One of the reasons why we needed a win on Saturday was to restore some confidence ahead of the international break. Instead, we again lost and have to face 2 weeks before the next challenge, at Hull. And what a sad defeat at Bolton it was, with the Icelander not appearing to be too happy with the Icelandic playing conditions. Albert seemed to get iced up as the game wore on in somewhat different playing conditions to those in Africa, I’m sure!

For me, it was not so much that we played badly but that Bolton seemed to adapt to the conditions rather better, with their defence settling down to give our favourites few opportunities. However, the opportunities we did have, if converted, would have been sufficient to have handsomely carried the match. There were two very good opportunities in the first half (Albert put wide a header from Grabban’s excellent centre, and then Grabban getting a save out of their keeper (when he would have been expected to bulge the back of the net). On top of that, Jack tried a wonderful speculative half-volley which required the keeper to tip over. The second half saw substitute Hogan forcing a fortunate clearance when, again, it really should perhaps have been in the back of the net. And then, at the death, James Bree with a fine diving header that their keeper somehow kept out. RHM might have done better with the one opportunity he did have, but c’est la vie.

Apart from their goal (handed to them by a frozen Villa defence) Bolton only had (I believe) one other real chance, a second-half opportunity which went wide.

So, after two successive defeats, and the top two looking somewhat adrift from us now, what chance do we have for automatic promotion?

What I will say is that if Bruce gets his best motivational theories into operation, the Villa will be out there and striving hard in these last eight matches. But to turn effort into triumphs our midfield has to be more dominant than they’ve shown of late.

To try to raise my own spirits (not only yours!), here’s my forecast for our remaining matches:

30-03-2018 Away Hull City Forecast: 3 points
03-04-2018 Home Reading: Forecast: 3 points
07-04-2018 Away Norwich City: Forecast: 1 point
10-04-2018 Home Cardiff City: Forecast: 3 points (or maybe 1 point)
13-04-2018 Home Leeds United: Forecast: 3 points
21-04-2018 Away Ipswich Town: Forecast: 3 points
28-04-2018 Home Derby County: Forecast: 3 points
06-05-2018 Away Millwall: Forecast: 3 points (or maybe 1 point)

It would be nice to finish with eight straight wins as we did in 1974-75, but I feel that would be hoping for too much.

So, the prediction shows a final points tally prediction (worst scenario): 69 + 18 = 87. That might gain an auto-promotion slot but is probably likely to fall shy, hence our probable fate is likely to be determined in the playoffs, where, frankly, Fulham will be a hard act to crack. If we do beat Cardiff, though, the final league placings could be very close.

What do you think?


Comments 28

  1. Frozen defence was the word, & I was frozen looking at the conditions.
    Yes it’s going to be winding them up again while half of them are all over the globe, that’s going to be interesting.
    I see Tsibola is still waffling up in Scotland & after 8 games he’s suddenly the best thing since sliced bread.
    Maybe it’ll up his price & enable us to sell him, cos I don’t think he’s got a future here.

  2. JL – Thanks for the script.

    Back in mid Jan your prediction with 19 games left was 83 points and only 2 or 3 losses. Having had 3 losses in the 11 games since, your worst case scenario prediction has now risen to 87 points!! Methinks you are in denial young man.

    SB says he has a points number in mind but he is not going to reveal it. Well, he did at the start of the season telling us we had to average 2 points per game to arrive at 92 points. To reach that, we need to win all 8 remaining games which ain’t going to happen. So maybe he has a lesser number in mind and he too thinks automatic promotion has gone.

    PP’s mate Mick has got a lot to answer for as well. How did the story go? SB will keep in touch until 10 games to go and then step on the gas. We haven’t got a point from this period yet.

    My thoughts are another 4 wins will see us make the playoffs. Then all bets are off.

  3. Plug: “Back in mid Jan your prediction with 19 games left was 83 points and only 2 or 3 losses.”

    Well, a prediction is only a prediction, innit? It’s just my view, and I had that one then.

    Now is a different scenario and is a prediction based on what I think will be the case assuming the message gets across to ’em that summat’s got to improve – i.e. more of a sense of urgency. If that doesn’t happen then even my worst scenario prediction could be way out.

  4. On what’s happened.

    Seems to me that having the QPR match rescheduled didn’t help anything. While Tuesday matches are fairly routine, I don’t know that having it follow on the heels of a big win was a plus.

    Likewise, it’s somewhat unfortunate that the Bolton game was played in likely worse conditions (on the pitch) than the original QPR fixture would’ve been.

    I don’t know that it’s necessarily the case that Bolton ‘adapted’ better, rather than that the conditions negated our advantages, playing into their hands, somewhat. They got the early goal, we didn’t, and there’s less threat from Villa on a slow and slippery pitch, making it easier to defend and harder to create good chances.

  5. Glad to see that there hasn’t been a total hammering of SB, players etc following that bad, bad week.
    Maybe we should look back at the early season and we all would have been very happy to get in the play-offs after the nightmares of previous seasons ……. automatic promotion was a bit of a pipe dream really. So the club is meeting our earlier expectations and maybe there is still the hope of an auto place – if we beat Cardiff and Derby (or someone else) does as well……… there have been many twists and turns so far, who knows what other twists are still to come?

    These couple of weeks for the internationals should give the coaching team a chance to regroup and get messages across to the team that is still at Bodymoor ….. and then we should come out all guns blazing at Hull. If we don’t then questions maybe will need to be asked.

    So meantime we can all enjoy the snow both in the UK and here in Switzerland ….. summer is coming don’t you know?

  6. John,

    As I said, in point of fact we did create 4 or so attempts on goal (of which at least two should have been in the back of the net) to virtually none from Bolton.

    If we had scored on those occasions, then Villa’s performance could have been rated as being on a par with the wins at Boro and Sheff Utd i.m.o.

  7. Also, John, their central defence handled pretty well most things in the air, so Davis being on the pitch earlier would doubtless have been a good move for Villa. Again i.m.o.

    I agree with IanG that it was good to see RHM on and not doing badly, but he was hardly going to make a difference in the aerial contest.

  8. I did see the attempts, JL. One or two “coulda/shoulda” went in. But the basic point is that bad weather is going to pull down a side like Villa moreso than Bolton. Doesn’t mean it was a “bad” performance. Just don’t think the weather helped anything.

    Wouldn’t argue Davis is a good way to change things up…changes the way we can attack, obviously.

  9. Not just Fulham but Middlesbrough are a serious threat in the playoffs with them sitting 3rd in the form table. Traore is starting to look good, I wouldn’t rate our full backs against him in a crunch tie.

    So, just the weather and two losses keeping people off the blog or have they moved to other ones?

  10. John,

    Well, I’m afraid I don’t see that bad weather should pull down Villa more … unless they’d just had their Christmas pud thinking it was that time of year!

    I bet what you saw of the match didn’t show much of Ameobi, who I thought showed more potential than Jack (apart from Jack’s outstanding half-volley shot), but (like Jack) went missing at times.

  11. With Chester heading off to China this week and next, Spud can’t seriously think that he will be in any fit state to play against Hull. Same goes for Jedi and the others travelling.

    Having grumbled about toying with making 5 or 6 changes against QPR which after the event he admitted he should have done, he went on to make just 2 against Bolton a few days later and not surprisingly we got wacked again.

    Dad’s Army can’t manage 2 games a week and with 6 games coming up in April even a bonehead must realise we need to play more youth and more of the squad. But not Gabby please.

  12. Plug,

    The one good thing is that Neil Taylor had to stay behind to recoup, and Tuanazabe, Hutton and even Green may well be up for selection next time. And Codger a week or two later?

    I think we can muster a pretty good team to play Hull, but we must get that ‘bite’ back.

  13. My views are that we should not get Codger involved in first team action between now and the end of the season. Expecting him to hit the ground running is asking too much and his form before injury didn’t light any fires.

    Whether he’d be able to contribute more than the alternatives during play off games really depends on how he goes on the training ground. I get the feeling that if he’s thrown in then it is another of SB’s hunches and throwing of dices.

  14. Plug,

    Agreed. If Kodjia regains fitness, then fabulous, he’s an insurance policy. But I think you’re right that it’s going to take too long to play him back into the side, and for him to find his form, to make the disruption worthwhile.

  15. The chances of Kodjia being fit after breaking his ankle twice and not really playing in about a year are slim to none. That ankle might have mended but the amount of degeneration regarding ligaments, muscle, and carriage need months more work to provide a stable platform for the bones in the ankle. Play him and you risk more injury.

  16. Ian,

    Presumably, the club have “experts” that will determine his fitness prospects?

    I empathise with your statement, but surely they’ll not play him unless there’s good reason? I would hope that fitness coaches will be using up-to-date methods to ensure recovery, with proper medical supervision. If not, then summat’s badly wrong.

    As it is, it looks as though he’ll be playing in a behind doors friendly, so the decision will presumably be based on how he comes through it.

  17. JL,

    First, let me re-state that I’m not saying that weather “is” the cause. I did say that weather probably didn’t help Villa’s cause.

    On weather, it’s often said, “the conditions were the same for both teams.” Which is true enough. However, it’s sort of like injuries, where you say, “It’s part of the game, everyone has injuries.” Which is also true enough. Manager speak.

    Weather certainly can have a differing impact. For example, slow conditions, a rough pitch, etc., will bother a passing side moreso than a route-one side, or one looking to score from set pieces. In Villa’s case with Bolton, I agree, it’s fair to say we probably did create enough to have been able to get a win. The question raised by the weather (or officiating or injuries, even) is whether we would’ve created more in better conditions. Might not have.

    This is taken as a given in a number of other sports. In American football, a passing team generally is going to be more affected by rain or wind than a predominantly running team. The difference even extends to how teams are built when their home field is covered by a dome vs. teams whose fields are open to the elements. (We acknowledge that playing on small pitches is different than playing on a big one like Villa’s.) Fast ice helps a hockey team built for speed. Altitude or humidity changes pitching and hitting in baseball.

  18. JL,

    Sadly, players get rushed back all the time. Villa will have experts, indeed. But again, from other sports, where these things are widely discussed, some teams/doctors/coaches have a propensity to rush players back and pressure them to play, whereas others don’t.

    For their part, some players often want to return against advice, or succumb to the pressure to play hurt.

  19. In Kodjia’s case, I have no idea whether he really is ready. You’d certainly want to assume he is. And it would seem he wants to play.

    But given that he re-injured himself so quickly after returning last time, I’d really wonder whether he should play again this year, on top of the question as to whether he’ll be too rusty and out of shape to really help.

  20. John,

    I know you said “probably” but that sounds like quite a strong call to me. Perhaps I read it wrongly. But I doubt that was the case purely because it was Villa that were stronger in front of goal by putting a few chances on target to Bolton’s zilch.

    I’m aware also that players can be rushed back … I’ve seen a huge number of cases of that over 60 years plus. I was no way saying that Ian is wrong (I said I empathised with that view) but neither do I suggest that I’m pushing another argument. All I am really inferring is that if Codger is reintroduced and all fails again, then that will surely prove what we probably already know – that football does not really care and that all are treated as being connected with the bottom line.

    I just hope they know what they’re doing – that’s all I’m saying really.

  21. Kozak came back and got through a game or two before breaking his ankle again requiring surgery. Are the same experts still at Villa?
    I broke my ankle 42 years ago and if there was a joint not to break it’s the ankle. I still have pain and stumble daily. I’d like to blame Captain Morgan for the stumbling it can look bad at times.

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