And it’s Derby Day…Villa are fit, everyone’s basically available. So…

Sadly, these are generally pretty tight affairs, and blues aren’t on a bad run. Not that it should really matter, but you know. Will still be looking for a 5-1. Which means it’ll be another 0-0. Or maybe 1-0.

At any rate, we know how this works.

Which means I won’t belabor the whole pre-match thing. It is what it is.

On, and by the way…A lovely set of comments through the last couple days. Arguments and all—It’s not hubris, but I have to say this is supporters talking Villa at their best.

Sunday? All I can say is let’s make seven on the trot and COYVB.

Over to you.

Comments 82

  1. For me only three encounters v Small heath stick in my mind …

    1. The first time I was at one – 1956. Villa won 3-1 including a Stan Lynn special.
    2. 1960 – Villa winning 6-2 with a Hitchens hat-trick, and O’Neill scoring in the first 30 secs.
    3. That more recent affair when Cahill scored with a shoulder-heigh volley in a 3-1 win.

    So, as all those 3 matches are 3-1 or a multiple thereof, I’ll go for 3-1 today.

    And if we do so win we go into the second (auto-promotion, note) place.

  2. Anyone know what style of play to expect from them this afternoon. . . not seen them play recently.
    Looked at the stats of recent games but they don’t tell you much.
    Had thought that they may lump it to the big guy up front but they seem to have more possession than that in recent games.
    Shame Jota seems to have woken up.

  3. Jedinak in for Thor? otherwise the same team that started the last game, Grabban on bench Davis dropped no surprise there. Wheelan still on the bench can never be to careful at home 🙂

  4. Absolutely brilliant weekend beat Wales and showed small heath there proper place, jack fantastic. Felt for Bruce he had a tear in his eye when the first went in got the jedinak call right but please bring an attacking player onto the bench for wheelan.

  5. That was awesome
    After years and years of tough grind and sadness mixed with boredom, that was such an antidote.
    So loud today I even got goosebumps on the approach to the ground
    Mark, your right about Jedinak, we might have been exposed in the air without him . Jack. . . . Wow, what a performance.
    The only way they could get the ball off him today was to hack him down . . . So that’s what they did, again and again and again
    He kept his cool and just kept going. Turning into a real professional.

  6. The city is ours……and we’ve got our villa back 🙂

    After years of shambolic management on and off the pitch, players who dont care we have a team on and off the pitch who are working hard for the badge.

    It may not be sexy enough at times for some….mark 🙂 but tbh thats getting there…..we have a team to be proud of again.

  7. Bruce has had pelters in the past and rightly so at times and from me included. But fairs fair what a great job he has done….and it was hardly a easy simple job.

    Superb stuff and the football is getting very good to watch with some cracking goals being scored week after week.

    And it was a very big call today putting jedi in but thsts why he is payed the big bucks . Worked.

    And for someone who hates youth wants us built around a local young lad. Love it.

  8. Andrew- I have never asked for pretty, effective and heading toward the oppositions goal though are definite requirements for keeping me awake during matches 🙂
    Don’t agree on the youth bit though Andrew, Jack the only Villa product and has been 1st team for years now, the rest have disappeared, the only youth are Man utds and spurs.

    We have about 4 playmakers on the park, we are now using them effectively and they are defending from front to back. The shitty tried to man mark Snodgrass and Jack out the game but Adomah and Houriahane did the business, I am over the moon with the way we have played since Jan before that nowhere near this level. Even Corners have become a threat at last, something I thought we would do from the off this season but haven’t, our movement has changed all over the pitch and even JT gets the odd through ball in. We now have the ability to hurt teams if they attack or if they sit back, theres no hiding form us at the moment. No more sitting back all game I’m made up 🙂

  9. Great performance, a happy bunny
    Had an electricity outage, so lost some of the match.
    Got away with one when JT fell over at 1-0.
    But shows the quality we have, one mistake by the full back & albert scores
    Glad to see Hourihane score as he does a lot of understated stuff.
    Freedom of expression makes me happy, there’s a balance appeared

  10. P2!!! Villa Park rammed and baying for blood. 59 minutes, a number that will live in infamy (if you’re a small heath fan). That’s when Villa Park detonated. You know it’s something special when the Trinity Road stand is singing as one……we’re going up…….you’re going down. Too many days have passed since we’ve had a day like today. If you weren’t there, you’ve missed a pearler.

    Small heath had no chance with that crowd on their backs. They hooked Maghoma for their first sub and I thought he was the one looking most likely for them. SB took a risk replacing the viking with Jedi but he got away with it. The bench was way too defensive.

    Agree with r0bb0, the catering was cr*p and they’ve missed a huge trick there leaving £1,000’s behind. But as Andrew says…..The City is Ours, The City is Ours.

    Finally, well done to the lower North Stand. Those guys were at the small heath fans for the entire match. They were relentless in their loathing. This game will live in the memory JL.

  11. Plug,

    To live in the memory to add to those other three I listed? Yes, could be! 🙂

    My stream was acting up quite a bit but I did see three quarters of the match and thought that the difference in class was quite clear, with City doing what they’re best at: fouling. Though we did have that one let off when Terry slipped.

    Hourihane I looked at very closely today as I felt that he’s not done a lot in recent matches. What I saw today for more than 60 minutes didn’t change my mind apart from a basic shift that he put in, but nothing much to my mind – until he scored! But Jack was brimming with confidence today, though a couple of times he over-did it and nearly put his defence in trouble.

    It’s clear that Bruce has acquired a more than good squad that’s gelled pretty well and show every potential now for automatic promotion. Bruce’s new coach has clearly found good material to work with. Let’s hope the penultimate game against Derby will not need winning to get that second spot.

  12. Where do I start???

    Getting up at 7.ooam, to be at the Aston Tavern by 10.00am at the latest, to drink pints of Doombar before the game, and practise singing with the Holte End choir….!!!

    Then walking, full of passion and anticipation with 41,233 other fans to our mecca( less obviously, a few Blue Noses)….and making it a full house packed to the rafters….!!!

    There was that one awful moment when the ball struck the inside of the post, but somehow came out, and the rebound was blown over the bar by the fans in the Holte End, or surely it would have been in the net.

    Apart from that Bruce’s troops stood firm and did the business, and he got it right, thank goodness. What a gem from Jack to Uncle Albert for the first, and Conor Hourihane will go a long way, before he scores a sweeter goal for the second.

    The officials were ok. Glad I did not have to suffer Villa catering, which is why I use the Aston Tavern, where they are switched on, look after their customers, and you drink REAL beer out of REAL GLASSES….SO SWEET….!!!

    Yes we are going up…..whether they go down….or not!!!

    Lad I was talking to had to go home to his wife and her family, who are Blue Noses…..???

  13. Yes Frem!

    Grealish outstanding , and so proud of his Sky MOM trophy..!!

    Happy with result, but noticed an improvement, when Bjarnason came on with fresh legs, and wonder will he get his place back for the Fulham game.

  14. PP, Birkir did bring energy when we needed it. Jedi had done an excellent job until then and it’s good to see that we have some different and good quality options now that can be used according to the opposition and conditions.
    Grabban didn’t get much game time but he seemed keen to impress and certainly made his presence known in the time he was there.

  15. Mark

    Yes i agree the front 5 are some bloody threat. All of a sudden we have a midfield who can score and assist! Adomah jack hourhan snoddy behind hogan is amazing for this level. They all offer something and different things too. Can create something out of nothing and score goals. All we have to do is keep it tight and wait and we will probavly score.

    Davis and green especially loved by bruce. Interesting piece i read is we are defo geared up for giving youth ago but right now not taking the chance with them. Its all out for promotion.

  16. Shout out to terry. Massive questions asked in the summer but he is class. What a bloke to have around the place and must have an affect on the others….he is pretty tight with jack too. Great influence. He celebrsted at the end like a cup win.

    Seems a real togetherness right now.

    Will try not to worry tooo much but i fear the cottage sat. Bogey ground for us and a bloody hard place to play at. Ill take a point now.

  17. Andrew
    Got a pal who lives 200yards from Craven Cottage, he said that their crowds have been very small.
    I said don’t worry, that we’ll bring as many as they let us.
    Absolutely feel in my water that we will win the Fulham game

  18. IanG- yes mate 2-0 it was, realised I had picked up my snow globe on Saturday afternoon and not my Crystal ball just call me Gandalf.

    Andrew- we are the first team to give our youth a chance by not playing them at all, its a unique approach.

    I think birkir drives us forward better than Jedinak more of a deep lying playmaker, we missed that today but jedinak did his thing.

  19. Jedinak and Birkir

    As soon as I saw the Jedi on the teamsheet I thought “he’s been brought in because we’re playing Small Heath” – to add aerial superiority to our defence and also to do more of the heavy work.

    Otherwise it made no sense to me that he’d be chosen above Birkir after the latter’s performances. I think we’ll see Birkir back in for Fulham.

    More proof of Bruce’s wisdom. 😉

  20. IanG: “Absolutely feel in my water that we will win the Fulham game”

    Every possibility I think. Particularly that Villa’s defence looks so solid – most of the time at least. There just seems to be the odd funny thing that happens in each match … like Terry’s slip yesterday.

  21. Yesterday gave a big clue as to Bruces strength and a big part in why he has four promotions, whether Jedinak was the correct decision doesn’t matter as he stepped in and did his job and I am sure that is what thor would of done if asked, jedinak is just less prone to getting beyond the halfway and is a physical presence.

    What stood out was that every player fought, not one backed down against a very physical City, it was also pleasing that we still maintained our quality under pressure on the whole, a few loose passes but we didn’t stand and watch the player waltz off with the ball we went and won it back. We didn’t Jocky much we went in and took the ball where possible. We are still slow at the back but our positioning is good enough to prevent most players getting a clear shot away most of the time and Johnson does the rest.

    I’ll make no bones about it Bruce is frustrating at times and so many things could of been worked out sooner and us be nearer to or equal to Wolves IMO. The hindrance of having a squad not suited to his particular needs has slowed progress no doubt since his arrival, and the eventual recruitment of a coach that can use those players effectively just further serves to amplify that, one could and should of arrived sooner. These are all the reasons Bruce has never made it to the top table for me, a lack of foresight maybe and that ability to show a player what he really needs to do beyond defend in the oppositions half. This is mirrored in his other promotions that were never mostly plain sailing either.

    Yesterday you saw what Bruce does bring though, a will to win and a determination not back down. He showed great bravery on the side line and leadership that the team is responding to so hats off to him, it was no easy thing. This is mirrored in his other promotions that were never mostly plain sailing either. Whether he makes them that way or whether its his fate I don’t know.

  22. Reflecting this morning on what has been a fabulous weekend for Villa given our rivals results. There are still 15 games to play which is one third of a season. So we are nowhere near the home straight yet. But having reached P2 the goal now must be to cement that position and gradually put more space between us and the chasing pack.

    Returning to yesterday’s game, small heath played 3 at the back which gave them an attacking stance. Hogan had the beating of all 3 with his pace. In those moments when they had pushed up to the halfway line it was a pity nobody played a quick ball into the space behind them for him to race onto.

  23. Plug that is where thors quick thinking and passing would of got us in more often Imo, damn shame we can’t play him and Jedinak? would have to sacrifice Hourihane I think.

  24. Plug,

    It is a long grind, the season. And not quite the home stretch now. But…as you say, it almost is, really, in that we have to stay where we’re at, now. We’re on a good run, obviously, have to consolidate as much as possible so that home stretch is as much in our hands as possible.

  25. Mark,

    Agreed. I mentioned at some point last week that whenever Bruce has really been under fire, the players have responded. So they obviously never played to get him the sack. Calderwood’s comments about the players wanting the win for SB spoke volumes. That’s what you have to have.

    Echoing Andrew’s comment, I think, Terry’s reaction at the end also spoke volumes. As did him squaring off with Ndoye there at the end.

  26. Really good comments here from everyone, and I think we all have to take our hat off to Steve Bruce, for his dedication and desire to succeed for the club.

    It is obvious, as JC pointed out earlier, that he now has all the players giving their all for him, which is the first time that this has happened for a Villa manager in a long, long time.

    We all just need to stay calm and composed, making sure that we now consolidate our position in the league, and really start to chase down Wolves.

    I believe, like the Ozzies, there is only one place to be, coming second is not an option. Sir Alec, Bruce’s former boss would say the same. Winning is the only way up…!!!

  27. PP: “…coming second is not an option. Sir Alec, Bruce’s former boss would say the same. Winning is the only way up…!!!”

    Well, MK has pointed out that in his view we should be up there with Wolves if things had worked out the right way earlier on, so, unfortunately, it looks like only 2nd is possible, given the lead they have.

    What would be good, though, is if we can reverse the earlier result against Wolves when we meet them at VP.

  28. Time to break with tradition then.
    Terry’s actions at the end of the game, just as JC said, give us an idea into the team and where they are at. They aren’t going to take the rest of the season off. Confidence!

  29. Andrew, I believe Villa can now give a good account of themselves wherever they play. We should be able to get something at the Cottage.

    Chasing Wolves might be the best way forward. With that mindset we are looking up rather than below.

  30. john

    I absouloutly love terry.

    ones of those players where if he aint on your team you don’t like him at all but if he is on your side love him to death.

    massive reason for me how are team spirit has improved. the poisonous dressing room has gone.

  31. Spot on Plug.

    We want to be looking up, and not behind us.

    I agree that Terry has made all the difference to the dressing room, and Gabby’s old influence has been removed. I see it unlikely that he will pull on a Villa shirt again, unless it is for his testimonial.

    Find it interesting that some are still commenting on the no new contract for Hutton, when Wyness has made it clear that no new contracts will be offered before Villa know which league they will be in.

  32. Great to see the Villa winning consistently and sending small heath home with nothing.
    If Villa keep it up, they’ll fill VP again.
    Shame about the catering.


  33. I’ve just reminded myself that into the fourth (Norwich) match, Villa were at the very bottom of the division.

    And now we’re expecting top place!

    Oh, well, why not…

  34. john

    it was only January villa were 8th and well off the pace!

    7 wins on the trot is amazing form in any league.

    we wont see that again for yonks.

  35. Hang on, we might see the 8th straight win this Saturday! 😀

    That would be equalling the 8-game run-in to the end of the wonderful 1974-75 season. But as the season has a way to go we have the opportunity of extending the run further…

  36. Wolves are better than us points and form wise over the last 16 games home and away but not the last 10. They do however have some tasty away games to come. PNE, Fulham, Leeds,Villa, Cardiff, Middlesbrough. Bolton and Sunderland Away late on could prove difficult if they do drop points too and they have against park the bus teams. Norwich also unpredictable and fourth in the form table. they will have to drop 10 points and us win all our games to go a point above them. Lose a couple more and they might get a bit shaky as they were looking at a record winning total by Xmas.

    Pretty unlikely but all things still possible

    Andrew- Burnley lost there last game 26th dec and were 5th with not much hope of auto, never lost a game rest of the season 15 wins from Jan onwards but a quick glance at Wolves 22 wins so far? heres to hoping 🙂

  37. Mark, ii’d wondered about us playing Jedi and Birkir together too but as you say, it would b Hourihane who would probably miss out . . . and we’d have missed the opportunity to go delerious over THAT goal!

  38. It does all seem to have come together recently and you’d hope that with the experience we now have both on the pitch and throughout the club we have a chance of staying there.
    It does seem odd that we were missing the final piece of the jigsaw, a forward coach for so long. Given the experience and knowledge of people like Bruce and Wyness it’s hard to imagine that they ‘just forgot’ so you wonder why.
    One explanation could be . . . .
    We know that Bruce had earmarked Agnew before the start of the season
    We know ‘boro didn’t want to let him go
    Maybe there was an agreement that he could join us after a certain time?
    If we ‘knew’ he would join at Christmas it would have been difficult to find someone with the relevant experience to come in just for a few
    Months.
    So maybe they decided to wait for the right man
    It’s a theory anyway 🙂

  39. JL

    Nobody is talking about overtaking Wolves. And nobody is expecting top place. What’s been suggested is that it may be a better approach for the remainder of the season to attempt to catch Wolves as a means of keeping our hard earned P2.

  40. Plug,

    Ah! Then why didn’t you say so! 😀

    Actually, though, if you know you cannot catch the leader then the idea loses its effectiveness, I suggest.

    To keep on winning must definitely be the task, but I think that’s properly achieved by taking each match as it comes and focusing on a winning result in each match. That’s the science that should be used I believe.

  41. Just listening to mnf with carra and henry. Few things have rang a bell. I know we are saying the grealish and agnew effect has kicked us on but hesring thrm talk about away form…. Thats exactly where success and failure lie. The dr, keith, round, bruce banged on about it all summer. We have to improve our away form if we want to go up after years of it being bad, and its exactly what we have done. Henry said in that fabulous arseanl team they even had to learn to nick those 1-0 away wins or see out a 0-0 away from home. Our vp form last season was decent enough it was our away form that killed us. This is where terry has helped too. Massive crdit for them making it top priority in the summer and fixing it. Its why we are where we are.

  42. Mark

    Interesting you said earlier about our defence not being quick. Sprang to mind listening to rooney on mnf on repeat just now. He said his hardest opponent was terry. He went into games thinking hed knock it around him and do him for pace as terry was never quick but he said terry would never get sucked out of position. Read everything.

    Him being that sort of defender helping him prolong his career.

  43. Robbo from what I understand Agnew was on gardening leave from Borough, Karanka got the heave ho and he took over for a while as manager until Monk turned up and he got offered a lesser role. I think it was always the idea to bring him in.

    https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/steve-agnews-middlesbrough-position-untenable-14073068

    As for why we didn’t get someone else? the most obvious to me is Bruce wasn’t expecting us to be so poor, he brought in experienced players believing that was the major problem. Keep it tight get Kodjia back and we will be fine or something along those lines. As it was we rolled on into December with an ever changing preferred 11 with each set back or step forward. The first half of the season has been an extended pre-season. Only half of the players that started the season are now 1st team regulars in 2018, a reflection of our squad depth and Bruce not really knowing his 1st 11 or not knowing how to use them effectively.

    Like Mourinho Bruce does not develop players full stop, he likes ready made players he can trust so I am not surprised he couldn’t get things sorted by coaching them, the players simply lacked direction until Agnew arrived that appears clear as day to me. Pre-season highlighted our troubles going forward with little to no idea how to fix it and that continued until he came.

  44. Andrew- yep its possible to guide your opposition by the position you take up, like herding sheep 🙂

    unfortunately our away form has let us down a bit though, 5 losses out of 6 away, and against our main Rivals.

  45. When we talk about our slow defenders I guess we’re talking about our two central defenders as Last season Hutton was the fastest player in our squad.
    Chester also seems to own some of the same qualities as Terry in his anticipation skills.

  46. Mark, just a little bit more on the Agnew situation. The Boro owners respected Agnew as a no 2 and coach and gave him a very lucrative contract in that role.
    They gave him the chance to prove himself as the number 1 but unfortunately it didn’t work out.
    Monk replaced him and brought in his own back room team.
    The owners would have liked to find a suitable role for a well paid man that they recognised had a lot to give, but they couldn’t come up with one that suited Agnew.
    The questionmark over the next few months is whether the owners stopped him from leaving or whether Villa weren’t prepared to match his existing terms.
    I’m guessing that there was to-ing and fro-Ing over compensation and happily an agreement was finally reached.
    Whatever the truth of what went on, their loss is our gain.

  47. Andrew
    Suggest you look at the run in fixtures properly.
    Yes we all face the other top teams, but our matches against them are mostly at Home, whereas most of the others have more of them away, & also the in related neighbouring fixtures, ours against the top teams are not in clumps like most of the others.
    But we do need to have got the points before the last [Millwall away] game.
    Apart from that we have the best run in.

  48. Derby and Cardiff are both playing tonight. We could lose our newly won P2 to Derby. Rowett has said that his team have been on a great run but they are being judged against their rivals and Aston Villa have won 7 on the trot. Do you think he’s feeling the pressure?

  49. Plug: “We could lose our newly won P2 to Derby.”

    But should that happen they would still have played a game extra anyway. It could go down to the penultimate game of the season to see who finishes 2nd.

    But hopefully not. If Villa can win (or draw at least) this week-end, it could be that we’ll keep going as we have done this past weeks and stay above Derby.

  50. Robbo- I like that Agnew was considered good enough to manage at Prem level by them, a bit of a tough assignment with what Borough had player wise and for your first go but encouraging.

    The away form has kept us from challenging Wolves along with a couple of unexpected blips at home to poor opposition. Its not the worst away form obviously but I want us to win the title, how full is my cup? 🙂

    Andrew- thanks for that piece on Olly, I know his Dads best mate (a blue nose) all live near me and I get a bit of goss now and then.

    I’m not to worried by what others do now they all have each other to play we just have to keep winning as much as poss and I think we have the quality to do that out of all the league, and we have Jack.

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