Following Villa’s 1-0 win over visiting Swansea Saturday, there was much talk from Dean Smith about tactics, training, game plans, and what he was trying to do. Most everyone found the insights refreshing and indicative of a new approach at Villa that’s been long overdue. One or two found it a bit disrespectful to Steve Bruce. The vast majority didn’t care about perceived slights and would simply like us to take another step forward in year three of our quest to return to the top flight, and the question tonight is will we see any progression against Norwich on the quick turn, or is that asking too much?

In all fairness, Smith’s comments were answers to pointed questions because it’s pretty much a given that everyone wants to know why Smith’s teams play the way they do and why Villa haven’t. In short, what does Smith offer that Bruce didn’t? So, Deano told us a bit. He could’ve said more, I’m sure.

What all of this will illustrate is how good a coach Smith is and which players are up for it. He’s playing with his predecessor’s team (and some of RDM’s, as did Bruce), so it’s much easier to evaluate the difference in approach as it’s apples to apples given there’s been no turnover in the side to accompany Smith’s arrival.

At any rate, since the games come fast and furious after a break, there won’t be much time to dwell over the last couple days. Villa travel to Carrow Road tonight, and the magical mystery tour will make its second stop. The Canaries are in fine form, and Villa might well be a little leggy after exerting themselves for 45 minutes against the Swans.

Smith has said he’s not trying to change too much too quickly, that he wants to “drip-feed” his ideas to the players. Saturday’s priority was keeping a clean sheet. Tonight’s? Well, likely more of the same, but it might well serve as another round of auditions for a couple of players.

For one, John McGinn will serve his one-game suspension, so someone’s got to take his place. Conor Hourihane would not be a surprise, though he’s not the ball-winning dynamo McGinn is. And I don’t really know that we have another box-to-box player with McGinn’s engine to choose from.

Anyway, that’s the way it works. Will we see El Ghazi? Hogan? Adomah and Elmo again? Your guess is as good as mine, though the team sheet will soon be out and we’ll have our answers.

In terms of tactics and approach, Smith would obviously like us hold onto the ball better, and take the opportunities for breathers that possession entails. He says the side have recovered well, and I’m guessing he’ll ask for the high press again. And like I said, I’m pretty sure that regaining possession and creating turnovers will be a fundamental emphasis throughout his tenure.

I think most everyone would take a draw before kick-off, but I’m fairly sure Smith will be playing to win. How he approaches that on the road against a side in good form? We’ll see. If Villa can somehow pull off a win it would put us right back in it—we’re seven off the top two places, but just three back of the playoff spots.

Further, two on the trot under the new man would certainly build some momentum and belief.

Whichever way it goes, it will certainly be interesting to watch.

Over to you.

Comments 144

  1. Another excellent leader.

    My comments have ended up on the previous post, as the new one must have gone up as I was writing them.

    Just waiting on the team sheet now..

  2. Tonight’s starting XI at Carrow Road:
    Nyland, Hutton, Chester (C), Tuanzebe, Taylor, Elmo, Hourihane, Whelan, Adomah, Grealish, and Abraham.

    Substitutes: Bunn, Jedinak, Bjarnason, Lansbury, El Ghazi, Hogan, and Kodjia

  3. My feeling too JC,

    and good to see Lansbury has made it to the bench.

    Lee Hendry reckons it will be 4-1-4-1 with Whelan in front of the defence and Jack as a no10.

  4. Paul: “I also don’t think that it had changed much going back to the 50.s. There were always very tough defenders, which you would have to handle or you would not be in the game. Today it is a different story, especially in the Premier league, where refereeing standards are far better, and defenders have more involvement in the play.”

    Paul, in terms of tough nuts in the game, they have always existed. I was there 60 years ago so I know as much as you on that!

    Therefore what was I talking about? I was talking about the insidious side of fouling that perpetuates now – like the shirt-pulling that is rampant, and the snide tapping and kicking that goes on which you didn’t see so much of at one time, and if you did you always knew in advance which defender was going to use that tactic. There were few defenders who played to foul back then. Until Leeds United came along, and then it started to get worse.

    Our old midfielder Idissa Geuye was a case in point the other day when a sharp shirt pull prevented CP’s attacker outstripping the Everton defence in a breakaway. Gueye was yellow-carded and CP got a free-kick, but they had no advantage from it. This sort of thing happens all the time now and is accepted as a full part of the game. As does the mauling in the goal area when corner kicks take place. And penalty kicks not given when 20 years ago I think they would have been given without hesitation.

    And I’m +ve that players don’t know what a real shoulder charge is now.

  5. JC,

    How you can think that virtually all the football under Bruce was “turgid” I have no idea.

    Not great, of course, but you must have got fed up of Villa scoring so many last Winter/Spring if that’s how you saw it! 😀

  6. Definitely a game to keep you on the edge….am not sure how we have manged to reach half time with a 1-0 lead, although on the other hand we should be 2-0.

    The second half is going to be another seat edge thriller. Silly yellow cards being picked up.

  7. Forgot to say Whelan is doing ok, except for a horrendous back pass, and there are generally too many from Villa, and going astray, maybe they will be more settled second half, as long as they do not concede an early goal.

  8. yeah pp, 2 it should have been, but maybe its a blessing, as the longer it goes the more norwich will get desperate and will get strecthed?

    I like how were keeping the ball and “keeping possession to get our rest in whilst we’re on the ball” it as Deano as for in yesterday interview, i’m paraphrasing him of course!

  9. Winning ugly will be a good habit.
    I hope John Lerwill is watching so that he can see the utter lack of talent that Bruce left behind. El Mohammady cannot get the ball above knee height; Tuanzebe cannot pass straight and like to try and give the ball away in his own area; Taylor slows the attack down and can’t defend; Hutton should have gone years ago…how bad must El Ghazi and Bolasie be if El Moh starts ahead of them???
    So JL, if Smith fails this badly after 2 years then he we will be asked to leave also… oh, 1-1 as I’m typing…what a sh!t defence

  10. 2-1…against what is quite frankly an ordinary team. Hutton failed to get in an easy block.
    Smith will make no difference with the shambolic raw materials at his disposal

  11. Roger
    Thought Hutton was carrying some spare timber myself,
    Its going to be hard for Smith to change it around when he has to pick Nyman,Hutton,Taylor Elmo and whelan

  12. 1-2 exasperated
    Time to get rid Taylor as he is still a complete liability, & Norwich know it the amount of traffic down his side.

  13. Oh dear, we’re now into “it’s the ref’s fault”.
    Villa have been poor in the second half and are getting what they deserve.
    It will take 2-3 transfer windows to clear out the mess left by Bruce. Mid-table will be a good result this year; get used to it

  14. With 8 minutes added Villa remained absolutely punchless.

    One attempt on goal the whole match.

    But this is only the second match, and Smith will now have seen what he has to deal with.

  15. I wouldn’t read too much into it, tbh.

    Disappointing, yes. But same things with certain players we’ve long talked about. Thought we looked a bit leggy. Bad timing with Abraham and Adomah both going down, things seemed pretty much in hand up to that point. Norwich perhaps a little lucky on the second, didn’t seem like much til it went in.

    If anyone knows how to play to Hogan, it’ll be Smith. But he’s not been out there for a while. Abraham likely would’ve gotten to the ball that just went over his head.

  16. Well, a very poor second half … Norwich realised they needed to feed Rhodes more against a very poor defence, and pow! he could have had a hat trick.

    The only one who comes out with any kudos, has to be Tuanzebe, who was far in front of the rest of the defence….and apart from that there was no one to shout about….what was JG doing standing about like a spare pr**k every time Horiblehan was taking a free kick…apart from their training ground failure. JG’s corners were s**te too..!!

    Chester poor too!

    Smith is going to struggle with this lot.

  17. JC: “Abraham likely would’ve gotten to the ball that just went over his head.”


    Any team that has to play to one player (like Hogan) has a millstone round their neck. He does so little unless the ball is played just as he likes it. That was a mistake purchase by Bruce for certain i.m.o.

  18. PP,

    Tuanzebe definitely had a good game, will only keep getting better. That clearance-turned-scoring chance he chased down. Neither Jedi nor Chester would’ve gotten to that.

    But that’s a very different middle three (JG, Hourihane, Whelan) than JG, McGinn, Bjarnason. The need to see the players, the quick run of fixtures…It’s not a week where they were going to get much done. We’ll see if they can regroup by Friday. JG’s late deliveries definitely looked like they came from a tired leg, and you could see a fair drop-off in his energy down the stretch.

  19. JL,

    We’ll see with him (Hogan). Obviously scored loads before for Smith, so seems to me it’s just a matter of how much time they’ll devote to it in training, whether Smith sees him as a dead end.

  20. PP,

    The energy was definitely lacking. If we think about the intensity thing, it will take a little time to get that level of fitness. Will be curious to hear Smith’s post-match comments, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we found out they’d trained hard following Saturday. Smith might use it as a bit of wake-up call and figure they might as well work on their levels now.

  21. Only saw first 1o minutes of the match, had to go to work. DS will have seen pretty much the whole squad by now. Was a bit disappointed but I thought nevermind there’s another chance soon.

  22. JC: “We’ll see with him (Hogan). Obviously scored loads before for Smith, so seems to me it’s just a matter of how much time they’ll devote to it in training, whether Smith sees him as a dead end.”

    Yes, he’s scored a lot before then maybe Smith knows how to deal with his needs, of course.

    But all the indications are – and this is what I said above – is that you have to play to Hogan in a certain kind of way. Now that’s fine if that player is playing week-in and week-out, but if he is number 1 striker and is out for a month, the team then has to play a different way to play to huis deputy.

    In the days of being manager of Brentford and being more short of resources, Smith’s ability to maximise Hogan’s ability is understood. But I don’t think that approach is relevant at VP. Btter that Villa have a striker who is more of a traditional striker in my view – one who can head the ball for starters.

    Looking at Hogan’s movement versus Kodhia’s, Iast night I felt that Kodhia looks the most effective – he puts himself about more strongly/effectively, though he also didn’t get a lot of success.

    But Jack has to move up a gear or two to be a really effective player, creating chances for the attackers. Without McGinn we really looked short of drive second half.

    Anyhow, Smith knows better than Bruce. I hope.

  23. Everything is fixable from what I saw

    Nyland is a boy playing a man’s game, he should have steamrolled Hutton to get the ball for the first goal, looks like distribution sorted in that he played out from the back with short kicks or throw outs, he’ll progress when a goalkeeping coach gets a hold of him but there’s options in Bunn and Moreira who’ve not had many chances or extended runs to develop.

    Tuanzebe out shone mr.consistency in Chester last night, and finally needs to invest his time in a single position to develop, Chester was off the boil last night but will come good again

    Midfield is still an experiment as to who can take on Smith’s instructions the quickest and I expect more experimentation against QPR. Hourihane’s left foot was missing, Whelan did the Ronseal stuff well

    Tammy is a class act but needs better service.

    The forced substitutions undone us, El Ghazi hasn’t played for a while and didn’t get up to game speed, Hogan is lacking confidence and Kodija was Kodija, all bustle but no product

    Grealish if it wasn’t for the forced subs should have been hooked again, a lot of dancing around Norwish’s back four but nothing incisive, all well and good drawing the fouls but how about quicker balls into the strikers

    We are a work in progress but there’s progression in how we play with a structure, how we press for 45 mins, we also didn’t give up at the end which was good to see. We need more pace in the full back positions, seeing Norwich trust young lads with pace to defend and carry the ball puts Hutton in perspective for me especially.

    Team for QPR – going 4-3-1-2

    Nyland stick with him (like we did with Johnstone) and give him a chance to come good or his confidence will be shot
    Bree at RB
    Tuanzebe, Chester CBs
    Taylor at LB

    McGinn, Hourihane, Whelan

    Grealish in the hole

  24. DOR
    Looks like a decent team you’ve named. The Viking can come on for Whelan if/when he tires. There’s a lot that could be done to change the game if the manager is savvy enough. Who’d you have on the bench?
    I agree it can be fixed.

  25. For me it was clear the three fittest were the three youngest.

    On strikers all of them need playing to in a certain way. Tammy is doing way more chasing than he should have to and how many headers did he get to last night? The cross for Chester was what we need to see in short we need better all round service.

    I wish we had Clark here as we would have him and bree to play the hardest role on the pitch fitness wise the modern FB.

    Watching first half I thought that we would burn out, passes just about making it, all very rushed stuff, second Norwich looked no different energy wise and were able to press high. We had nobody in central mid bar jack that could evade it without causing problems all match.

  26. Good comments DOR,

    My feeling is that for many in the team, 2 full ninety minutes, intensified training, and all within 4/5days was a step too far, and the only real plus was Axel at centre back, who grew with the game.
    I think Whelan was a mistake, as he looks good in training, and is ok for 45 minutes, but not a hard grinding 90 minutes.

    Friday, I would like to see Nyland, Bree, Axel, Chester, Hutton, Jedinak, Lansbury, Bjarnason, McGinn, Kodjia with subs, Bunn, Taylor, O’Hare, Adomah, El Mohamady, Abrahams.

    This would allow players time to recover, and at the same time there is impact quality on the bench for what is going to be a very hard game.

  27. Bolasie

    I see he was kept off the bench last night to do extra strengthening work on him at the training ground.

    I felt that if he were fit he could be a frightening player to be up against and I suspect that Smith sees that potential.

  28. There is a huge problem with trying to get fit in season. To raise it you need intensity, to get fitter you then need to recover, 3 games and intense training? I doubt it’s happening. If it is then dean Smith isn’t as smart as I thought. The fact he talked about Thor having played 3 games lately and dropping him to the bench says he does especially as he lost mcginn.

    Kids recover quickly, I think the 1st half was on adrenaline 2nd we crash as we take that 15 mins break, excactly why they were out doing some sprints to try and prevent this.

    I think we are up against it if fitness is the problem.

  29. I thought Norwich were very good.

    It going to take time and we need patience. Shame we have got these 2 away games in quick succession. No time to do anything. Need some just Saturday games to have a week on the training ground.

    I hope smith quickly gives bree a chance for hutton and introduces a few of the u23s.

  30. Paul – I like your proposed team. As to Bolasie, I have always seen him as a striker who does not track back whereas Albert Adomah is the expert as he demomnstrated a few times last night. He will be missed for that and I think he should be in an attacking midfield for that reason.
    I thought Tuanzebe was developing but Nyland amazes me; he made a basic goalie error for the first Norwich goal. I played in goal semi-pro and I can tell you that when you have decent sized players defending a cross you do not rush out – you wait for the weak header.
    The league is wide open – Blues shot up above us but a couple of wins for us and losses for them puts us even again.
    I am thinking we will stay in this league for another year while DS builds a team that can not only seek promotion but can stay up.

  31. Think Hutton should be LB as he is more solid than Taylor, as is the defence, at least until Mitchell comes back hopefully in January.
    The midfield looks like it will be in process for a while, & it should be interesting what comes out of that.
    It will take a time before Deano gets round to the u23 players such as O’Hare unfortunately, but I hope it’s not too long

  32. clive- Shame for Nyland as he’d had a decent 1st half.

    Watched the 2nd goal and all Three mid-fielders stood in a line watching the ball being passed about , not one tried to shut the play down. Eventually a Norwich player makes a run in behind the three of them and in front of the defence two passes later its in the net. Its what Brentford look to do, play in between the lines.

  33. Andrew- yep thank god, Thor and Mcginn playing at Norwich I think we would have won. Lansbury has to worth a look at he can pass at least if we are short again.

  34. Thought we missed McGinn. Plus the canaries are no mugs. The new set up at VP has only been there for 5 minutes so it’ll take some. I’m relaxed.

    Another tough away game on Friday. Let’s see what permutations DS comes up with. We definitely need to put the ball in the onion bag more than once if we hope to win.

  35. JG
    You sure you haven’t got a welsh relative?
    Taylor is a defence liability, & even Hutton brings more solidity at LB.
    Although I agree that he should never be at RB again

  36. Ian g
    Taylor is showing why so many Swansea managers didn’t rate him,only Bruce would give such a poor player a 4.5 year contract,would rather try birr at left back than Hutton,last night again opposition targeted Hutton and per usual got plenty joy there

  37. Hutton was a Mcleish signing, Meanwhile guess whose rated the best wingback in the champs? another Mcleish signing, Enda Stevens, he was given no chance by anyone.

  38. It’s strange to me that there is so much criticism of Taylor and Hutton at the moment.
    Taylor hasn’t always been great but I thought he had a very decent game on Saturday
    I could understand some criticism of Hutton for their goal last night although I reckoned Nyland was more to blame but the general criticism of him is frankly bemusing.
    Some people have a personality disorder which means that they need to have ‘someone to blame’ when they are unhappy and now that Bruce is out of the way I guess they are casting around for their next victim.

    Anyway . . . I thought I’d take a look at player ratings and found this article.
    You can draw your own conclusions:

  39. Good observations…

    Can’t really disagree with a lot of the personnel comments…Need to be faster, younger, more aggressive at FB. You really have to close players down. Getting goal-side to keep them from driving into the box is one thing, but then playing off and allowing the cross or cut-back doesn’t really accomplish much in the end—leaves 2 of 3 options undefended. Help, of course, is needed in covering the available passes. But the less room and time you give the attacker with the ball, the better.

    We often see our wide men needing to get by two players (quick counters excepted), and someone is usually rolling to pick us up on the outlet pass back upfield or infield. The available help (or lack therof) for us is down to fitness. And of course there are times you just get caught short of numbers on a break.

  40. r0bb0,

    I’m not one really for ‘blaming’, I think it’s just a consequence of breaking down a goal allowed, etc.

    Agree that Taylor had a good game Saturday, and he played some nice ones last year. When we were hot, he was linking up well with Grealish and Adomah down the side.

    For me, improvement in the FB spots is based on the comment I just put up before yours.

    Neither one is really a shut-down player. They’ll go wide and get in front of their man, but they don’t really close and tackle as much. Could be instruction, could be fear of over-committing. As MK noted in Hutton getting turned, neither seems to have great ‘hips’…shorthand for not being able to twist and change direction quickly. I think that’s part of why they play off a little bit.

    The other thing I noticed last night was that we get wrong-footed a lot when challenging or closing players in open space. We were pretty easy to dribble past. Could’ve just been leggy, but I’ve noticed it for a while (like when I bemoan we don’t have many ball-winners).

    Dunno if it is something that gets worked on, but seems like they run up and don’t really get their body weight balanced right on their feet, which means they’re committing too much to what they anticipate and sell out that commitment with their body language, making it easier to know which direction they’re giving up.

  41. Agree with you R0bb0,

    Taylor did have a decent game on Saturday, and he was ok to start with last night, but lost his way, tried far too many times to play out from a bad position, and got himself into more problems. Prefer Hutton at left back now, and Bree has been excellent when he has played so a no brainer for me.

    As Dean prefers a 4-1-4-1, I think that that is Jedinak’s best position, is in front of the back four, and Bjarnason and McGinn are our best midfielders, Jack perhaps needs a break, and Lansbury deserves a chance, while El Mohamady is good out wide and produces great crosses, which then just leaves a front man, and Tammy, if fit, is the in form man.

  42. Who is this Frank Lampard chap?????

    4-0 up against the Baggies away from home…..and Scot Malone, an Aston Villa fan from Rowley Regis scored the fourth….!!!

  43. El Mohammady is good out wide and makes good crosses…give me strength…90% of his crosses are at ankle height and don’t get past the first defender…do you guys watch the same games as I do?

  44. With Jack, two schools of thought…You either let him play through it, or you sit him. Me, I tend toward letting him play through it.

    Main reason is that they’ve got to build up their identity. And Jack has to be a part of that. Him, McGinn, Bjarnason…That’s as good a midfield as any in the league. But they have to have the time together with Smith and what he wants to implement.

  45. PP,

    Understand where you’re coming from, but if the team is going to press, I just wouldn’t see a place for Jedi unless we’re looking to add height against a team with big men who primarily score from set pieces.

    As I was just saying, I think Grealish, McGinn and Bjarnason should be nailed on…energy, physicality, pace. Which isn’t to say I don’t like Hourihane. I do. But I’d give the nod to Bjarnason in a ‘DM’ role. Lansbury’s tough, because it’s been so long since he’s had a sniff. If the regular players don’t have the match-day fitness, I just don’t know where Lansbury would be on the curve. Maybe you bring him along in cameos with an eye toward the second half of the season. He’s got to offer something different, like a certain vision no one else has. But he’s not fast, not a ball winner…He’s “creative”, but he’s got JG and Hourihane in front of him in that department, and Bjarnason beats him for pace and doggedness any day. If you have a middle two, it’s McGinn and Bjarnson all day for me. Jack in the advanced role. But, to the point of keeping Jack in, they’ve got to work that combo and get JG looking for the killer ball earlier.

    If I’m DS, this is what I’m trying to do in training: bring along the interchangeability with these guys, rotate as needed, etc. But I think you have to commit to a certain lineup. And obviously he’s still evaluating what he’s got.

  46. I’d also say that I think DS can get the fitness in them even as the season goes. There’s a certain base they’ve got. It’ll come down to how you manage sessions when you have the week between games. But you can work them hard earlier in the week, then take the gas off a bit.

    Main thing from what I know is that there are consistent sustained periods where they exert that all-out effort at various times during the week. Whether it’s 30 minutes, 45, whatever, it can be done as long as recovery is managed properly, and workouts are complementary in an organized arc. Do the hard stuff Monday and Tuesday, work on tactics, positioning, footwork, etc., Wednesday through Friday. Different exertions, different tasks on different days.

  47. Jc- I’d agree in a perfect world but this is the championship. We have seen for a long time half games with this lot. I’m not saying it’s not possible but the recovery is the problem if as smith says we train as we play. To my mind I’d work on the equally poor side of the game of being calm in possession and keeping the ball to get breathers. They give all for 45 and crash when they stop. Could also be nutritionally based too though. I’d love to know what they actually do feed them? There’s so much you can do to optimise energy production in the mitochondria these days it would be criminal not to.

  48. Robbo- give over man Hutton has not been his best this season and at RB he is a liability. As JC pointed out they rarely close the man down and usually sell themselves, even their body angle is wrong to me.

    I think they have been asked to play the ball out but need to recognise when to row Z it. Seems like we take instructions literally and don’t think for themselves much. Some of the passing leaves much to be desired. Smith has his work cut out.

    And why personal ?

  49. Too much analysis…

    Just as Bruce didn’t have chance to properly get to grips with his new squad, so too are we assessing the situation after Dean Smith has been only there for 2 games!

    Bruce at least found Hutton to be useful at l-b, and here we are saying that Hutton at r-b can be a liability. Bruce knew that! So this is part of the danger in prematurely switching managers. To go forward a new manager will generally go a couple of steps backward…

    And you then go into the question of the players’ fitness. Wasn’t the second half on Tuesday more down to the fact that we lost 2 useful players up front within a few minutes fairly early on, and replaced them with a couple of players who (to say it kindly as one of them I don’t rate anyway) were way short of being up to speed.

    With McGinn also absent and Conor and Jack not doing a great deal, it’s asking a lot of the rest of the team to keep themselves in the game. Actually, both Norwich goals were very preventable.

    …so we might as well just sit back and see what happens over the next 2 or 3 weeks … and then assess.

  50. PW- on Elemos crossing, be interesting to see how many attempts/ crosses per game he and others have per chance/ goal . I suppose it’s only accurate when it’s accurate.

    Do you remember when we went through a spate of flat crosses? May have been under O’Neil or just after? Now that was infuriating.

  51. Jl- we could but the blog would be dead 😉

    It’s fun for me at least to analyse what’s going on and what smiths next steps may be. He’s gone with players in there positions so far hence Hutton at RB.

    You don’t rate hogan and are critical of him how’s that fair in your non analytical world? He came on as the team was weakened and tiring and got little service, neither did Tammy mind so how about giving him a break? smiths only Been here two minutes it’s fun to debate who will or won’t suit his plans 🙂

  52. Mark,

    As we’ve said ad nauseum, Hogan has to be played to in a different kind of way and that means the team has to focus on him. That’s a wrong approach for me.

    His lack of heading ability (lack of height and no ability to climb) caused us to lose at least 2 strikes on goal – opportunities that Abraham – or Kodjia – would have at least got on to the end of.

    For me he shouldn’t have come on, but Smith was undoubtedly trying to be fair to him.

    My view of Hogan goes back to the time he arrived and unless Smith changes how Villa play to play to suit Hogan’s dictates (playing to one player), I don’t see how he’s going to thrive.

  53. Jl – well he has that time doesn’t he? Clearly we won’t be playing the way we are under smith, he is a little hamstrung by what’s available. Kodjias been very disappointing this season and smith sees him as Bristol did so far a left sided winger/attack.

    Tammy is the best All round CF we have had in ages would love to buy him but I think your confusing what you would like to see with what May transpire under smith. Tammy would probably thrive in any system.

    Also there is no way of knowing that they would of got on the end of it just a guess.

  54. MK,

    What confusion? All I see is light! Of course Abraham would likely thrive in any system. That’s exactly the point – the need for a mobile striker who is physically able to deal with any situation, not a striker of fixed propensity, like Hogan.

    What I would like to see is what all Villa fans who know the strikers – someone of the mould of Harry Hampton, Tom Waring, Gerry Hitchens, Andy Gray or Dean Saunders. Even Peter Withe, Dalian Atkinson, Dion Dublin or JPA.

    And despite what you say, I’d still prefer to see Kodjia brought on as the first strike sub. Even Bolasie, rather than Hogan.

    Sorry. But I have my preferences just as you have yours.

  55. MK: “Also there is no way of knowing that they would of got on the end of it just a guess.”

    I really wonder if you have a big tongue in your cheek when you say things like that!

    It’s not just a ‘guess’. I does not need a very-educated assessment to tell you that players with greater height and heading ability would have reached the opportunities that Hogan failed on.

  56. Jl if they we’re stood in the same position yes but it’s still a maybe or do taller people score 100% of headers? Benteke certainly didn’t nor tuenzabe on Tuesday.

  57. Andy Gray was not a big guy, but scored many amazing headers, because he could get the height and was totally fearless, just like McGinn is.


    I put JG on the bench because I think he needs to play less and see more, but he should play for some of the match. He is trying to do too much still, rather than making the best of his skills. This constant trying to win fouls has to stop. He needs to use the ball better and quicker. like McGinn. I put Jedi in because we need to be solid against QPR, which we were not against Norwich, and he is good in front of the back four. Need him at set pieces too.

  58. Pp- gray was exceptional especially at diving headers. Heading is more about timing and positioning, some players just seem to stay up longer if that makes sense and are hard to shift even in the air. I’m amazed at modern footballers inaccuracy with headers it all seems to be directionless? Maybe that’s the modern ball I don’t know.

  59. On forwards, DS said after tues game that the movement up front (presuming all three) wasn’t very good, so if the forwards are not running the expected channels then what chance do the mods have in finding them. I must say I thought although it was good to see two in the box at last they were stationary a lot.

  60. PP: “Andy Gray was not a big guy, but scored many amazing headers, because he could get the height and was totally fearless”

    That’s exactly part of the point I was making! Hogan – on the other hand – is just not comparable in that department.

  61. MK – something to please you:

    “Dean Smith says that Callum O’Hare has ‘caught the eye’ after impressing him in the U23s this week.

    “The talented Aston Villa youngster scored a brace against Newcastle United, but it still wasn’t enough to prevent a 5-2 defeat.

    “Smith was watching the game, and admits that he was impressed by O’Hare.”

  62. JL- yes its from his pre- match presser, its hard not to be impressed with Ohare, scoring for fun and probably the most natural finisher at the club. I almost wish that jack wasn’t in his way But also think Jack could play in the front three to allow him in.

    smith spoke about us not seeing the Runs Hogan made on Tues in behind the Fullbacks too, I think Ohare would, has football intelligence beyond his years and beyond jacks atm. Could easily be our best youth product since the late 70’s.

  63. JL,

    Not too much analysis at all.

    This is what coaching and acquiring talent is all about. Breaking down players’ attributes, good and bad, figuring out how they can be developed, where they fit, how to play to their strengths, where a new man would fit, what he brings…It’s standard practice. That’s what you do when you watch film, it’s what you see and correct on the training ground. It’s why players will have different diets and fitness regimens.

    Instead of just saying, “Hutton’s rubbish,” a person can actually point out aspects of his game that appear suspect. For example, you’re pointing out the aspects of Hogan’s game you think make him more of a liability than an asset. Fair play. That’s what a manager or coach should excel at with every player, and that’s what a knowledgable fan is looking out for when they watch. What makes a player or system work? Why is someone struggling? It’s much more useful than just booing or calling for someone’s head.

    Me, I want to understand what I’m seeing. I want to know whether it’s fair to blame the manager or the player. I want to know what I’d be looking for if I say we could do better than so-and-so. A more casual fan will look at the scores, see some highlights, watch a few games on the telly, shrug and say, “ah well.” Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with looking at it more deeply.

    Of course, there’s always the question of whether any of us knows what we’re talking about…

  64. JC- Most of what I know or see comes from observation, a little reading and 40+ years of playing. Can’t say I had much coaching but its nice to recognise the things I learned are now called tactics, also surprised at times how not clued up some professionals are 🙂

    About to read a book called inverting the pyramid the history of football tactics, don’t usually read football books but it was recommended.

  65. I was going to say earlier what does anyone think of the midterm elections in America? we have had the attempt to stop Kavanagh getting in and now $ pipe bobs are sent to high level Democrates. Not one explodes? looks like a set up or false flag, the Left really want Trump out it seems.

  66. I’ll have to look up the book, MK.

    Yeah, it’s funny with professionals. Virtually every time I see a team struggling, the coach will say, “We’ve got to work on the fundamentals.” I think so many players with talent and the athletic superiority often just get to coast through for a long time…They don’t really need to think about much until it gets down to the really fine margins when everyone they play against is just as good.

    The game gets much faster, the window for decisions much smaller, the magnification of errors greater—like simply taking the wrong angle to chase a player down because you weren’t positioned right during a corner or an attack in terms of the opponent’s probabilities and tendencies. At one level, you always catch that player. Next level, he’s out of sight, or he shields the ball better, sells turns you bite on, etc.

  67. MK,

    Seriously doubt it’s false flag. Huge portions of the right are close to unhinged. Don’t buy the false equivalencies saying the left is just as bad. There’s far, far more violence from the right…They’re the party of God, Guns and Guts, the white nationalists, neo-Nazis, militias, the deep racism in the south (not that racism isn’t everywhere), trying to legislate the bible into law. They’re the ones who blow up abortion clinics and shoot at providers. They’re the ones who won’t have any form of gun control whatsoever. Trump’s a disaster of epic proportions, and is fomenting fury, extolling violence, loading the courts, and waging war against facts and the responsible press…It’s not good. The Democrats need to take back the House, full stop.

    And when we talk about the “left” or Democrats, they’re very centrist in reality. Social democrats at the very most, and that’s only a portion. Their most radical ideas are things most Europeans generally take for granted every day.

  68. JC- You won’t be surprised that none of that gets mentioned here mate. All you see is parody of Trump. Whats the economy/jobs situation like? the talk is its improved but you just don’t know.

  69. JC,

    It seems I get a lecture every time I raise a point! 😉

    I’m well aware of what you say (as per usual), but what I’m really saying between my lines is that there is a lot of speculation about this or that before the dust has settled.

    That is all.

  70. Economy seems to be doing pretty well…It basically is just following the same curve that Obama set it on over the previous eight years. The US came out of the recession faster and stronger than any of the other industrialized democracies. Trump claiming any credit for that is laughable in the extreme. I’ve got a graph somewhere illustrating it nicely. All Trump has ever done is go bankrupt multiple times playing real estate games. Oh, and hosting a reality TV show. Upon taking office after promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act he famously uttered, “Who knew healthcare was so complicated?” You can’t make it up.

    Pay, however, does not keep up. And the bigger issue is that a recovery/expansion usually doesn’t last past 9-10 years. So, one would expect a correction soon. Who knows.

    The Clintons? Again, believe virtually nothing you hear, at least not from the right. Bill? Philanderer. Otherwise, brilliant on the issues and the best natural communicator of complex ideas policy ideas in recent memory. Hillary? Not very “likable,” but also extremely smart, very well versed on policy and diplomacy, and very much a centrist. Everything either one of them has been accused of has been investigated multiple times by Congress, the FBI, whatever. What did all that turn up? Monica Lewinsky’s dress.

    All we heard about was “crooked Hillary’s” emails…As though General Colin Powell, former Republican candidate for president, did not also use a private email server while Secretary of State and recommended Hillary do the same. Meanwhile, the moron-in-chief is using an unsecured iPhone that the Chinese and Russians are listening in on.

    Again, you can’t make it up.

  71. MK: “smith spoke about us not seeing the Runs Hogan made on Tues in behind the Fullbacks too”

    Yes, I did read that and I don’t deny he does that. But I want a good ol’ fashioned c-f who can head the ball! 😀

  72. JL,

    I understand…But we’re talking about players and performances, not Smith or his impact yet. Does one expect things to improve? Yes. will it take a while? Probably…but you never know. I figure somewhere between 1-3 months.

  73. JC: “The Democrats need to take back the House, full stop.”

    Just as in this country, there’s barely a sound politician to be found in any party and barely anyone in the electorate who’s really (truly) savvy.

    I always used to vote Labour as the better of the two evils, but now I’m not so sure.

    While politics and government is all about who is able to create growth and put money into the pockets of the well-to-do there’s not going to be a satisfactory outcome. And neither would communism bring happiness of course.

  74. JC,

    Trouble is the players performances are weighed by their wish to get the attention of their boss and to follow through his instructions, and just now they may be stressing too much to produce what they are really capable of.

    As you say, a month or three may be the time when we can properly assess, though I have to admit I am curious about how the Hogan phenomena will develop.

  75. JL,

    Yeah, it will have an effect, new manager. But, and not to be unkind to any of the players, Hutton looked like Hutton, Taylor like Taylor, etc., and it’s probably just their level. And Grealish, to my mind, has been trying too hard (rather than not hard enough) all season.

    So we’ll see if Smith can get better out of them, whether tactics and training help, or if he does end up looking elsewhere (not that he has many good choices at the back…or up front, for that matter).

  76. JC,

    Yes, generally agreed, but even so, the manager has clearly told his players something different to what they were told before and they will have to have concentrated on that until it gets to be being second nature.

    Until that point, having to think about what you’re doing (more than you were doing the previous week) could be a strain, I suppose, and can sap strength.

    And if they’ve also go to be concentrating on looking to Hogan and where he’s going to run to next, that’s another dimension! 🙂

  77. From the Express and Star:

    … Smith knows his brand of high-intensity, possession-based football will take time to bed in to a squad more used to a slower-paced, counter-attacking play employed by Steve Bruce.

    But Smith has nonetheless been pleased by what he has seen from his players – as well as their willingness to adopt new ideas.

    And he was quick to stress he believes the squad are fit enough to play his way.

    “There’s been an awful lot made of me going from the youngest squad in the Championship (at Brentford) to the third oldest,” he said. “But I’ve seen no less desire or hunger and that was witnessed on Tuesday evening.

    “Glenn Whelan goes in for his first game for a while and covers the highest distance he’s covered for a while, so it doesn’t matter what age you are as long as you’ve got that hunger, desire and enthusiasm then you can certainly go on and play at this level.

    “I ask an awful lot of the front three and midfield three in terms of fitness levels and what I’ve found is that we’ve got a really fit bunch.”

    So it sounds to me that if tiredness has been shown it is probably through having to concentrate harder.

  78. I am interested that no one has picked up on what could be the reason that Villa seemed to be slower and not so quick in the second half. I read somewhere earlier this week that Norwich have painted the away dressing room pink completely, as the colour pink reduces energy and enthusiasm levels….!!! Should this be allowed under EFL rules???

    This may be the reason that Norwich have done so well at home….

  79. JC- I’m like JL I don’t trust any politician or party these days, non of them have much backbone or Gumption and are easily got at.

    JL- I think DS guards his troops well, he’s not going to say your all unfit and old two weeks in. He does seem to have their backs generally while being diplomatically honest.

  80. JC
    “Me, I want to understand what I’m seeing.”
    And so say all of us, and it’s best to be on a forum, where people’s ideas can be expressed thoroughly and articulately.
    I think the said reasons for tiredness are plausible but I think all the recent flying around might be more the reason. Villa is one of the teams that have many players having to perform at multiple levels.

  81. Iana,

    Yes – of course – but are we seeing anything that’s really different so far when Bruce was here?

    We see a change of attitude perhaps, but still not anything too much that indicates a sea-change.

    And nor should we expect to see anything much different given they’ve all been on international break and then no chance to get things together on the training field too much because of the flurry of matches.

    It’s all progressing (or fluctuating) in bits right now it seems to me.

    As JC rightly says – only in a month or three from now can we possibly assess (and “understand what we’re seeing”).

    We surely just have to give it some time before we can put a good finger on it all.

  82. Hello, JL.
    I was only talking about the main reason for the tiredness. I agree with the other views you’ve expressed.

    We’re all reading from the same hymn page there.
    I hope your other half is doing well.

  83. Maybe we need to take some screens to away games to cover the pink up!!
    Re Hutton at LB; I always though he did better there because he was covered by ‘Uncle Albert’ tracking back. Without Adomah he would be shown up if Bolasie is this ‘front man’. He is more exposed at LB as nobody is ready to cover his runs.
    I see Tsibola is putting a case to return but I am not convinced he is the magic ticket.
    Collins continues to train but I hope, when fit, he is kept in reserve as Tuanzebe and Chester need to develop theri partnership.
    I agree with the comments on JG being dropped for a while as his looking for free kicks is not productive most of the time. I would prefer McGinn and Hourihane with Bjarneson.
    Still everyone has an idea but the Manager (read Head Coach!!!!) is the one making the decisions.
    Live on Sky so I will watch it live before we go fromn 6 to 7 hours ahead of UK on Sunday. UTV

  84. I think we have seen the high press and more numbers getting forward. Unfortunately other than Elmo and Alberts 60 mins a game we have nobody else to maintain it. Delaet and green would of been perfect. Thor and mcginn look nailed on starters.

    I’d like to see mcginn and hogan on the pitch as I think he’s the likeliest to give him some service.

  85. Iana,

    Thanks for your thought! 🙂

    All is ‘OK’ – but Ana’s off to Malaysia on Monday rather fearing that her mother’s reaching her last days.

    She and her family have got quite a story to tell about their time on the rubber estates in Malacca where Ana’s father was a medical officer. Her mother used to campaign for education for the Malay workers’ children on the estates and fought until they got it.

    And before TV when they used to hold outdoor film shows for the estate workers.

    Ana’s parents were there when the Japanese occupied Malacca in WW2 – that, again, produces a few stories, including (I’m told) the suicide of a platoon of British soldiers rather than be taken prisoner.

    I’ve been trying to get Ana to publish the whole story, but it’s hard work getting there.

  86. Interesting family tale JL – Ana’s parents must be ‘getting on a bit’ – Singapore fell on my birthdayand I am 76 so I can understand her concern to see them. I will put a word in for the publication if I happen to come across her but Melaka is a big city so doubtful. You never know.
    MK – I also think McGinn would be a useful foil for Tammy as JG seems to lose sight of the potential for the run behind the defence lately and , as you say, he could deliver for Hogan.
    In the first half v Norwich we seemed to stall at the edge of the box after a high tempo approachl sone decisive passes would have made the difference I feel.
    The lack of match fitness was there to be seen second half; I think a fw took the intl break and the change of coach as an excuse to ease off.
    I’m still convinced this season is a stabilising one rather than a drive to relegation from the Premiership next year.

  87. JL mmmm… QPR have lost their last 13 league matches played on a Friday, a run stretching back to Boxing Day 2014

    Fairs fair, JL…….now tell us when Villa last won on a Friday.

  88. Clive,

    Ana’s father passed away many years ago, but her mother was much younger, though now in her-mid 80s. The “publication” hasn’t even been put together yet – apart from odd drafts – but thanks for the thought!

    As to a possible lack of fitness second half, I think it was more to with having lost two useful forwards and also not having McGinn.

  89. Andrew
    It’s so simple when for you you leave out Taylor in your discourse, who is worse than any of them for being a liability.
    You don’t say what you like about him when you go on about how bad the player is who rescued us from Taylor’s abysmal efforts last season, & solidified the defence on that side comparatively [Hutton].
    There’s no one here who would advocate Hutton as LB if we had someone better [bring back Mitchell], & I definitely think Bree should get more games, as his only real competition is Elmo.

  90. JL
    ‘So it sounds to me that if tiredness has been shown it is probably through having to concentrate harder.’

    So as thinking slows one down apparently, & being intellectual means that one is concentrating on something else?
    You have a point, but I think you are mixing tiredness/unfitness with lack of ideas on occasions, as the players do have a tendency to drop off when things don’t go to plan, & struggle to change it.
    It can happen purely because the opposition is better, but not so here, as I think it is a lack of ability & the wish to deal with stress, which is a societal problem.

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