Winning six in a row isn’t easy. Certainly not for Villa, anyway. Despite making it hard work of it in the end, Villa did just that, beating the visiting Brewers 3-2. Good thing, because even after six on the trot, Villa finished the day in the same place they started.

The Good
Everyone on the front line scoring, bar Snodgrass, who instead assisted Adomah on the second goal, and played a lovely ball in for Albert to square for Hogan on the opener. Grealish hit the crossbar before taking Elmohamady’s cross on the volley and firing home for his first goal in ages.

Then of course there’s the matter of winning six straight, which is a mental issue as much as anything. You can talk about building confidence, which Villa do seem to have more of these days, but as win streaks build, they can carry their own pressure. And certainly when the streak has been necessary to get Villa up around where they want to be and just as vital in keeping them there or thereabouts. Instead of feeling like you’re cruising, you’re realizing you need to keep winning even if you have just equaled the longest win streak since ’97-’98 and now since ’90. Hard to believe it’s been nearly three decades since we’ve had a run like this. Or maybe not.

At any rate, we did what needed to be done and scored some nice goals along the way.

The Bad
A funny one from Villa, who did play hard, but also seemed a bit off the boil. There were some very tidy passages, and after we got the opener, the remainder of the first half saw us reasonably comfortable. However, Burton started hard and were the better team up until we opened the scoring. And they didn’t go away. You wouldn’t think a three-goal performance could be called lackluster, but it felt that way.

Credit to Clough and Albion, though. It’s a very hardworking bunch, nicely drilled, playing it quickly and looking to get forward. They didn’t come to park the bus, and were dangerous down the flanks. It was a very open game, and perhaps you can see why the Brewers are struggling, insofar as they acquitted themselves quite well, yet seemed powerless to intervene in any of Villa’s goals. Simply a difference in quality.

Quick word on Jack’s penalty shout: You’ve seen it given and not. The only downside to a player like Grealish winning so many free kicks is that he does risk, fairly or not, being perceived by officials as going down too easily. Certainly seemed the case yesterday since he got booked. He’s a clever lad, makes a lot of players look foolish, and anticipates what they’re going to do very well. But he’ll want to avoid being seen as another Ashley Young.

The Ugly
Brilliant clearance from Elmo, who had a bit of a rough day defensively. I’m wondering if he had a tenner on 2-1 Villa.

To be fair, though, he did put in a lovely ball for Grealish to hammer in. But Burton seemed most threatening early on coming down the their left, and Elmo was having trouble containing Dyer. Akins was a menace from the other side, as well.

All’s well that ends well, though.

Final Verdict
It really seemed more like Villa going through the motions than anything else. And not really in a bad way, just insofar as they looked a side that expected to win, kept thinking they had done enough, but didn’t really put their foot on the throat. Concentration seemed to wax and wane.

But as I said above, you have to give Burton credit as well. They didn’t quit. Neither did Villa, though. They worked hard, continuing to exert more energy in the pressing game and getting gritty to win the ball back. Each of the three goals was well deserved.

As I also said above, was really pleased to see Hogan continuing to be in the right places. It’s so important that he feels he’ll have chances and that he’ll bury them. Today’s was as easy as they get, but that’s how it looks when everyone does things just right. Also very pleased to see Adomah get back on the score sheet. And of course, Grealish, as well, who’s been very near to that elusive goal and finally got it. The balance up front is crucial.

From a tactical point of view, Steve Bruce’s double substitution to put on Axel Tuanzebe and Josh Onomah seemed a bit forced, and was actually a bit risky, as well. I wasn’t really a fan of the move in terms of the game itself. Bigger picture, rotating players in, especially Tuanzebe if you’re planning on using him, well, you’d like to think you could introduce him while you’re winning at home against the bottom side. And Onomah, since he’s staying, does need to be kept involved. So, it made sense in the big picture, as did keeping Snodgrass safe on his yellow.

Grealish? I keep saying it, but the kid really is coming into his own and I truly enjoy watching him play. He’s working hard all over the place, asking for he ball, making things happen, and just oozes quality and confidence. The wonderful thing is that he’s almost certainly still got more to show.

Hogan is now feeling it, Adomah continues to be a consummate team player, and Snodgrass has made himself an all-round asset: if he’s not scoring he’s setting someone else up, and keeping Villa very balanced. You have to like his workrate and commitment.

So…another week, another win, and now small heath standing in the way of seven consecutive wins. They certainly ought to get Villa’s full attention. As wonderful as this run has been, though, it remains very tight up top. With Derby and Cardiff both cruising to easy wins, you can see why it’s imperative to win as many as possible. We’ve dug ourselves out of a hole and gotten right up in it. But the job is obviously far from over.

At any rate, I’m enjoying the football, enjoying seeing a balanced team with goals in it, enjoying liking the players.

Over to you.

Comments 73

  1. From proxopera on the previous thread:

    “I’m flying in for the QPR match with my son , his ‘debut ‘in villa park ,. Obviously , his first game will have to be from the holte end and i was wondering if any of you regulars think it will be safe enough to get tickets on the day from the store in new-street .?I know attendances are up but i got tickets for a chelsea game a few years ago on the day so i’m guessing it should be ok. As usual your guidance is much appreciated.”

  2. only caught the extended highlights,,, first goal through the center of the park was excellent
    and we seemed to create more through the middle than ive noticed for some time,,,
    so along with the wing play which had been generally effective now supplemented with quality crossing at times we are starting to look very dangerous going forward and are full of confidence

    but as the sheff utd match showed we do need a plan b and grabban supplied with a few long balls might just be the answer

    again corners are our weak point defensively,,, and we continue to ride our look at times with good chances not being taken where a better quality player would convert them,,
    terry i feel has been shaky at times recently but we are better with him in the side no doubt,

    and hogans movement is still excellent and i feel its only a matter of time before we get him supplied through the middle regularly,,, it really is a big part of his game,,, it was always going to take a few months to click with grealish hogan and benny b coming into the side and playing regularly,, now they are bedded in and confident the more they play the more they gel and the more the coaches can see where they can improve
    and hurihane hogan grealish and benny b combination looks so promising and yesterday some of the interplay with the wingers looked so good,, and should only get better
    grealish gets a lot of the plaudits but benny b is just starting to be more expansive rather than just sitting deep and this is pleasing as playing a more quarter back role can really help create attacking football
    so despite the few defensive improvements we are looking good and there shouldl be no complacency against the blues,,,,

  3. That “Penalty”

    A leg certainly came out, but having looked at it a few times, I’m pretty sure Jack anticipated it and was falling almost before the foul. I couldn’t see a push being there.

    From a ref’s standpoint it could well have looked like a dive i.m.o.

  4. JL

    If the club appeal and the yellow card is rescinded, we have our answer. I thought JG was tripped.

    JC

    The winning run doesn’t matter any more. It is now all about the chase. Villa shouldn’t feel any pressure because it is usually easier chasing than being in front and trying to stay there. In my book we need to try and win every game with all out attack. If that fails it shouldn’t matter provided the failures are few.

  5. Thanks JC not much to add to that other than on the subs elmo was getting done so a quicker players in Axel was fair enough the others were done as we thought we had won I presume.

    well jl I have freeze framed it on my 50 inch tele and I can’t see what you mean at all? at the point of contact Jacks feet, the ball, and the Defenders foot are all in an area of about a foot square with the defenders foot between jacks and the ball , meaning the defender has missed the ball but not Jack.

    Whether Jack was looking for it is immaterial imo as he is clearly fouled and loses the chance to shoot, all I am seeing is jacks quickness of foot beating the defender. It obviously did look like a Dive to the ref as he booked him but if he saw it again on video I doubt he would of made the same call but who Knows.

    Jack was so close to him and in control of the ball I can’t see how he could anticipate him as he actually had beat him, to go down rather than take one more step and shoot? the defender prevents him from doing that without jumping in which case the moment was lost.Jacks reaction was one of disbelief too not a sheepish one.

  6. JL- But what does that matter? does the exaggeration make the foul not a foul? not in my book its almost like obstruction anyway. You could theoretically give a pen and a booking for exaggeration. Your damned if you do damned if you don’t as refs seem to ignore fouls a lot more if you try to stay up at all costs.

    The ref is getting pelters anyway for a very poor display from fans and the Burton manager who said he couldn’t understand a lot of his decisions.

  7. MK: “But what does that matter? “

    It matters because the ref saw it as a dive and a yellow card was issued!! I thought that would be clear as to why it matters, really.

    To make it clear, I am forever seeing Jack going over and usually in an exaggerated sort of way. It has worked for him most of the time (and in nearly all cases, rightly so) but this time I think the ref looked more at the manor of his fall (or dive) and not at the foul. Hence we didn’t get a penalty obviously.

    To make it additionally clear, I feel that Jack needs to just fall and not make it look so daft.

  8. JC,
    Isn’t the store in New Street closed? Better to buy online, or by phone, and collect from ticket office on the day.

    Excellent Summary JC.

    We must now hope that Bruce picks an unbeatable team for Sunday…!!

    A winning team…!!!

  9. JL- I know what you are saying mate and why I just don’t think it looks like a dive. And I think Jack genuinely gets kicked from pillar to post more than most so is used to going over, much like you learn to fall in Judo. if he didn’t he would quite likely have done himself some damage, you see players buying fouls all the time doesn’t mean they were not fouled nor stupid enough to let someone kick them without evading it to a degree.

    You’d have to say the ref saw no contact to give a yellow and no pen? which there had to be for jack to exaggerate? so first offence was the foul not the dive.

    Heres Cloughs comments for what there worth. Maybe the ref having given a yellow for diving to the opposition earlier evened it up as is seen so often with big decisions and refs.

    https://www.burtonmail.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/nigel-clough-gives-injury-update-1163730

  10. JL, sorry, but I’m with Mark on this one. I was a long way from the incident but it just looked so much like a trip and a natural fall that I jumped to my feet when it happened, expecting a penalty. I then assumed I’d got it wrong and sat back down, but after seeing Jack’s reaction for the rest of the game I had little doubt that he was actually tripped.
    Having seen it again now, I’m struggling to see much reason to doubt it.
    I’ve said before that I wouldn’t want to be a referee, having taken abuse from parents even running the line at my son’s games but they have to some extent brought it on themselves by penalising honesty and regularly failing to give penalties when players have stayed on their feet.
    Bring on VAR I say!

  11. JC And they didn’t go away.
    You could probably cut & paste that for the title of your next piece following Sunday’s game; I don’t think Blues will fade away. From what I’ve seen from the highlights on Channel 5 recently they come on quite strongly in the latter stages of most games, so Villa needs to be on their toes throughout.
    The game is live on Sky Football and Main Event so I reckon I will get a decent stream.
    Trinity – Villa going well, 6 Nations and Super League as well; my nephew playing for England U-20s on Sky as well. Good job rain is forecast for Prachuapkhirikhan this week!

  12. JL – On the penalty incident, interested in your take on the two spurs penalties last night. Here is a link of the incidents (https://www.footbie.com/video /liverpool-vs-tottenham-2-2-highlights-04-02-2018 , see around 4:20 and 7:27) In both, the liverpool player moved out of the challenge to avoid contact but the other player made the most of it. However in the Grealish incident, the Burton player clearly stuck his leg out to make contact. Most players in Grealish’s position would go down as it ticks all the boxes for a penalty.

  13. the “penalty”

    How you all see it and how I see it is clearly different! 😀

    But I was merely trying to give a view on how the ref probably saw it.

    *But think about this: If that was a Blews player “falling” like that, would you be so eager to say it was a penalty? I doubt it! 😉

  14. Villalore: “Most players in Grealish’s position would go down as it ticks all the boxes for a penalty.”

    You seem to mis-read what I said! 😉

    I’m not disputing that it was a penalty, but the way Jack goes down, which the ref mis-read – but understandably so in my view as he saw it on the pitch and not from the TV angle.

    VAR !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Hmm, have to disagree that Jack exaggerated his fall (though he has gone down easily in the past). I think it was the latter that played on the refs mind than the actual fall here. Just my opinion.

  16. Andrew,

    When it comes to Bruce, any manager, probably the biggest thing is whether players want to play for him. And I will say that at each juncture when Bruce has been under pressure and there’s a lot of talk of him going, they players have come up with a result. Which seems to say they’re not looking for him to get the sack. So…whatever his strengths and weaknesses, the players seem to be behind him.

  17. On the penalty, I think everyone’s right…It was a penalty, and Jack probably didn’t get it a) because of the previous booking for simulation (which did seem deserved, though it could easily have just been a non-call), and b) because he might be getting a reputation, which is why I mentioned Ashley Young. And “c” of course would simply be that the ref missed it and in so doing substituted “b” for an actual decision.

    Now, I would think that reputation, if it is being formed, is undeserved. I think he does get fouled a lot, big and small. However, he may have to try letting a couple of them go (like further back on the pitch), or try keeping his feet more (which I’ve also seen him do…there was one break in the game where he did just that) even if it’s pointless, just to make sure he does get the big ones leading to either dangerous free kicks or penalties (obviously).

  18. JC,

    I am sure that your take on the “penalty” is spot on. I cannot comment as I was in the Holte End and too far away to make a decision, but the feeling with everyone was that it looked like a penalty.

    No-one has mentioned the beautiful move for our “offside” goal, which was one of many offside decisions that went against us…!!!

  19. John,

    You’re exactly right i.m.o. That’s what I was saying in a roundabout way but hadn’t included the bit about reputation, which must be taken into account.

    In the way that Jack goes over I always feel that it’s a practised manoeuvre to ensure the ref notices.

  20. The laws of the game are now a mess.

    Harry Kane says he felt contact so went down. Taken to its logical conclusion, if this is deemed a penalty then players cannot be touched once they enter the penalty area and must be left to just score.

    The laws used to call tripping a foul resulting in a direct free kick. This has morphed into contact that impedes a player. Well a trip would impede but 2 opposing boots touching each other is nothing. But we now see spot kicks given for touching. Football a contact sport? Not any more.

    And why is it any different where a player uses his body to shield the ball out of play by deliberately impeding his opponent? Nothing given in these circumstances. Answers on a postcard to the FA.

  21. Plug: “The laws of the game are now a mess.”

    Totally agreed Plug. You make very cogent points.

    I felt that same as you but have given up on questioning it. I’ve come to the conclusion that the game has morphed into something else in order to satisfy player power as a result of the influx of overseas players.

    Do you remember 30 years ago when we all laughed at foreign players that rolled over and feigned being hurt and dived in the penalty area and outside it, and chased the ref all over the pitch? We all said that we Brits don’t play like that! But we do now because of the great influx of overseas players that have affected our game to such a degree.that all players feel they have to play that game now.

    And hence how the laws have adapted to the game that the players say is now the norm. You’re now in the minority if you want to play an honest game in other words. At least the honest game that we used to think was the norm.

    That’s how I see it anyway.

  22. John, I think that Jack has been a bit guilty of that but I sense that he’s been trying to stay on his feet lately, possibly because he’s concerned about getting a reputation.

    I think that he was so aggrieved on Saturday (and he was seriously aggrieved!) because he’s trying to play the game honestly and felt a great sense of injustice when that has not been recognised. Worse than that, in booking him, the referee has made it seem that he ‘is’ trying to cheat.
    It’s particularly tough for him as he has such quick feet and plays the ball close to opposing players that he does draw a lot of genuine fouls and he doesn’t actually get the protection from referees that he deserves.

  23. We were caught offside a lot on Saturday. Some of it was poor officiating but mostly it was down to:

    A) Hogan setting off a bit too soon

    Or

    B) passes being delayed too long

    Who needs to adjust their style of play?

  24. JL

    The belief that things have changed due to the huge influx of foreign players from the continent doing things that we British never did years ago.

    It’s not only the players. The foreign coaches are as bad. There’s Guardiola putting just 6 players on his subs bench saying he hasn’t got 7 fit players due to refs not protecting his players with a level playing field.

    Ever since the Sheik took over, Man City have never played with a level playing field due to the millions poured in. Who do they think they are kidding?

  25. Must be me but I don’t think theres a lot of diving these days, there used to be loads on the continent and rolling about but I don’t see it so much. Funny how when that sort of stuff was at its height we were dominating Europe any way. By far the worst offenders are defenders for holding, pulling etc.

    I can’t go along with Grealish trying to con the ref or diving in a particular way, If he didn’t ride some of the tackles those two fleshy things dangling from his shorts would be in pieces. Because as Robbo says he gets so close to players and beats them with quick feet you rarely see players fly in on him anyway and his foot pattern (Short steps) when dribbling means his feet are rarely on the deck long enough for someone to really kick his standing leg. He’s a victim of his own ability imo but his major failing was moaning at the ref and players when fouled, I think refs secretly began to hope he got kicked, he’s reduced that a lot recently.

  26. MK,

    The point being made about our game today is how there are forms of cheating that have developed in the game – and that’s only really come about since the big influx of overseas players since about 20 years ago.

    There is “rolling about” (or exaggerated injury in some form or other) – a lot of which we now just take for granted and don’t bother to take notice of because it’s so common. And the business of challenging the referee in gang-mode has become common too. Things that were just not part of the old game.

    Soccer was once called “the Beautiful Game” and when that’s mentioned I think of the great battles between Moore’s England and Pele’s Brazil, and the great sportsmanship between those teams in 1970. I’m afraid it’s no longer a “Beautiful Game” to me.

  27. JL- I played for over 40 years and people elbowed, spat, pinched, stamped on feet with their studs, head butted and generally got stuck into one another so I don’t think the last 20 years have ruined much. People have always sort to gain advantage in sport some more than other granted but angelic? no way.

  28. Mark
    We were surreptitiously coached on the dark arts in Rugby at school. & it was unwritten but everyone knew in Junior School in the football team.
    The main difference between then & now is that being caught at it was a graduated no no, in the sense that it depended on how important it was in terms of the game as to the reaction from coaches & team mates, with being tough & finding a weak point , sometimes illegitimately [trying to get someone sent off], as quite normal, but not deliberately breaking someones leg etc.
    That reminds me a lot of Leeds under Don Revie.
    We all joined in the hidden punch up in the scrum with glee, especially when playing a renowned cheating dirty team, but otherwise preferred to just play the game, & people rarely moaned much.

    Now in football we have an elite prima donna attitude with the corresponding negative activity such as rolling around on the floor.
    30 years ago any player doing that would have been seen as a cissy & treated more like a pervert by both teams.
    Strange how the unwritten rules have been dissolve by too much money as the focus rather than the game & the community, aided & abetted by blind people over regulating, that have ruined what is a beautiful game in flashes, where honesty in the nitty gritty was also appreciated.
    Now petulance rules.

  29. IanG- I agree mate sport has never been squeaky clean and the influx of money and for want of a better word surveillance of teams, players coaches puts a whole different slant on things. So much money is involved that losing isn’t an option and with players being worth £200m then the rules have evolved to protect them as much as possible, they are assets.

    Players are now athletes and move quicker so go down easier if caught, I’m sure if they introduced the odd trip to the 100m that records would fall 🙂 Can anyone name a hard man in the game today? its a reflection of todays society that they are no longer about imo. One other thing is people are becoming weaker, the average persons grip strength today compared to when the standards were set in the 30’s by medical science have fallen that drastically they are now considering recalibrating as nobody can pass the tests 🙂

    Foreign players/coaches have brought many good things such as better coaching, nutrition and dare I say it better or at least different ways of playing the beautiful game.

    One other huge factor? the EU, so I am glad your getting used to the Brexit idea JL 😉

  30. MK,

    As always, Mark, you think your view is the only right one.

    I never said that such things that you mention didn’t exist … but my experience of playing was not quite as bad as you make out out to be.

    “Angelic” fooball in general has never existed, but what I say is that with the aid of overseas influence in some ways it has become a lot worse.

    And the real point being made is that at the top level at least there was a high standard in how you played the game that should be maintained. That expectation no longer seems to exist.

  31. JL- As always you think the same, I have experienced mass brawls, seen players run up other players backs to win headers, studs going in was fairly common, most games had a set to of some kind. I think you paint a nice romantic picture JL and I am sure that being a gentleman was how it was in my grandfathers time but society has changed a lot don’t you agree? look at the hooliganism back in the late 60’s 70’s 80’s nothing to do with foreign players falling over. Those at the top earn their living at this so pays them not to kick each other to death but they did in the 70’s to my recall, was to young for the 60’s thats 46 years ago.

  32. MK,

    Again … we’re not talking of lower level football but top level stuff. And comparing today with top-level football 30 years ago. That’s how this conversation started.

  33. I’ve a lovely picture in one of my old Tiger Football Annuals showing Joe Jordan running alongside an opponent. Has his right arm around the player’s neck while he’s punching him in the jaw with his left hand. 🙂

  34. r0bb0,

    You or someone mentioned further up about players shielding off an opponent with their bodies (to let the ball run out of play, for example). This was obstruction in my day. You had to be trying to play the ball. Did the rule officially change? Or was it just ‘evolution’?

  35. JL- “The point being made about our game today is how there are forms of cheating that have developed in the game – and that’s only really come about since the big influx of overseas players since about 20 years ago.”

    My point is there has always been cheating but there is less of the violent kind we used to see and more of the rolling around feigning injury and simulation (diving) which seems to be a fairly recent thing (the diving) in last five years in the form of players looking to put their own leg in contact with an opponents and go over. Has that been brought over by foreign players or expanded on or a development of win at all cost? I am sure that managers if appalled by this behaviour would stamp it out but they don’t to any great degree.

    The other big influx since 20 years ago Money, and massive media coverage. I am not saying I am right just saying there is more to the picture than foreign players many of which don’t cheat. Sterling and young have reputations for diving both English, penalties will always be contentious and players have always swore at refs in my lifetime on the tele, I think thats got better recently not worse.

    I am not bothered by players going over if fouled even if by a will of force they could stay up its a foul, I do hate the rolling around cr*p or cheating on the whole by bending the rules or outright changing them. When you watch a game many rules applied in recent years to every aspect of the games are ignored by players and Refs.

    JC- my Gramp and six other managers had to form an alternate league in the 50’s as the Oxfordshire senior league officials favoured the Oxford teams so much it became ridiculous.

    My personal favourite moment was having my head trod on by a passing player who when I politely inquired why he’d done that said “you would have done the same thing” charming 🙂

  36. JC- I think you will find that its now termed good use of upper body strength and good defending 🙂
    Can’t remember a free kick recently given for obstruction yet it seems to be the preferred method and the slide tackle frowned upon as it looks a bit dangerous.

    There was a lad at school who’s main tactic was to shield the ball by holding his arms out like an eagle shielding its prey, I used to hate it.

  37. As I got older my knuckles were more than likely to get a workout. My 6 yard box was just that, mine. If you didn’t stand up for yourself you were done and that included your own team mates. The games were always bragging rights between the small towns we all lived in.

  38. Ian- when you look at he origins of Football which involved entire villages against each other and deaths and maiming going over in the box seems a trivial thing 🙂

    Heres an interesting read especially the bit about the 66 finals being the most violent in history with the Pele claiming it was to level the field against the more skilful South Americans the cheeky bugger.

    “It was as if the referees had swallowed their whistles,” the retired Brazilian star Pelé writes in his new memoir, “Why Soccer Matters.”

    https://www.newyorker.com/news/sporting-scene/cheating-the-beautiful-game

  39. MK: “My point is there has always been cheating but there is less of the violent kind we used to see…”

    I think you’re talking more about the 1970s rather than any other period. That was certainly Joe Jordan time (John Clark) and the Leeds hit-first-play-later phenomenon. And Ron Harris of Chelsea.

    With some exceptions, you rarely else found any “violence” as you put it in other periods.

    The game has always had its tough side as you rightly say … but I come back again to the point that at the highest levels (20/30 years ago) there was a standard to adhere to and the rules tended to protect that.

  40. I think we’ve gone away from the original conversation and talking of the overall history now, which of course had its brutal side in the early days (pre-1880s) and at odd periods since.

    In England at the top level it’s been mostly a well-behaved sport since the 1880s and until the influences of the last 20 years. The game has now morphed … without doubt i.m.o.

  41. John C it wasn’t my comment about shielding the ball and shepherding it out for a corner or throw in but it’s one tactic that frustrates the hell out of me when the opposition do it as it stifles attacking play (when we do it is good honest defending of course!)

  42. John C, I loved your Joe Jordan posting . . . . ahh, those were the days eh?
    My Old English teacher had in a previous life captained Wales at rugby. He told the story of one particular game in Cardiff when it was so foggy you could hardly see what was going on.
    In his half-time team talk he said (in his strong Welsh accent). . . . “this half lads just give it everything . . . and if you see something on the ground. . . . . kick it . . . it ‘might’ be the ball!”

  43. Mark, like you, I’ve had a lot of time for Wagner and what he achieved at Huddersfield, but where has it all gone wrong?
    They were the 7th highest net spenders in the summer and you’d have had confidence in him melding those players into his style of play. It seemed to be working for a while but the wheels have now come off.
    Does it (sadly) mean that to survive in the premiership (unless you are one of the really big spending top 6 or 7) you need to play a more pragmatic form of football.

    It’s a bit premature to be worrying about it, but it’s clear from recent Hutton discussions that the board ‘are’ looking at various options for next year and presumably the style of play and the type of players we’d want if we ‘were’ to make the premiership is now on their agenda at least.

  44. r0bb0: “Does it (sadly) mean that to survive in the premiership (unless you are one of the really big spending top 6 or 7) you need to play a more pragmatic form of football.”

    Fair point … I think the Prem is about a different game … particularly after all the morphing Plug and I were on about! 😉

    But by pragmatic we’re probably saying the smaller clubs need to learn something from Burnley where (BTW) Matt Lowton seems to have found a real niche for himself. Like Hudders, Burnley came up, saw and were conquered. But now they’re back (same manager note) they seem to have an air that they learnt something on that period. Presumably, they learnt what they have to do to survive.

  45. i am no fan of bruces management skills ,but condolences to him and his family on death of his father ,with his mother also sick maybe agnew could step up for derby match

  46. JG

    My thoughts too. The club should give him a few days off to attend to all the necessary arrangements that must be made.

    If they put Caulderwood in charge against Small Heath we’ll be defensive. Agnew should be given some input into proceedings as well. Preparation this week must go on despite the awful news of SB’s father and mother.

  47. IanG. Coincidence indeed.
    Ours was called Watcyn Thomas, a larger than life character who regaled us with stories of his life that I now realise we’re totally fictitious.
    The bit about captaining Wales was completely true however.
    I read once that he broke his collarbone in one international but still came out for the second half, AND scored a try!
    Doesn’t put some of our current, pampered, overpaid footballers like Sturridge and others in a good light when ‘they’ wouldn’t come out again if they got a half-time paper cut from the matchday programme!

  48. KEGS Aston
    Just the other side of the park from the Villa ground. In those days, depending on the direction of the wind. In that area you could usually smell the Ansells brewery or the HP sauce factory, both sadly gone now.

  49. Jl- you may be correct about foreign players bringing their dark arts to our football but it’s the general slipping of standards in this country in general that allows them to get away with it. It’s ok to cheat if it serves you is the message today from banks politicians benefit fraudsters footballers rugby players cricketers etc what athlete doesn’t take drugs these days? In fact what average bloke down the gym doesn’t in my experience.

    Some foreign countries have long accepted diving to win but frowned on our over physical approach in this country. Acceptance of different cultures into British society probably hasn’t helped as the standards once maintain are gone in order to compete.

    Robbo- yes I suppose playing the klopp way without klopps players is not recommended in the prem just shows what a step up it is. Still Bournemouth, Southampton etc have not done to bad playing better football but with a bit more time to plan. What is the average cost of a prem squad now?

  50. MK: “but it’s the general slipping of standards in this country in general that allows them to get away with it.”

    I think that’s part of what I was trying to say. 🙂

  51. r0bb0,

    Villa players Watty Corbett and Dickie York went to Aston GS of course. York was a pilot in WW1 and was nearly killed in an aircrash but came back to star on Villa’s wing in the 1920s.

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