one of the lowest ranking teams that play the long ball.

  14. getting excited about axel

    utd fans and some utd players are telling us to look after him as he is going to be world class no doubt!!

    going into cdm….sorry bjakson! not so sort whealan!!

  15. Robbo- been thinking about the Grealish upturn and Bruce said he wanted to build the team around Grealish then let’s take his word he was. A few things bother me about that. It’s a risky plan as we have seen with injuries anyway to make one player pivotal (kodjia) let alone one that’s proven to have had more “this is his seasons“ than Gabby in his short career. Pre-season saw us hitting long balls out to the wings for two short strikers to fight for in the middle, I can’t see that as prep for Grealish to return from international duty and slot in? In fact the way we have played until jan wouldn’t really suit Grealish imo.

    Bruce definitely asked jack to get in the gym and put a bit of meat on that I know for a fact, that only began on his return from international duty though as he had hamstring issues too. Jack has always had the potential but I don’t think building a team around floppy jack of last season makes sense. The jack we have all seen since his return from his kidney scare and 6 months out is different gravy, if that jack had turned up in the summer It would make more sense but as a strategy for promotion knowing Bruce’s penchant for the defensive side of footy? Not sold on that.

    What we are seeing now from our attack since Agnew has turned up is made for him but he’s playing as more than a 10 he’s collecting the ball from deep, tackling and covering the ground like a box to box, beginning to influence a lot of areas of the pitch like a less athletic Bale but better dribbling 🙂 if he adds goals watch out he could be in Russia this summer.

    I think we will see a more reserved game against Sheffield, more like the borough and forest games than the recent home displays, last time we didn’t have hogan or Agnews influence though so maybe we can expose there back four again but not give it away this time.

    JC don’t know why you are worried about injuries up front we have bought a CB so Samba can Play there 😉

  16. Speculation about what position our new signing Tuanzebe will be playing. My thoughts are he’ll join JT and Chester as we move to 3 at the back. Last time SB tried this formation at the Titties he had to change it during the game because it was a disaster. You can only play 3 at the back if one of them is quick. This is where Tuanzebe will come in.

    So I’m thinking 3-5-2 or 3-5-1-1 at Sheff U is a possibility. That would give us some attacking options eh?

  17. Plug stop right there your scaring me now 🙂 I keep hearing he’s for midfield and only back up for CB
    guess we will soon find out, who’s going to make way for him? Bruce has a special relationship with Manure and plenty were after him so I would assume he will be in the team ASAP for good or bad. If he is back up for injury prone Jedinak and slow motion wheelan then I will applaud Bruce if he’s decent.

  18. andrew
    who is going to take lansbury 42 thousand a week
    , cant see how some untried utd kid is going to be answer to our midfield problems
    we have to go at sheffutd with a winning mentality nothing else is good enough cardif dropped 12 points recently and we are only level,derby had a blip and we are still behind

  19. Mark
    Thanks for the utube.
    He seems half decent, & would suit 3 at the back if we want to live dangerously, could be a hit.
    He appears to be right sided CB, so would be good as an alternative.
    Can’t see him as the main selection for DM ahead of Jedi & the Viking.
    At least Whelan is now only likely to be a squad player rather than first choice [I hope].

  20. Hi IanG no worries, I can’t see him being selected over JT but you know what I would quite like to see him and Chester. would he go 3 at the back when 4141 seems to suit? or we could go 442 and drop the DM? one thing he could bring is pace and that means we can push out a bit more potentially, lots of permutations hope it doesn’t fry Bruces noggin. He says he’s come for games so I assume he’ll get them.

  21. PP: “… another name Billy Myerscough came into my head..”

    To me it was a puzzle that he got into the Cup Final team, unless ‘Doc’ Pace was really crocked as they said. But Pace was still 12th man so presumably, he was not that badly crocked.

    ‘Doc’ came through as one of the youngsters coached by Jimmy Hogan and did well in his early games, and helped to save Villa from relegation in 1956 with a hat-trick – against the Blades I think! 😀 Just his size let him down I think, but it’s a shame he was not persevered with.

  22. JG

    Yep, I don’t know what SB will do with Lansbury. If they loan him out we’ll end up picking up most of his salary no doubt. But I would rather see one of our kids on the bench in his place.

  23. IanG. You say that Bruce is lucky. As Ben Hogan said, “Golf is a game of luck, the more I practice, the luckier I get.”
    Bruce has undoubtedly gained a fair amount of experience over the years and knows how to respond to circumstances and turn them to his advantage.
    I once worked for a ftse 250 business that had been built by a plain speaking Yorkshireman. I remember a colleague telling me that the guy’s greatest skill was turning problems into opportunities.
    It seems to me that Bruce’s ‘luck’ this season has been how he has responded to problems.
    You can say that he should have got it right first time, but had he really got it wrong?. Adomah probably wouldn’t have played and scored all those goals for us if Andre Green hadn’t been injured . . . . but weren’t we all pleased that Green was playing and doing so well?
    He had planned for the spine of the team to be Kodjia, Grealish, Jedinak and Terry. I wouldn’t say he was particularly lucky when you consider how injuries made him carry out a complete rethink of those plans.

  24. good comment today from brian reade mirror football writer

    on about big sam Decent for a struggling side, but struggles to make a big side decent, think that goes for bruce as well

  25. r0bb0
    Bruce no more knows how to respond to adverse situations than most people, as there is a lot of luck involved unless you have the edge.
    It is factual that the situation took away his preferences & gave him little choice, & he stumbled on most solutions this way it seems, that improved us & changed the emphasis from dour defending to more freedom, which culminated in us being 4th.
    I cannot see that he meant most of it, & the fact that there was luck involved proves my point about SB.
    Since Agnew’s arrival his job appears to be more supervisory than hands on, than before, which has also apparently changed the dynamic.
    I have no observation concerning your Yorkshire wallah, except that it is a general motivation tenet that comes from a general truism that if you try sometimes it may benefit the result, but the attitude itself doesn’t do it, but it does make it easier for the positive results to appear, especially if you’re in charge of your work area, & not dependent on someone elses judgment.
    To me he usually seems to have responded by taking the credit, whether it was due or not, when times were hard, & been more generous when things have been going well.

    As far as Adomah is concerned, if had managed to sell him , as he wanted to, this would be academic & Green probably would not have got the same chances, with the Viking probably been more of a focus on the left.
    Again defensive trying not to lose rather than trying to win like a Yorkshire wallah.

    As far as the spine of the team & injuries are concerned, there was a conspicuous lack of Plan B anyway, & in some ways other individuals have got him out of the mire, rather than it being his judgment.
    While I have no great problem with our differences, the more he practiced being accidentally lucky the more likely it came through causes & conditions.
    As I said, let him be lucky as long as he is at the club, which is good for us, but I wouldn’t go overboard about him being a genius, & the EPL is another beginning where we would probably see the pattern again, & I am sceptical about his abilities in the Premiership.
    That being said, thinking he’s lucky is not to be confused with thinking he’s necessarily a good manager across the board.

  26. IanG. Thats a well thought through response and I’m in. I way suggesting that Bruce is a footballing genius. I do think that the ‘lucky’ tag is overplayed though.
    He seems to have gone a long way to changing the culture in the club, he’s made some decent signings, he’s built s good support team and we’re currently sitting 3 points off automatic promotion and playing decent football.
    That can’t all be down to luck

  27. Plug, like Mark, I cant believe that Bruce would revert to 3 at the back . . . and yet . .
    There’s something quite attractive about it too!.

  28. Something struck me about Hogans recent interview where he states Agnew is behind his recent form and that was he was very specific about Agnew giving him confidence. Now if its that simple why hasn’t the coaching staff or Bruce taken that route before Agnew arrived? I must admit I can’t really remember Bruce bigging up his team or players? his general go to’s are the champs is hard, the players are struggling to adapt to a big club, we have injuries, down to the bare bones. Does he do this to lower expectation perhaps or is it a symptom of the pressure on him?

    Hogan is not only scoring but he is doing it in a manner most thought beyond him, not one has come from a through ball from Jack or anyone for him to run on to, 3 have been Headers! something thought alien to him and beyond his skillset.

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

  29. Robbo- its nice to have dream about how we can set up isn’t it but Terry lost his place at Chelsea because he couldn’t play in a three, to much ground to cover.

  30. Still rumours on Cnvelli, a 22yr old French player, who appears to have huge, as yet unproved, potential. He is good at hold-up play, strong in the air, and quick with the ball, moving it on. Would be very interesting as a back-up to Davis.

    I am not going to comment further on Bruce, until I see his set-up for the Sheffield game, but I am confident that he will ensure that we do not lose the game.

  31. PP
    I would agree as due to a winning streak it has become apparent that there is at least one way that is working as a basis.
    SB would play with this loosely at his [& our] peril.
    While I wouldn’t put it past him, he’s not a complete idiot, & I too am interested in seeing the lineup for the Sheffield game, & then how they’re set up & how they are.
    But I think now that a direction that is working has materialised, it’s more down to the players [if they’re not hindered], with the support of coaching etc, rather than Bruce as a figurehead.
    If everyone is now pulling in the same direction, then we stand a good chance of winning biggly.

  32. This the 2nd one updated [to 2017]
    https: // www. youtube. com/watch? v=DEARD4I3xtE
    I’ve never had less access or prevention via GPs

  33. RMC is back in town, though for how long is another matter.
    Also no one interested in tshibola
    I ought to start a book on where Gabby will be after July

  34. r0bb0
    I know what you mean about 3 at the back, cos IF it works it is great to watch & you can overpower the opponent.
    BUT with us it makes me feel very insecure until I see it working

  35. As r0bb0 says, a manager can’t be just lucky given where we are and he must have some relevant qualities to be almost a professional promotion-winner.

    If you guys just don’t like Bruce then just say as such as I feel that’s the underlying sentiment and everything else is simply expressions of antipathy.

    Whichever manager we have he’s likely to be attacked. No wonder they garble at press conferences knowing full well they get misinterpreted! 😀

  36. JL- Seems to me some posters take it more as personal attacks than Bruce does but its a close run thing 😉

    I doubt very much if any of us followed his career avidly before he arrived at Villa so we have little comparison directly, I have talked to other supporters from other teams though and it appears this division in support is the norm, in fact a quick glimpse at his other campaigns has him on a good run then nearly sacked, criticised for poor tactics etc before either leaving for another club or in Hull and and Brums case a couple of promotions. In at least one season he should of won the division handily but obviously didn’t so has had the best team at the time in the division before.

    Presser’s are generalised jumpers for goal post type chats with Bruce versus the more technical break downs of quite a few other managers I have seen in this league that sort of backs up the claims of a lack of technical ability he’s had thrown at him through the years. The constant flagging up of his woes, difficulty of the league etc only for a better team to emerge from what he portrays as a disaster leaves a lot of us puzzled and leaves IanG proclaiming he’s a lucky manager for want of a better way to explain it.

    This latest episode of December disaster January phoenix rising has coincided with Agnews arrival and just backs up the impression he has some big holes in his game and abilities, which is really all fans have been noticing and flagging up, Football being a passionately supported game it gets heated.

    What really riles people I think is the claim that those fans somehow dislike, hate or wish him harm? seems an amiable enough chap its his approach and the way he sort of Bumbles along that puzzles people, that may be his secret weapon? I don’t know but when you have a team of such obvious riches stumbling along only to flower because a coach pats someone on the back just adds to the beliefs expressed and the frustrations.

  37. john l
    why is that you think we hate bruce?
    can it not be simply he is not good enough?
    would you expect the same service from anything else especially when you look at bruce supposedly 3m a year
    me we should be like man city in this league miles ahead yet we are only hanging on to coattails another spell like december or start of season we are finished and everywhere bruce has been its go 7/8good games then5/6 bad ones ,this new signing typical of bruce whether be utd spurs or aresnal youth player he has done it constanly mess with winning team

  38. From the start of this season I have believed that our squad is good enough to make top 6 and I’m one of the very few who was prepared to come out and say so ‘before’ the season started.
    Finding it a bit rich for you James to now claim that we have the best team in the league when it’s not that long ago that you were telling us that Bruce had bought a load of rubbish.
    So. . . which is it to be. He’s bought good players and isn’t getting the best out of them, or he’s squeezing good results out of rubbish players?
    Or . . . as JL says, do you just have it in for Bruce?
    Ps. . . I don’t put you in the same category Mark in case you were wondering.

  39. The press are still hot on this young French player, Cnvelli, coming to us, or Wolves. He and Ulloah seem to be the only real possibilities to come in as loan players in this window. Wyness confirming that we have the squad we want, and will only sign players who can make a real difference. RMC back in town may also make a difference, if he, and Bruce can settle their differences, and Villa are now playing a system into which he could fit.

    I think it is way passed the time that we continue the posts on whether we hate or love Bruce. I am a reasonable person, and feel that he struggled when he came, and very gradually with the management team, the coaching team and the players, they have all come together to evolve into a formidable force. I now have confidence in the future, and I am sure that Morinhuo would not hold Bruce in such esteem, if he was not up to the mark.

    Life is a learning curve, and Bruce and the team are now well along it, and let’s hope it continues and finally materializes in promotion. My opinion may well change if we get dire results in the next couple of matches, and it will be down to Bruce. He is the manager, the captain of the ship, but it will not be because I have any personal feelings towards him. It will be because he has failed to organise his troops to win the battles..!!

  40. MK: “Seems to me some posters take it more as personal attacks than Bruce does but its a close run thing “

    I’ll just take that as an attempted wind-up. If it’s not a wind-up then it’s a petty statement, and in error.

  41. robbo
    where did i say we had best team
    for the amount of money the doc has spent we should be miles ahead
    and yes bruce has bought rubbish
    bree taylor lansbury and birr have not proved anywhere near value for money,whelan has been shocking amazing when he doesnt play we actually look decent
    maybe robbo yourself and john should open your own blog where everyone has to agree with you

  42. Robbo- it’s pretty clear good players can be made to look bad for many reasons giving the impression they are bad buys. Many on here who are in and out of the Bruce fan club have commented that Hogan hourihane Grealish and others are not up to scratch. I think the manager/coaches role is the main culprit in there apparent uselessness. I find it strange when the players are blamed for letting the manager down because at some level it’s his guidance and his fault they are in the team. The old adage a workman and his tools come to mind.

  43. More games changed for Sky. Wolves and Hull games now 5.30pm kick offs on their respective Saturdays, and the Reading game has been moved to Tuesday 3 April at 7.45pm, but not on tv at the moment.

    Crystal Palace are now favourites to sign Ulloah, which means we may be more likely to fight Wolves for Cnvelli from Angers.

  44. JL
    I don’t hate Bruce & appreciate that he is one of a team that has changed the environment of the club for the better [& they needed to], but as JG said, with the quality of our squad I just think we could have done, & can do a lot better.
    But then I support the Villa.
    Mark
    Appearing to sort of bumble along – great choice of words

    As for the next match, which is of more importance, I still think we will win if the team is not tampered with very much, & the defence not changed, & the Viking continuing to play – he knows the players & how we will play.
    To just insert the new arrival because he’s from manu isn’t a good idea.
    Then the window shuts the day after & we can focus on who we have.

  45. Plug
    Should be a great atmosphere against small heath, with a full house [42,000], & that’s with the match being on sky.
    Shows what could happen with attendances if we keep on an upward curve

  46. James, when you said: “we should be like man city in this league miles ahead yet we are only hanging on to coattails” I assumed you meant that, like Man City, we had the best team in our division.
    If you’re referring to how much we’ve spent, then take a look at the ins and outs since Bruce arrived and you can see that he has not been responsible for big spending . . . . in fact, more recently we have been one of the lowest net spenders in the whole division.
    http://astonvillacentral.com/transfers/

  47. James:
    “maybe robbo yourself and john should open your own blog where everyone has to agree with you”

    A blog where everyone agreed with me is not a blog I’d want to be part of . . . . . . go on, try me out!

  48. IanG. I’m nervous about us ‘feeling obliged’ to bring the new guy in too.
    For sure he look good, and we certainly do need more pace at the back, but can he really get on the same wavelength as the other players in such a short time?

  49. Mark, I agree with your ‘workman and tools’ comment. From a quick look I’ve not been able to find any specific quotes, but like you, I have the impression that Bruce has fallen into that trap sometimes when the pressure is on

  50. robbo
    excuse excuse all the time, i never said who spent the money
    name 1 side who have signed 3 or more midfielders getting over 35 thousand a week lansbury whelan snodgrass
    any side paying a defender 3m a year
    any side paying 12m for striker hogan and giving him 35thousand a week
    any side calling in media to highlight your multi million pound strikers gate problems,at great cost to the club
    bruce has spent 30m yet hutton is a better left back than taylor who cost 4m and another 30 thousand a week
    lansbury birr bree hardly have played yet none where cheap
    takes in spurs lad who you have moaned about steady yet he gets game time nearly every match
    yes your case for bruce doing a great job is built on sand

  51. James, you’re right that I have complained about Onamah and will continue to do so as long as he continues getting playing time and fails to perform. I’m really not happy that he is keeping one of our permanent players out of the team.
    I have also complained strongly about the team that Bruce selected for the FA cup.
    I’ve also said several times that he doesn’t excite me as a manager and that I feel uncomfortable being in a position of ‘defending’ him.
    I am often trying to just bring a bit of balance to overblown, irrational, relentlessly and depressingly negative postings such as yours.
    Sorry . . . . I just find it hard to get on with people where there is no light and shade, just permanent darkness.

  52. Come on lads lets all play nicely in the sand box. From my side of the pond, its a matter of I don’t give a damn how SB gets us on track, maybe it’s down to luck, trial and error, having the balls to go out and get another coach he know’s he can work with and know’s can do us a turn. It don’t matter, we are now looking pretty good, winning somewhat convincingly, and I am not saying there isn’t room for improvement or that we are close to looking the finished article, I am stating a fact that we are improving, and as my old man used to tell us when we were young men, you make your own luck, and if spud has gone out there and made his own luck so be it. If it’s good for my Villa then I will join the happy clappers brigade and be proud to say I had him wrong.
    I’ll even go as far as to say if he get’s us up, he’s earned a crack at keeping us there, should we fail this year I’ll fly over and help him pack!!!

  53. Canada’s view – as indeed r0bb0’s – is exactly right (for me) and I totally share the thoughts they have both expressed. Also most of what Paul has said.

    James seems to think that Mark and IanG are entirely on his side, his view being that Bruce is an out-and-out i***t and should not have been allowed to enter VP’s portals. In fact both these fellers have not said that but have expressed – in a huge number of words in Mark’s case – where they see negatives in Bruce’s decisions.

    But the point – to paraphrase Canada (I hope!) – is that Bruce has led the playing side at Villa into a good enough position at this point to grab promotion. Even automatic promotion.

    I also – as I’ve said *many* times – have had some doubts about Bruce’s day-to-day and match decisions, but (again as I’ve said before) who can say that we’ve not always had managers who have made such errors but still make progress? Making mistakes is just part of life, let alone footie. So long as the manager has that certain thing about him that the coaches and the squad respond to, then that’s half the battle i.m.o. The rest is mostly superfluous and very much superfluous when some of us keep on going back and dredging things up that over and done with.

    Well said Canada.

    UTV

  54. Robbo and JL et al,
    Theres lots of talk about balanced views , do you all for some reason think that someone posting something deemed negative by yourselves ( but not everyone mind) hasn’t thought about the very things you put up as counter arguments prior to posting? or do you look at it as some sort of rant? it does get very irritating to have a point your trying to make and want to discuss batted away constantly as a slight against the manager or worse your character brought into the conversation, nobodies here to be perfect or be right its about conversation.

  55. I was just having a perfectly civilised reasoned discussion with robbo.
    If that’s set people off then – whatever.
    Now balance is a funny thing, cos when I was practising T’ai Ch’i I found that balance is part of the change that is constantly moving, with different aspects showing up, because outside of that there is no fixed balance [thankfully].
    Also I don’t hate SB, & if I had a fixed view on him personally, as opposed to changing with moving circumstances that emanate from him, I would probably be a bit deranged.
    Well more deranged than normal.
    I also find that no one has the complete picture, which is why discussion etc has a point outside of projection.
    Although extremes are often the source of comedy.

  56. john l
    where do i name anyone having same views as me
    ,there you go again as if you are god almighty do not dare disagree with what john lerwil writes dont think steamer [god rest him] would agree with much you have wrote last year
    and from most comments on here most would agree he is doing a poor job
    i know nothing about bruce apart he is doing a below average job managing the team i support

  57. robbo
    funny when you say something its gospel ,but when i put up its lies,
    players wages where all released last seaon, and i suppose sanchez is not getting basic wage of 350thousand a week suppose thats all lies too.players wages are released when they sign for a club

  58. Happy Single Malt Friday all!

    i don’t feel particularly pro or anti bruce, (i can swing both ways on that, oo er missus!), quantum physics dictates neither can true all the time, and neither can be true unless we think so!

    Besides its getting very boring, i mean wheres the humor. It’s starting to get like the last time i went to villa park, Christian Benteke scored twice in Aston Villa’s 3-2 victory over Malaga, and there was this boring git behind me going on and on about how cr*p we were, he didn’t even stop when we scored! http://www.skysports.com/football/a-villa-vs-malaga/300079

    At least back in the day, steamer, ( god rest his soul, and why i got hooked on this blog), was funny as fook when he moaned, and he had reason to moan, i mean least ye forget The Reign of the Lamberk! The best horror story never commited to paperback! I get a sweaty crack just thinking about those days.

    Just for fun i readjusted the beginning of the song, by The Four Seasons “December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)” to

    Oh, what a night!
    Late December, back in ‘2012
    losing ate – zero at scum-ford bridge,
    As I remember, what a lamberk

    Oh, what a night
    after losing 4-0 at home to gareth bale,
    You know, I didn’t even know where to put my face
    But I was never gonna be the same
    What a lamberk, what a night

    Oh, I
    I got a funny feeling when we lost 3-0 to wigan
    Hey, my
    As I recall, it ended not too soon
    etc.. lol

    I scare my kids with stories of the mumbling miserable lamberk, that he will get them if they don’t behave! ” He’ll say ” we’ll go again” when we lose. If they don’t go to sleep i say, ” he’ll laugh like a knob when we lose” i say , or even ” so you think i’m lamberks nothing? just you wait, i’ll get Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa to sort you out!”

    Come on guys admit it , we’ve come a long way since those days. Yes it not perfik! we should have been running away with the league, but for various reasons, like that manc knob at watford nearly destroying one of jack’s kidneys, ffp, no attcking coach, till xmas just gone, 2 defensive ones, ( by the way if you didn’t know PEP guardiola is surrounded by many many coaches, he has a team of like 12!), the southern knob media hating us, the gypsy curse , changing from our original strip of chocolate brown, etc..

    Lighten up i say, what happened to the random food, & music stories mixed in between footy, lets bring some off it back please!

    i’ll start one, i like single malt whisky , and its because of 3 reasons,
    1, i can’t ever drink barcadi again, i mean just yuck! thinking about it reminds me of the smell & of the last bad session, makes shudder!
    2nd reason can’t get stoned more than 1 week every 3 months,( lifes to nice when i do & i’l get too fat and lazy, lol).
    3rd reason , asda, tesco , & morrison haeve all been doing price wars for the 5+ years and there’s always a quality single malr normally £35 or more or £22 or £25.

    In fact just having some of this right now https://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/p/28161/talisker-skye – yummy!

    over to you !

  59. IanG. . . . Tai chi . . now that’s something worth discussing. I’ve stood and been mesmerised by a group of young and elderly Chinese men and women doing it and felt it was something that I’d enjoy doing (if I wasn’t being watched)
    How did you get into it, how long did you do it for and did you feel it did you any good?

  60. r0bb0
    I started because my knees had gone & I couldn’t walk up a hill properly without pain.
    Someone suggested a particular class so I went at the beginning of ’81.
    The instructor was a working class brummie & his partner was also from the same background, & their chinese teacher lived in Coventry.
    I really enjoyed it & very quickly the pain diminished.
    I had been studying Taoist stuff in the 60s so it was natural to look deeply at the books & T’ai Ch’i classics.
    I went to newtown & also coventry to classes.
    As I’ve always had a problem doing daily practice of anything, even as a musician, I went to all the classes available & started using the chinese macrobiotic diet that went with it, as well as slowly studying the healing side.
    It not only had a definitive positive effect physically, but also mentally, as once you’ve used your intellect to learn the moves, the art was to just take part with the body doing the sequence of moves & to disconnect & let go of the thinking mind.
    It gave me space & time in whatever I was doing [as long as I remembered], & became much less of a reactionary.

    I acted as an assistant instructor for 12 years & when my Instructor died in 1995 I carried on his classes for a while until I decided to concentrate on my Buddhist practice only at the time, as I couldn’t do 2 things at once properly.
    Pity I stopped really.

    The best form of self defence is not to be there at the time, or if unavoidable, cheat & disable & leg it.
    This came in handy as the council was indulging in reverse racism & funding karate & hard kung fu classes for the kids of west indian descent at the time, so to keep them out of trouble they taught them how to attack people.

    We had to navigate this 3 times a week so it came in handy to be see through & manifest nothing to be hooked when they were looking for a victim to practice.
    Shortly after this they gave a pakistani community group £6 million & they promptly legged it to Pakistan with the money at full speed.
    A friend of mine who worked in their legal department said that they had instructions not to tell anyone or they would be sacked.
    This & where I came from might explain why I have a jaundiced eye, especially after Herbert, Lerner & now Bruce.

    I was taught in T’ai Ch’i never to blindly trust anyone as I may be then responsible for them doing something negative.
    So the more someone professes to be whiter than white, or says trust me, the less I believe any of it.

    Basically once you’ve left the herd they don’t seem to want to let you back in, hope this helps.

  61. IanG There are aspects of Buddhism that really appeal to me but other than a week in a Thai temple in my twenties I’ve never made the effort to try and learn anything about it.
    Just read what you said again about tai chi teaching you not to trust anyone . . . . so it ‘is’ more than just a set of physical exercises?

  62. r0bb0
    Absolutely more than just the physical approach of the communist state, & that was also from the martial aspect.
    It is the gateway to the inner yogas of Taoism if you’re a Taoist.
    But unless you have a qualified master who’s a master of the spiritual aspect, then best probably focus more on the physical side in a practical way.

    Through practice this opens up the self awareness through the rising of the ch’i, which is very beneficial both in ones physical & spiritual life, without necessarily needing a strong, specific philosophical, religious & intellectual basis, & one needs to be open to how you are internally, which is why it’s called an internal art rather than the hard external arts like hard Kung Fu, which are more about attack as a defence, where T’ai Ch’i is a defensive art in terms of the martial & the health, using what one is given [eg energy & movement of an attack] in self defence, adding a little ch’i without having to use ones own strength.
    There is an exception in the harder ‘Yang’ styles of T’ai Ch’i, which have a focus more on fighting than health, which is typically Chinese in that it is the one more on view.

    So no need to do weights or bulk up a lot to get muscles to create body armour as you would have Ch’i.
    Movement & Ch’i & Awareness without the need for thinking, go naturally together without creating some external thing, which is also linked to Ch’i Kung with the health aspects.
    ‘Doing’ is the main point, rather than thinking or philosophy, which are really only aids without a direct transmission, which is more rare in Taoist circles than blue oranges in my experience.
    When I visited Taiwan 15 years ago, I found that much of what was left was not so pure, & had a tendency to superstition & fighting, & is even more so in Hong Kong.
    But in Taiwan there is a strong family tradition of healing techniques.

    So start it as a set of exercises & do the soft version, & it is physically & spiritually beneficial without needing to apply a religion or focus on fighting so much, although the wisdom emanating from the old Taoism permeates, & your physical confidence helps shield from harm anyway.

    All the same Chinese movements & exercises are used in all their systems, with attitude & how you use them & in what context, deciding the result.

  63. James: “where do i name anyone having same views as me
    ,there you go again as if you are god almighty do not dare disagree with what john lerwil writes dont think steamer [god rest him] would agree with much you have wrote last year”

    Steamer and I (God bless ‘im) got on very well thank you – offline in particular.

    Interesting that Darren O’ has gone a little quiet these days. I actually miss his comments.

    James, you’re always praising MK and IanG, which is why it would appear that you see their views being akin to yours.

    As to what “John Lerwill” writes … in terms of opinion I don’t regard myself as “right” at all. But if you would notice I don’t often express an opinion at all! 🙂 That’s an important point. I generally only write about fairness – about giving someone a chance despite all their foibles – and about positive history and possible positive outcomes. In other words: that which should stimulate positivity, not negativity. I don’t always succeed, and, sadly, Bruce (to me) does not seem to be given a fair chance by some despite where we are in the table.

    MK: “nobodies here to be perfect or be right its about conversation.”

    Quite right. But as JC suggests, Bruce and his foibles has probably been overdone.

    IanG: “I also find that no one has the complete picture”

    Absolutely right! I am just concerned about fairness and about giving someone a chance – especially when they’ve done it all before.

  64. IanG, now that’s exactly the sort of thing that I think I could take to. Mind you, chances of me finding a group in central Devon is probably pretty remote.
    I like the thought that it could naturally lead to a greater spiritual awareness without a set of spiritual or religious ‘rules or beliefs’ being imposed.
    It’s the dogmatism that seems to surround most religious belief systems that I tend to struggle with. I just find it hard to understand how people can be so ‘certain’ in beliefs which are by their nature ‘uncertain’
    A bit like believing that Bruce can get us promoted I guess. . . . it’s all about faith

  65. r0bb0,

    Let’s not forget that the Buddha’s system is essentially an expression of Vedic teaching. That’s certainly not a criticism of the Buddha (may he be praised!) but just to help put the subject in context.

    As you may well realise, all spiritual teachings tend to gravitate towards being a religion of rules (dos and don’ts) and the difficulty is keeping alive the original teaching and not letting the religion gravitate to the “my religion is better than yours” mentality that can be seen so often in (say) Christianity vs Islam.

    I happen to see that all spiritual teachings (i.e. the inner teachings) have the same essential point to make, but that there are so many different routes to take to achieve that “Point”.

    Just my penn’uth! 😀 To be rejected if you wish, of course.

  66. r0bb0: “I like the thought that it could naturally lead to a greater spiritual awareness without a set of spiritual or religious ‘rules or beliefs’ being imposed.”

    That post of yours was just before I pressed my own ‘send’ button!

    The only thing I would add to the quote above is that all spirituality – if genuine – imposes discipline in some way or form, which is how (of course) ‘religion’ developed – people observing the outer forms and not the inner.

    So ‘the way’ – whichever path is chosen – is never going to be easy if it’s a genuine path.

  67. Jl/IanG
    Thanks for the write-up, JL.
    I once spent a month living with these guys to study Zen martial arts in a Buddhist (Mahayana) setting. It was an interesting time, though I was fairly happy to see the end of it. I had dropped 6kgs and would look at a pretty steep 1200m peak and just walk up like a walk in the park. According to a French Sunmudo instructor, who was there at the time, the Buddhism was very much mixed in with traditional Korean beliefs (Sanshin). I learned a lot about Buddhism, though. Funny thing, it seemed to strengthen my Christianity.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrOGN1Ndcg0

  68. Trinity: “Funny thing, it seemed to strengthen my Christianity.”

    Bingo! In other words it would seem that the sincerity of the path you took a detour on got to your ‘Jesus (or Christ) centre’.

    To me (and it’s just my perspective) that illustrates how much Christianity needs to be looked at – critically – in great depth to extract the reality of what Jesus taught. By looking into other paths you get to see the wider scope of his teachings.

    That’s akin to my own journey through 3 sects of Christianity into Sufi teaching and other paths through to the Vedas. And I still say I am a Christian!

  69. JC- Lol a career in comedy awaits 🙂

    IanG Robbo, interesting stuff, Did you practise around trees or nature Ian? that seems to be a prerequisite for gathering Chi from what I have read?

    JL- Thats what you get with stability and the task of promotion now, he is the main man calling all the shots, Lambert got pelters for three seasons even though lerner and his crew should share equal blame, same went for Tim, Garde , now that was unfairness.

    We are a bit like winning the lottery in this league in cash spent from the start and quality of player available, not many could pay JT £5m for a year, we have an U23 team that would be playing in the first teams at half the clubs in this division, bit unfair to the other teams really 😉

    RDM gets reviled for his tenure but I have the feeling his so called failure bought Mr Bruce time, RDM’s fate could well have been Bruces if he had arrived directly after our relegation.

  70. anyone know why my comments from last night are still awaiting moderation?
    i spent the best part of a 2 hours putting together as i thought it would be funny and lighten the mood. I remember now why my i stopped bothering in the past as this always happened when i tried then to.

  71. MK: “RDM gets reviled for his tenure”

    “Reviled” is too strong a word i.m.o. Critcicised, yes, but mainly not for his ability as a coach but failing to deal with the attitude issue that got to the Doc. That was fundamentally why Bruce was hired i.m.o. – not as much for his coaching ability!

    “we have an U23 team that would be playing in the first teams at half the clubs in this division”

    That may be. But if that’s not Bruce’s immediate priority then so be it as I see it. The young players will come through in due course I believe.

  72. Trinity
    My instructor used to buy me a pint after the training sessions [once I stopped the diet].
    I deliberately left Xtianity & organised religion on my 13th birthday.
    In the 70’s I was picked up while hitchiking by the Canon of Ludlow, who had no problem with my path [just glad I had one], & told me how he found God [In a rear turret of a Lancaster bomber in 1944].
    He had just come from the pub.
    A great man

  73. rogermuffin,

    Sorry, been absolutely swamped at work the last couple weeks. Will free it up. Not sure why some things get blocked like that.

    Also putting a new post up by Ian here in a few minutes—I’ll try copying over the post so your work doesn’t get lost.

  74. rogermuffin,

    It was because of the links…as IanG says, sometimes you have to play with them a bit so the filter doesn’t flag them.

    That said, I can’t say I know why some links get flagged and others don’t. Which, you’d think I would, but…WordPress has a rather inscrutable back end in some regards, and I didn’t create the original settings.

  75. Mark
    Yes when I could, as the movements Ch’i are nature connected.
    In fact the old Taoists used to avoid people if possible, & never got involved in politics due to the waves of chaos [nothing changed there then].

    Garde – yes there was unfairness

    JL
    Yes & his limitations came with it.
    Down to the Doc really as maybe he underestimated the job to get back to the EPL, & tried to run before he could walk with RDM

  76. JL
    ‘The young players will come through in due course I believe’.

    The day that gets better is the day I’ll believe we’ve got it right.
    So far 2 accidents have resulted in Green & Davis slipping though into the first team [& currently out again], & a brief sighting of O’Hare.
    I think the pragmatism & tendencies of our manager has had a negative effect slightly with that.

  77. JL/IanG
    After experiencing various religion around the world, I find Christianity to be the easiest in terms of how one lives life. The hardest part is the hardest part for all of us, self-control. Denominations like the Catholic church and Orthodox have a lot of tradition and baggage that can deter people from the Christ’s message and just become pointlessly religious.
    I met an ex Canadian Lancaster pilot in 1986, who told me they sometimes just simply had to hose the rear gunner out at the end of a mission. It was the worse place to be. I guess flesh and 20mm shells don’t go too well together.

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