It’s Tuesday already, and one hopes we’ve dusted ourselves off and are ready to go again tonight following Saturday’s loss to Fulham. Preston North End come in off a draw with Wolves, are unbeaten in five, will be nipping at our heels just a bit if they win and draw within six, and likely will face the similarly diminished Villa squad that took the field against the Cottagers.

I didn’t have any real problems with how Steve Bruce approached the Fulham game in the big picture. You lose a couple stars—half of your attacking four—and a draw in a tough game away isn’t the worst outcome.

When you get to the details, though, it gets a little more interesting. A lot of post-game discussion centered on the composition of the bench, Mile Jedinak’s inclusion, and Josh Onomah. Also the matter of Hourihane’s role and so on. If you’re looking to contain a side, you have to think about what happens if you do fall behind. Plan B seemed rather half-cocked.

Fair enough to point to Johnstone’s howler as the ultimate reason the mountain was too big to climb, but you’d also be ignoring the fact we were pretty much outplayed for 70% of the game, and Fulham seemed much more likely to score throughout the second half.

For PNE, it’s easy for me to forget about including an O’Hare because it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. Me, I don’t think it’s a bad shout, especially as the U23s are training with the first team. I do also hear the supporters who figure Bruce is going to stick with the experience down the run-in and change as little as possible.

Merit to both arguments. It’s a question as to what Bruce does when changes are required. Will he get it right? Maybe he can at least think about putting O’Hare on the bench.

I like Bjarnason staying where he had been previously. Hourihane should be the 10 if O’Hare’s not going to get a shot at it. I can see Bjarnason being put wide left, but he has had some misadventures out there. Can Grabban fill the left wing spot? I’ll be honest and say I don’t know enough about him. I still think Hogan starts up top, but we have to give him chances. If we can’t do thtat without Jack, then maybe a rethink is in order. But it would need to be clear to Hogan it’s tactical. You couldn’t fault his effort Saturday, largely starved of service as he was.

Someone, jokingly I assume, reminded us that RMC is a 10. But if we’re paying him, and he has been running and playing at whatever level, maybe there are worse ideas? You’d have to know the feeling in the dressing room, and whether RMC is even interested in trying to get out there and do something useful. He’s not been with the squad, and could just introduce a giant void, never mind another source of turnovers.

Tuanzebe showed quite quickly that he’s worthy of inclusion. He’s no old man and rather impressive. If you have a Bjarnason protecting the back four, then maybe you can afford giving Doyle-Hayes a go. He can thread a through-ball exactly of the sort Hogan feeds off, and ought to at least be able to find Hourihane.

Onomah does have the physical gifts. You’d like to think he’d be an automatic choice as a player with something to prove to Spurs, if not Bruce. But he blows hot and cold, often quite dramatically in the same match. While he did look to carry the ball forward when he came in on Saturday, he still often goes missing and has shown questionable effort and tenacity.

When it comes to the bench, if Jedinak’s sitting there then there’s no need to include Whelan. He’s not going to influence or change a game, and Onomah makes a better case as he potentially offers more. If you’re playing two deep-lying midfielders, Tuanzebe and Bjarnason would make a pretty good pair. Course, that leaves us with with a right back issue, given where Elmohamady is at, and I suppose Taylor would come back in to let Hutton go right. Snodgrass stays on the right whatever we do on the left.

Interesting choices, then, for the quick turnaround. The obvious thing is that Villa can’t afford to lose more ground. We need a result, not the offings of another slide and the onset of panic. We’re all quite willing to accept Saturday for what it was, but Villa should want to show that a bad day is just a bad day.

Over to you.

Comments 91

  1. All sensible points JC.

    O’Hare and/or Doyle-Hayes will not be on the bench this evening as they played last night. If they are, I’ll call out SB. Instead we know who will be on the bench. Jedi, Whelan, Taylor plus Bunn. Great if we hold a lead into the last 15 minutes. Cr*p if we are chasing the game which might well be the case. Just 3 attacking options to choose from.

    I guarantee Cardiff and Derby will be all out attacking tomorrow evening. They want the 3 points. Same with Fulham. We can’t be settling for 1 point at this time of the season. MK has suggested Taylor in front of Hutton. I’d personally go for Grabban because he carries a bigger goal threat but either way, we don’t want 3 changes to accommodate the loss of Adomah which happened at Fulham.

    Go get the 3 points Villa. COYVB.

  2. Indeed, Plug, and apparently played quite well…course, SB could’ve held them out, and didn’t, so that’s why I have a hard time thinking about them playing any role.

  3. Hi JC thanks mate, I wonder if a change of formation would help like go to 442 with Grabban and Hogan up top. I’m resigned to the fact we will see the same old faces not the ones my own thoughts tell me might put us back to pre-Saturday.

    Could hourihane fill in for a game out left in a 442? the full backs look nailed on and I like the idea of the manure lad and thor central. It might mean we go long occasionally but thems the tools we have.

    If we really wanted to go nuts we could try 352

  4. Onamah by the way is a powder puff next to Grealish or Ohare and not as talented imo, wish he was half as good as the manure lad. You can see why Spurs sent him out to this league iin hope he would man up a bit, doesn’t use his size and body well at all, shame.

  5. MK,

    Dunno what those sorts of changes would yield…experience seems to say not well (with this group). Not because changes are a bad idea, but because we don’t seem to adapt well to them.

    And yes, if Onomah had the same bottle as Tuanzebe, he’d be a nailed-on starter.

  6. Excellent leader JC,


    I am in complete agreement with you, having just won 7 games on the trot why would you change a winning team??? Which is exactly what Bruce did. He had TWO INJURIES, but he did not replace like for like, keep to the same plan, but made wholesale chances to the layout of the whole team, causing confusion. All he needed to do was bring in O’Hare or Doyle-Hayes in Jack’s place and Blackett-Taylor on the wing. Play on the front foot, make sure you get a lead, then he could have considered around the 60 minute mark , upping the energy levels and bringing on the Jedi or whoever…

    Will there be another all change tonight?? Off to the city while the weather is pleasant and a Beefeater somewhere..!!

  7. Jc – Having lost almost the entire left side of the team it’s tough to do much.

    I do think his switch to onamah on the left did for us at Fulham, it was clear the idea was don’t concede and Knick a goal and first half we survived. Once Fulham moved sesegnon away from the right and we weakened the left it was curtains.

    Just been channeling Steve Bruce’s thoughts and I’m getting gabby playing out left.

  8. [previous thread] DO’R: “Is there ever a good time to introduce youth into a team?”

    I just don’t believe it ‘s the right time when the season is coming to a climax and the existing squad are far more settled.

    It’s debatable I suppose but if you lose momentum through change then everything can go sadly awry. Why risk that?

  9. Paul,

    Bruce made changes but from a squad that had already bedded in. There’s a difference i.m.o. from that and introducing players that have not really been involved so far.

  10. PP- I agree although Bruce is under pressure and maybe is more fearful than usual. Funny how a slump and blowout from him signals an upturn, maybe being p*ssed off makes him less cautious or having his arse dangling over the side of the pan in the flame.

    I don’t think he promotes youth unless pushed though. Two statements one after grealish got injured about building the ram around him then when asked about Jordan Lyden in dec he replied it was a shame he’s been injured while I have been here even though the lad had come back from injury and scored 6 in 7 games before getting injured again without a mention 🙂

  11. There was some comment from someone on the previous thread (can’t think who) who suggested that I was ignoring certain issues in fvour of the +ve.

    Which- as usual – is a complete fallacy! 😉

    I’ll state my case just once more. 😉

    1. The team is jockeying for automatic promotion with 14 games to go. At present things are going pretty well although it shows that when you lose so many good players you can be in some trouble.

    2. But when such occasions arise you cannot expect (at a critical stage in the season) to introduce players who have not really been involved and expect them to make a good enough impression on the match. They might – but more likely, they won’t i.m.o.

    3. Therefore Bruce (as has been suggested) reverts to methods he knows well. However, he didn’t go all defensive as some people claim … Elmo on the right, considering that he started the season there – is no big deal in my view. He knows how to cross. Similarly Onomah should have been able to supply enough to keep Villa’s game going. It appears he didn’t and that’s the problem with a loan player who is now more on the bench than on the field. But whether a Villa youth could have done better is a very moot point. Ononmah is pretty well known at match-time by the rest of the team – a new player isn’t.

    So the tactics didn’t work in Bruce’s favour. That’s more down to Onomha probably than Bruce, so therefore why throw brickbats at Bruce?

    So it’s not a question of merely looking at +ves, it’s a question of looking for things that make sense rather than going into a prejudiced mode. For me it’s one defeat and against a team that have some ability. And if we hadn’t made ***defensive*** errors we did then maybe we would have at least taken a point.

    So, let’s move on…

  12. Really JL,

    Elmo got injured playing in a position, he had not been used in since playing for Villa, and yes, he is a regular, but like Bjarnason, is better playing his natural role. Sorry, I do not see playing people in unfamiliar roles, using a different formation, does not work when you are already under pressure.

    Tuanzebe played well, but had never played with the team.

  13. Hi JL

    My conclusion from my previous post, is youth introduction is based on chance and not methodical as you could argue at any stage in the season getting points is crucial and therefore precludes youth inclusion.

    But to MK’s point in combination with your own, this is a settled side so why change it and if changes are needed then they should be like for like for momentum’s sake. So did Bruce lose the momentum on Saturday, needs that to swing back quickly tonight and itwill be a good indication of how this team reacts to a defeat.

    I think the introduction of the Villa way to the first team will allow Villa youth introduction to be more methodical in allowing players to drop in and out of the first team and always know the role required of them. It will alleviate some of the risk element.

  14. PP,

    No, Elmo was on the right I believe. After h-t Snoddy was switched to the right I think you’ll find.

    And Elmo was playing on the right wing until Snodgrass arrived. He was started there by Bruce and is clearly able to switch between the positions without a problem.

  15. DO’R,

    Yes, I’m broadly in agreement. However, I do think we’re now in the final run-in and I do think that it’s a different scenario to (say) being introduced in the first 20 matches of the season.

  16. PP,

    Tuanzabe I think is a different kettle of fish. Physically he’s very strong and, like Davis and Green, can hold his own physically. But he had played before last Saturday so was already in the rhythm of things. He’s settled in very quickly since his arrival.

    But I think it’s easier for defenders to settle in. Midfielders and attackers have the more difficult adjustment to make i.m.o.

  17. And as usual Jl you miss the point there are two sides to the story and your OTT support of Bruce in the face of other evidence just drags things out and makes harmony and real discussion on here less likely, As do the little jibes at someone you refuse to talk to. As to the rest of your post yeah we know.

  18. I do agree that an actual Villa Way will greatly ease the overall mixing of players. I mean, not much to disagree with there.

    When it comes to extenuating circumstances, then I think you try and go like for like, change as little as possible. Elmo, he can play wingback, so not a stretch to put him up wide right, since Tuanzebe was more than adequate behind him.

    But that was enforced by having no one left on the left. So Snodgrass goes out there with Green being injured again. If you’re not going to go with Hourihane at 10, then maybe you have Bjarnason and Hourihane staying put, give Lansbury a go up front. Hutton gets forward, he could fill in wide left, with Taylor staying home.

    Lots of different combinations, I think you just want to change as little as possible. Big issue with Jack and Albert being out is that they both play more to the left, so we lost a lot of the natural width they bring, and that naturally makes us easier to defend.

  19. Elmo was preferred to Albert in the early games but he faded after a few good games and didn’t gel with Hutton who was also iffy for a while. Saw a comment from Amavi today where he says he found it weird they didn’t try to keep him and he knew there’d been a decision made about his future when he turned up for training, Bruce wanted to keep him, it wasn’t his injury but money worries (FFP)I suspect, the main reason we tried to shift Albert too, thank god he got injured.

    Will Bruce drop Jedinak with few options elsewhere? I agree JC that the lansbury at 10 is likely and hutton or Taylor out left a possibility.

    Being the suspicious type I think Bruce has got in his full quota of Loans rather than use the Youth players. He does like to bring in players by his own admission and having more the merrier would suit him (+ youth). I’d like to have been a fly on the wall when the doc said we were going with 19 experienced players and 5 youth 🙂

  20. JC- You mentioned my little quip about RMC earlier well I’d assume he’s now back off the two weeks of Holidays Bruce gave him and back with the squad, nobody seems to be talking about gabby though who has played left wing?

  21. MK,

    No fan of Gabby’s but in this situation, there might be worse options. At least he’d give them something to think about…even if it is just who they’re going to get the ball back from. 😉

    (It’s an emoticon kind of day)

    And yes, was picking up on your comment about RMC, and since he’s back with the squad and has been playing he can’t be in terrible shape. Would’ve thought he’d sweat off a couple pounds down under just weighing up the height of the fences.

  22. JC- I think rescuing his cat back from hell tells you all about RMC’s chances even if he sweated some pounds off while doing it 🙂 Just imagine if he crashed in 2-3 important free kicks between now and may though.

    I had to pinch myself then give myself a slap just for thinking about Gabby but if thats the pallet we have to paint with what the hell

  23. Brentford have a B team rather than a youth team that play against any good team From here and Europe that needs a game, I wonder if that would be a preferable situation rather than loaning players out which Bruce is reluctant to do?

    And while we are at it How would our full U23 team do in say div1? I’m sure most would be getting a game at least elsewhere at teams like Barnsley in this div as the likes of Bree and Bedeau already were before they came here.

  24. VILLA: Johnstone; Tuanzebe, Chester, Terry, Hutton; Snodgrass, Jedinak, Hourihane, Bjarnason, Onomah; Hogan.

    Subs: Bunn, Taylor, Whelan, Lansbury, Elmohamady, Davis, Grabban.

  25. when i saw the lineup saw anonymous was playing again, and 1 striker , i thought we would lose, and even though i don’t want us to, we will. hopefully it will make spud pick ohare on saturday if jack is still out. i mean at least start with lansbury. wft is it with playing the spurs twot?

    you can see now how good jack grealish is now. the fact he can hold the ball so well, buys the rest time and space showa bad the rest are at it, they just hoof it when they get the ball. and this ref is fooking shocking,

  26. you can see now how good jack grealish is now. the fact he can holds the ball so well, buys the rest of the team, time and space. It shows bad the rest are at it, they just hoof it when they get the ball. and this ref is fooking shocking, we should have had a pen,

  27. rogermuffin,

    Yes, you’re right about Jack. It clearly is the case that when we don’t have a player of that capability then we’re looking around for inspiration.

    Maybe O’Hare will be in on Saturday.Or maybe Jack will have recovered by then.

    Anyway, we didn’t lose as you feared. Now to get the wind blowing once more in our favour and make the next 13 the big big push.

  28. Wasn’t able to give the match my full attention…But when I did see them using Davis it seemed to help. No Grealish, but he can get the ball to stick.

    That’s what we were riding before, maybe what we need to go back to as long as Jack’s out.

  29. JC,

    Yes, that’s what I was thinking – that when Davis came in against Norwich it made a big difference and we started a good run then.

    There’s no way you can replicate inspiration such as that which Jack seems to bring to the side, so may as well return to a proven formula – plan B.

    This is showing up one of Bruce’s foibles I have to admit.

  30. Great to see Lewis grabbin’ an equaliser (i’ll get my coat)

    Very calmly taken penalty, hopefully the first of many in the run in, i don’t believe or at least i’m trying to convince myself that the fragility we’ve showed in the past has gone and that we’ve just faced two side at their peak and didn’t quite have the answers because two key players are missing.

  31. DO’R,

    No doubt that both Fulham and Preston have put very good runs together and it so happens we’ve just had to play both of ’em.

    But of course we’ve good as difficult matches to come – if not more difficult.

    We certainly need a player of inspiration and no-one seems to have that other than Jack. So, if we don’t have anyone else of that category (except poss. O’Hare) then we might as well play those who can make a difference – like Grabban and Davis, rather than Onomah, who seems not to have his heart in it.

    Though Hogan seems to respond to the right prompting I feel his game is too limited for Villa. We seem to have to play exactly to what he needs, and then he doesn’t shoot many on target.

    So while waiting for Jack & Co let’s play Davis and Grabban instead of Onomah and Hogan. In my opinion.

  32. Watched most of last night on a stream and heres my takeaways. The obvious thing I agree is when going forward we don’t have any players that make the ball stick. Without that we can’t implement whatever Agnew worked on. We smashed the ball at Hogan all night while PNE played it on the deck through us and we lacked any movement off the ball generally, PNE probably should of won on chances and play although Davis had a chance at the death to win it but volleyed wide, haven’t seen the pen yet but it looked soft and can’t understand why Grabban took it??

    Jedinak was to slow/tired as was Terry as has been talked about a lot, thor has to play DM and Terry struggles with two games in quick succesion, the defence is looking a disorganised mess as we are pushing up but not keeping the ball once it gets to their half and often before.

    The keeper punched the ball like a girl for the goal another give away. Hourihane looks totally lost in all of this and couldn’t tell where he was playing. onamah ordinary at times but at least looked to play one twos, Grabban looks a good player looking for someone to play with, played out right, Hogan worked hard but chances rarer than rocking horse s**t one blocked shot. Thor continues to work hard and was our best player over 90 imo hit a screamer the keeper saved from 35 yards. Snodgrass marked out of the game. The chances that do occur are falling to those least capable of taking them and there aren’t many.

    I don’t know what Bruces original plan was or is but he used ten players he has brought in last night and they don’t appear to have much football in them or they are a fairly ordinary bunch of workers. We could go back to hitting Davis to make it stick but without Adomah that trick is bust potentially as Hogan wasn’t part of that plan before.

    What we are lacking is in the U23’s in my opinion if we have the ability to find the right mix, O’hare, Blackett Taylor, and Doyle hayes could and should improve this team and by the rate they are dropping we will have to play them. Some might think it a risk but used up top mostly and together so there is less lack of cohesion they couldn’t be worse.

  33. Maybe like this


    elmo ………… tuazane……. chester …… Hutton

    …………………………………….. thor

    Snodgrass/Grabban……… Ohare……..Doyle hayes……….blackett taylor


  34. Disappointed with the result last night. We will need to wait until after the Sheff Weds game to know whether we are in another blip that seems to blight us.

    We are too lightweight in midfield without JG. Onomah and Hourihane struggled as did Snoddy so it’s not surprising we didn’t win. Lucky to get a draw in my book. Johnstone has great shot stopping capabilities but does not command his area at all. It filters into the defenders at set pieces. Thought JT looked ropey too.

    Up front Hogan has to make his own chances rather than being played in. Lansbury must be really poor in training if he can’t make the side when injuries occur. Perhaps he’s fallen out with SB, who knows?

    As for the kids, I’m not suggesting they all need to play but O’Hare for instance would have been a useful sub last night.

  35. Plug,

    Snoddy was ill yesterday apparently, that’s why he was sub’d. The7y’re falling over like ninepins right now.

    Hogan – it has to be said – does not fit in at Villa. I’d like him to, but he just doesn’t seem to fit in my eyes.

    Grabban and Davis to start at Wednesday please.

  36. Plug- how weird is that to say? we are to lightweight in midfield without Jack 🙂
    The general lack of effort was just a worrying as the non football last night by quite a few players, compared to the brum game they looked on holiday.

    How poor is our planning that we buy a player like Hogan with no real idea what he’s about or how to use him? in fact if you look at the players brought in how many that Bruce has bought are genuinely exciting? they are generally defensive, the fact remains that a lack of any real patterns of play once the flair players are out leaves us clueless. Thats basic lack of pass and move and ball retention. We have seen it this season and last without Kodjia and now Adomah and Jack creating their magic. I don’t know of any other team that relies so heavily on individuals and I’m sure Hull were not that way? Or were they lucky enough not to lose them? it does appear if you examine that last promotion season that his main players all played 40+ especially Hernadez and Diame who scored 30 between them.

    We are in a mini crisis due to injuries and the players that may have made a difference now if given game time over the season are still in the U23’s despite good showings in the Cups and are not trusted. In fact Bruces praising of PNE was a little galling yesterday considering there teams cost, experience and ability compared to ours.

    For me Bruce seems to lack a basic ability to look at the players he has and form the best option and plan for whats available at that time, he rely’s on suck it and see and successive iterations to get there. Meanwhile we lose ground to hopefully go again. Yes you can point out injurys and bad luck but all teams have those but they don’t become inept at the basic plan set out for the season.

    Think its time to get out the prayer mats that he finds a team for saturday.

  37. The thing that can be said in favour of Bruce that he always finds a rabbit to pop out of the top hat! 😀

    I have total confidence – if Bruce is ‘lucky’ then good.

  38. This tickled me, its Bruces version of the stuck gate excuse considering PNE didn’t go long 🙂

    “Speaking for the first time about the deterioration of the previously immaculate playing surface, Bruce admitted it needed replacing.

    And the Villa boss put his team’s direct tactics down to the condition of the pitch as they came from behind to clinch a point.

    “All of a sudden we’ve got a very difficult Villa Park pitch,” said Bruce. “I’ve never seen it the way it is at the moment.

    “We’ve gone a little bit more direct, a bit more basic, bought the big fella (substitute Keinan Davis) on at the top end of the pitch and got something out of the game which is vitally important at this stage.”

  39. may be a good or bad point depending on tonights games.

    what I will say is how bloody awful our fans are at vp. disgusting last night I thought. 7 wins out of 8, just beat the blues at vp last home game and going all out for 2nd place…..sat and moaned like a library last night.

    Not going to help us get up.

    wanted to see us summon the lester spirit at there place when they stayed up and took it into winning the league.

    constant noise and support.

  40. Andrew- while I agree at the ground you should support with all you’ve got it doesn’t appear to have made much difference at all to our standings, unless we would now be top and that I think is not the case. In fact a kick up the Arris has sufficed to gee Mr Bruce and team up a few times now it seems to me.

  41. In his aftermatch presser Brucie said second half they tried to move the ball forward quicker as PNE were pressing quickly in midfield. Since the brum game jedinak has taken Thor’s role and is far less adept at getting the ball and playing it quickly without leathering it. Change that, add ohare and Grabben to the starting line up minimum and we might see some return to Jans play rather than resort to hoof to Davis plan.

  42. Well, I’ve just seen the extended highlights.

    It has to be said that Villa have given away 3 goals in the last two matches with Johnstone contributing 2. But having said that Johnstone kept Villa in it last night.

    The Villa did seem to be too tentative. There seemed to be a lack of generalship in the middle.

    Davis and Grabban looked bright but could have done better with their shots.

    I have to say that Onomah looked better than what I expected to see. But in 10 minutes of film it may not give a complete enough picture.

    Overall, I didn’t think that Villa looked too bad except in that they seemed at times to lack urgency and (as said) that generalship which Jack has been providing of late.

  43. Back home now after watching an awful sad and inept performance by eleven players wearing claret and blue.

    Villa did try a little in the first half, but it was mainly PNE doing the attacking, and one of their most dangerous was a ex Villa academy player Callum Robinson wearing no.37, who had Tuanzebe on the run all the time. Terry seemed less and less interested last night, to his normal self, and gave the ball away, almost costing us a goal.

    Jedinak was bang average, all over the place, and Thor will never be a left wing player in this decade. Thor should have been playing in front of the defence, and Lansbury in midfield with Hourihane and Snodgrass. Then we could have had Grabban up front with Hogan, and perhaps last night’s result would have been very different. The problem once again was too many players playing out of position, and once Snodgrass collapsed we knew he would not be lasting long. Hourihane was poor, because of the set up, and so was not surprised at his substitution, but he and Thor are not being helped by Bruce’s tactical set up.

    Preston were really unlucky not to have a better lead at half time, and the Villa crowd quietly booed the team off at half time, but it was more about the poor set up from Bruce than anything.

    Second half we started reasonably, and with Grabban and Davis on looked more of a threat, but I have never seen the Holte End so quiet and embarrassed at the award of a non existent penalty when Davis fell over all on his own, no wonder the Preston players were so incensed, if it had been the other way round, there would have been a riot..!!

    Later in the game, although it was not completely clear, it looked as if they should have been awarded a penalty that the referee waived away….

    If this is Bruce’s luck, then you may be right, JL.
    Hogan worked really hard over the course of the match, as did Thor, Tuanzebe was ok, but too often hesitant with the ball at his feet, but he will get better, as his confidence grows, as would any good young player. Onomah was again up and down overall, but not really anywhere near good enough for what we need at the moment. Terry is not on his normal game, and I think his mind is elsewhere with Chelsea struggling under Conte.
    Elmo came on and was ok for the short time he was on the pitch, but apart from a couple of late efforts, including the glaring miss by Davis (Hogan would have put it away, no doubt) Villa were never going to win it, and I am sure Alex Neil went away feeling his team had been robbed of two points by abysmal refereeing.

    Hutton and Chester were ok, but Johnstone’s nerves seem to be jangling again in the box, although he did pull off a couple of fine saves.

  44. JL- Ironic with a team full of experience and leaders we were rudderless without our less experienced Jack and out played by a vastly less experienced side generally.

    The plan appears since jan to be initially get the ball to Jack quickly and move off him and create space for him, Jans plan looked similar to the way Hull played last promotion, quick incisive passing and pace on the break but with slightly more subtly due to Jack.

    last season it was give it to Kodjah let him do something, now its smash it at Hogan again or some variation we have lost our way again.

    We know we lack effective ball carriers without Jack and Albert but have a few in the u23’s.
    For the life of me I don’t know why we haven’t played Hourihane at ten though? he got a hat trick last time, or even Lansbury who scored in his one appearance there last time out although he’s likely unfit. Bruce seems to dig his heels in on who he will use maybe through some sort of loyalty otherwise why is Wheelan on the bench? RHM could of been a game changer last night with his pace and skill.

    Onamah is a CM and has played 10 more than Hourihane who played there at Barnsley before we bought him call me mr baffled

  45. Have now watched the extended highlights and our penalty is more clear from the camera, and there’s was not at all.

    If Johnstone had made the attempt to catch the ball when the corner came in, he would have more than likely been awarded the foul, and the goal would not have counted, as he was blocked.

    let us hope we can put together a better team for Saturday, and Grabban should definitely start.

  46. All I hope is Bruce sorts it out Pronto not in two weeks time when the press and fans are on his back again, Jack and Albert unlikely for sat as well so we wait in anticipation for the next instalment and who the cast will be.

  47. Hi All, have been keeping tabs on you all on my mobile, but couldn’t for the love of me remember my password. Well the opp went OK, new knee will be three weeks old tomorrow. The win over the blue noses definitely helped the early recovery. Bit disappointed about the last two results, but I wonder how many more are carrying knocks from the Brum game but are playing through, they were all kicked from pillar to post.
    Back to the knee, never known or seen so much bruising, from my ass to my foot, i’m every shade of black, blue, yellow and green, feel like i played in that B’ham derby. It’s not the opp that kills you, it’s the physiotherapy after. The muscles all tighten and knot up after every session, not very nice i can tell you, in fact more pain at present than from the old screwed up knee, but they say the way i’m ahead of the game with bending etc, that will work it’s self out in the next week or two. Good win against Wednesday will be a good tonic so lets get three points and put us back on the rails. Keep the posts coming, helps me pass the boring hours being stuck in the house.

    Cheers All

  48. Canada,

    Best of luck with the knee. My wife has been through two of ’em, so I can imagine how it is.

    Yes, your comment about knocks in the Blews game is about right.

  49. PP

    Spot on. My thoughts entirely. The viking as a holding midfielder was playing brill then he’s moved out of position against small heath. Why? To accommodate Jedi? He is ineffective on the LW so put him back where he was.

    Johnstone didn’t punch the ball. He can’t, it’s not on his CV. He pawed at it and when it came back via an overhead kick he pawed it again but this time into his net. Sure he’s been worth many points to us this season but what are the coaches drilling him at? We should be seeing some improvement on 6 yard box command by now.

    If O’Hare gets a run out I hope he’s used in his U23 position and not like a few of the other square pegs that are put in round holes. It’s tough supporting Villa.

  50. It is not just you and me MK:
    Well what an awful night! Had the unfortunate time of wasting 90+ min of my life watching Aston Villa tonight! They were dire dire dire!!!most of the team were awful! Hogan up front so frustrated as nothing got to him or helped him…Hutton worked his butt off to no avail….the Icelander was probably our best player just but still poor! All the rest very poor! The worst is anonymous from Spurs! Should never pull on a Villa shirt again! Jedinak one of the slowest players we got ….constantly heading to anyone bar a villa player! Awful day an how we got the penalty I will never know ! Not a pen for me I’m afraid! Today another 2 points dropped!!!

    This is a fellow Villa fan’s summary after last night:

  51. JL,

    You will be pleased to know that before the game, I had a very informative chat with a guy I known for a while called Mick who tried to convince me that Bruce knows what he is doing, and will not change things, or use any of Villa’s youngsters in the run up. He will purely concentrate on the final 10 game run in, and reckons that is where promotion will be won or lost.
    I accept what he says, butt do not necessarily agree, that it will happen this year, as competition is much fiercer.

    Fulham already 1-0 up away.

  52. PP,

    Well what I saw in the highlights didn’t suggest that we were *that* poor!

    Some fans just like to have a good moan. Just imagine in the old days when Supermac and Hitchens were both out (which happened a time or two) and what a mess the team was in. Lynn played at centre-forward on a few occasions as well as Bobby Thomson.

    No different today. When your main attack is out then it leaves a few problems, and though I agree that the team selection might have been different in terms of where people were played, they are individually good enough to have got a result. But didn’t.

    You can’t blame for Bruce if the players can’t get it together when they have the c.v.s they have.

  53. PP- I think father time is calling for Jedinak, his injuries and inability to play quick games in succession means he can be a liability, shame he has a lot of know how.

    One of Our biggest failures to date this season imo has been squad rotation, We have the biggest squad too! done properly we can keep things fresh but the format seems to be find a winning team then grind it into the dirt. Judicious use of the Youth and the likes of Elphick, thor, delaet, bree should have been the norm but with no real winning format set pre-season that has been impossible.

  54. JL- “some fans like to have a good moan” they also like something to cheer and be enthusiastic about but when your manager seems so clueless and plays players like Onamah regardless how can you blame them and not him?

  55. Looking at the Brum game for instance, we probably should of had enough to beat them with a lesser team out and saved our best for Fulham, a much more important game in how our season and the top 6 will turn out than the shitty result.

  56. PP- I hear that ” Bruce knows what he’s doing ” quite a lot from People that don’t watch the games much or Villa. I’m sure mr Bruce would rather not be dropping points and be promoted by April too but as for some magic formula?

  57. As I said before, Onomha actually played some good stuff … but he probably doesn’t play with enough impact so that’s his real problem. I don’t see anyone else necessarily being able to do better (O’Hare is a maybe and couldn’t play yesterday anyway) so I can’t see what other choice Bruce had.

    Bruce brought on Grabban and Davis and that proved to be a good move, and if either had converted one of their shots we probably wouldn’t be so glum today.

    I think we just have to accept that yesterday was an off-day – even Terry didn’t look very bright. As was Saturday … 3 goals conceded all told and all down to us.

  58. Gary Rowett playing Andi Weimann in his natural position……Derby equaliser…..!!

    You may need more pins MK…!!

    Mick also did not feel that Villa had produced any really great youngsters in the last twenty years, apart from maybe Jack….

    I think I may differ on that score…!!

  59. JL- Onamah has been Fairly average for most of the season to downright tripe at times, as have afew more, Ohare has not imo. So what choice did he have? he had a choice on Monday not to play Ohare but he allowed it, he sent his coaches to watch so that says to me its likely he hasn’t checked on the stiffs for a few weeks too. The last time they were on the bench he called it down to the bare bones, well this is worse.

  60. JL if its down to ifs and buts then those players are no better than Hogan who you claim can’t shoot. We could be a lot more unhappy if PNE had scored more goals, glass half full 😉

  61. PP: “Highlights make teams look good,”

    Which is what I said earlier! 🙂 Nevertheless he did make some good moves in what I saw … but I then stated that his impact value is probably not so high.

    As for Davis and Grabban, they looked as though they’re up for being given another chance to my eyes and by doing so we’ll see more scoring success i.m.o. They should feed well off one another, whereas I don’t see that with Hogan. But that of course is just my view.

  62. Just catching up with comments on here. Great to see so much interesting debate and different opinions on players, rotation, formation etc.
    The pitch definitely isn’t up to its usual standard but I’m not convinced that’s why we’ve tried different styles.
    It’s tough being a manager though . . . great when things are going well, but when things slip a bit then previous success means nothing and everyone knows exactly where you’ve gone wrong.

  63. john looks as if I have a better opinion of Hogan than you do. We haven’t found the best way to use him yet though. His effort and endeavour are there but we’re not yet quite making the most of them.
    It seems that he’s used to the ball being released that bit sooner so he’s caught offside far too often.
    You could suggest that he holds his runs a fraction longer but it would be better if our midfielders ( including Jack when he’s back) could anticipate his movement just slightly earlier. . . I guess that sort of thing comes with practice?

  64. Again you are right r0bb0.

    The team are not quick enough to detect his movement off the ball. I think that Bruce is aware of it, and it is why he kept him on the pitch with Grabban and Davis, hoping that he would receive the right through balls, in order to get the winner, but it was not to be.

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