At the weekend, Villa somehow put four past Sheffield Wednesday while conceding only two. I’m not sure how that came about, so I guess we all just say thank you very much and move on.

Now, that could also be a case of whistling past the graveyard. Does it matter? Depends. If Grealish and Adomah return this week and are anywhere near their standard, then the odds of us playing better would seem to go up. But you never know with these things.

In the meantime, been reading all the back and forth about Hogan. I think I can see both sides. Forgive me if a my paraphrase isn’t 100% accurate, but it seems to go something like this: A) If we can’t play to him, then what use is he? B) If we could only get him the ball, then he’d score. And maybe there’s a another one, which is that he doesn’t convert at a high enough rate on the chances he does get. So it’s sort of like a triangle, right? One side for, two against.

To me, the first two ideas are both valid. I was ready to write Hogan off not because I don’t think he can score, but because we couldn’t seem to get him the ball. Then we got him the ball, and he scored.

Stats have been bandied about, and I think broad stats from the same methodology can be useful. If Opta says Kane scores one in four or five, and Opta says Hogan scores whatever, then you’d hope it’s apples to apples. Assuming that’s the case, then broadly speaking, Hogan doesn’t do badly in terms of converting. I’ve seen him miss what seem like dead certs, and then put away the most glancing of chances.

If Grealish and/or Adomah come back in the side, and Hogan started scoring playing with them and Snodgrass, my math would be  simple: 1) Is Hogan well liked? 2) Does he play hard? Getting to the more mystical side, 3) is he more or less likely to score than Grabban? If I think no to C, I also have to balance the other two and ask myself how much less likely?

Now managers get paid to make tough choices, and when they work, everyone’s happy. Except the player or two that might’ve lost their spots. Does Bruce have a hard choice to make here? I don’t think so. Villa got four last time out, which sort of papers over issues that a defeat might’ve raised, and gives Bruce a pass to stick with what was working before Grealish and Adomah got hurt. And, being a touch conservative in these matters, I’d probably go with what was working.

Doesn’t mean I have any idea what would happen if Grabban got a start in Hogan’s place. But I would be thinking about the dressing room, and I would be inclined to go with players who’ve played more together. Not for a lifetime, by any means, but there has to be more understanding. And there was a seven-game win streak. As far as the dressing room goes, I’d take it under consideration not because I’d fear ‘player power’. I just would’ve seen a team coming together, and a player sticking with it like others who’ve been sidelined, gotten chances and come good. I don’t like messing with good feelings.

Anyway. It could also be the case that any number of strikers might thrive with Grealish, Adomah, and Snodgrass occupying so much attention and posing their own threats. That is to say, if both are back, or Grealish in particular, then maybe it’s all academic. Apart from the fact that one player had a £12m price tag, and is on a long contract. And that we’re chasing promotion, and everything else pales in comparison.

So, we’ll see what the weekend brings. I’m much more curious about Grealish and Adomah, as you can tell, because while 4-2 isn’t a textbook smash and grab, it sure felt like one. We’re very lucky to have those three points, and maybe the one before it. If I’d have been asked if four points from nine with Jack and Albert out was acceptable, never mind other injuries, I’d probably have said yes. Even more so after what I saw over those three games.

If Jack and Albert aren’t back, then maybe we do switch things up, and Bruce has some cover. Trick here is that I just haven’t seen enough of Grabban to know with any certainty. But if we can’t get the ball to Hogan…

Hope I’ve cleared that up.

Over to you.

Comments 50

  1. IanG: “I’m not being aggressive, that’s just a get out clause that I see often when manipulation creeps in with an insistence on balance, & a tendency to provocation which doesn’t really bother me. Neither is anyone ganging up on you & I don’t do cliques, why would anyone bother?”

    All very clever stuff, Ian … 😉 … but it was you that inferred I would “attack you” ion your opinion. Clearly provocative language in its own right.

    And then you say that I agree about Hogan! What nonsense is that? I only agreed on certain issues about him and still vary on his overall effectiveness.

    You also suggest he’s scored a lot more than the 1 in the last 6 that I referred to. Yes he did score 4 in the preceding few matches but I was referring to the fact he’s dried up since and indeed has missed quite a few chances in the last 6.

    Anyhow, so be it. As r0bb0 infers, facts seem to get ignored.

  2. John,

    Grabban is certainly (for me) the catalyst in the issue about Hogan in that I see him showing a more aggressive potential – i.e. it’s not just about how many either are going to score.

    But on the issue of scoring I believe Grabban scored 12 in 19 for Sunderland this season (see Wiki) despite where they are, so he clearly has an ability to win in his own right, whereas it seems to come down to us having to play a certain way to get Hogan to score.

    It seems clear to me which is the preferable player.

  3. Thanks JC, you have covered the topics under debate at the moment. Were we lucky in the last 2 games? A resounding yes. Must remember that the Owls had a scratch team out and we had home advantage against PNE. Even though popular thought is that teams make their own luck, I wouldn’t want us banking on more of the same.

    Grabban does look useful. It will be interesting to see what SB does when Adomah is available for selection again. Does he stick with Grabban and bench Adomah or does he pick Grabban and bench Hogan? We may know by Sat.

  4. Warnock is a wily old dog. Who is he kidding when he says Cardiff are just hoping to make the play offs? Total BS, he will be gutted if he doesn’t get P2 from their current position. Keep chasing Villa.

  5. JL
    “inferred is a provocation’??
    Now you’re on one.
    Pointless trying to debate anything with you it seems.
    From now on probably better to not respond, so be happy

  6. JL,

    It’s a fair point, though I’ve not seen how Sunderland and Grabban worked together. What I have seen of him, he does get involved, wants to play, and given he’s apparently able to play from a number of areas, could have more impact overall.

    Which is why I mention the dressing room and Bruce’s reading of it, since we weren’t doing badly without Grabban until Grealish and Adomah were injured. Villa may well not be able to involve Hogan without Grealish.

    I’m not so sure it’s about playing a certain way…it’s just getting the ball into a striker. I guess the flipside is to say we can only play one way (ie, can’t make the passes Hogan needs). And that may well be true without Jack.

    Anyway, we’ll see. As I was saying, I’m much more interested in getting Jack back. Whichever player gets the striker role in Bruce’s preferred formation to date, I think they’ll have opportunities.

    And it may well be that it’s not either/or, in the end, as Plug suggests.

  7. JC
    Thanks for the post, near enough.
    Wouldn’t we be happy if anyone went on a scoring streak always possible, especially when Jack & Adomah are back.
    Hopefully that’ll be on Saturday.

    Plug – love for Warnock to be a disappointed wily old dog, but he does give it a go.
    Bruce will probably surprise us all again with his selection on saturday.
    Whoever it is – hope they go for it

  8. JC
    We did give a lot of long contracts out when we were hoping to be promoted quickly, which begs the question as to what the plan with players was for the premiership.

  9. IanG,

    Good question. I’m not sure there was much plan other than doing whatever it took to get in a given target to get promoted, despite assurances to the contrary (sort of). As to how those targets fit together…Seems to be the main issue with Hogan. He’s proven he can score, but if he doesn’t suit the team you’re putting together, then why get him?

    To MK’s point from yesterday, you’d like to think professional footballers would be able to play more than one way. Most anyone can play hit and hope, which is why lesser teams do it. If you’ve bought two small forwards in Hogan and RMC who are going to want it on the deck by and large, and you don’t go in with a hold-up man to partner them at least, I’m not sure what the thinking was, in the end. The talk on Grabban earlier was that he needed a target man up front. Don’t know how true that is, yet.

  10. IanG: “Pointless trying to debate anything with you it seems.”

    Ian, I always give room for the other opinion … often agreeing to those parts where I do agree. Not often agreeing in total I must admit! 🙂

    Otherwise it’s always a debate without prejudice as far as I’m concerned, so I don’t understand where the beef is. But if you don’t want to respond, then OK.

    You and MK will be pleased to hear that I’ve already told JC that I’ll be retiring at the end of this season, so you won’t have me to annoy you after that. 😉

  11. John,

    Thing is Hogan wasn’t scoring in the last 2 or 3 games when Jack and Albert were on the pitch. And – as I said, the one he did score (in the last 6; 3 of those without J & A) was a tap in.

    As for playing both Hogan and Grabban, I’m all for it and maybe it’s a partner that Hogan needs most. Problem is who will make way for that structure assuming J and A both return? Onomah for one …

  12. JL
    I understand retiring well, [probably best not if we want to stay alive though unless it’s temporary due to life issues] as I had to stop work at 42 with a twisted spine & 2 damaged discs & the damage that never stopped coming from that.
    Or of course if one is retiring to focus strongly on the spiritual with death approaching is a different matter.
    Other than that as I’ve told you many times, I am not your enemy, so if you do so it’s with my best wishes, & best not to go grumpy.
    You are absolutely entitled in my book to disagree, but you may possibly remember in your journey the us marine motto ‘KISS’, or ‘Keep it simple stupid’.
    The best spiritual advice I ever received.

  13. Putting football in perspective, I am currently surrounded by feral cats courting in the snow, & they are definitely argumentative when they score.
    Hope the ‘Beast from The East’ dissolves by the weekend, otherwise possibly no footie.

  14. JL,

    As one of the most senior citizens on here, I forbade you to retire, as the fun will be gone for me…I love my banter with you, as do many, I suspect.

    I also have to correct you on your facts, as the only match that Hogan did not score in with Jack and Albert playing was against Small Heath…!!
    He scored in the previous match against Burton, Albert scored the only goal against Selfish Utd, and he scored 2 against Barnsley in the game before that.

    I feel that perhaps you have a bit of a downer on Hogan, who has worked his but off since the arrival of Agnew, and that is why Bruce has kept him in the team.

    A point I feel is being missed by many is the importance that Bjarnason and Hourihane make together when they are playing with Hogan, Albert and Jack, and the number of through balls that are played rather than the lumping up the field and out to the wings. It also affects Johnstone, when he is looking to play the ball out to someone, rather than lumping it up the field, hence his poor miskick..!!

  15. PP [The Senior One]
    Thanks for putting the Hogan info on properly, as I tried but my memory is not so good.
    It was basically what I was trying to say.
    Must be the cats.

  16. JL- I counted 3 pens and 5 from the six yard box of 12, not that it matters, what does matter is that he isn’t playing as a no9 but a winger, in fact there is a big No9 on the pitch for some goals that I saw so that bares out what JC said earlier about playing with a big man maybe.

    Will he make it as our lone striker? especially if we go back to 4141, not sure whether he can lead the line or not and he won’t be moving Snodgrass or Adomah out I imagine. Looked at Grabbans other club video’s and he doesn’t score a lot with his Noggin so not sure how effective he would be with us crossing so much? Two goals for us so far a pen and a tap in 🙂

    Hogans last goal was at Burton making it one game before jacks injury, he didn’t score in The Brum game which also saw the switching of Thor for Jedinak, Thor had started moving the ball forward quickly and improved the way we played imo, and since then its been less than a Stirling supply.

    hogan vs Grabban

    Hogan age 25 league 90 (27) 47 FA cup 4 (1) 2 league cup 4 (2) 3 Goals per game 0.4

    Grabban age 30 league 243 (93) 100 FA cup 17 (2) 5 league cup 9 (6) 1 Goals per game 0.29

  17. Mark
    thanks for the stats [wtf they mean is anyone’s guess to me].
    They seem to indicate that Hogan is playing in his natural position & Grabben is a good support wide or 2nd striker in a 442, he certainly fed off Hogan in the last match, which created a bit of chaos.
    Either that or my braincell has imploded.
    Thor & h’hane – is SB not playing thor because the ball is moving too fast & he gets a cricked neck?

  18. IanG,

    More time, and the programmes with info, which I had already quoted to JL, in an earlier put down of Hogan, so it was not difficult. I would be bored these days without this blog and a few other bits I play with..!!

    No doubt Bruce will confound us once more this week…bring on the Holloway…!!

  19. MK,

    Good analysis but I don’t see the matter on those 2 being any different than what I’ve already stated. From my p.o.v.

    I go just by what I see and I have already indicated that the two working together may well turn out fine.

  20. Paul,

    Excuse me, I’m the historian! 😀

    These are the 6 matches I was speaking of:

    30-01-2018 Away Sheffield United 1 – 0 Snodgrass(90)
    03-02-2018 Home Burton Albion 3 – 2 Hogan(33), Adomah(65), Grealish(88)
    11-02-2018 Home Birmingham City 2 – 0 Adomah(60), Hourihane(81)
    Matches without Jack and Albert:
    17-02-2018 Away Fulham 0 – 2
    20-02-2018 Home Preston North End 1 – 1 Grabban(66,pen)
    24-02-2018 Away Sheffield Wednesday 4 – 2 Grabban(21), Whelan(67), Hourihane(87), Snodgrass(90+, pen)

  21. Hogan

    One of the points I made is that with Jack or not Hogan has had various chances to score in the past 6 games and has only scored 1 in that time – a point-blank tap-in.

  22. IanG: “Or of course if one is retiring to focus strongly on the spiritual with death approaching is a different matter.”

    What death? There’s no such thing! 😀

    No, it’s that I feel have things to follow through that have a far greater priority for me and events have shown what are the priority matters.

    Thanks for the KISS of death! 😀

  23. I do have to agree that beyond Jack, the best play also has Hourihane and Bjarnason in the mix. While Hourihane can often seem to have quiet or even ineffective days, they all just work well together, and look to play fast and on the deck.

    If I were Bruce or Agnew, not only would I be training to get Hogan the right service, I’d be looking to ingrain the cutback out to Hourihane on the edge. Make it a regular enough feature, and you’re pulling players out to cover that, opening up little spaces for the through-balls in the box.

    And I don’t want to overemphasize Hogan, per se. The bigger perspective for me is that Villa have not had this kind of striker in a while. We’ve had the Bentekes, Kodjias, Carews carrying a lot of the burden. (Maybe Andi fit the category.) I always thought it hurt us not to have a smaller, quicker striker who’s good with the ball.

    Going forward, I’d hope we’d be looking at that kind of player. You have a big man, too, for sure, but I’d like us to be able to prepare for life in the PL, and you need more than one route. Not saying Hogan’s the guy at the next level, but the way you play to whoever that guy is would be largely the same.

    And to be a bit pragmatic, I think the toughest part of Bruce’s job is trying to balance things like getting promoted by any means possible, and also thinking about how you offload a player like Hogan if he’s not up to PL quality. Short answer, you want him to look good so others come calling. Grabban you can likely sign if you want, but there’s a fair bit wrapped up in Hogan, and I can’t see us finding many takers for RMC at the moment.

  24. That last bit might sound like I’m getting ahead of myself, and maybe I am, but Hogan is a sunk cost and two months is not a lot of time to prepare for life in the big league. I’m sure there’s a “plan,” but it would be nice if, going into the summer, there was something we could count on trying to do well while the other pieces are assembled and put into place.

  25. JL
    ‘What death? There’s no such thing! ‘
    Yes so I’m reliably informed.

    Well pop in occasionally or we’ll have a moping Paul Pears on our hands!
    Then we’ll have to email you

  26. Maybe the rumour is true that you are taking on a role as advisor to JC and his new form of soft brexit…!!!

    Just watched the Swansea match, where Ayew has scored the goal, and earned MOM in 45 minutes play, as he was “head and shoulders above everyone else “, which I have to agree with, but he still could have done more!

    Taking on JC’s comments, I wonder how many would consider re-signing Ayew if he becomes available, as when he was on his game, he was the same at Villa (head and shoulders above his team mates), but like Hogan, often had a job receiving the ball, but with it, a quality player, and a goal scorer.

  27. First comment was for JL, of course…!!

    I must make the most of the remainder of the season then……

    We must also try and drag SWV, BroBrasil, and a few more out of the shadows.

    Good that we still get the occasional comment from Frem and one or two more…

  28. I wouldn’t touch Ayew with a small heath barge pole never mind one of my own.

    Thought his body language for us after relegation was the same as Lescott, Gabby, Richards etc. I haven’t forgiven him.

    In the event of promotion in May we will need to replace the loans and the older 30 somethings but right now there’s the not insignificant problem of Cardiff to worry about.

  29. I see the wonderkid Bacuna (who reckoned he was good enough to play in the champions league) missed a penalty this evening at a crucial moment in the game. Could cost Stam his job.

  30. I have to wonder why grabban has not settled at any club and been loaned out to many? One thing hogan does well is create space for others, the spread of goals we have now also may be why his goals are not relied on and him not the sole focus. He certainly doesn’t get the number of chances that kodjia did and Albert this season has had a few put on a plate by Davis and snodgrass during his solo goal spree.

  31. PP – No doubt Bruce will confound us once more this week…bring on the Holloway…!!

    It’s guaranteed with SB. Surely though he will be able to assemble a sufficient team to send half arsed Ollie on his way.

  32. In Bruce we trust Plug……

    I have some doubts about Ayew, but he is Swansea’s top scorer, and will not be too expensive, if and when we start shopping, and he has only played in poor teams, so far.

  33. I wonder about Grabban too. He’s 30 now, yet when I watch him I see a useful player. Codger kept us in this division last season pretty much single handedly. He’s not been around much this season but we are doing much better without him.

  34. Grabban is definitely useful…But at 30 and on loan, he’s always been a short-term consideration in Villa’s thinking. If he can make himself more, then all credit to him.

  35. Grabban

    I note that he has only been successful in the Championship – the Prem is a stage too high for him perhaps.

    But at this level and as Plug notes, he certainly looks useful.

  36. Paul: “Maybe the rumour is true that you are taking on a role as advisor to JC and his new form of soft brexit…!!!”

    I started to think hard to decipher which ‘HC’ you meant, then you qualified it by the Brexit statement! 😉

    Brexit (as I see it) opens up a big can of worms and as you’ve probably read it could mean that we end up with trade deals with the US that have all kinds of ill portents for the UK.

    But alhtough that is an issue to be concerned about, I believe (as always) that there is a far greater picture to be looked at to make Brexit look like small fry. But a bigger picture that is ultimately to be welcomed.

  37. Grabban has played for Reading and resigned for Bournemouth in the last 2 seasons and made 40 appearances, scored just 3 for reading, before that scored a good few for Bournemouth and Norwich in the champs so definitely not a signing we want to keep imo but I hope he gets us plenty while he’s here. Has a habit of misbehaving when he wants a move, did it at Norwich and Sunderland, missing games for them.

    Hogan has missed some two years of experience and development through injuries though and at 25 could go either way.

    I make no bones about wanting us to build a youthful side capable of being added to on Promotion . would of saved us cash in the meanwhile but Villa have chosen their path and believe rebuilds can be done in the prem. I think we might well be setting ourselves up for more pain but then the Doc may be loaded but I doubt it.

    Had a chat with my best mate who sits on a heating and renewables board for the government. He said the problem he saw was British companies have come up with some great solutions but when they try to implement them the Germans Particularly turn up mod handed to the meeting and out vote them as they don’t wont to change their manufacturing processes, even though it would bring benefits to all the EU. The EU has companies/corporations ruling the roost just as the wider world does but they are largely not ours bar the banking sector.

    That is the issue that needs addressing imo, we can’t trust the corporations to do the best for the planet and we can’t entirely trust those in government either.

  38. The EU

    There are many issues that are negative about the EU but it is strong on health and employment issues, as well as the need for Europe (as neighbours) to work closely together.

    And the idea of trading more with overseas countries as a an alternative just adds to ecological and cost of transport issues.

    We should simply have fought harder to put right at least some of the things that are wrong in the EU i.m.o. The referendum we had was an over-simplified platform in my view.

    And in any case it would appear that if a referendum were taken now the result would be exactly the reverse.

  39. JL
    Because of corporate greed & such attitudes as Mark describes on every side, we’re damned if we do & damned if we don’t.
    China is consolidating their power structure & weakening the usa version in the process, & if trump blows up the usa [which could be helpful as it may free itself from it’s own modern slavery of it’s people], & if we have gone back to Elizabethan times in effect, & we are on the periphery on a now very small & crowded world, which we are killing, then much of it seems academic.
    On an emotional level [which the brexit decisions are currently being made on], isolation as a form of defence against what we can’t cope with will not help, as we need to be much more positive & proactive & not commit hari kari.
    In the EU we have been suffering from a failure to commit or not since 1973 & before, & the writing was on the wall with De Gaulle.
    Thatcher killed our industry [& almost our football] so the Tories could remain wealthy as they seem to think that they ARE the country.
    When that dies the death & the damage becomes clear we may be in a position to come out of the 19th century.
    And as Mark has shown, they do not have the sense of a banana, & keep leading us into blind alleys where we get mugged.

    The answer?
    Keep going & don’t get sucked into the propaganda, & proper non slanted education, & refute the big con.

  40. Robbo- From the last post, When I said we are not creating goals from open play I was referring to setting players up on the deck not Crosses which you pointed out are our main supply whether from a dead ball, corner or mainly snodgrass- elmo axis . We cross many times a match which don’t generally create solid chances they are just balls into the box to create havoc, the dead ball situes are far more effective now than before Jan, as are corners hence the greater goals scored in fewer matches maybe? We have created a few memorable goals with quick intelligent passing but not loads, The pass from Grealish to Adomah for our first against Brum was a cracker. If a team plays open then we have on occasion with Thor at DM cut them open on the counter.

    Any Free kick generated by Grealish, Snodgrass or Davis are a Danger but there are not clear cut chance situations IMO or at least of the type I am talking about, More about creating space cleverly to get the shot in.

    As for the fouls and yellows its good to hear and may be more about experience and our habit of standing off teams for long periods. I did think there were a few missed by the ref against Sheff weds though. Weirdly Cardiff are in the top 5 of the fairplay league too Warnock must be fuming 🙂

  41. The EU has rebuffed the UK’s need for change and its fairly unique circumstance (a smallish Island with a unique culture) and refused to allow us to slow the flow of Migrants that are attracted by the hand outs and hospitals. Unfortunately they are in a direct fight for money and services with those who have lived here the longest and put in the most. No wonder the older generations voted out as the need for help in old age draws near and the jobs worth having grow fewer. I am sure if they had been more understanding instead of taking a hardline stance it might have been sorted. Germany with its falling population, huge tracts of land and industry are in a different situation to us.

    As for dealing closer with neighbours saving the planet that ones out the bag with the easts low wage potential and manufacturing most stuff comes from there so no different to dealing with the rest of the world as far as logistics. It would take the acceptance of a completely different life and withdrawal from the world to an extent to make a dent. We simply don’t have the resources that others outside of Europe have to do that. Organic local food supplies and more people working the land would help but how many would accept that? Technology for a better world not profit is part of the answer.

  42. Anyone heard of the latest Ideas with AI and robotics coming to a new age firms will be dropping workers by the millions. The Swedes have talked about a future where the Government gives the people £10,000 and they have to find the rest but no taxation. The money would come from the manufacturers through taxation, like getting pocket money. Americans have voiced similar ideas, $25,000 given by the government to spend and as the costs of a 24 hour robotic work force would be minimal and goods far cheaper that it would equate to $100,000 in real terms.

    I don’t know about you but we have a huge amount of fat and unmotivated people as it is, sounds great in principle but it could create major problems but with a mindset change and more freedom maybe not and it may open other opportunities.

  43. Well all that robotic talk is assuming that other things don’t happen.

    And they will. Just watch!

    And, as JC says, “a new sheet is up!”

Leave a Reply