Aston Villa will take the field today against the visiting Rams in front of a sellout crowd for the final regular-season home game of the campaign. I’m glad about the crowd. It’s been a rough few years that’s tested the supporters and strained ties for many with the club, so a full house is no small thing. If nothing else, the season has been exciting, full of ups and downs, and more entertaining than any in recent memory.

Match-wise, we’ll see what looks to be Bruce’s side of choice now. John Terry is back, Albert Adomah and Robert Snodgrass return after getting a rest last week, Lewis Grabban stays up top, and Neil Taylor is apparently none the worse for wear. The only exception is Birkir Bjarnason, who has a calf strain. Glenn Whelan is in for him. Axel Tuanzebe won’t be ready to go, either, but he’s quickly become a trivia footnote for the season. Johnathan Kodjia was back training, as was Alan Hutton, so Bruce basically has everyone at his disposal in one way or another.

Derby boss Gary Rowett pretty much told us what to expect: Raise the physicality, don’t give Villa space, and shut Grealish down. If there’s a book on us, that’s it.

So if Derby do as asked, Villa will have to play through a lot of pressure. My guess is that’s what we can expect in each of our remaining games, so here’s to hoping we handle it well.

Permutations for final placings abound. We could still finish second, however it’s a remote possibility that requires Fulham falling apart. I won’t give up hope until it’s gone, but I’m more realistically looking at who’s in third through sixth, and where we’d like to be sitting and playing first.

Main thing today and next week, as said before, is the performance and how we look and feel going into the playoffs. While the game may well be meaningless since we’re already in the playoffs, I still think we can do ourselves favors by treating it like the playoffs have begun.

We’ll see what we get.

Comments 192

  1. JC
    Nice one

    Johnstone, Elmohamady, Chester, Terry, Taylor, Snodgrass, Whelan, Hourihane, Adomah, Grealish, Grabban.
    Subs: Bunn, Hutton, Jedinak, Lansbury, Onomah, Kodjia, Hogan

  2. I’ve been okay with things for the most part, IanG.

    Derby have clearly set up to pack the middle and play on the counter. But I’ve been happy with our effort. Just haven’t found a way through.

  3. Hello chaps, nothing going our way it seems, hows terry playing? Think we are to slow with him and Wheelan in. Need some massive second half turnarounds to happen.

  4. Mark
    He appears to be doing better than Taylor was
    Codger being busy straight away, Grabban now on the left.
    Mostly constant attacks

    Grealish over the top!!!
    Hutton providing again

  5. need to sack bruce before playoffs he is the worst manager we have ever had clueless scared to go at teams two many points dropped all season only down to this complete fool would have won the league by easter with dean smith sack him before play offs only chance we have derby wolves fulham and cardiff combined wage bill same as villas shows what a complete wan ker spud really is same for wyness and round all have to go

  6. Oh well, at least they didn’t do the double over us.
    Think we would have them in any playoff match, but we need to beat Millwall

  7. IanG,

    Was unimpressed by Derby, in the end. Rode their luck massively.

    Think Rowett got it wrong in the second. They should’ve tried to play more upfield, but instead kept inviting the pressure and there were too many warning signs.

    I’m wondering what would’ve happened if we’d brought Onomah on earlier.

  8. JC
    Yes that occured to me as well, but it needed either Thor, whelan or the Jedi for the majority of the game I think as Onomah is not really a defensive mid.
    Jedi is better defensively, & Thor better offensively, & Whelan plays more upfield than Jedi, so it was Bruce being cautious as usual.

  9. John Doyle,

    Good to see you. On the day, we did take the game to them from the start, so the counter was on. Obviously what Rowett was looking for.

    They had two good chances, took one, and that was from Taylor getting too clever and not simply seeing the ball over the line.

    Over the course of the season, there’s been a lot to debate, as we’ve done. Turned out that our performances against midtable teams did us in as much as anything.

  10. At least we know where we are now, unfortunately I think we will have to beat Fulham at some point, Cardiff last game home to Reading. Thats not as bad as it seem as at least they are predictable if hard to stop, whereas they haven’t faced our best/current team yet.

    Can’t say I am that happy having Terry back as we get a bit to ploddy and open to the counter, its looked better with Jedinak there imo. Also the passing around the last third has to be way quicker, constantly having to delay to get our inverted wingers to cross doesn’t help when we face a pact defence.

  11. Trinity,

    It was very entertaining…and I think psychologically, it’s a draw that feels more like a win for the team even though they’ll be thinking they should’ve won. They showed the required persistence and doggedness.

  12. IanG,

    Agreed, I do think Bjarnason is a key player now, and Onomah is no defensive mid. Given the one-way traffic, though, Onomah might have just given us the extra strength to pull them apart. Defo made an impact when he did come on.

  13. john clark

    would think our performances against all sides have been generally poor all year,probably poor since bruce came here,only ssen end of game today but why does the donkey still start at left back,no ifs about it taylor worst ever villa left back,and as MK said terry back drags us back to deep

  14. JG
    It stinks of politics to me, everyone else in his position gets a testimonial.
    Now not so sure he should now, [whatever my feelings on the matter personally, which would be no anyway].

  15. MK,

    Does seem a bit dodgier with Terry, and we are open to the counter. He has to cheat back a lot to make up for the lack of pace.

    I was wanting it to be quicker, too, but at the same time we did fashion a number of chances. For me, the trick would’ve seemed to be taking better advantage down the middle when they did come out and the CBs were more isolated (like when Jack got through). Course they didn’t come out very much.

  16. Ian G
    some rows on fb this week about gaby, me i am the same camp as you ,never seen a season with so much dividing villa fans ,bruce lovers bruce haters ,me i just dont think bruce is good enough or most of his signigs

  17. JG,

    Have seen some good performances…It’s just been that habit of letting down at certain periods.

    Bruce is cautious by nature, obviously, and as we’ve noted repeatedly, hasn’t seemed to know his best side. As I sit and think about the season, there’s a lot I’d have to piece back together, who got hurt when, etc., who was available.

    Guess what I’d end up saying is that I wish this season had been last season, and we might’ve had the identity earlier on.

  18. JG
    I’m not so much denigrating Bruce, just some of his defence orientated habits where he is too cautious, which has cost us quite a few points.
    That being said, we need him to be at his best for the rest of the season, & I will support that for the club.
    As to next season, yes I think we can do better, but it’s well to remember that we could have, & have done much worse.

  19. JG,

    I’m guessing that with Hutton back, we won’t see any more of Taylor. We had so much depth at RB and no real options on the left, other than Hutton—who made the spot his by and large.

  20. We played well today. Despite Rowett’s negative tactics we kept finding ways through, time after time. How we only ended up with one goal I don’t know.
    As someone said . . . the referee was embarrassing and its painful to think of having to endure that level of officiating for another season.
    Whelan had a very good game and a good ovation when he came off. . . . hadn’t expected to be saying that. Our full backs both had off days so it was good to see Hutton come on. Another funny one . . . Hutton has come in for so much stick in the past but his attitude, endeavour AND the quality of his play have turned that around and he is now a fan favourite.
    Steve Bruce continues to be under rated by some. We have now shown that we are capable of beating any team in this division and it is simply perverse not to give him credit for that.
    At the start of today’s game I was trying to imagine how it would feel if today was a play off semi final . . . . the tension for the fans will be unbearable. Let’s hope that this is where we finally see all that investment in experience pay off!!

  21. jc
    thats what bruce fans said last season ,then we went out and signed elmo terry samba whelan snodgrass 5 vastly experienced players along with grabban in january,as for good performances few and far between,not confident going into playoffs bruce normal set up wont work we have to get in front ,no good chasing games

  22. JC- For me last seasons policy versus this seasons transfer wise was like polar opposites, I wonder at what point did Bruce think Feck it and go the experienced route? it certainly wasn’t evident last season and if The docs aired plan of 19 1st teamers plus 5 youth players had happened what would it have looked like? I think there has been some very muddled thinking that has been apparent in our season.

  23. Ian G
    next season with transfer window closing early we are already on back foot,if we get up bruce has proven no good at that level ,and if we stay down we have no money ,bruce has proven no money no bruce so next couple weeks are going to be interesting

  24. I have always said that I bow to the greater footballing knowledge of others on here. James Gill gives me confidence that there are at least some who know far less than me.

  25. JG,

    We do play much better with a lead, that’s for sure. I guess going forward it’ll depend on how teams play us (brilliant insight).

    I expected Derby to be playing higher up the pitch more, pressuring us, etc. Rowett went the other direction, got the counter goal, and obviously never really looked to do anything but hang onto 1-0.

    He talked about not giving us space to play, and I guess he did that by parking the bus. But to my mind, the way to beat Villa is to pressure high. Having said that, when we have Jack and Bjarnason in the side, we can handle that pressure a bit better.

  26. Robbo- We showed we were capable of beating any team last season too at times even under RDM because we have so many potential match winners in the team. The problem has been consistency this season for such an experienced and expensive side and the time its taken to happen. Bruce is equally overrated by some I think, me I think he can be to slow to react and has posthumously bemoaned his own decisions all season. He’s not Great but he’s not s**te either.

    Still all to play for but I really do think it will be a very cautious approach we will see.

  27. The reffing in this division is truly tripe, Albrighton was sent off for a professional foul today, the kind that has been committed on Jack all season, its like theres a 40 year delay in whats expectable.

  28. r0bb0,

    Agreed. We did play well today and likewise have no idea how we only came away with one.

    Hutton really did turn himself around and has to start the rest of the way.

    The playoffs will be almost unbearable to watch, but as you say, we certainly can beat anyone. The semi doesn’t bother me as much as the final. But if we get there, I’m wondering whether Bruce will have the last laugh. The cautious approach combined with having goals in the side could prove to be the exact right formula.

  29. And I think to be fair to Bruce, if he gets us up, job done, full credit, that was the remit. Will have been more precarious than it probably should’ve been, but the result is what counts.

    If we do miss out for not having an auto spot, then with the money spent, etc., it’ll be tough to stomach, and could be a long rebuild.

  30. JG
    robbo is not OV.
    For a start he has a sense of humour [as you have], so please don’t start taking it too seriously or you’ll end up like those without one, which would be sad.

  31. Mark
    It seems that physical has a different meaning in the championship.
    For some reason the refs tend to interpret intention as the rule, not the actuality of the physical challenge.
    So an illegal tackle is now might =right more often than not, unless it is dangerous.
    Even the cynical so called professional foul is mostly only deemed a foul if the ref thinks the player is taking the p*ss by being completely blatent
    And so on…
    That’s one reason why it’d be good to get promoted, as the refs are not mostly still in the dark ages.

  32. JC- I couldn’t give a rats arris how we get up now, Bruce has possibly cost us second rather than gained us a play off spot, if we hadn’t made the play offs this season I would of been amazed. My prediction was play offs with an outside chance of second pre-season after watching us. Having voiced his opinion on how we were at the business end of the season and lots can happen we ballsed it up royally. If its fact that he has steered a floundering ship to potential safety its equally true he built the bloody ship, he hasn’t had to make it out of lollipop sticks either 😉

  33. Mark
    Well the good ship lollypop is still afloat, & all arris’s are seemingly intact, but it’s difficult to see if there’s anyone at the wheel.
    We’ve got steerage way, so let’s hope we don’t sink before we get there.

  34. IanG- Nah mate that would mean we would have to win those six pointers against Cardiff and Fulham and look good, we would be sipping the finest champagne right now and discussing transfer targets right now 🙂

  35. Mark,
    We only won one game out Di Matteo’s 12 in charge so he really didn’t show that we could beat ‘anyone’.
    I don’t think anyone, at any time, has felt that Bruce is. ‘Top top’ manager but he is a good ‘solid’ manager who has (albeit through some trial and error) pulled together a team who are playing for each other and starting to bring success. I agree with you that there has been insufficient consistency which often seems to have arisen through lack of intensity so that we have lost games against ‘lesser’ opposition that we really should have won.
    One last comment. . . . (not aimed at you mark) there still seems to be a myth that he has failed in the premiership. That is silly uninformed nonsense and if anyone really needs the evidence then it won’t take you long to find it if you really are interested in facts. All you have to do is look at the long term league positions of teams managed by Bruce in the premiership.

  36. r0bb0
    ‘One last comment. . . . (not aimed at you mark) there still seems to be a myth that he has failed in the premiership.
    All you have to do is look at the long term league positions of teams managed by Bruce in the premiership.’

    Yeah, you also only need to look at their positions after he’s left for a good few of them when Bruce has spent all the money.

  37. for all robbo huff and puff defending bruce ,not once has he came up with any facts of how bruce has turned villa around or not failed in pl,another of his former teams sunderland relegated to 3 tier,every club bruce has left have struggled on and off the field for years after,due to bad management signing players on big contracts with no resale value ,funnily enough same is happening at villa taylor 3 more years of massive contract,lansbury same,

  38. JG – “so the great robbo taking over from OV slagging off other posters,like coming from one that admits he only posts to stir sh#t”

    And what are you doing James? Oh yes, slagging off another poster. Still it makes a change from slagging of the whole of AVFC ad infinitum.

    IanG – I heard from mutual friend the other day who has met you and thinks you are an OK fella. So I will think the same if you can just stop being condescending lol …. I can tell your love IS for AVFC and that you feel the pain just like we all and all have over many many years. And I do have an immense sense of humour as those who know me will countenance. My sarcasm seems wasted a lot on this blog, people think I’m being serious.

    Today – we played well but couldnt make our possession count – we had about three times the shots that Derby did? Hutton made a huge difference when he came on. Adama still looked off the pace. Jack was trying to be too clever but still can provide the killer touch. Grabban is a goalscorer. Kodger is getting his mojo back. We had a very good bench today, full of options but lets face it – we have 4thplace and its now about preparing for the playoffs, thankfully we play the 2nd leg at home which could be all important.

    Still all to play for and no-one has failed or passed yet until the season is over ….. lets hope it lasts until the 26th May and that we are victorious on that day.

    Keep on keeping the faith.

  39. Millwall losing 2-0 that takes the sting out of the last game at least, looking very much that its boro and us if its 4th v 5th and 3rd v 6th? onwards and upwards Get your magic promotion wand out please Mr Bruce.

    play offs are 11 May 2018 – 26 May 2018

    Friday 11th May 2018: 6th v 3rd, 7.45pm
    Saturday 12th May 2018: 5th v 4th, 5.15pm
    Monday 14th May 2018: 3rd v 6th, 7.45pm
    Tuesday 15th May 2018: 4th v 5th, 7.45pm

    final at Wembley 26th may

    “In the Semi-Finals, the two teams who finished in the First and Second Play-Off place in The League, will play away from home in the first leg against the Fourth and Third placed team respectively. These pairings will be reversed for the second leg.

  40. Derby parked the bus and just left Jerome up front. Nevertheless, Taylor managed to help him score. When Hutton replaced him we immediately looked more solid.

    Couldn’t see us scoring if we played till midnight. Hourihane missed a sitter that my granny would have put away the week after she got her zimmer frame. Don’t know why on earth we had a defensive midfielder protecting the back 4 when the opposition only played 1 up front. Whelan was left on the pitch far too long. When Onomah replaced him we started to open them up more. That change needed to be made at half time latest. Grabban missed a hat trick.

    Despite having the lions share of possession my main grumble remains. The lack of pace makes us look pedestrian.

  41. Mark, it was inevitable that the teams Bruce took into the premiership would be relegated again at some point . . . Just look at them.
    You can see the same happening with other clubs. Huddersfield will be relegated in the next two seasons as will Brighton. Burton made it into the championship but won’t stay there. Bruce took some of his teams to their highest ever position in the whole football league . . . . he overachieved with those clubs. People may feel he should have done even better but he didn’t fail . . . it’s not even up for debate.
    The question for us is whether he could succeed in the premiership with Villa,
    We’re a bigger club than the others he’s been with and our expectations will be higher.
    To be honest, I’m not sure either. But I’d give him a chance. I can understand people feeling otherwise and wanting us to start afresh with someone else but it’s not fair to denigrate what he’s achieved in the past.

  42. OV
    I thought that may bring you back to comment, & as it’s about football it’s doubly welcome.
    I’m glad you could watch the match.
    Me? I’m of Aston sock re-planted in small heath with a detour to Erdington, until I could get out of there in ’67.

    I will however keep on being myself, & if you think my comments as a playup are condescending, then bring on your version.
    Sarcasm is renowned as being the lowest form of wit, as many great writers have stated, so time to up your game mate, as no wonder people think you’re being serious.
    It’s time to have confidence in unrestrained upwardly mobile humour, as only old villa supporters who’ve been through half a century or more of villa related bulls**t can muster, as that’s all that’s kept us going in darker times.
    I mean, we have even been gifted with Bruce to sharpen our SOH when we’re too old not to fart at embarrassing times.

    Keeping on is all we’ve got left mate, & Bruce is like someone from the next parish who can’t stop leaving his calling card.
    But he’s all we’ve got for now, & it could be worse & Deadly become immortal.

    Don’t fancy Boro at all, so I hope we get Derby or PNE.
    And it would be nice to beat Millwall, if only for the fact that they’re Millwall

  43. Mark
    So it looks like Traore & co.
    Well I hope they all get the flu the day before, then find out it’s a false alarm the day after

  44. r0bb0
    Fair or not, it’s fun.
    I mean, he was caught red handed at the sty, & you know what happens to bank robbers when they open the box.
    He’s never quite got rid of the colour

  45. IanG – “And it would be nice to beat Millwall, if only for the fact that they’re Millwall”

    It’s always good to beat Millwall and we do have a history with them off the pitch as I’m sure you remember from the 60’s and 70’s. I understand it could be a bit of an interesting day down there next week.

    Me – Great Barr stock initially then transplanted into Sutton …… then London, then Cheltenham/Cotswolds, then Bletchley, then Leighton Buzzard and finally Switzerland. Bit of a mixed bag there …….

    But Villa through and through, runs in the family – Grandad, Dad, cousins etc etc …… first taken down VP in 1964 I think it was against Sheff Weds. Stood up the Witton with my uncle. Never looked back.


  46. OV
    Ah Sutton, that explains it, I was at the orphanage in orphanage Rd Erdington between ’53 & ’60.
    It wasn’t even part of Brum then, the boundary was at the Yenton.
    Me in 57 before the cup final at the top of the old North stand on my own.
    I’ve been a lot further afield since then, starting in ’66 when I went to Germany just after we won the world cup, & we weren’t very popular until I got to Austria.
    The planet was an enormous place then, but it’s been shrunk in the wash a few times since then.
    You can go non stop to Australia now in the time it took to go from Paris to the Spanish border in ’67, & that was by express train.
    Never got to Suisse because I was always hitch hiking in those days.
    Now for instance, Taipei Airport is not a lot different from Brum airport, it’s like getting the No8 bus in the old days, & you can even step off the plane in the Himalayas at altitude less than 24 hours from leaving your front door.
    Maybe we should all leave the planet & plant the Villa colours somewhere.

  47. IanG, you mentioned Steve Bruce having been Birmingham manager and I can’t help wondering if that’s the real reason that some people ‘want’ to find fault in him and will suspend any logic in order to look for ways to be critical.
    Some people are so desperate to find fault in Bruce that they’ll even blame him for Sunderland now falling to the third tier. This is despite the fact that since him they’ve been managed by:
    Eric Black
    Martin O’Neill
    Paolo Di Canio
    Kevin Ball
    Gus Poyet
    Dick Advocaat
    Sam Allardyce
    David Moyes
    Simon Grayson
    and Chris Coleman

    But no . . . . none of those had anything to do with it, it was all down to Steve Bruce nearly a decade ago.

    I can actually understand people hating anything to do with Blues and therefore not wanting Steve Bruce, I just wish they’d be honest about it.

  48. Plug
    Everything in your post was as I heard it on WM, so I think it’s a consensus except for Bruce the moose.
    I hope you enjoyed the full house.

  49. r0bb0
    Not a bad team that!
    On reflection I don’t really think he was a bank robber, I think it was because of the cold up north.
    Some people will believe anything, maybe we’re just looking for a bit more excitement.

  50. IanG. There’s something in common. . . . I used to hitch hike everywhere , . . . . you get to see a few things and meet some interesting people don’t you!
    I hitched to Alice Springs in a police car and boy were they racist! Another time I hitched with a couple old girls on the way to a Country festival. My job was to pass them bottles of beer from the coolbox on the.back seat. It was a long journey and the driving became more and more erratic till they were veering from the dirt on one side of the road to the dirt on the opposite side. never so relieved to escape unharmed.
    Hitching in SE Asia was good . . . never had to wait too long for a lift there.

  51. robbo
    only hull of all the clubs bruce has managed did he lead to best ever season in premier league all placed 16th that was,alex mcleish led blues to ninth and a cup win,martinez led wigan to facup win think it was paul jewell that led them to 10th, i dont care bruce managed the blues just that he is a poor manager that we are depending to lead us over the line in next 4 matches

  52. Robbo- So now every average manager is given a get out card because they didn’t manage Real Madrid? you protest to loudly sir. Good managers invariably get a shot at the big time because clever people work for big clubs and see they are good beyond their restraints. Once in a blue moon a Clough will land at a Forest etc and perform miracles. Thing is managers usually do well somewhere at some point, its usually their high point, are you telling me Bruces best is yet to come?

  53. JG . . . so, after looking up Bruce’s premier league performances . . . Honestly . . . do you still think that he’s failed at all his clubs and is the reason for their subsequent poor performance?

  54. JG- good inconvenient points mate, I’m not bothered about his past either, wasn’t bothered about mcleish’s either, neither have set the world alight, that bothers me.

  55. Mark
    Not inconvenient points at all. Bruce did indeed take Birmingham to their highest ever league position . . . as I stated . What JG has done is show that your other comment about him leaving his clubs in turmoil is also wrong. McLeish took over from Bruce and two seasons later did indeed take them to 9th. Just proves that Bruce not only did well with them but left them in decent shape.
    They’ve now fallen back to the champs where they should be but that can’t be laid at Bruce’s door.
    I’m not trying to prove he’s a ‘great’ manager because I can’t. I just don’t know why you seem so keen to denigrate him when he’s the Villa manager and has actually done well for us.

  56. Ah, Brucie…I do think r0bb0 makes some fair points even though I’ve had my share of criticisms.

    I’d started a long comment, but I think I’ll save it up for something midweek, a “Bruce in Review” kind of thing.

    I’ll have to admit, now that I’ve started looking back at it, that it’s really a very interesting thing to ponder. Lots of “one the one hand” stuff.

  57. Another of JG’s ‘inconvenient’ points was that Martinez won the FA cup with Wigan after Bruce had left . . . . so he didn’t leave them in Disarray either did he?
    Martinez also got them relegated, but that wasn’t worth a mention for some reason.
    It feels more like a vendetta against him rather than a reasoned argument backed up with facts.
    Again . . . I don’t want to be seen as a huge fan of Bruce. . . I’m not, but I just don’t like lies and unfairness.

  58. Robbo- Honestly mate read his wiki page and tell me he’s as good as you make out 🙂 lets go through every manager that didn’t quite make it but did ok for a small club, means nothing. Done well? hope he does in the next month for sure, denigrate or criticise? I suppose I want better for my team and I know there is better and from what I have observed he doesn’t give me much confidence in him. Now then is his best to come?

  59. I’m not bothered that he came from Blues particularly either, except that he was managing a cr*p club, who’ve had very little joy in their existence compared to the Villa, & if Bruce lightened up their existences for a time, I haven’t got a problem with that, it’s just rivalry [which can be serious, but isn’t so much at the moment].
    The respect has gone compared to what it used to be, where we got on most of the time except on match day if we were playing each other.
    But Thatcher’s era changed all that, & it became serious on social levels when she introduced the divisiveness that has also been prevalent for the past 8 years.
    People use tribalism negatively to survive their s**t, & now & again come together with a cause that transcends.

    he’s not done that well for us, but I think we all know what he has done that’s positive.
    The problem is that I for one have high standards for my club, & Bruce will never reach those, & I’ve known that since after he arrived.
    But for now my support is there for the playoffs.
    We don’t seem to take into consideration what the Doc will want to do to up the tempo next season, & it’s not down to me.

  60. Mark, that last one’s a fair comment.
    One thing we’re all united in is wanting him to do well in the next month.
    He’s taken other, much smaller clubs into the top half of the premiership and left them in decent shape so I’d give him a chance in the premiership to help us consolidate our position there with a team he has built and knows well.
    After that, do I think he can help us kick in to the fringes of the European places or better? None of us can know but personally I doubt it.
    If he can get us to the premiership and consolidate our position then I reckon we’d owe him thanks.
    Xia seems to have big but (after a season or so), realistic ambitions and I reckon he’ll be looking for a ‘top’ manager after a year or so in the premiership. If Bruce really ‘does’ have it in him to succeed at the highest level then we’ll probably know by then

  61. Robbo- I guess you have more faith in him than me then, He didn’t have the stomach for a fight with Hull and looking at our team and his handling of it this season we have an incredible amount of work to do to produce a side to survive (if we go up). Huddersfield spent £50m to expand on a hard working side, what are we building from? the hope JT gives it another year? snodgrass stays? the side is close to retirement, £100m will barely touch the sides. It will take a very canny operator to make us ready for next season. Bruces handling of the players young enough to be of worth gives me no faith mate.

  62. Mark, I’d never looked at Bruce’s wiki page but it does make interesting reading. I didn’t realise how many goals he’d scored, albeit, many from penalties.
    Also interesting to see that he nearly gave up on football before he even started and then got a break at Gillingham.
    What comes across is a solid, dependable sort of guy who will make the most of every opportunity he has. From nearly giving up football he ended up winning multiple trophies with Man Utd, so maybe the best IS yet to come
    Yeah I do know . . . That’s a very optimistic outlook!

  63. Mark, I’d like to have seen more of the youth players too. It does seem that we’ll be counting on them next season if we’re still in the championship and it would have been good to see them gain more experience this season.
    There was a poignant moment st the end of today’s game. Onamah was sent on his own towards the Holte End to applaud the crowd as this will be his last home league game ( I think they forgot the play offs)
    You couldn’t help wondering which other players won’t be there next season.
    Grealish was trying to persuade Hutton to go to the Holte end to take the plaudits of the crowd too but he wouldn’t.
    There are several potential interpretations of that.
    Onamah is an interesting one. By all accounts he played well last game, and he seemed more ‘up for it’ today than I’ve seen him before. He’s still young too, and I think it really can take a while for young players to get to grips with what’s required in championship league games.

  64. no matter what you say bruse is pure shyte negativity non stop has dropped at least 20 points to pure shyte teams by being scared of them the sooner wyness and round are gone the better spud is for me the worst manager we have ever had as all you lot forget we are playing shyte teams and are not in the prem it is simply not good enough the club is bu miles the biggest club he has had and is far to big for him go get dean smith tomorrow for play offs and get rid of these dinosaurs the club will win nothing with these dinosaurs here simply not good enough play offs are not good enough for a club whos wage bill is more than the three teams above us combined has to go

  65. Cameron Jerome: “But going 1-0 up away from home, you always sit back. It’s the natural thing to do as a team and we defended quite well doing that.”
    Even after we’d equalised, they were time wasting which was hard to understand when a win would have seen them confirmed in the play offs.
    In fairness, Rowett’s conservative nature has served them pretty well this season and when you look at the table, yesterday’s draw took Millwall out of the equation because of goal difference so if it’s results that matter then Rowett’s is getting it right.
    He’s a more conservative manager than Bruce and they’ve been even less consistent than us, but bearing in mind their resources they’ve done pretty well.
    Their fans aren’t too happy but when you see their results against the other play off contenders, despite the fact that we were all over them yesterday, they still have the potential to spring an upset in the play offs.

  66. Robbo- Rowett does a good job with what he’s handed, not spent a lot and lost his best players in the summer, like us an old side too. I would take him next season and see what he can do with better talent, or Dean Smith if we are in this league.

    Premierships a different task and the rebuild a big one, I don’t think there are many managers you can hand it to and survive. Wherever Bruce has gone he’s spent the money given but not always wisely, I think we need a bit of wisely. We may have to come back down but we will have one £100m season and the parachutes payments to do a proper job next time around maybe. That may sound defeatist but thats me being optimistic looking at where we are 🙂 Of all the likely play off teams Fulham have the best team and manager to succeed if they win and a rich owner.

    It would of been nice to stay in the cups longer and gauge what we have now versus the prem teams, all we have seen is us embarrassed by Spurs reserves last season and pre-season friendly with Watford.

    I remember Bruce being a proper old CB, he would put his head in a grinder and scored a lot of headers too.

  67. Me on Bruce: I don’t care what he has done in the past or what he might do in the future. The overriding ‘go to’ at the moment is whether he will guide us through the play-offs and into the Premier. Forget Millwall next weekend, as after that we will have, hopefully, three games in which to get back where we all believe AVFC belongs. Three cup finals. Three games in which every single Villa fan should be 110% (copyright Ron Saunders) behind the team and its backroom team.

    Only after those games can decisions be made, blame apportioned, praise lauded.

    Me? I think Bruce has done a good job to date, could have been better, could have been worse. Don’t feel any particular love for him but appreciate what he has done to date. And with the rest of the sorting out of the club from top to bottom going on in the background, I think some kudos should be given to all the management team.
    If we get promoted it will be in the Drs hands what happens next. I’m sure there are already plans in place for all eventualities depending upon the outcome of the season.

    So sit back, strap yourselves in ’cause it’s going to be a bumpy ride coming up. I’m getting my blood pressure pills doubled to cope with it …….. plus copious amounts of beer and wine.
    Have a good Sunday, 26 degrees here so I’m off out for a long walk in the sun……
    Tally ho, oldvilla

  68. as per usual robbo you are wrong again on bruce, you said bruce led allhis previous clubs to best ever season i proved you wrong,hull being the exception ,bruce took over birmingham after francis was sacked after reaching play offs 3 years in a row and a cup final,bruce took over and got promotion via playoffs ,yet few years later mcleish took them to highest finish and won a cup and relegation,bruce took over a wigan side that was promoted under paul jewell to second highest finish,martinez won the cup but had his best players sold to keep club afloat,not inconvenient points, as for bruce he never built a club up ,even a side he usually came i after a side had a bad run he improved it short term with a huge changeover of players after spending big money on fees and wages ,dave whelan had all nice things to say after he left
    you seem to think you are only one allowed points of view ,or that you are right all the time

  69. James Gill. I’ll happily agree that I am not right all the time however I imagine it must be even tougher being wrong all the time isn’t it?

  70. Good Afternoon all Lifers.
    O.V. yourr post at 10.59 this morning was bang on the money,saving me a long winded post.Was or is SB the best appointment.?No,but he is far from the worst.
    Last time I posted I wrote about how Imo he plays with negative tacticss based on fear.I think this was illustrated at Norwich who had won 1 in ten (I think) but SB played one up top and when we went behind his response is not to change how we play but to throw forwards on.All managers have weaknesses and blind spots,this is SB’s main fault imo.With respect,I feeel we can do better than SB.
    That said so far he gets a 6.5 out of 10 from me this season,I wish him well whether he is in charge or not next season.
    I am pleased that the club is being repaired from top to bottom,and am also pleaed that FFP has kicked in.Now we have to utilise youth and be shrewderin the market.Throwing cash at our problems as we have for 20 years is no longer an option,at last.
    Good Luck Lifers.

  71. It’s now mission Middlesbrough.

    1st leg Away on Sat 12th May
    2nd leg Home on Tues 15th May

    Away goals don’t count. If scores level at the end of the 2nd leg, then 30 mins of extra time and if necessary penalties to decide winner.

    Final on Sat 26th May

  72. Had a pleasant day out at Villa Park yesterday watching Andi Weimann outsmart Taylor and provide a perfect pass for Jerome to slot home.

    Villa did eventually start improving once Hutton replaced Taylor, and gradually we cranked up the pressure until we got a deserved equalizer. Whether we were worth more, I am not sure, as the lack of ability to use the middle of the pitch continues to haunt us, and teams can fall back and cram out the box, by the time we are ready to put a ball into the danger zone.

    Again watching teams like Fulham, Man City and Liverpool, it is about the balls into the box, splitting defences, and players running that create goals, and not poor crosses, which are easily cut out by defenders and keepers.

    Like your post Old Villa, and the confirmation from B6toBrasil, which is about most lifers summary of Bruce and Villa’s season. Let’s just hope Bruce gets it right in the final analysis.

    If we do succeed in promotion to the Premier league, I am sure we can build a decent squad from our own resources with a few wise buy additions.

    My team would be as follows:

    Johnstone (£5 million from Utd), De Laet, Chester, Jedinak, Young (£7 million Utd), Snodgrass (£5million WHU), Bjarnason, Grealish, Delph (10/12million Man City), Kodjia, Grabban (£5/6million Bournemouth) , Bench from Sarkic, Bree, Sulliman, O’Hare, Adomah, Davis, Green, Terry ?,

    Sell: Elphick, Hogan, Whelan, Hutton, Gardener, El Mohamady, Lyden. McCormack, Richards. Taylor.

    Spending around £33/35 million, and hopefully receive around £15/20 million for sales, with a net cost of around £18/ 20 million.

    Would also look at Ya Ya Toure and some of the bright young ones in the Championship.

    Forgot to add that I had a great time with the usual suspects in the Holte End and my day out with the Mid Wales Lions Club.

  73. PP- Yes OV’s post shows you that no matter the supposed difference in thinking about Bruce its only a matter of degrees one way or another not a complete disconnect between thinking. I think it depends a lot on whether you feel he could or should have done better, looking at the periods where we have been downright awful then he certainly should have given his reputation and experience. In the cold light of day we are 6 points off of second and 3 poor runs have made the difference, fix those and we would be nearer Wolves. That we are 6 points off of 2nd still is testament to the quality of our squad, which to my mind should of been utilised better. That said he has brought some harmony and team spirit but isn’t great tactically and in foresight on a game to game basis imo.

    Sad you want to sell Lyden PP poor sod has barely had a shot at the first since Gardes days 🙂 scored 6-7 goals from midfield this season before his ankle injury, he’s now back up and running, I think he has a part to play and is vastly underrated, very good captain material too.

    If Bruce stays de Laet will be gone, Hogan? can he or will he sell him? I’d like to see him under a better tactical manager. Grabban? not sure I’d pay that for him as he’s nearly 30 and didn’t cut it at Prem level, he’s a maybe though. I’m not entirely sold on Snodgrass either at his age and style, I hope that if Bruce takes us up that he has some quality players tucked up his sleeve, he found a few for Hull (or someone did) this is where our new scouting system should pay dividends hopefully.

    Hi Brasil good to see you alive and kicking got my £20? plus 0.001 interest

  74. best we played since wolves.

    Battered them and should have won 3 or 4

    this is the best villa season for donkeys years.

    ive enjoyed it. Bruce has to stay if still in the champ. and possibly if promoted for 1st season.

    I love the togetherness and spirit we have got for the first time in years.

  75. Mark
    It is a matter of degrees one way or the other, & is just inflamed by the passion.
    You do have to be a bit of a lunatic as well mind you.

    It is nice to actually have less disconnect with the owner & hierarchy in the club, it brings a stronger spirit that means that the fans can add their power better.
    We the fans do own the club in actuality, only those who worship money think otherwise

  76. The size & energy of the fan number turnouts should make a difference as well in the playoffs.
    Nobody will relish coming to Villa Park if we get the energy going

  77. On paper I think we should go up, we really need to Ideally A: not concede first B: get over our inability to put the ball in the net against packed defences and C: Deal with high pressing. Now considering we have three teams potentially to face that all play differently, They do all have a bit of pace though so I would be happy to see Jedinak play at CB and Thor in the mix.

  78. Mark – The only team stopping us from gaining promotion is Boro. Wouldn’t worry about any others. We’ve got to get past this team first.

    Agree about Jedi and the Viking. We need them available. Spud needs to decide what his team will be for the 2 games and rest key personnel against Millwall. What’s happened to Green?

  79. Plug- I’m under no illusion that Bruce wont think that far ahead mate, he doesn’t even look at the table if he’s to be believed. Green got re-injured but on his other hamstring, not as serious but haven’t seen him play recently for the U23’s. Speaking of which wonder is Ohare will get on the bench for Millwall?

  80. Mark – The game against Millwall would be an ideal game to give O’Hare a run out. Same with Bree.

    The U23’s have a promotion playoff game this evening against Reading. Two games in a week will surely give Spud an excuse not to pick them so I won’t be holding my breath.

  81. Plug
    The Official Villa site say the U23’s game tonight is on the Official You Tube channel, so I hope it actually is this time.

  82. Yeah there’s been not a lot of info concerning Green coming out of VP, so maybe we won’t see him again this season.

  83. Good first half, with Davies up front & Green playing well with Clark as LB.
    Bree in, & Suliman & Doyle-Hayes really good as usual, with the Captain O’Hare doing what he does.
    Enjoyable, & you can see the future here, & the quality has definitely improved.

  84. bloody hell, Davis and green off on 50 min at 0-0 and RHM and CBT on and its just finished 4-3 RHM incredible display with the winner on 95 mins, through to the final 🙂

  85. It’s a breath of fresh air watching the U23’s. All out attack. Spud would have a heart attack. But speaking as a fan, this is how it should be. A brilliant watch. Seven goal thriller.

    Beats 5 across the back any day.

  86. Yes Mark, I think that 4 goals in a week for RHM
    Too right, an absolute breath of fresh air, I hope normal service won’t be resumed on Sunday.
    That Osher is a nasty piece of work

  87. The opposition will probably pack the u23’s with Ist team squad for the final.
    I seem to remember the Arses doing that, was it last year?
    But the lads are definitely competitive, they don’t like losing in the cups.
    Mac & Delaney have done a good job with them

  88. Great comments lads!!

    Have to agree that it was a very refreshing game with everyone playing their part, and an outstanding performance from RHM, was well impressed with Bree and Mitch Clark at fullback, and Doyle-Hayes. Jack Clark, Green and Davis all putting bin good performances too.

    Now looking forward to the next two matches…!! They look on my big tv!!

    The future certainly looks bright for this squad if they are allowed to fully develop and get some rotation through the 1st team squad.

    Then watched Gabby and his highlights, and you realise just how much he gave, especially in the good years. Get the impression that he felt O’neill was our best manager, and how wonderful his partnership was with Ashley Young and Carew. He also felt that the teamwork between him, Christian Benteke, and Andi Weimann was similar.Sad that his career faded into an empty void.

  89. PP
    Yes you can’t bring it back once it’s gone.
    A salutary lesson on how to waste talent as well, & I’m not slagging as I did even worse.
    But then I wasn’t being paid a million or more a year.

  90. Any idea if the date is fixed for the final yet, as I’m getting nonsense on google.
    Brighton was at home, but I thought that as the runner up in the league we had home advantage, but it seems we are away again

  91. Hi IanG,

    The play off final is at VP. Will check on the date and post it here, and should be on YouTube again, on the Official free site.

  92. IanG,

    The under 23’s are away to Swansea on Friday in the final of the Premier league Cup, but the date has not been set yet for the final of the Division 2 Premier league, which will be at Villa Park against Brighton & Hove Albion.

    Rushden-Hepburn-Murphy and Jack Clark have so impressed opposition managers, that they are both nominated for player of the month BEFORE last night’s match! They have both impressed so much, and RHM was on fire last night, and so determined to score the winner before extra time, that he beat three players before firing in the net in the 95th minute.

    I can see him now leading the line next season, if we can keep him..!!!

  93. thanks PP
    Along with Davis, Green, Mitch Clark, Doyle-Hayes, O’Hare & Suliman, the team of the future with a bit of luck.
    Bet Lydon will be back instead of Prosser for DM

  94. Andrew,

    Very doubtful as all the leagues they play in pay poor wages, and they were on poor Premiership wages with Villa when they signed. Probably on £25000 a week or less.

    Not like McCormack, Richards and others on ridiculous wages .

  95. Andrew
    It might be a blessing in disguise for Gill to play under a different manager [whoever that will be].
    You’re not on a fortune are you?

  96. Concerned with the reports that the yam yams are sounding out Dean Smith. Someone who sets up to attack. Someone who will play the youngsters. Just the sort of manager we need.

  97. IanG
    when you wait all your life to see your surname on a villa shirt, and it ends up being charles gill it ends up a let down ,

    after watching champions league ,who cares about defending ,its all out attack is the way forward,someone needs to tell bruce wynes and round that

  98. andrew
    bit harsh on gill ,yes he is no world beater but look at circumstances he had at villa,along with french lads, just look at lads failed at villa ayew looks part at swansea ,still doesnt smile ,but in top 5 for chances made,vertout value doubled in one season ,amavi getting great write ups,traore scares me if we meet boro

  99. Mark
    Swans must have had 3 yellows at least, possibly 4, even the commentator was blind.
    Yes lots of professional fouls, but o’hare got bashed up too much without any come back most of the time.
    Hope this doesn’t impact on the play off final

  100. Suberb penalties and sarkic saves 2, some real gems in this youth side beginning to show, the midfield looks more composed than the first team, Lyden played CB and did very well. an old head on young shoulders, clarke in midfield keeps getting better

  101. IanG – Thanks for the stream link.

    Thought we had enough chances to win it easily in normal time. RHM was brilliant earlier in the week but frustrating tonight.

    Still, it’s the U23 Prem Cup in the trophy cabinet so I’m delighted.

  102. The midfield is very encouraging for the future with Doyle hayes & clarke a good fit.
    I’m impressed with the right back as well, & Mitch clark should get a game/bench in the 1st team.
    I think RSM being really quite young yet gets a little disheartened as well as tired.
    The legs had gone in the end.
    Good to see Lydon back, he’s good enough for the 1st team squad, & Green got another run out.

  103. IanG – “OV
    You’re not going to the Millwall match are you?
    What do you make of Gill coming back?”

    Apologies for not answering earlier, I was being the host with the most and cooking for guests. And drinking for everyone.
    Not flying over for Millwall but will feel for every Villa boy who goes down there. Possibly like yourself, I did Millwall at Cold Blow Lane a few times back in the 70’s. And none of them were happy experiences. They will be hunting on Sunday although I gather that there are a few Villa parties going down there that will look after themselves……

    Gill I always thought was a footballer and could have done well with a decent team around him. To me he is a bit of a Grealish ‘pretty’ footballer but without the fight that Grealish has. I always liked him, Amavi, Vertout and Guye.

    As I said before, Sunday is almost irrelevant …… but maybe continuity of not losing is important …. the main stuff is still to come in the playoffs ……….. and lets not forget that whether we like his style or not, Bruce is still on track for what the aim was this season – namely promotion.
    So the real fun and games start next week and then if all goes according to plan, I may try and get a playoff final ticket. But not a lot of hope for that….

    Keep the faith and keep supporting the team …….and Bruce who is going through a few months of total nightmare with both his parents passing away.
    Yours in a total alcoholic haze,

  104. My condolences to Steve Bruce on the death of his mother. He’s had a tough 3 months or so family wise. Wish him well during these times.

  105. OV
    Yeah pretty much agree with the need for continuity of intensity & or result [I don’t mean the rumble].
    Good to see the kids winning something again.
    Hope their playoff final goes well, then the 1st team would have something to live up to.

  106. I share in everyone’s condolences re: Steve Bruce and his family.

    Awesome for the U23s. UTV.

    I see Gary McAllister is assisting Steve Gerrard at Rangers.

  107. Yes very sad news for Steve Bruce and family condolences, hope the players choose to brighten his life in the next few weeks, tough times for him.

  108. I concur with the previous comments – Milwall is an irrelevance in terms of league placing but in terms of keeping momentum, massive.
    Alex Bruce has said Steve will be on the touchline tomorrow as he reckoned his Mother would have wanted it. It will be traumatic for him and he deserves every support from our travelling fans – the best away supporters in the land.
    The only thing of interest is now who we entertain on 12th May plus the need to keep injury free for the rest of the month. COYVB

  109. Wanted something up earlier in the week, but started a new job (thank god), and, well, an article didn’t happen.

    But a fresh sheet is up for the Millwall game now.


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