All good things must come to an end, and Villa’s grand run of seven and counting was no different today. Fulham were full value for their 2-0 win, pulled within four of Villa, and dropped us to third.

The Good
Not much beyond Tuanzebe. Looks a very good young player. Shame we won’t be able to keep him. Bjarnason provided energy up the middle in the first half, getting very far forward to add a little dimension, and there were a couple decent half-chances and positions.

The Bad
Pretty much all the rest. Disjointed and well outplayed by the end. Villa were game enough early on, and while Fulham were getting at us, we looked reasonably comfortable, and got our couple of chances on the counter. Looked a set-up that could get a point. But there was just too much energy and quality from a very confident opponent fully on song to stand up to for 90 minutes, especially with no threat at the other end of the park. The wheels just came off in the second half.

Basically, Villa couldn’t hold the ball, Fulham couldn’t lose it. They played quick, clean and very well-drilled football. Lots of movement and sharp passing, good control, more than enough speed and strength.

Villa, on the other hand, just couldn’t get it together. Fulham’s aggressiveness had something to do with that, but players just couldn’t connect, couldn’t hold the ball, couldn’t carry it, kept getting caught in possession. Ambitious passes were anticipated and cut out. Service was poor to non-existent. In short, not enough quality to avoid turning it right back over and consequently never getting settled.

We won’t necessarily be thrilled with Fulham’s first, but you have to admit it was coming sooner or later. Jedi was a step off the pace. Hourihane was in the right places often enough, but hesitant, getting caught in position and not picking the pass well. Onomah injected a little athleticism and impetus when he came on, but was also a bit on-and-off, and didn’t produce anything in the end. But he did try to carry it forward. Grabben got around a half-hour by the final whistle and didn’t contribute anything. Hogan never really saw the ball after the first half. Snodgrass was switched to the left to start, bottled up there and also on the right when he was sent back to his preferred side later, and had a very forgettable game.

The defense eventually got pulled all over the place since we kept turning it over, and Fulham are unlucky they didn’t score more. Johnstone made a couple of good stops late to deny them a third. But that was only a consolation due to…

The Ugly
At 1-0 down, Johnstone takes a free kick between the box and his right touchline. Everyone’s fairly far up. He sends a perfect pass to Ayite in the middle of the park. In acres of space, Ayite realizes what’s on, and calmly lofts the ball into the empty goal. Game over.

Final Verdict
This is what we look like without Jack Grealish. Adomah’s obviously a big miss, too, as is the understanding the players are developing up front. And with half our dynamic front four gone, including our best and most important player, we always knew it was going to be difficult. The side lacked direction, which is what I was afraid was going to happen. The timing was off, hesitation was rampant, and the resulting passing was poor.

Granted, a lengthy spell away would allow other combinations to take root, but the fact is that we don’t have another player like Jack. Absent him, there was no one to carry it, beat a man, pull defenders around, earn a foul, or have the ball stick for a moment, particularly in the middle. We’d eventually have to go back to the Keinan Davis set-up if we didn’t have Grealish. Compounding Grealish’s absence, there was no Adomah to offer a second wide threat. Elmohamady was tasked with doing the job earlier, which has to be why Snodgrass was on the left, but had to leave, and was replaced by Josh Onomah.

Onomah had the biggest impact of the three subs, but it wasn’t telling by any means. The following changes didn’t add any cohesion. Davis was only on for a few minutes, and looked as rusty as you’d expect. Might’ve been a route we should’ve gone down before bringing Grabban on, though, as he would’ve needed some time to get into the flow and find his feet. His presence did give us a little something to aim at, but after that, he couldn’t do anything with the ball. And Grabban barely saw the ball for his part. Our options for changing it up to get back in it just left us more exposed, meaning there was never really any way we were going to claw back a point. It looked much more likely that the Cottagers were going to score again.

I’m going to leave it there—not wholly unexpected by any means. Main thing is how long Grealish and Adomah are out. I do fear a bit of a slide if Grealish doesn’t return soon. No indications that he won’t, but we’ve got to have him down the stretch. Simple as.

Over to you.

Comments 111

  1. Well, fulham away was always going to be a tough game, but take out your three most creative players (I’m including Kodjia there) and every team in the championship would struggle, even against lesser opposition.

  2. Thanks for the succinct summary, JC.
    Agree with robbo, though, I must add I feel the squad needs to learn not to rely on one or two individual players, easier said…I know. SB did right by Grealish not playing him, must heal first. For all of that, a loss now might not be such a bad thing if it motivates players to do better next time and holds complacency at bay.

  3. Excellent summary again JC,

    but on reflection, wonder what other permutations may have worked. Interesting that Lansbury was on the bench, but never used, could he have made a difference…!!

  4. An accurate assessment JC. We have now put huge pressure on ourselves for the next game against PNE which is must win as I see it.

    Fulham was the same scoreline that we managed at Derby and Wolves and almost the same at Cardiff. It tells me that our way of approaching those away games was too defensive. Four games, no goals, nine shipped. Equals zilch.

    It now comes down to how we respond to this setback.

  5. Extended highlights…

    Awful error by Johnstone gave away any chance of getting an equalizer.

    Hogan profligate as he often is i.m.o. butTuanzebe looking very useful.

    Agreed with most of the comments so far, but I don’t agree that we should equate this defeat with other defeats way back in the season, especially as we ‘ve lately been winning our games against our direct competitors.

    I thought Villa looked pretty useful (in the highlights) early on but when you have a gross giveaway like the second goal against a lively Fulham, recovery was just not on.

    As has been said, to have so many good front-line players out is hugely unfortunate.

    7 defeats out of 32 matches is not a very bad record and the run was bound to come to an end at some stage. There’s still 14 games to go …

    We just have to pick our socks up and go again.

  6. Thanks Jc, I think that Jedinak may hold us back as a DM as a team sitting deep as he does. We sat back and didn’t press high enough and with Fulham being a quick passing team our one man efforts were easily bypassed and we looked disjointed. Jack buys us time no doubt to organise but as we saw prior to Jan even he could not have a massive effect on his own, he just keeps the ball better. For some reason we have chosen trying to beat players over the pass and move which we have seen lately which to me resembles Bruces earlier season tactics used with Davis etc than whats been happening lately. the game against Brum was very open but they were not Fulham and just as we have been exposed by Brentfords style this season

    The whole building a side around Jack sounds like a great idea but the obvious problem is he isn’t going to play 46 games getting kicked to pieces, if that was Bruces plan its a flawed one. If our team was coached to play as Fulham do and then added Jack what a team we would be. Baffled that we reverted to sitting back again.

    Ohare is the player most like Jack we have imo but not even on the bench.

  7. MK,

    Have to agree with you. O’Hare should at least have been on the bench.


    I would have agreed with you, but as MK has said, it was Bruce reverting to his old ways and tactics. Jedinak ended up getting injured, but should not have started. Bjarnason should have had his role, which would have meant that we would press higher, and Hogan would have not been completely on his own.

  8. Paul,

    Well, I read it differently – that Bruce is just trying to effectively use what resources he has.

    You cannot legislate for defensive errors and both their goals were from that – the second was pretty awful. So that’s nothing really to do with what Bruce set us up to do.

    With Albert, Jack, Codger and Green out it makes life difficult. The youngsters are not tried enough to bring ’em in at this stage i.m.o., so what other options did have Bruce have? You say he set up defensively but Birkir was brought back and he had one or two scoring chances that he put wide = as did Hogan, who (as a supposed high-performance striker) puts far too many wide instead of on goal i.m.o. Not scoring is one thing, but at least get your shots on goal! He put two wide which should have been on goal in my view.

    Onomah was also included and there’s nothing defensive about him. And as for Tuanzebe, he really fitted the bill i.m.o., from what I’ve seen.

  9. Anyhow, it’s just one defeat, which would have come sooner or later anyway.

    Let’s see what happens on Tuesday. PNE must be pretty sharp as they drew against Wolves so it will be another good test.

    And I suspect Jack will be back for that match.

  10. I think everyone knew we were going to win based on the lineup. I agree that either O’Hare or Doyle-Hayes should get a run out when Jack is injured. I would never play that Spurs lad again, complete waste of money.

    I would play Tuanzebe as DM instead of Jedi. I think Jedi can’t play week in week out. He’s too old.

    Anyway, except for Wolves, Fulham are best team that I’ve seen. What matters is how we react

  11. Our difficulty is that we just don’t have another player like Jack.
    When you have an exceptionally talented (and now hardworking) player you do however ‘have’ to use him in an influential position. What’s the alternative . . . . put him out on the wing because we’ll miss him less if he’s injured?
    He seems more robust this year (presumably because of his time in the gym and, of course, he’s a bit older too). His injury before the start of the season was a freak, inflicted by a friend not a foe.
    It would have been great if Onamah or Hourihane or Lansbury had been able to step in, but none of them have quite the same attributes.
    We’d all like to imagine that O’Hare could fulfil the role but if we’re being realistic, we know that he can’t be ready for that yet.
    Let’s just hope that injuries to jack and others heal in time for us to put together another winning run before the end of the season!

  12. If I remember rightly we were told that the youth players would be used this season at some point? that they would be needed, so how are they to be of use if they are not used or even on the bench? fed up of hearing about they are not ready, neither were Davis or Green until played. One look at our bench tells you a story, three centre mids two CF a fullback and a keeper. would it of hurt us to have had Ohare or RHM in place of a midfielder or even cf? both can operate as wingers or tens and offer something different rather than what we had, both utility players we have were on the field.

    Fulhams first goal was down to poor marking with chester and terry drawn to the front post and sessegnon unmarked., second was a total freak accident. If you go to a team like Fulham and sit back you will 9 times out of ten get beat, they have the players to do that as do wolves yet we approached the game the same.If we went behind then coming back was unlikely. Ok playing more open against them can cause its own problems but at least you have a chance to effect the game instead of waiting for them to slip up, which they didn’t.

    On Hogans first chance he had two players blocking his site of goal if he’d hit it straight then it would have hit them he tried to curl it around them and failed the second I thought he had time to bring under control but chose to try the volley not easy when your running. It was a good job fulhams players failed to hit the target mostly because it could and should of been much worse.

    You can’t replace Jack he has a unique style but you don’t have to abandon attacking because he’s not there. I thought the minute we lost Elmo we lost balance and the changes swung things even further Fulhams way, so the plan we set out with evaporated at that point. If we had had O’hare on the bench he could of come on for Elmo and the goal partially caused by Onamah doing nothing much on the left defensively (jogging about)to stop the ball in behind Hutton , the goal may not have happened.

  13. Overall, I don’t think the initial set-up was bad, agree with JL that SB was using what he had, and was happy to play for a point, given the circumstances

    But like I say, just shows what the team is like without Jack. Would probably get somewhat better over time in that iteration, but looked very much like the sort of play that had people worried earlier on.

  14. MK,

    I think you can build a team around Jack…but, you do have to have more than one player on the roster who can play that position. Not saying you’ll have two of the same quality, but you have to be able to try and play the same system.

  15. Andrew,

    Agreed…it was always going to be a tough game, regardless of injuries. But, it is sobering to realize that our hopes might be resting on one player. Having PNE coming up so quick on Tuesday is a bad bit of timing. I really do hope Jack can play and not make things worse if he does.

  16. As someone has pointed out on another blog, Hourihane might fill the number 10 slot in Jacks’ absence? Maybe that idea has just been overlooked.

    Anyway, I think the striker’s position is up for grabs. Hogan – though he scored a few in one patch – generally plays on in his inimitable carefree way, putting many chances wide of the goal. This has been going on for some time and I do wonder whether Grabban might not be a better fill-in. Or maybe not. Perhaps Davis is the best player in that position, despite his lack of goals, for his ability as a hold up man. But then he might get burn-out.

    It does strike me that this side is not a complete article even with the return of a couple injured. But it is probably just good enough to get us promotion.

  17. JC- I don’t disagree but you can’t us them as a crutch, Take ronaldo or messi out of their teams and they are still able to play good football. Tom Cairney is Fulhams golden boy yet has only just returned form injury for instance.

    Both Elmo and Snodgrass contribute defensively once snodgrass went back out right Fulham had a free run at Hutton. The initial set up was definitely about not losing once it changed so did the game, Onamah or lansbury on and Thor out left would of made more sense and channelled Fulham down the centre where we are strong defensively.

  18. JL,

    I was well aware that Bjarnason started , but Jedinak had taken his role, which then ball is not being moved forward as well.

    I entirely disagree about O’Hare, he is every bit as good as Jack, given the opportunity to play. It was interesting listening to the pundits talking about jack’s performance against Liverpool in the semi-final. A brave move by Sherwood on the day, but he failed to prepare jack for the final, and probably should have had him on the bench to start the final. I have seen Callum playing for the first team, and he may be small like Jack, but he is like a young lion on the pitch and afraid of no-one, going in for the tackle and winning the ball, as well as distributing it with great intelligence.

    I am just so glad that I have just had the privilege of watching a real football team this weekend, fighting for every ball, playing as an attacking force where possible, and never giving up. Well done to Rochdale, their fans and their management in the way they approached the game with Spurs. They thoroughly deserve their day out at Wembley.

    I appreciate that there were mistakes which did not help, but is it so difficult to work out how Fulham play, and the best way of beating them. Wolves, at least, still managed a point, when PNE pressed them and made them play a more defensive game. You will rarely win a game when you purely set out to defend in the hope of a draw.

    I am with MK all the way O’Hare and RHM should have been on the bench, and O’Hare probably should have started, and certainly should have been on the pitch instead of Onomah, who has had no real interest since he was dropped before Xmas.

  19. I am really surprised at JL and his attitude towards our young players when all our great heroes were teenagers when they started playing for Villa.

    Charlie Aitken was 17 years old, Peter McParland was 18 years old, Andy Gray 19 years old, Brian Little 18 years old, Gordon Cowans 17 years old, Gary Shaw 18 years old, Tony Daley 18 years old, Dwight Yorke 18 years old, Ugo Ehiogu 19 years old, shall I go on…..

    They became great players whilst still teenagers .

  20. Paul,

    I empathise with you on Onomah, but I wonder whether there’s a commitment to have to play him as part of the loan contract? Certain;y, if you do have players on loan then there is an assumption that will be played.

    Problem with O’Hare is lack of experience still i.m.o. How long has it taken Jack to make a real impact? If I thought that youngsters could come in and do such a great job then I’d do it – as Bruce did it with Green and Davis. Both of those are exceptional young players in my view with greater chance of making a big impact on the match than the others.

    No, though I see what you’re saying, I trust Bruce to assess whether it’s time for a young player to come in. And given where we are at this stage in the season it doesn’t seem relevant that they should be called upon. For me there’d be a huge doubt as to whether they’d be able to step up to the promotion drive and keep it up for 14 matches.

  21. … and all the players you list went through a basic apprenticeship system I think. They really started at the ground and worked up whereas today’s lot often expect to be driving a BMW by the time they’re 18 and are mentally attuned to that thinking.

    Different times methinks.

  22. Ohare has never let the team down when played and as a stand in for injured players he hasn’t got to play for 14 games but I’m betting he could, even Bruce said he hadn’t seen a more tough and tenacious youngster, Ryan Sessegnon fulham’s goal scorer yesterday is 17

  23. JL,

    I deliberately left out players who were apprentices, and still learning, like Vassell and several others. They were all plying their trade from an early age.

    I have to disagree with you, as I feel if you were on the training ground seeing these lads integrate with the first team, you may have a different opinion. Bruce is far to cautious, and would not have used Davis or Green, unless his hand had been forced. O’Hare has not been used since the Wolves game, which is hardly a measure of what he is capable of.

  24. Paul,

    Actually I’m surprised you’re bringing up the youth issue at this stage after only now being beaten for the first time in 8 games! 😀

    Yes, I know the issue was because of the injury to Jack came up, but I don’t’ see why a manager who has obtained success with the group that he has over these last few games would certainly dig so deep to bring in a youngster like O’Hare who has had hardly played at league level. His matches have been against lower-level clubs really and he is not attuned to the promotion push.

    Not the time for big experiments in my view. We lost to two mistakes in defence yesterday, and a defeat was bound to come at some stage.

  25. Our youth players have to clean the grounds and the first teams boots still as spoken about in the article By Kinsella last week so its a bit harsh to label them all as some sort of soft spoilt kids, Olly the lad that trained Jack for instance was dropped because of illness and offered to train the Kids for nothing while doing his coaching badges which he now has at age 22. He also has a degree in sports science so clearly they are are not all that bad or need to be born in the 60’s to be good enough.

  26. Paul: “I deliberately left out players who were apprentices, and still learning, like Vassell and several others. They were all plying their trade from an early age.”

    That is true, but the fact remains these are vastly different times. When Barry and Vassall came through there was still a mentality around that had not changed a lot in football – that you had to work for your bread. They were mentally tougher.

    Today’s youngsters were born since ca 2000 and into an utterly different world. I would go so far as to say that Gabby was one of the first to suffer from this mental changeover process.

    Of course there will be exceptions in attitude but now is not the time to change tack, in my view.

  27. JL,

    I am really surprised that you are continuing on this tack, as it is quite clear, every time we have an injury or two, Bruce decides to shut up shop, and enters another losing streak, rather than ensuring that he has the players ready to step up to the plate, and fill the gap. First of all it was Kodjia, and we were just playing to one man, and then this season it ended up being Adomah. He needs to make sure that we stop having this reliance on one or two players…!!

  28. It’s a fair queation whether Bruce should be finding ways of using our youth players more.
    I’m one of those who would have liked to have seen them given a greater chance.
    I reckon that Sherwood for example would have used them more and we’d now Have a. Enter idea of their capabilities.
    Would that be a good enough reason to swap Bruce for Sherwood though. . . . no I don’t think so.
    The point is that we’ve taken Bruce on as a specialist at getting teams out of the Championship.
    He may be more cautious than we’d like and he may use youth players less than we’d like but I’m prepared to trust his judgement, take the rough with the smooth and hope that he can get us back in the premiership this year. . . . He still feels like our best bet to do that to me.

  29. PP. The way to ‘ensure’ that we have players of a similar quality to our best players is to buy them. We don’t have the money for that.
    Can O’Hare be similar quality to Jack. I don’t honestly know, but I do know that unlike me, Bruce and his team (who we all seem to have faith in now), do see them all in training.
    We’ve heard that the youth players have now been brought in to train with the first team squad so that Bruce and our coaches now have regular opportunities to assess them.
    Bruce wants to succeed. He’d love the youth players to come through and shine as much as we would . . . more so.
    If he’s not playing them it’s because he judges that to get out of the championship we need to rely more on experience.
    He may not be right, but then again . . . he might.

  30. r0bb0,

    I am with you. I am not looking to put Bruce down, or get rid of him. I just wish he had a little more faith, but we do not know the constraints on him, and perhaps he has to stick with some players to keep the dressing room happy, amongst other things.

    We also do not know exactly the pressures that have been placed upon him by Dr Tony, other than he will not tolerate any more failure, so Bruce knows he has to get back on track immediately.

  31. Well to me we have changed the way we play up to the last game, it seems more like the way the youth team plays than its ever been yet none of them are now considered good enough. Fair enough if you are going to wallop high balls in and play a physical game then there might be a point but we have changed tack, nobody seems to mind Jack getting Kicked to feck.

    How do the kids of today in the army cope eh? practice practice practice but at some point they have to face someone shooting at you, who’s holding them back? those that won’t give them an opportunity thats who.

  32. I think with the youth, what I’ve seen is that O’Hare and Doyle-Hayes aren’t scared. They may be a bit naive, of course, but they know they can play good football, and they set out to do it.

    Jack is different insofar as it’s not that he was scared, but that he either wasn’t being brought along properly, or just thought he could be involved in the creative, attacking side of things, and ghost along the rest of the time.

    I’ve never seen O’Hare do anything other than try to do everything he can.

  33. JL,

    Obviously don’t disagree with you on what Bruce was looking to do. It was fully what I expected. I do think, though, there’s merit in the questions about who was deployed where.

    I thought Hourihane would be the 10, thought Bjarnason would be in DM or wide left. He did get some look-ins early, though.

    But Jedi just can’t quite do it against young, fast teams.

    Anyway, wasn’t the worst idea, but as the game wore on and he played out the hand, it didn’t work well.

    Hogan? I think he’s converted well. You just have to get him the ball in the right place, and you know where he’s going to go. I think maybe the one shot he had and put over was the only real chance he had. We didn’t make much at all. Not saying Grabban can’t score, but I don’t think you can bring in a loanee and replace a striker who’s finally found a bit of success after way too long. A lot invested there. You maybe bring him on to change things up, but until Jack went down, we’ve not been lacking for opportunities and goals. Basically an insurance policy, Grabban.

    If Hogan really goes dry again, then sure, give him a go.

  34. OK, let’s move the discussions onto team selection for PNE. Let’s assume Adomah, Grealish and Elmo are all injured. If any of them are fit, they’ll play but let’s assume we are without them. I’m also assuming Green is not fit. My team would be:


    Viking (holding)
    Hourihane (No 10)
    Onomah (centre mid)
    Snoddy (RW)
    Grabban (LW)



    Doyle Hayes

    Have I missed anybody? It’s tough on Whelan but we do need some attacking energy on the bench. And we do need the wide guys playing it at pace along the 6 yard box for Hogan to convert. We need some goals. Feel free to pick holes and suggest your squad of 18.

  35. Looks reasonable enough to me, Plug, and for reasons you suggest.

    And I do go on about Whelan, but his only value is coming on with 10 to go just to plug things up in front of the back line. Otherwise it’s almost like playing with 10 men. He just can’t handle being out in space at this point. Jedi’s better, but still a touch slow, has to keep his positioning tight. He does offer height and physicality, obviously, and a longer reach.

  36. Plug,

    Like your team, with the exception of Onomah, who has been off the game for some time now, and would prefer to see O’Hare there, for at least the first 60 minutes.

  37. Whatever O’Hares level of experience is he can’t be any less impact-less than the 19 year old Onamah is these days. We can’t continue to fill the bench with players mostly for 2 positions just because they are experienced.

  38. PP: “You are so wrong..!! … How old was Edin Hazard when he started playing for Chelsea..??? “

    I did say there were exceptions, but you clearly didn’t read that! 😉

    I was speaking purely from a general p.o.v. I didn’t realise you required a thesis from me! 😀

    But that’s not to say there are not gems amongst the coal dust.

  39. JC: “[on Hogabn] I think maybe the one shot he had and put over was the only real chance he had. “

    He had two shots, John, both of which were put well wide.

    I was not actually suggesting that he deesn’t get into good spots but that he doesn’t direct enough shots *on target*. For me a specialist striker should be getting a lot more in that direction than he does i.m.o. He’s not necessarily going to score 90% of those shots, but at least if they’re on target he (of course) stands more chance of scoring – or maybe forcing a save that isn’t held and falls to another player to score.

  40. The Youth

    To make it clear, I do support the development and introduction of youth. Of course I do, I said so in my the last piece I put up! 🙂

    Indeed, I agree that it would have been better started in depth some while ago. But a different approach has been chosen and you can’t say it’s not working – at least for the immediate target at hand.

    My argument is that to me it is illogical to introduce them at this stage in the season as we are in a good position.

    One defeat does not mean that we should change things … This is what happens amongst us, isn’t it, that we have a good run and then it stops and straight away people are looking at ways to change the method!

    If the wheels had fallen off I’d agree with some of the points put forward, but that’s when and if.

  41. Totally disagree that we are trying to change the method after the game JL as Bruce had already done that before the game, people before and after the match were wondering why we could not slot some of our more attacking Youth players in to actually maintain the way we have been playing as much as possible. Their omission from the bench is also strange as they allow us to cover more positions and therefore impact the game differently when required, 3 CM’s and two CF’s? 5 players to cover 2 positions or back to square pegs again?

    As for the youth and the manager knows best as he see’s them day in and day out I can’t agree. Managers see things their way and not always the best way when it comes to players abilities. Witness the assumption by Bruce that Thor wasn’t worth playing until forced, likewise Elphick, Adomah second to Snodgrass and nearly sold. Mourinho while at Chelsea had Kevin debruyne and Mo Salah sent them out on loan and they eventually got sold, debruyne played 3 times Salah 13.

    Its a fact directing shots on target brings a greater chance of scoring, stats prove that but so does playing pass and move football in and around the box produce more Shots on target, and then there is the difficulty factor of the chance, passing football creates more clear cut chances as we have witnessed with hogan and Albert putting them away lately. At Brentford their style produces more chances for a player like Hogan than we witnessed on Saturday and for a large part of the season, don’t blame to tools/players blame the workman using them.

  42. JL,

    You missed your vocation in life. You should have been a politician, as you avoid the points on here, and do not see the issues raised.

    Most of us realise that the wheels have not come off, that Saturday was a bad result, but it was a bad result because of the players and the tactics employed, ignoring Johnstone’s banana skin. The point being made, is that every time there is an injury, the wheels do come off to an extent and we go on a bad run, happening to Bruce on at least three occasions since he has been here.

    we all hope that this is just a blip, and that we will resume our winning ways against Preston North End on Tuesday night. The issue is whether when there is an injury we are using the right players.
    When Terry was injured, how many games might we have won, if Elphick had been drafted in straightaway.

    My point about Hazard was that he is no different to O’Hare, but Chelsea gave him his chance at 17, and he responded. I wonder how many of these youngsters you have personally seen playing at Villa Park, you may then have a somewhat different impression.

    The pressures of trying to win the Premiership, are no different to trying to win the championship.

    I also made the point about young Callum Camp for Rochdale yesterday, who was outstanding, and has been monitored by several big clubs for a while now. He is the same age as Jack, but has not suddenly started performing.

    I get the feeling that you have reached the age where you no longer trust the youth, and want to stick to the same trusted ways, as does Bruce.

  43. Furthermore Hogan has a 52% shot accuracy 5 goals for us, for Brentford last season 68% 13 goals season before that 82% 7 in 7. Adomah who’s shots to goals ratio this season is amazing is only 63% Grabban with 12 goals at Sunderland had a 52% shot accuracy, in 15 games at Bournemouth it was 54% and scored 0..Kodjia last season 58% scored 19 this season 44% 1 pen, Davis 41% 2 goals.

  44. For fairness I looked up gabbys, last two seasons 100% shot accuracy!! and a goal a season last season in the prem 75% shot accuracy 1 goal, season before 45% 6 goals when he last scored 9 it was 52%.

    For a little comparison Harry Kane 57% accuracy 23 goals this season Aguero, 56% accuracy 21 goals

  45. MK,

    The more shots you have the more chance you have of scoring goals…simples….

    Villa yesterday….7 shots….2 on target….and NO CORNERS……wonder how many free kicks they had in Fulham’s half????

  46. PP: “You missed your vocation in life. You should have been a politician, as you avoid the points on here, and do not see the issues raised.”

    Mmmmm… I see the MK/PP clique is on the warpath again! 😀

    Paul, I’m sure you mean well but I think also you’re not reading my words correctly. Or reading into them what’s not there.

    So I’ll just keep quiet. No point in saying more.

  47. Tuesday’s game could be more of a problem as the following players are definitely out. Adomah-hamstring, Green and probably Jack, who may make Saturday’s game. Elmo looks unlikely after his knock on Saturday.

    Bruce will probably stay with:

    Johnstone Tuanzebe Chester Terry Hutton Jedinak Snodgrass Hourihane Onomah Bjarnason Hogan

    subs: Bunn Whelan Davis Bree Taylor O’Hare

  48. JL,

    If you do not answer me, I will have no-one to talk to….

    I am sure your ribs are not very sore…

    The debate also keeps this page alive, without it, it will surely die……

  49. Not everything that disagrees with Your POV is a clique JL, and the stats clearly show Hogan is no worse nor better than most strikers including the best, the only difference is they are afforded more chances per game than Hogan generally is with us.

    PP- totally agree my non clique friend.

  50. The Fulham game could prove quite pivotal in our season and the push for 2nd. In truth we have just made things much harder. Beat them and we go 10 points up on them and maintain second, lose and it’s down to 4 and they gain belief and Cardiff 2nd. Their next few games are all of the top 7 if we had beat them they could do us many a favour as our run is a bit easier. They could damage our rivals while we gain ground as it is we could now lose momentum and belief and have been sucked back in to the pack.

  51. why are we talking about youth?!

    Our structure in the background has changed so much for the better. we have brought in lots of great coaches and are signing some very good young sought after players. rounds doing a great job in that regards and long term the youth will be drip fed through no doubt.

    But for now with 14 cup finals to play….not going to chuck them in for me. saw in the fa cup game they froze. I love youth and young players getting involved too and am confident we will see them.

    no worrys

  52. just shows how boody tough and crazy the champ is.

    we have won 7 on the trot 7! 21 points out of 21…..loose 1 and we are 2 points behind Cardiff!!

    bloody tight it is and a battle.

    could go to the wire

  53. id snap your hands off now getting 4 points from next 2 games.

    got a feeling we are going to have a little blip with the next 4 or 5 games though and then have a good run last 10. form is always going to change, just have to time it.

    just hope other teams don’t go on a mad one and we keep 2nd in sight

  54. Andrew,

    taking your point of view into account, we are using some young players, as Onomah is only 19yrs old, but has been well off the boil of late, and seemed to lack a real interest, whereas O’Hare has stepped up to the plate every time he is included, but like the early days of Jack, you also have to be fed the ball, and there is a tendency by more regular players to shut out the new boy. O’Hare to be fair, will also go and look for the ball and aim to win it.

  55. Just popped along and had a read of the latest words of wisdom here on AVL as I thought after a defeat there would be something to amuse me ……….
    Hi JL, still fighting the good fight my friend, well done ……

    An observation – when we had our 7 games unbeaten, it was written large on here about the fact that it was all because of Agnew and not really Bruces doing. Now we’ve lost, it’s all because of Bruce and Agnew is not mentioned.


  56. paul

    Onomah was brought in as cover for jack is all.

    and he is still a better player than o hara at the moment.

    not sure about him losing interest now….maybe as jack is back? wonder if he will start?

    Onamah like any 19year old blowing hot and cold. On form has looked very good.

  57. OldVilla,

    Nice to see support for JL.

    Have to disagree though, as Agnew is a coach providing training and improving the tactics. He does not pick the team, or decide how we set up. That is down to Bruce, and Calderwood has had more in put of late while Steve has been dealing with his family issues.

    It is not just about the guys on here not being happy. The Sky pundits watching the match with Geff Spelling were highly critical of Villa’s performance and set-up , and felt that the team has a way to go and will struggle to get automatic promotion…!!

  58. PP- must be one of those Cliques 🙂 Yes those inconvenient pundits with no axe to grind were not impressed.

    Andrew- its not an issue of youth but of using players that closely resemble the ones we lost and not completely reverting our new found style back to pre-Agnews arrival. Fine we might not be able to replicate things exactly as Jack is a one off but it doesn’t say much for the rest of the planning if we are that poor without him does it. Sessegnon is Fulhams stand out this season at 17, not about age but ability and you are gravely misjudging Ohares imo but never mind.

  59. Mark

    Hope more than anything ohare will be the next messi but i wont hold my breath…..seen to many villa kids get hyped and go no where. Jacks the only real one coming to the fore and thats after a few years of him standing still.

    But if he is good enough hell get his chance that im confident about.

    Would love to see him out on loan playing proper football tbh

  60. JC: “… but players just couldn’t connect, couldn’t hold the ball …”

    Yes, that’s an element of Villa’s game that is still faulty despite the winning run.

    I suppose Agnew needs to get the sack for this? 😉 😀

  61. The U23’s are playing wolves tonight, O’hare and RHM are involved so we know what tomorrows team will be pretty much. RHM has put us 1-0 up.

    Andrew- He just has to be the best O’hare doesn’t he? why does every player we unearth have to be a Messi? why can’t they just be a useful cog in the team? and you won’t know unless he plays he’s 20 and sending them out is a double edged sword, tell me who has gone out and made it at Villa of late bar Jack?

    I think if Agnew went there wouldn’t be much laughing going on 😉

  62. From where I’m looking Agnews contribution has been getting the team up the pitch quicker and supplying Hogan, also we have started pressing higher up the pitch together, he’s also improved the interplay around the box and corners and free kick routines have improved. We don’t play keep ball at all as such just quick counter attack and one twos, that was completely lacking against Fulham as players tried to carry the ball not play together. Thats the beauty of Jack he can do that successfully, so can Ohare and RHM.

    Moving Snodgrass not only meant we had lost Jack and Adomah we lost Him too

  63. Agree about snod mark he needs to go back to left wing and yes we should revert to 4141. Id give lansbury a go in jacks role.


    As well as preston only losing 1 in 16 they are the 4th best away team in the league. Eeeekkkk

  64. The snake has been given a red….!!!!

    Come on Wigan..!
    Cannot believe the pathetic summary I have just read on the OS from Steve Bruce. I will forgive him and perhaps he should still have been on bereavement leave.

    Basically he said that whoever scored the first goal would win, and surely, if you have that attitude, it feeds down to your players, and then of course Sam’s mistake finished it. I find the mentality to cope with, as his former boss would have gone clean off if his players had not believed they could win from a losing position. Perhaps his love of United clouds his vision from time to time at Villa.

  65. The u-23s

    Well, what a result, and O’Hare apparently one of the top outstanding players.

    It’s interesting, isn’t it, that some are saying “Look at Wolves, why aren’t we where they are?” (Championship-wise) but at the same time, they’ve clearly not provided for the future, which is what Villa are doing. Villa’s developments seem to be far more long-term orientated and therefore better equipped i.m.o.

  66. Wigan v Man City

    Well, there we are, a Wigan player gets one real scoring chance and takes the opportunity 100%. What a goal!

    Interesting to see all the foreign names in the City side, but the feller who scores that fine goal is simply Will Gregg! And I think he shows Hogan how to take advantage of chances … he’s scored 7 in 7 FA Cup ties apparently.

  67. well as a strike against the anti- Hogan brigade I’ll just repeat he had 7-7 too after coming back from two years of rehab. Also interesting Will Greggs came from Brentford to Wigan and has 9 in 28 in the league. Hogan 5 in 25 in the league plus 2 assists and 3 in 3 in the cup. Griggs is a NI international and may have had 30+ shots in those 7 games for all we know but why let that get in the way of beating your own hard working player down who creates as many chances for others than they do for him.

    Having seen Griggs goal I am 100% sure hogan in the same position would of scored it along with a host of other strikers but well done Griggs anyway wonder who’s going to buy him in the summer?

    Why aren’t we were Wolves are? their manager perhaps? their scouting? and how the manager quickly put his side together and the way they play for a start.

    Those Claret and blue Glasses must be extra strength today JL(except for Hogan), So now if your u23 side gets beat it equates to your not providing for the future? worth a glance at Wolves first team whose average age is 25 though? These players are their immediate future while we build a team of overage players and loan deals decidedly not for the future. Add to that lots of our U23 side have been here for 8 years others arrived under Lerner like Ohare in 2015. They also have one Jordan Graham considered not good enough by us.

  68. Aston Villa 6 Wolves 1

    This does not mean that Wolves are not preparing for the future when the Villa side contains players worth, and cost more than some of the Wolves first team.
    The Villa team that played last night contained all our most talented and experienced youngsters that we have available, and are not out on loan. When this team plays together it always gets a result, but often recently, some major payers have not been available. Most of these players would slot into any other Championship side comfortably.

    I am sure that the team playing on Thursday will get a similar result.

    I dislike the references to the anti- Bruce brigade, as I am not anti- Bruce. He is a very experienced man, but I am entitled to call into question from time to time, the methods and tactics he employs and his team selection. I still support him when it comes to match day and I go and give 110% support for him, the team and our club, Aston Villa. I will be there again tonight, and wonder how many of those who think Bruce is beyond criticism, will be there too???

  69. PP- Know what you’re saying that is the scenario being played out all over the net, any criticism however merited is met with the claim you have an emotional problem with Bruce which is rubbish.

    Seen lots of comments praising Ohare if only he was six foot Bruce might see him. heres one of many.

    “This kid O’Hare is the best I’ve seen at his age and I’ve been watching villa for over 50 years.I know that sounds ludicrous but I genuinely believe it .Frank Pimblett Gary shaw Brian Little the best 3 but this lad with a bit of luck will top the lot”

  70. Heres the u23’s ratings and I think there are several who could help in this moment of missing 3 left sided players. would it be worth playing Taylor as a winger in front of Hutton? or Borg who’s decent going forward or Blackett Taylor a winger? we really need to win this game tonight because if we don’t the next at Sheff weds could end up being a nervous affair.

    “Callum O’Hare – 9
    Another fine showing from Villa’s main man and he grabbed the goal it deserved with a close-range header.

    Everything went through the little midfielder, as it always does, and he sent a clear message to Steve Bruce, who had his trusted lieutenants Steve Agnew, Stephen Clemence and Gary Walsh watch tonight’s match.”

  71. MK,

    I am in complete agreement. I have seen O’Hare play on several occasions, and he is definitely the best young Villa player I have seen, and he is at the stage where Brian little would have been playing regularly for the first team. I think that Jack Grealish is terrific since his return, but I believe that Callum is a better , and more tenacious player.

  72. Paul,

    But I think we all now what Bruce’s foibles/weaknesses are! 😀

    You’re effectively telling us what we see for ourselves, but life is so much more pleasant when you see the half-glass-full side of things and observe that (overall) Bruce’s ways – despite everything else! – get somewhere! Not the way we would ideally want but – hey – we’re not the professionals.

  73. With thanks to the EFL, we can forget about the weekend and focus on tonight, I’ve not seen the Fulham highlights and will probably avoid given the result, a Villa buddy in my job showed me the unfortunate 2nd goal, that’s all I’ve seen.

    Onwards to Preston, another tough game but one we can win, is it on TV or do I have to suffer with just updates?

    As for Calum O’Hare, long since been a champion of his (well since pre-season) and he deserves to be

    1. on the bench
    2. in our 7 game streak, coming on as a sub

    We may have a situation like Grealish in that he was too much of a luxury and not as imposing in our relegation fights when points were more important than performance but post injury Grealish has turned a corner in terms of contribution and cemented his place in the team.

    It leads me to suggest that there is never a good time to be introduced in equal measure with there is never a bad time to be introduced. By that I mean you could argue we are back to a points over performances situation and O’Hare is a luxury we can’t afford but the reality is when does it become appropriate to blood a youngster especially when the talent is there on paper and at U23 level.

    We’ve enough about us to ensure we are in the play offs at least, I’d give O’Hare the opportunity if I was manager. Finally the lad should do a reverse of Grealish and declare for Ireland, we could do with a playmaker now that Hoolihan has retired.

  74. Doyle-Hayes was also praised for his coolness and superb control of the ball.

    There was not a rating below 7, for any of the team..!!

    I am sure that the plan is to ensure Villa’s promotion this season for the young Lions as well.

  75. DO’R,

    Yes, I’m in sympathy with having O’Hare on the bench. Just one youngster’s inclusion in the playing squad isn’t going to upset the apple-cart.

    Having said that I’ve not seen anything particularly magical about him when he’s come on in league games. The cup matches he’s done well in for sure, but they were against lower league sides. Like Wigan!! 😀

    My gut instinct is that he won’t get a look in because of Onomah’s presence. Which is a pity.

    O if we happen to be safely promoted with 2 games to go I’m sure we’d see more of the youth at that point.

  76. JL,

    Your lack of trust in youth comes over in waves…and yet you have always been a champion of Villa’s past youth.

    I can see where you are coming from DOR, and when you look at how most England players are chosen these days, unless Villa suddenly have a meteoric rise in fame, then their players are not going to get a look in, in joining the squad.

    Although, the Sky pundits were saying on Saturday that if Grealish has a good run in now, he could make the squad for September..!!

  77. The biggest danger we now have, is that the money boys will be watching our youth, and will offer the club sums of money they cannot refuse, especially, if we do not fair well in the coming weeks.

    Arsenal, Man City and the rest, would not hesitate in putting in a £10m bid for a youngster , a drop in the ocean, at today’s prices, and Villa would have a hard job resisting.

  78. PP: “Your lack of trust in youth comes over in waves”

    Sorry, Paul, that’s rubbish. I get the impression you have not followed my argument over the weeks.

    I have openly backed youth (I said so in the last article I wrote), but I simply object to the idea of their inclusion at this stage in the proceedings. With the possible exception of one – O’Hare – and he being available only on the bench.

    The fact that Bruce sent his generals to watch the youth last night clearly shows they’re not being forgotten and that’s good.

    But we won 7 matches on the trot without the youth and unless the wheels now come off we need to keep a stable team in my view. That stands more choice i.m.o. for securing promotion rather than rushing too many inexperienced youth into the fray. One such player would not be too much of a risk though.

  79. Dor- Its like the conundrum of when is the best time to have a baby, there isn’t one. O’hare is far more combative than Grelish at a similar age so the time is now and always has been.

    As for O’hares showings in league games why does he have to be the standout player to get some game time? the whole idea is to integrate him in the teams play and he won’t do that in the u23’s. Snodgrass has been good and bad in equal measure as have others and has only just began to show his real worth/abilities since Jan, wouldn’t be a surprise that O’Hare in a team playing better football would shine just as Snodgrass has begun to. I would play Jack out left if fit tonight and if he hadn’t played last night O’hare at 10.

    Bree had a good game too so now Elmo’s crocked maybe he will get a run? but I suspect he won’t. Would like to see the manure lad and Thor behind Hourihane at ten tonight and neil Taylor in front of Hutton but it leaves a problem at RB we can’t solve now delaets gone.

    JL- We also know what Bruces strengths are ad nauseam and they are far from interesting to talk about. so refusal to see anything but the +ve side is just aggravating the matter, which in turn at least gets people posting I suppose.

  80. Is there ever a good time to introduce youth into a team? For Villa over the last years of the prem we’ve been avoiding relegation and playing experienced players to stave off what became the inevitable, now in our championship years we’ve been playing mostly experienced players in an effort to get promoted.

    Both scenarios call for an approach where points are more important than performance when being practical about Villa. To my mind, Villa’s position has never allowed for youth to be genuinely considered for inclusion beyond being forced into selection due to injuries.

    But if you look at football in general, player introduction has never been methodical, its always been about an opportunity thru’ someone else’s enforced absence (red card or injury). I don’t believe we need to get het up on O’Hare’s lack of game time as the cream will rise to the top, it only requires patience, consistency and opportunity grabbing. And as PP says ensuring you avoid the vultures offering first team football and double your money promises.

    The youth of the past made it at Villa, the youth of the future will make it and those that don’t, tend to have careers in football at smaller clubs anyway.

    I refer back to Round’s requirements to play for Villa and the youth’s have it in spades – respect and pride in the club and it’s jersey, no lack in talent and a determination to succeed for the club first and the individual second. O’Hare’s time will come and Villa will be the better for it. Just like Grealish we’ll soon forget about our desire to have him in the team when he was on the fringes to looking forward to see him play week in, week out.

Leave a Reply