Aston Villa resume action at Ewood Park this evening following the international break, and will come in sat nicely in 12th place, one spot above our hosts, Blackburn Rovers, due to an impressive goal differential of 0 compared with -1.

After six games, we’re already six points adrift of the automatic places, while Boro are keeping pace with high-flying Leeds. Victory today would see us climb as high as 8th.

To say it’s been an underwhelming start would be an understatement: 2 wins, 3 draws and a loss in a run of games from which Villa could well have taken 18 points. Not saying they *should* have, but…contenders for a title or promotion shouldn’t be losing 1-4 to Sheffield United on the back of three consecutive draws. No knock against the Blades.

To say it was an underwhelming break in terms of activity to help the defense would also be an understatement. The Terry stuff was interesting for about a day, and not for all the right reasons. Robert Huth, James Collins…well, we all know badly this situation has been handled. Never mind sending De Laet out on loan so we can keep playing Axel Tuanzebe or perhaps Ahmed Elmohamady at right back.

Steve Bruce had a solution staring him the face: De Laet, Chester, Tuanzebe/Bree, Hutton. But apparently we’ll continue hoping and praying that Mile Jedinak will turn into a viable CB in the twilight of his career, all of which was spent playing elsewhere.

Of course it’s not me, but if it were, I’d have spent my experimental/developmental time bedding in a backline with greater speed, athleticism, legs and upside. Hell, let’s get crazy. I might’ve spent last season thinking, “Why don’t I bring along someone in the middle, like Bree, and make sure he’s a credible possibility if we don’t go up since Terry won’t be around.” I’d normally defer to Bruce’s experience and knowledge, except that it keeps seeming not to be a decisive advantage for Villa.

Bruce chased the mandate for promotion by relying on percentages and aging players, only to be pipped at the post by a younger faster side who played without fear. Despite the consequent turmoil over the summer, and actually because of it, I’d have been looking deeper into my existing squad for answers because it was known all along the loan players and Terry would be leaving. It wasn’t like the upcoming financial squeeze was any secret. That we got bailed out so quickly, unexpectedly and spectacularly…no one saw that coming.

So there’s that. On the flip side, we’ve welcomed in new attacking talent in the form of Tammy Abraham, Anwar El Ghazi, and Yannick Bolasie, along with John McGinn. We are getting faster and largely younger. Since we’ve not seen what Bolasie and Abraham can offer, the jury will be out, but El Ghazi looks to be very useful, and McGinn has been a great buy. So, looks like two for two there, and fingers crossed we go four for four.

The big questions are when do the excuses stop? How long will we hear about bedding in the players and avoiding longstanding issues? Can Bruce get the most out of these players? Or will his conservative and outdated approach dull their impact?

And simply in terms of Blackburn this evening, will we again come out of the break looking tired and jaded?

Anyway, sounds like we’ll see Abraham debut in some capacity while we wait for Bolasie to return to full fitness. We’ll try to get our overloaded midfield sorted out. And yes, I will say it again: There simply can be no place for Glen Whelan as a starter with so much more to choose from. That’s the sort of decision that will tell us whether Bruce is capable of change. Likewise formation and ‘pattern’ of play.

Here’s hoping the response Bruce is expecting materializes. Here’s hoping our new loanees make us an unstoppable attacking force. Here’s hoping we climb back in the race sooner rather than later. Here’s hoping we go take three points tonight. Here’s hoping Bruce gets a chance to tell all of us, who are apparently a rather small minority of the support, “I told you so.” As always, I would love to be wrong.

Over to you.

Comments 73

  1. Ta JC
    He’s gone Halfway house but at least tuenzabe gets a go at CB fingers crossed. Not a great deal of pace out there but think Tammy and Albert might produce.


  2. Well, Tuanzebe could’ve used the first six games to get settled. But hey ho.

    We look absolute rubbish. Why not put Albert wide right, El Ghazi on the left, and someone besides Jedinak in front of the back four? I’m guessing Jedi is cover for Tuanzebe starting, but still…

  3. Same old case for Abraham’s no support few chances. Deco penalty but then their goal not offside. When Blackburn get the ball they are quick and incisive. I think I could write down villas pattern of passes virtually identical and slow every time.

  4. Same old,same old Villa.We move the ball so slowly,too many touches,why?IMO non existant movement off the ball.Million upon millions £££££ spent on strikers,loan and purchase,resulting in ONE shot on target in 45mins.Get it wide and hope for the best,I’m sure Bruce has that as a tatoo on his arse.Anyway I am bored by reposting the same issues,as I’m sure you are bored by reading them.Sorry,note to self stop repeating myself,have a good weekend all.

  5. Listened to the pundits take on us and he got it spot on, lots of good players without a system and he can’t see how they will fit together. some suit 433 some suit 442 etc .

    Then the mighty Bruce comes in bewailing the 6 lost players yadda yadda and declares he’s got 6 in, he just got to find a system for them??!! well I don’t know about you but that sounds like a pile of s**te for a manager supposedly in the top echelons.

    Fantastic Free kick and restraint from Connor but you can see the frustration in him.

  6. Mark,pundits recycling what we’ve said on hear for many months.
    VP under SB is The Bermuda Triangle of footballing ability.
    Players who excel at their clubs move to us only to be sold,sent out on loan or are just discarded.
    Bree over 50 games for Barnsley, was told he was the only player who did well at Bolton…then dropped.
    Lansbury the main man at Forest,can’t get on our bench.
    Then more players or brought in,they don’t excel,and the whole process starts again at each window.New faces in,played out of position,then they are dropped or moved on.We can’t keep recycling players like this it is simply ridiculous

  7. Brazil- its so obvious its painful yet we just keep hearing how he’s the man, if we don’t go up this season and he gets another window we will have more Goals, assists, promotions and ex prem players out on loan to fill a side. Feel so sorry for the youngsters who’s big chance is being in the Champs along with those that joined to get promotion and a big wage. Nearly every player we have signed in this league were on less money at their old clubs even when some were in the prem.

    He signed McGuire for Hull and he’d played 150 senior games, bruce declared him one for the future and barely played him.

  8. wouldn’t mind but that team that started was here last season bar Mcginn, Nyland and Abraham! two of those could slot into any champs side and quite a few prem ones yet there was no framework/system from last season apart form the chuckle brother tactic of “to me to you to me to you….”

  9. SOS. Compass, please replace the coaching staff.

    Abraham already showing frustration with the supply chain. If this squad was ever exposed to a talented manager, we’d be flying away with it.

    Great free kick by Hourihane. I mean….great. Spud gets bailed out AGAIN with a moment of brilliance rather than a well oiled performance. We didn’t deserve to lose…. but 90+3 mins FFS.

  10. Yeah, some may look at last season’s table and seek hope of top 6 based on points from first few games. Reality is that Villa are poor and the gap to the leaders will continue to grow. The defence is seriously ropey and will continue to leak goals against all but the worst teams in the division

  11. I am so excited after today’s result, I may well be watching Tuesday’s game on the box…thank you Sky, and thank you for my new deal…!!!!
    Nice to see so many ex Villans doing well again….Barry Bannan…super 80 yard assist and a fantastic free kick for the second equlaizer, from the man of the match. Robinson and Johnson scoring for PNE, while in this same game, Bacuna got the winner for Reading..!!

    An average performance today from a very average bunch of players, with the exception of Hourihane’s fantastic free kick..!1

  12. If you look at the table we are 4 points off of 2nd 5 off of top, its nothing. then you look at Leeds opponents, Boro, derby, Swansea, Millwall away Rotherham, stoke and Norwich they put 2-3 past. Looking at the top 7 they all pretty much have harder fixture lists than we do.

    we on the other hand with an incredible array of players for this level on the pitch yesterday have 7 points less from the same fixtures from last season and Bruce at the helm for a 3rd season.

    Blackburn were relegated the season before in disarray and the fans club and owners were at each others throats, its still a mess with the Venkys not seen around the place at the moment. Considering all this how the hell did Tony Mowbray forge them into a team with one or two outstanding players and an unbeaten streak at home and otherwise stretching out over a season?

    Don’t get me wrong they are not unbeatable and second half we really should of sorted them out, therein lies the problem theres is no method to our play, unfortunately we are not the Harlem Globetrotters either.

  13. Mark _ I got a great deal here in Thailand – for £7 a month I get all the Sky Sports, BT Sports, Setanta, Fox Sports, Bein Sports (Thai Prem f/b channel in English) plus UK TV (BBC, ITV etc), Eurosports and a load more – all include catch up on demand so I don’t have to stop up till 0100 for mid-week games.
    Having said that what a load of rubbish from Villa after that great Spurs – Liverpool game and Springboks v All Blacks. SB has not a clue; as
    B6toBrasil said 45 minutes without a shot at goal. It’s no good keep lumping the ball in from the wings if there is nobody at home

  14. Sky is all about negotiating before you come to the end of your contract MK. I have a fantastic deal which includes Sky Sports HD for free for the next 18months.

    If you want to know more send me a private message and I will reply.

    Fantastic match today between Wolves and Burnley even though there was only one goal in the end from a team and a manger that did not exist when Bruce came on the scene….!!!

  15. In a statement reminiscent of his mass hysteria jibe at the fans last season, SB has toned it down a bit this weekend and said despite just 1 defeat in 7 games that there is a crisis swirling.

    Well Steve, you have a squad that is the envy of all other managers in this division. After 7 games we have 2 wins and sit 12th in the table. Eleven teams above us. How is this?

    Could it be that you only play 1 up front? Could it be that you put square pegs in round holes? Could it be that the pre season was wasted? Could it be that you don’t do tactics? Could it be that your judge of a player’s ability is flawed? Could it be the lack of a recognised system and shape?Or could it be the biggest volume of fans in the division is too heavy for you?

    I would love to see 3-5-2 on Tues night. A back 3 of Tuanzebe, Chester and De Laet. Oh bummer…I forgot. How about a younger and more mobile holding midfielder? How about just 1 defender on the bench plus O’Hare, Hogan and the other attacking midfielders? With a remit to play in the 2 up front with balls through the channels or from the wings behind their defence and on the deck? Or is buying my ticket for the game just causing a crisis?

  16. Mr Collymore isn’t a fan

    “Superb the 5000 Villans at Ewood

    Hope nobody is under any illusion that point was progress.

    Sucking the life weekly from some players. A worrying lack of cohesion.

    There will still be a few saying “He’s a promotion specialist”, but the style and substance is pure garbage.”

  17. Had a good look around all the Blogs today and non of the owners/writers are behind Bruce at the moment, MOMs mentioned without the 3 injury time goals we would be 1 off the relegation places, we are still 5 off the top though, things are very tight at the moment.

    Also saw mentioned we haven’t played any of the relegated prem teams nor any of last seasons non promoted top 6’ers, this is our easy run.

    Tommy Elphick was up for MOM at hull and kept a clean sheet in their win, enough said although I thought Tuenzabe looked ok eventually if a bit raw.

  18. I would disagree with the comments on the Blackburn game. Villa were by far the better team. Tammy was a step up even in his first game – that’s a good wake up call to Jack.

    I’m not a Bruce fan, but give him 1/2 a season. Let’s give him a fair chance. I understand it’s not his 1st season with The Villa, but give him a little bit of rope. Even if you don’t like him he’s a great lad.

  19. watched Wolves today. Quality team – why can we not have that manager! Irish lad on right wing, Doherty, is by far their best player among all the foreigeners!!

  20. Villamd- we were the better team the second half first belonged to Blackburn who had a goal disallowed before our pen shout that should of stood as Bruce said goals change games.

    For all our second half dominance Blackburn defended really well not allowing shots on target then hit us on the break and it took a special free kick to deny them the points. Better players not better team for me apart from dack.

    Bruce will get time and I agree he’ll probably get there but as a team we will not progress, we will get wins by sheer quality of player not design imo. That has not changed during Bruce’s reign hence time for change, promotion will not make us anywhere near wolves quality if we go up with him and he stays which is likely, stated before he’s a good manager just not for villas long term health.

  21. Hello fellers,

    Just popping in to say how good it is to read a voice of reason amidst this swell of dissenters. 😉

    VillaMD – welcome (back)!

    BTW, even though Villa were not on top first half it was pretty even. Overall I think we should have won it, and let’s not forget the facts:

    1) There was profligacy in this match just as there has been in earlier matches – therefore it’s the players that deserve the criticism for not scoring enough, not Bruce.

    2) We again have a situation where new players have to settle in – therefore time (again) has to be given to see how it all beds in.

  22. Morning JL.

    Bedding in should not be an issue for a manager in his third season with us and who has been coaching for decades now. We all know the team took time to settle down in ’16 after relegation and the wholesale changes that came in. But even with the late additions, the core system (if there was one) would allow players to settle down quickly. Instead, Tuanzebe doesnt know if he is a CB, defensive mid or a RB. Hutton is playing on the right wing one week and the left, the next. My point is all this could have been avoidable if SB knew his best 11 but he seems as lost as the players.

  23. Hello JL. Amazing how different people view a game and situation, even the ex player in the studio had similar views to those talked about on here and he played under Bruce. We can keep banging the champs expert drum or develop the team and players that’s the choice.

  24. Wotcher JL
    Nice to see you post, but in answer, maybe, maybe not, with all the factors, pointing to maybe not.

    I’ve never seen the posts so unified, & considering our normal tendency not to be, it shouts out that something needs changing, & that something isn’t working [after 3 years it should be – as Mark JG & others said]

  25. Looking at Bruce’s time here its clear he has gone for win at all costs for promotion as asked by The owner I presume. He didn’t go out and say no lets get a load of younger players and build a team or we will be doing this every season, he backed himself to get promoted and employed some very well payed loan players to attempt it. That money used wisely or in the right hands could now be the basis of a team or even the team. Wagners £3.5m spent in Huddersfields promotion year on 15 players !! being just one glaring example.

    Instead he has gone exactly for what he criticised when he turned up, to many players through the doors etc. This season is no different with another well paid bunch brought in and senior players loaned out as a make weight and youth to get experience that Bruce Can’t/won’t provide.

    Fail to go up this season and we will be back to square one. The only reason we have no team is Bruce failed in his remit and we couldn’t buy the players on loan. That is a very short term and dodgy game plan for the club.

  26. Been thinking about JL’s point about profligacy? come to the conclusion every game ever played has profligacy in front of goals, the better the chance created the more likely they will go in is more the point. If it wasn’t so games would be 10-10

    McGinn if he had not been fouled would of had the best chance of the night for us, Tammy put the only other real chance wide, others were speculative crosses to high or well marshalled by Blackburn who put two of their three shots on goal in the net plus Tuenzabes goal bound header saved on the line, we had 5 apparently two being crosses if you go by the highlights.

  27. Every time Bruce speaks he puts his size 9s in to his mouth 6 players let go he wanted to keep Johnson Terry Snodgrass grabbon all I can think of. Really hope new owners are not going to write off this season by leaving clueless Bruce in charge much longer

  28. JG,

    You missed out the amazing midfield dazzler Onomah, from Spurs….., Johnstone, Terry, Snodgrass, Grabban and Tuanzebe make the other five…..Oh! Bruce must have forgot, he still has Tuanzebe. That’s the trouble when you are trying to justify a load of nonsense, you forget where you started..!!

    Or is he confused with the players that we loaned out, because we did not need them, so we have loaned them all out again, and a few more, whilst loaning a few more in…

    Gets to the point where we wonder who we own and who we have borrowed, and which is the real Aston Villa!!

  29. Hello JG spent your money yet? 🙂

    yes Bruces gob knows no bounds, let 6 go including Onamah replaced by the much better McGinn, Chris Samba what a miss he is, Johnson was so good we had to get two Goalies to replace him and we had Grabban for four and a half months. In truth we probably miss 3 of the 6 because one of thems back with us Tuenzabe.

  30. IanG: “I’ve never seen the posts so unified, & considering our normal tendency not to be, it shouts out that something needs changing, & that something isn’t working [after 3 years it should be]”

    You’re saying the majority are always right? Fiddlesticks! 😀

    And it’s 2 actual years since Bruce arrived, not 3, with the manager having (or choosing) to replace all those players who left this last summer. One or two may be questionable, but I’d rather have trust in what – as a professional – decides rather than go by the mob! 😉

  31. JL- not much of a mob is it? about 5-6 people on a blog, I’d say as a bunch of fans the ones on here are knowledgeable and tolerant 🙂

    There will always be new players, thats fine if what you have previously assembled is on sound footing, if its not then you better know how to sort it pronto, we don’t want to be here next season saying the same do we?

  32. Hi MK,

    I did receive your message and hopefully replied to it, but this site I struggle with , as I have never been able to get an avatar/ gravatar to work after the original one.

  33. If Bruce is a professional give me a delboy every time.6 managers promoted since Bruce took over here and only probably Warnock was what they call experienced and he really showed potato head how you get not with team you relegated

  34. Mk
    Bought myself new tellie what a horror show villa look on it big screen and no villa attackers.did you ever try the lads on internet tv cheap but no pause playback

  35. VillaMD,
    Sorry thisis B2B Brazil toss sorry that I ,offend you by my mere existence.I shall leave AVLwith no victimhood enjoy, you are welcome to it.I wondered why I had stopped posting thanks for reminding me of what a great “community”it is.Enjoy.

  36. Thanks JC for another good leader. What I enjoy about AVL is reading everyones opinions on here whether I agree or not a persons opinion is always good to read. JL it’s good to see you back on here because although I don’t agree with you, you always put your point across in a respectful manor. B6toBrazil please continue to post & ignore the provocation. MD you have an opinion that is different to most on here as does JL but that is refreshing to see & creates debate. what sets this site apart from others is that most people on here don’t resort to personal insults, when that happens I think the best we can all do is ignore that post & scroll down to the next one. As I’ve mentioned before I think Bruce has had enough time to put his ideas in place but to help Villa progress but I believe it is beyond him. We will only see who’s opinion is right if we see a change in management & see how the current squad react to that. Hope to see all the usual suspects keep posting on here maybe, like myself, a few more newbees to keep it interesting & diverse. UTV

  37. Glad to be of help MK.

    Is here on holiday and should be enjoying his time, not being insulted. He has enough on his plate at the moment, and sadly has to miss the forthcoming game on Saturday.
    If anyone would like a ticket in the Lower Holte End, then PM me and we can try and organise something.

    Nice to see you drop by JL. Always happy to chat on our wonderful club.

  38. JL
    Well I like fiddling me sticks as much as the next man.
    I’m surprised that I’ve still got the will to live with whats been going on for that time, so I’m not surprised that I can’t count any more.
    The mob? Well they got George Harrison’s grandma by all account.

  39. Costa del Kieran – my thoughts exactly – different opinions but not insults are welcome.
    Let’s hope that SB sees the light and plays a team that can score goals and defend against them for a change.

    Pleased to see Jedi out of the back and Tuanzebe given a chance. What a player Uncle Albert is – one of our best defenders!!

  40. Agreed…well said, Costa. That’s the whole idea and all I ask for.

    And in case anyone’s wondering, I do the stats, and there’s a lot of traffic and a lot of readers. That’s not down to me. It’s down to the posters.

    Others are shy, some may feel it’s a tight-knit club and they might not be welcome. There are any number of reasons people read without posting.

    But any and all are welcome. All you have to do is agree to disagree. Agreeably.

  41. I watched a video by the Mail’s Mark Kendrick – 40 minutes of it – re-iterating just about what people on here are stating about Bruce, but – like the people on here – he’s forgotten that Bruce is not entirely culpable for what ‘s developed. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

    I do have *some* sympathy with the anti-brigade one here, but before I join in unison I think the current squad has to settle and grow into something after all the change-arounds (which have happened for various reasons).

    I’ll come back and say “you’re right” if nothing’s working proper by end-November. Otherwise my view just now is that I think it’s mostly the players fault that we’re not top of the division right now.

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