So, third game in less than a week, and there’ve been lots of talking points as Dean Smith’s Villa have gone 1-1 since his arrival. It’s been fun stuff. Now we travel to Loftus Road to take on Queens Park Rangers looking to rebound from the 2-1 setback against Norwich. After that, Smith has a full week to rest, recover, and work with the squad before welcoming Bolton to Villa Park.

Not much from me today as I’m hurrying out the door for a couple of vacation days. And really, I think everyone’s covered most everything in the comments. Naturally we’ll be looking to see whether Smith rotates players for evaluation or tactical reasons. Calls for Grealish to have a sit down are growing, who knows if Smith will feel the same. Fortunately, John McGinn is back, Bjarnason should be rested, and Bolasie has had some time in the gym. Which means, along with Lansbury, there are lots of central midfield options.

Looks like Uncle Albert is out, so we’ll see what the wide answer is there. From Deano regarding Albert’s absence: “That gives Yannick the chance to come back into the squad. I didn’t think he made enough of an impact and I told him that on Saturday.” I think everyone would agree.

Tammy Abraham will return from the knock to his noggin. So, pretty much a full-strength squad. Are they knackered? Thinking too much? Trying too hard to impress? Just getting used to things? Could be any and or all of these.

From Smith:

“For me, it’s always about ourselves—our attitude, enthusiasm, desire —because we have a talented squad. What we have brought into training is encouraging them to be more tactically astute when they’re playing and they have certainly taken more responsibility with that. Tonight I think it will be two teams trying to win the game. I think when both of us get the ball the other team will try and stop them. I know that seems funny but sometimes teams will just drop deep and perform a low block—I don’t expect that. We certainly have the capabilities in our squad to create chances and score goals. But they’re certainly a threat too. So defensively we will have to be at our best.”

So there you go. As ever, we’ll look for signs of progress, and three points would be nice since we’ve now fallen eight points off the pace at the top.

Over to you.

Comments 166

  1. Thanks JC have a nice break mate

    IanG- On Hutton or any fullback currently, This season we are worse at defending overall, we have an under performing Chester and a youngster trying to do it all in Tuenzabe. Add to that DS is asking the FB’s to get forward a lot then I’m not surprised at whats happening. Two old FB’s one that works hard but is less than clever at times and one better on the ball but slower, then two ageing wingers in front of them.

    I don’t think its a case of Hutton got his contract or reverted to type (other than being asked to pass) nor that Taylor is any worse than he’s been he actually looks a bit better (not hard) Hutton hasn’t been good left or right this season though.

    I’m with you on Clark another dismal decision along with Delaet

  2. Players of today have nowhere to hide ,if Hutton,Taylor had been playing 20/30 years there poor play would not have been so noticeable, anyone watching last match can’t have missed how bad they where unless they themselves are only trolling

  3. JC,

    What DS has said (in your quote) seems to confirm that the players have been asked to think more which probably has extended their poor selves mentally – and led to additional tiredness?

    But replacing Abraham and Albert with something of a different kind was not an easy thing and it left Villa with a lack of outlet, hence them looking more like perplexed chickens rather than finding the science you’d expect from professor einsteins.

    That was against Norwich, though, and with the double whammy of experiencing a pink dressing room.

    Tonight is another step – as you rightly say – and each match should become more interesting to see what evolves.

  4. I’m still more than puzzled at the criticism of Hutton. I have to say i am also surprised that according to the Birmingham Mail player ratings he is the highest rated of all our players in games played so far this season.
    He is a very popular player at Villa Park but I’d have had him top half rather than number1.

    I think Mark had it right that his ‘thinking’ is not always the best but let’s not forget that he made our goal on Saturday with good energy and an astute and accurate pull back pass.
    JC suggested in an earlier posting that he sometimes gets caught out defending but because he is our fastest player (and was even when Gabby was in the club) he’s often able to recover from those mistakes.

    I also remember that when he was in the bomb squad he didn’t complain, but just carried on training and keeping fit for when the manager wind next changed direction. . . . this is probably part of the reason he’s so popular . . . . except on blogs for some reason.

  5. Eze went down from a slight pull from Bjarnason and a foul was given.
    McGinn was pulled back in the penalty area but stayed on his feet. . . no penalty.
    Referees judge outcomes rather than incidents so players cheat.

  6. Dean Smith doesn’t need long to see how much work he has got to do after Bruce disaster spell
    It’s not a bit wonder Chester is playing poorly when he looks left right and behind him it’s disaster all the way

  7. Well, that’s that for the week that was. Thanks for the leader, JC.
    Hutton doesn’t have to do much wrong before some jump on him. Yet, he’s been one of the best players for Villa over the last 18 months.
    Vignette-bet you’re wicked at crosswords.

  8. That was harsh last night.

    Bossed it in every department except the score line!

    Re Hutton. The truth is he is not as bad as some make out but imo especially under Deano he ain’t good enough. The modern full back is crucial in teams now days. And Hutton just doesn’t do enough. We need 2 new fullbacks and I’d play Elmore rub for now all day long. Not sure why we don’t now with the wingers we have

  9. The result didn’t reflect the performance. Thought QPR were running on empty. But we have some homes games coming up so hopefully we can get some time on the training ground and turn it into some results.

    Can’t do much about the defensive problems (other than coach them better) until Jan, unless DS brings in Bree. O’Hare would be a useful addition too.

  10. Andrew
    On Hutton he is worse than most say ,goal again last night came from his side ,missed swipe for a tackle,as for Elmo cannot cross the ball 1 good 1 in 10 attempts,last night we had lovely build up think it was grealish played lovely ball to Elmo plenty time to put in decent cross but found row z in crowd

  11. Thought overall we played ok for 90 mins. Still lots of misplaced passes which you don’t seem to see from the opposition. Still lots of work to be done on creating clear chances.

    Robbo/JL – Hutton got sat on his backside again in our area and he has moments in every game despite his better work and effort, how is that sniping ? Robbo you mentioned ofjias offside, I agree it showed a lack of awareness just like Hutton and Jl you do like a snipe at Hogan, so how are you two any better than those you accuse of being unfair? Just saying.

  12. James. . . no insults or jibes here, just a genuine observation which you can feel free to ignore.

    you say that the goal came from Hutton’s side and that he missed a swipe for a tackle, but McGinn completely missed a tackle and took the player out, and then Chester was completely at fault for letting the player through (can’t blame Nyland). It really is stretching a point to lay the blame on Hutton.
    He made one poor pass last night as far as I could see and played a couple of excellent ones that put us on the attack in their penalty area. In fact I think he’s playing his best football in a Villa shirt.
    He’s cutting in and actually making a real nuisance of himself in the opposition half, works hard, is always available as support down the right hand side and even looking to score goals.
    Against that he does sometimes leave defensive gaps, which is inevitable when he’s been asked to push forward so much , but his pace means that he usually manages to get back and fill those gaps.
    There’s also the point that he has the highest average player rating of any Villa player so far this season.

    Last night you could have picked on a number of players who made far more mistakes. Bjarnason made 3 wayward passes before he was taken off, Taylor reverted to making mistakes, Elmo, you’ve picked out, Abrahams should have scored, I thought even McGinn was quiet in the second half and should have been substituted.

    What is it about Hutton that really gets your goat?

  13. Mark
    I don’t remember me taking swipes at Hogan. . . mixing me up with someone else?
    I like Hogan . . . I like his attitude and what he is tying to do. I was delighted when he started scoring and hoped it would continue. I also have big hopes for him once DS gets the whole team training together as he will know best how to use him.
    He didn’t really fit into our previous style of play where we (in my opinion) wouldnhave been better off with a big centre forward type who could take advantage of high crosses.
    If I have been critical of him then I would hope it was because of those reasons, but as I say . . . I just don’t remember me having a go at Hogan.

  14. Mark. . . one other thing. I know you’ve been a big advocate of O’Hare and I’m with you on that too. I can see DS marrying him and Hogan up in the middle.

  15. Mark, it wasn’t Kodjia’s ‘lack of awareness’ that annoyed me so much (although I agree with you), it was more his completely casual attitude. . . . I can’t see Smith standing for that.

  16. My impression was that Villa was QPR’s 12th man in the first half judging by the number of passes that went astray. I was surpised that we were not punished more than 1-0. 2 CBs not talking -be JT had a word- or several!!

    In the second half things were better and we should have at least equalised if not won, from the number of chances. I still think we build up too slowly at times with a lot of cross-field passing due to lack of movement up front.

    I cannot understand the slagging off of Hutton – if you want you RB to attack and support Elmo then someone from midfield has to cover the counter-attack. When he has played LB Adomah has been to the rescue on a regular basis.
    One player in my opinion who is not worth inclusion is Taylor, he gets caught out more often than Hutton but nobody complains. I bet if an analysis was carried out we lose more goals from attacks down our left than we do from the right. I can stand correction on that as it is only a preception.
    So further away from the play-off position and 6 points of relegation – not an ideal position one third of the way throught the season but we have hope 🙂

  17. Robbie
    Where did I blame Hutton for defeat,just pointed out his missed swipe yes Chester Taylor where more at fault for that goal,Tuesday night 2 goals came from his side as per usual,as for his attacking play how many assists or goals scored from him, go back to Tuesday game Elmo was in great position(No doubt he would messed it up) Hutton cut inside lost it and immediately Norwich attacked down Hutton side as every club knows is our major weakness

  18. Clive
    Comparing Hutton and Taylor is like sitting in a boat wondering which hole is going to sink it first
    I don’t want my wide men having to spend their time covering for weak full back as in Albert case(his brother said it)our wide men need to be hemming opposition full back in not letting him attack,we should be set up on front foot not defending as main game plan

  19. Robbo- if you look closer you’ll see I put Robbo/JL , Jl doesn’t rate Hogan and you didn’t like kodjias attitude . I was just trying highlight that different players and traits catch peoples eye and so they come in for criticism. It’s no more than that and shouldn’t be labelled as a witch hunt.

    The passing or maybe the players movement to receive is poor atm. I do think they have been asked to pass out from the back but are taking it a bit too literally.

    I think poyet was quoted as saying he wanted players to pass out from the back and accepted there would be mistakes made. Ultimately he believed they would win more games that way. It’s gonna take time and patience but for some players it may never sink in.

  20. One thing that struck too from the game, jack is the only player we have that is truly comfortable on the ball. Doesn’t matter what position he finds himself in nor how tight he is relaxed. I think a major factor of our inability to break teams down and keep the ball is that inability to relax on the ball.

    I think Chester is suffering on the left of the CB pairing, from experience of playing there I know some just cannot do it. First thing I’d ask if I played there is which side do you prefer if I didn’t know them well and I’d let them play there. Don’t ask me why but it matters to some players. He also seems to have lost some pace?

    I was encouraged that Bolasie might prove useful as he’s I afraid to shoot, looked better out left.

  21. On the whole a much better performance, and I am with Clive and R0bb0 on Hutton, but would prefer to see him on the right as he also has had a good understanding with Chester. Taylor to me, is the weakest link and he and Chester struggle, with too many silly little passes, instead of clearing the ball.

    Nyland is improving too, and good to have Mcginn back in, and Grealish was better, but there is still a lot of work to do, as we are so far behind in our team building.

  22. After watching the QPR goal I came to these conclusions, bearing in mind goals start somewhere and are not always the defenders fault. But the defenders job is to read the situation in real time and react accordingly, CB is not an easy position and not just about heading.

    John Mcginn fouls his man and the ref plays on, at that point all eyes are on the player with the ball and I mean all, the eventual goal scorer is being marked by Taylor. Taylor see’s Kodjia’s man heading for the space on the left and gestures to Chester to pass the goal scorer on, Kodjia is running back centrally watching the ball.

    Meanwhile Thor has his hands up to come off, Mcginn is remonstrating with the ref after committing the foul, both could have tried to close with the player about to make the telling pass, Mcginn more than Thor as Thors injured.

    Chester I assume thinks Taylors still got the man, or is caught flat footed or tries to play him offside? to late, the scorers through the middle and onto a great pass (similar to Mcginns style of service at Hibs).

    So the goal is riddled with errors and right and wrong decisions, an injury and a foul, all in a few seconds. The ref could of give the foul and we’d have point, bloody refs 🙂

  23. I agree too,mark

    When space becomes a premium, mistakes become exponential, time becomes a rare commodity. It’s a rare footballer who can think fast enough and position himself when the team is truly on the back foot. So Hutton makes mistakes? Perhaps he’s just been put in a position where a successful outcome is truly rare. Most spot kicks come from this type of problem. Like the keeper who sets the world alight only to miss a shot at the end of the game becomes the goat. It all depends where and how a mistake is made.

  24. Did anyone notice that this match was the first league match this season where we’ve failed to score?

    And (says quietly) this is 3 out of 4 matches lost since Bruce went…

    … I’ll get my coat.

  25. Leicester helicopter crash

    I’ve not heard the latest but the Beeb pic last night made it look as though there was a complete burnout and the impression given that no-one got out.

  26. The goal conceded

    Again, I don’t know why all the analysis … the defence was caught a bit flat-footed and they took advantage. A goal was scored. Ce’est la vie … it happens.

    What is of far more concern to me is we had at time 70% possession but rarely looked as though we were going to use it to good advantage. And their defence was solid, blocking at least 3 efforts from which we surely would have scored otherwise.

    I think what I’m really saying is that we rarely seem to be cute enough to create a chance that bamboozles the o[pposing defence. Where is this brilliance of Jack when it comes to goals creation? It’s not really there as I see it.

  27. JL- And that has been the problem for to long and why smith is here. 10 goals from set pieces this season and rescued games it’s not as clear cut as Bruce vs Smith. Smiths here to fix it don’t forget. Also let’s not forget the easy run of games we had to start the season, last four millwall away a tough game, Swansea, and the last two the top form teams both away from home the Norwich game we lost 3-1 last season and QPR ended our auto hopes last season.

    Add to that we haven’t won in 7 away from home this season and neither has Smith.

    Depends how you want to paint it ?

    I would like to see ohare at 10

  28. MK<

    We always have a different view as we look at the issue in different ways, so you cannot say that one perspective is correct.

    You say: "Smiths here to fix it don’t forget" but what happens if he doesn't? I emphaise it's an 'if', and don't necessarily think he won't. But…

    The only thing that went really against Bruce was that we drew too many matches. If the shooters had put more on target (of many chances they had) then we'd have had more points and Bruce wouldn't have gone … "Don't forget" 🙂

  29. Jl- at one point we were second only to Man City in goals scored, we also had conceded the same number of goals and only had one team in our league with a worse record and jedinak as CB. Could of scored in the recent games too but the overwhelming concern is conceding. Throw in the many very late comebacks we could of easily lost more and conceded more as well as scoring more.

    Smiths working with players Bruce left it will take time and I am not worried about a three game period in quick succession with less than 9 days with the squad on the training ground , they’ll get better or they won’t but at least they have a chance with coaching now that they did not seem to have under Bruce. and we will get new players if needed in time. I don’t see this as just another manager it’s a paradigm shift for the club whether Smith is successful on the pitch in the short term or not.

    I’d take promotion purely for the funds it would bring even with another relegation as long as we stay on this course.

  30. I liked smiths comments about the u23’s. He said when they conceded they reacted emotionally and quickly conceded more. They need the mental strength to stick to the plan wether 10 up or 10 down. As we have seen with the 1st team after a big win or loss it’s detrimental if your attention is lessened.

  31. MK: “Smiths working with players Bruce left”

    Come orf it! Smith himself has said that the squad is of a high quality.

    Apart from defensive slots, I doubt Smith will bring in more players in January.

    In any case, you’re reading into what I said a bit too much. I was just winding you up a bit as you wind up others! 😉

    Of course it’s gotta take time. I doubt any sensible person would think otherwise. But Bruce’s sacking was a mite too hasty.

  32. JL- I don’t disagree by the way that but for the missed chances Bruce could still be here, just glad he’s not as it was papering over the cracks.

    After all I’ve argued the same for RDM who had far more chances created, For instants against Forest we had 26 chances, 10 corners, hit the woodwork twice, two world class saves! forest had 3 shots in a 2-2 draw. We hit the woodwork 6 other times while conceding 12 goals in 11 games too, that was unlucky, and indeed we could of never seen Bruce.

    I do however think there is more at play than the results in both cases with DOF’s and CEO’s coming in and whats at stake.

  33. JL- Come off it? 🙂 Do you really think he’s going to say otherwise? He’s come in and they are all he has, he’s not going to destroy Moral. He has inherited a very lopsided Squad that he has already said.

  34. If anyone listens to MOMs podcast they’ll know that they ask there computer who is the Manager of Aston Villa? it has replied Roberto Di Matteo up until recently until now when it replied Dean Smith, spooky, has Steve Bruce actually been a figment of our collective minds? 🙂

  35. MK,

    Do Villa have talented players? Yes, of course -we’ve all been saying that the players are *at least* good enough in skill terms.

    Are Villa lopsided? Perhaps you can say that, but the main deficiency is in the defence i.m.o. – plus not scoring enough.

    But it will come right – and mostly with the same players I think.

  36. JL- I hope so,

    A quick break down shows we have 6 central mid-fielders for 2 spots with two more out on loan. 4 centre forwards for one spot one on loan plus RHM, one left back one on loan, two CB’s two on loan, 3 keepers ( none outstanding) 3 RB’s one on loan.
    Wingers is a strange one as we have 3 really (four with Jack) but two are less than stellar so far with one on loan. No 10? Jack? I’d throw O’hare in that to.

    We do have good players just to much competition in some positions none in others. I can’t see a balanced team appearing without some of the Loanee’s returning or Youth stepping up though. And it will depend on who gets the No9 spot as to how we operate.

  37. Interesting interview with Tuanzebe that gives some insight into what Smith is trying to and indeed is doing at Villa. Whilst not wanting to draw comparisons with The former managers methods its hard not when I have never heard one of our players express what we are trying to do before in other than rudimentary terms.

    “It suits my style of play. It’s the one I’m used to back at Manchester United and it benefits me to be playing that way here.

    “You can see already that we’re dominating games. We just need that final touch, pass – whatever it might be.

    “Hopefully the extended time on the training pitch now can help us achieve that.

    “We’re playing much better football and it’s a style I enjoy – keeping the ball and trying to create something by playing from the back. We’ve adapted well so far.”

    Thats just a snippet its well worth a listen

  38. PP- Makes you wonder what that will be with so many previously out of favour players and the potential for promotion this season. We of course don’t know what Dean Smiths preference will be when he gets to bring some in either.

  39. MK,

    Very good on Grealish, but this season, a different Grealish so far, and the set-up has been different, which explains why we have made such a poor start.

    Latest news is Veretout is about to be named in the French Squad because of his great form, and Dean Smith’s first signing will be bringing Barry Bannan back for around £8 million, as he is perfect for his system that he wants to use.

  40. PP- I liked Bannan but £8m sounds like baloney but you never know. We need a LB and a CB over more mid-fielders but I agree that we don’t have a play-maker like him as such. Would rather see, O’hare and Doyle hayes but if DS thinks its necessary might just be the key.

    Yes very different but Grealish has played on the right of midfield and the wing and no10 with McGinn playing his favoured central left position. Still don’t understand why he doesn’t take the ball into the box more often considering the fouls committed against him.

    I see the west Brom fans were moaning that their U23’s with lots of 1st teamers in it couldn’t beat our U23’s who had regulars missing and U18’s in 🙂

  41. PP- Grealish, Enda Stevens and Elphick in the team of the week, Gary Gardner in the team of the month for October and we want Bannan back 🙂 , maybe we needed someone who could spot talent years ago.

  42. Funny MK,
    The fans could see it, but not the coaches and mangers…..!!!!

    Another prime example was Albrighton, and more recently, Johnson and Robinson, and Graham Burke is no mug.

    See O’Hare, Blackett-Taylor and another youngster, could be on stand by for Friday night..!!

    Bannan could be an astute buy, and capable of playing in the Premier league, but we do have O’Hare.

  43. PP- Bannan is 28 now? seems a lot as Sheff weds got him on a free. Seems to me we have always been in to much of a hurry to develop players properly, and lacked the know how.

  44. Totally agree MK,

    O’Hare should have started already, as he is now 20yrs old and should be looking at a regular spot, as should have happened with Jack, and Doyle-Hayes should be getting at least time on the bench.

  45. Bannon/
    The boat already sailed I think, & we can do better.
    As PP said, he’s 28 & £8 mil is a lot for a championship player with no sell on value or premiership experience..
    The mail is babbling a lot, now going on about a loan for Laurent Koscielny. would be nice, but unlikely.

  46. Iang- seems we are getting the usual click bait stuff. I wonder how much influence DS will have over transfers? I think he’ll get the final word but what he’s presented with who knows. I hope he goes along with his Brentford idea of attitude 1st.

  47. I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if DS picks up a couple of defenders in Jan for next to nothing from the lower leagues. I’m sure he already has some positions and their replacements earmarked.

    Here’s hoping we get to see O’Hare on the pitch soon, if only for a cameo to give him exposure and see how he goes.

    Tomorrow nights game should be revealing. I’m expecting to see the opposition park the bus. Let’s see if we’ve learnt any new moves to unpick the lock.

  48. Maark
    Yes I agree about attitude.
    I’ve a feeling sourcing players will be a team effort, with the football director in the loop as to the football reasons.
    In his interview he seemed very knowledgable & seemed to understand the dynamics of working in a team.
    Also as he was brought in by compass, I think that they are unlikely to interfere without good reason.

  49. Plug
    To see DS introducing the U23s in a controlled way, & actually bring them through, would be great, & would perk up a lot of fans.
    O’Hare needs to be included as from now, & there are a handful that would qualify already, with more good young players coming through, but I fear for Doyle-Hayes’s chances with so many mids in the squad.
    As for picking locks, if the energy is higher gaps will appear in their bus schedule..

  50. Need Lifers help

    As part of a cost control exercise in the O’Rourke household, we got rid of Sky and replaced it with a local TV/broadband provider, as a result of this I need a viable way to watch Friday’s game (albeit I can make a trip to my local and get a few pints in)

    So not being too technically minded and fearful of things like VPNs and other acronyms and wanting to avoid spending unnecessarily, can anyone recommend a decent way to watch Villa games via iphone or laptop


  51. Plug,

    Yet apart from O’Hare, DS has already mentioned that he had cause to notice Doyle-Hayes and was impressed with him.


    Splitting hairs perhaps, but Banna of course had PL experience with us and CP.

    But he would surely only be a short term solution as you suggest, unless he’s a late developer!

  52. DOR- My brother uses an App on his samsung tele called IPTV, Think Haggis uses it too. He signed up to it for £20 and you get all of Sky Sport. Unfortunately if your not very techy or know someone your end probably won’t help.

  53. Can’t see him leaving Sheffield Wednesday as they have vertical stripes on their kit and everyone knows that makes you look taller

  54. Ian g
    Have it on both Firestick and a smart tv ,prefer Firestick easier to use,prism reborn is name of provider they have 3/4 guys on most time for any problems

  55. Ian g
    Found them on fb 10 pound per month or pay yearly which is lot cheaper,to many sellers want you to sign up for a year and bugger off after couple months

  56. Pretty disgusted to read Steve Mcclaren admitting that he’d told his players to be physical and foul our players, particularly Jack, to in order to disturb his rhythm.
    I wouldn’t want to see football become a non contact sport, but when managers are coaching their players to cheat, they are destroying the game as a spectacle and it may be the only answer.

  57. Mark
    They do say that football is the game of life, so not surprised.
    The problem for me is more when it gets to be a lack of respect, as getting one over the opposition is the name of the game [in this case scoring goals & winning], but if it’s serious then it’s abuse.
    I suppose it’s my age, but in my formative sports years we had to stand up for ourselves & give as good as we got [as defenders].
    But when we got a really dirty team we had the honour of our team to consider, & the only way to stop them was to do it worse to them.
    My opinion of the brolly man went down considerably when he was saying that they had to find a way to stop Grealish playing [illegally], as it was by constant fouling.
    The rules need to be enforced with Jack, as he will be ruined if this carries on, but him being better means he will always get this unless the rules of the game are enforced in a proper common sense way, & all players protected.
    Somehow I don’t think O’Hare will get the same attention, because his attitude & posture is different when he plays.
    He needs to be in the first team squad.

  58. and on the physical topic – I watched Derby v Chelsea in the Carabao Cup and the blatant push in the back on the Derby left back went unpnished even thought it was right in front of the linesman ( to call him an assitant refereee would be degrading to the refereeing profession). From that throw in to Chelsea arose the winning goal on a 3-2 classic. Derby are a team to be afraid of.

    I will say adieu as I am off to Malacca on Sunday and will miss a coupl eo f crucial games – but back in time for thrashing the Blues!!!
    Maybe I will bump into Mrs Lerwill in Melaka

  59. Clive,

    Plenty of rain over there now! Well, it is Monsoon time.

    Apparently there was a very violent thunderstorm on Monday with lightning that was a mite disturbing I’m told.

  60. I think it’s pretty obvious most teams are targeting jack which is why I think when his team mates give him some options to pass to that will lessen, he needs to learn to give and go a bit more to mix it up.

  61. JL – the thunderstorms are forecast to die out by the time we get there but will play the second half the following week! Small price to pay for 32 degrees and if you wear £2 T-shirts they dry out in a few minutes.

  62. Mark
    Yes that would help, but it would be interesting to see Jack & O’Hare in the same team, as it might take the pressure off Jack.

  63. IanG/Mark,

    Doesn’t McGinn “take the pressure off Jack”?

    Similarly we had a midfield of Hourihan, McGinn and Jack a few games ago … how much pressure does Jack need taken off him?

    I just don’t think that Jack is as good as the hype says. Nice player, no doubt, but he lacks steel and he’s far too easily knocked off the ball for me.

    Now Phil Woosnam, Brian Little and Gordon Cowans… they were my creative type of player.

  64. John its very interssting you say that…is he overhyped?

    I think seeing as he has been playing in the championship and is meant to be amazing his assists and goals is not up to scratch.

    I think he is very talented and I love him but there is massive improvement needed to warrant the hype around him.

  65. JL/Andrew – The most fouled player in the leagues? last season 11 fouls against in 1 match when we played Cardiff, this season he is way more than double being fouled in the Champs than anyone. His lack of product might be because whenever he gets near the oppositions area he gets hacked down, And lacks steel? his shins must be titanium 😉

    I’d be first to admit he’s not the finished article but there is nobody with his dribbling ability that I can think of in the modern game.

  66. JL
    I was thinking of O’Hare as a 10, so with Jack as attacking midfielder, along with McGinn, it would be a very attacking team.
    But then again we would need a defence… & Jack still needs to track back better, & improve his tackling, as he does seem lost when what he’s doing doesn’t work, but he .

    Brian Little had other player’s respect, but in the beginning he used to get pushed off the ball a fair bit.

    With the modern times along with modern media where they are all in each other’s pockets, I’ve a feeling that there is a lot of pre-meditation when Jack get’s fouled, in the sense that he is always high profile due to others, & that influences some players.
    Then with managers telling their players to stop him at all costs [or they lose their place] instead of playing their own game [brolly man – I cant spell his name], then he attracts fouls.
    His style of getting people to commit themselves/selling them a dummy etc, stationary almost daring them to make a move, will p*ss some players off.
    I think the refs are part of the problem, as they make decisions based on their prejudices also, & some like to try to influence proceedings as if they are a player, which gives other players leeway to target Jack in particular.
    Norman Hunter et al, would do the same to everyone, not just pick on one or two, which was more honest.
    But as Mark said Jack needs to speed his play up, pass quicker, then they will be too busy to bother.
    He is getting harder to knock off the ball without fouling, but he needs to toughen up a bit more I agree, but he is getting there.
    O’Hare is like a live eel, never stops, quicker than a thug can think, so not so much premeditated fouling.
    But if he becomes the next big thing that may change unfortunately.

  67. JL- No I don’t think they take pressure off him particularly as they all want to be in the same areas and tend to stand back when he gets the ball and watch him, its like the entire team is waiting for him to do it all at times. If anything I think Jack needs to pass and go more, but players need to be available to do that and they are not at the moment at the right times, I hope it can be ironed out in training.

  68. IanG- I remember watching O’hare the end of last season when they were up to win promotion and the cup and he got kicked a fair bit one particularly put him out for the summer and pre-season. Your right he’s very quick thinking and when I have seen Jack play with the stiffs he’s more at home which may be down to McDonald and how he has them play (except when he’s 1st team manager 🙂 )

  69. MK,

    All the fouling against Jack is mostly down to the fact that he doesn’t have the steel to avoid it. His style is too touchy touchy for the Championship. He may – or he may not – succeed in the Premiership.

    He certainly doesn’t produce the goods that you’d expect from him at this league level. Perhaps Smith can get him to do better.

    As for Jack being “more at home in the stiffs”, that may say it all. He hasn’t graduated.


    Brian Little was several years younger than Jack when he started to overcome the physicality from his opponents. Jack is now 24 I think … it’s getting a bit late for him to move up a notch. All the great players before him were doing their stuff by the age of 21 or before without a sweat.

  70. JL – In the stiffs? with some of the players from the stiffs, as in when they have played for the 1st team.

    And really can’t understand what he is supposed to do when he has his legs kicked out because players are to slow? I would guess you have to be finely balance to play the way he does and you may be surprised how hard he’s actually being kicked. He’s just turned 23.

  71. Jl
    Grealish getting kicked,maybe it’s because last 2 years under Bruce bar jodja it didn’t need any bully boy tactics with any other villa player,
    As for a

  72. Back from some days off. Catching up on the conversation.

    With all due respect, I have to say I think it’s a bit silly to say Jack isn’t tough enough. He’s taken a beating my modern standards and I’m surprised he hasn’t been hurt more than once.

    Couple of points:

    1) There are times when Jack will look for and/or take the foul. “Go over easily.” By and large it’s smart because these are generally the sorts that don’t pose an injury threat, and they provide set-piece opportunities. As someone mentioned further up, would be nice to see him drive into the box more and either pick up penalties, or have room to create if they’re going to stay away from him. If we simply convert on more of the set-piece chances, opponents will be more hesitant to give away fouls near the area.

    2) Many times, though, the fouls can’t be avoided and they would bring most anyone down. We’ve seen it’s a deliberate ‘tactic’, it’s cynical, and it robs the game of flair. He’s targeted and often double-teamed.

    Now, do I think Jack’s the finished article? No. I agree that he needs to look for passes (particularly through balls) more quickly. I was going to say he should be shooting more, but he actually leads the team in shot attempts. As well as shots blocked. So he should just keep shooting. And the stats say that he’s created the most chances. Doesn’t have the assists to go with, but they’ll come.

    This sort of stuff is what a coach and staff can sort out to polish the player. He’s by far the most skillful player on the ball we have, the one most likely to retain possession and carry it.

    Pochettino wasn’t in for him because he’s overhyped. The natural talent is obvious. It’s helping him take the next step in terms of coaching and system that’s needed.

  73. JL
    Its interesting but slightly slanted what you said about Brian Little, as the young players got a chance early if they were good enough because their squads were much smaller, & I loved Brian Little as you did.

    Jack got injured as he was coming through into the 1st team, which along with a succession of managers & being a media darling that went to his head slightly for a while stymied his progress.
    Then it happened again in the preseason before last season, which stunted his growth.
    So the circumstances are not very comparable, especially with the state of the club to boot.

    As I said, if he stops doing the stop then dribble then stop again routine quite so much, he possibly won’t get kicked so much, but sometimes he’s breathtaking.
    There’s no saying that it wouldn’t work out better if he passed it quicker, & stopped indulging in that, as it’s supposed to be a team game [I used to love doing the hiding the ball when I was young, but I was rugby trained to use my body to stop what’s happening to him, he hasn’t quite got that yet & keeps slowing the game down sometimes to the team’s detriment, but he is still improving].
    I still think that he has a great future if the stars align as it were.

    He has won us matches a few times with brilliance.
    With more training as a group, the other players might create the space for him to grow more, as we actually have some talented players.

  74. JC
    To use buying fouls as a tactic can be overdone, & the way the refs treat him shows that.
    Plus, it’s a cul de sac to keep habitually buying fouls, cos he gets enough real ones without that, as Mark said
    I’m optimistic that the coaching will help the team, which in turn will help Jack, as there will probably be more on when he has the ball.

    What you said about poch is fair comment, but knowing their miser of an owner, he probably had to get a bargain or not bother.

  75. IanG,

    It can be overdone, and Jack does have to be careful about that. At the same time, I see so many ridiculous acts like big beefy CBs going over when someone breathes on them. If those are fouls, then Jack deserves every one he buys. Me, I think more than anything he’s simply drawing attention to the degree to which he’s interfered with. But it can backfire.

    The coaching will help the team and Jack, yes. I’m imagining they’ll help him get rid sooner, so he doesn’t take on two or three, and get players positioned to take advantage of those overloads. They’ll also be looking to have Jack take the ball to places where he can connect with others.

    Levy is cheap, Villa looked like they’d have to sell. But given that Levy’s cheap, it simply means that Pochettino’s got a lower cap to work with than some others. So, you look for a Grealish, and figure you can take him to the next level. That’s the way he has to work the market.

  76. And I should add that it is always possible that Jack doesn’t have the innate vision necessary. I don’t think that’s the case, because I’ve seen some clever passes from him. But, overall, it could be.

    The negatives I can see when I watch him is a) trying to do too much, and b) being a bit hesitant to try that killer ball. Can’t say I know what’s causing that (ie, doesn’t want to turn it over, thinks he has to carry a bigger load than he does, etc.). Lots of possible reasons.

  77. O’Hare deserves to get his chances, yes, and should be on the bench. If we didn’t have such a glut and were a more ‘bare-bones’ side, he’d be involved already. And would probably start for more than a handful of sides in the league.

  78. OanG: “Its interesting but slightly slanted what you said about Brian Little, as the young players got a chance early if they were good enough…”

    But wasn’t Grealish brought in early also? Not quite as early as Little, perhaps, but Jack was in the 2015 Cup Final team, wasn’t he? And was playing in the Premiership at that time. Little started in tier 3, not tier 1.

    So I definitely refute that I am “slanting” my view. Jack was in the team at age 19 and in the top tier at that.

  79. JC: “Pochettino wasn’t in for him because he’s overhyped. The natural talent is obvious. It’s helping him take the next step in terms of coaching and system that’s needed.”

    I’m quite aware that’s a way of looking at it, John, but I’m going by what I see not what others might do in the market. There are so many cases of big money being spent for what looks like great potential yet fails down when the test comes.

    I clearly also have a different view to you about football. You seem to speak easily of “looking for fouls” whereas I see that mentality as being part of the reason why everyone is cynical – players and supporters alike.

    The “Beautiful Game” isn’t if we all support that approach.

    This sport used to be a case of honest endeavour with the odd player who would spoil that approach. Gone now are such exceptions – now rampant so-called professionalism is the case and young players are clearly taught to go with the flow.

    I take the view that I have stated before – if this attitude in the sport perpetuates then it won’t be that long before the crowd starts baying for blood in true Roman Collisseum style!

    You may think it’s reality. I think it’s an insult to the greats of the sport who maintained the sport as near as possible to a clean on-the-field entertainment. There were always the dirty type but the high standard prevailed until about the last 20 years.

  80. JL- The very fact Jack made his debut at the top level and not div3 tells a lot about the expectancy placed on his and most Villa youth, sink or swim and please save the team. I’d wager if you played Jack in the 70’s side you would see more from him to.

    Maybe things were gentlemanly at the top level in your time and maybe the wages played a part too as They got payed well compared to the average man, who would want to get injured or miss a match as that was the end of that.

    My father played through the 50′ 60’s and 70’s and all his stories are of some very brutal fouling , fights, etc and my own playing time tells a very different story. The higher up the standard the cuter the fouling was.

    And if Jacks not worth the money then why all the attention and praise from so many professionals? I would not be surprised if Bruce encouraged him to go over with Snodgrass taking the kicks last season (Snodgrass wasn’t adverse to falling over in the breeze either nor Kodjia )

  81. JC- He definitely does have the vision and passing ability usually down the wings but I hope Smith can guide him a little better than he has been so far.

  82. MK,

    I did say “the high standard prevailed until about the last 20 years” – not “my time”, though of course that is included.

    Did your father play in the top flight? It’s that I was alluding to – not your leagues outside the top two tiers.

    Though I agree with you about “the very fact Jack made his debut at the top level and not div3 tells a lot about the expectancy placed on his and most Villa youth” I don’t agree about him necessarily showing any better in the third tier when he started. For me there’s a fundamental flaw in his style that you did not see in our Brian, who, for my money, was way above the talent that Jack shows.

    As for Jack being sought for and people praising him, I think that’s just because he looks different – whether or not he will achieve what he threatens to accomplish is another thing. Let’s face it, overtures appear to have only come from Spurs, I believe.

    As I said, he’s a nice player and I do hope that he makes the grade. Only time will tell. But up until now he’s not shown to me at least that he is truly capable of the top grade. Just my opinion.

    As for Snodgrass and Kodjia, they’re old players – we’re talking about a still-young local talent here who I don’t want to be remembered mainly for his ability to draw free-kicks around the penalty area.

  83. MK,

    Football more than 20 years ago – and more so before 1970 or thereabouts – was *generally* played to a much higher standard of sportsmanship than today. I keep on saying that of course there were exceptions, but to compare today’s game with that of more than 30 years ago is like chalk and cheese to me. To me it’s generally devolved into a lesser entity, though it still has its attractions and today you can still watch the occasional fine match (sportsmanship-wise).

    What I particularly remember before many foreign players came over (i.e. before the 1990s) was that we used to laugh at players in foreign teams who used to roll over, when nudged, as though there had been an attempted assassination. Little did we realise that kind of tactic (and worse) would become part and parcel of our own game, in time.

  84. JL
    Slanted because you conveniently left out that Jack had injuries that stopped him playing at crucial times when he was coming through, & along with a quick succession of managers, it stymied his progression, & changed his trajectory.
    So now he’s catching up, it just goes to prove that you can’t compare players too much really, just appreciate their talent, & the standard of the team they are in does affect them.
    IF! he works hard with a good manager, he will get much better.
    Anyway you just love going on about your favourite players.

    I agree with your post about how things were years ago, as few of us liked the continental tendency to ‘roll over with a gust of wind’ & the egotism it brought with it into the game.
    Dirty play was always there, but it stood out more.
    The refereeing is so finicky now, that they’re part of the problem.

  85. Mark
    In the day, the higher the standard the fitter they were, so you had to foul them to slow them down & distract them, if you could catch them.
    It was the same with rugby

  86. JL- I too remember the horror of the foreign player tactics, but we were definitely more physical and less canny than the European and south American sides. still if we will go joining the EU what do you expect? definite erosion of standards 😉

    Theres only one player I put above Brian Little and thats Best so Jacks got some catching up there. Hopefully he will get to where he should be at least.

    I’m with you on the cheating but I think its moved more to holding pulling etc, never cheated myself and didn’t like it in others, I remember having my toes and my head stood on with the culprits saying you’d have done the same, I wouldn’t, I was firm but fair though 🙂

    Its laughable when you think of the rules introduced to reduce cheating, Throw ins to be taken where the ball went out , keeper having 6 seconds and I think its 6 steps, all seemingly ignored for the latest in vogue rule bending.

    I don’t think football has ever been Gentlemanly in my view but the pressures to win today are massive in monetary terms. I certainly don’t think football in general is a sign of the times morally though throughout the leagues the big difference is most lads cannot be bothered to turn up if their teams on the tele or its cold, I couldn’t wait to play.

  87. Mark,

    Yes, British football was more physical – but that’s because we made use of the laws that allowed *fair* (but hard) tackles and a *fair* shoulder challenge which the foreign players didn’t like. That’s nothing to do with being dirty. British player back then knew how to do it (the shoulder charge) – do they know now? Do they heck, with very few exceptions.

  88. IanG,

    But the business of Jack’s being injured/unfit is not a lot to do with my argument i.m.o.

    The fact is he’s had 126 appearances in the first team, now past 23 and yet to show his apparent potential. They’ve mostly got wise to him.

  89. … and (as I said before) players like Brian Little were showing great stuff after a dozen appearances. According to today’s lot Grealish is supposed to be of ‘great’ ability. That seems to imply that he should be on the same pedestal as Little.

  90. MK: “I don’t think football has ever been Gentlemanly in my view “

    Probably because you were not there to see it! 😀

    I can remember some great sportsmanship, particularly in the 50s.

    And all you have to do is read about Villa’s matches of the 1930s all the way back to the 1890s to realise that there was a great sportsmanship ethos in the Villa team. Not every team mind you. It’s one of the reasons why the Villa were so popular, even amongst non-Villa fans – they were more concerned back then about the quality of the play and their attitude to it.

    I’ve done the research … that’s how I come to know.

  91. Jl- quite true I wasn’t there but you’ve just let slip it was a mostly a villa thing so not football in general 🙂

    The very fact we pushed the physical side allowed the cheating to occur.

    I have seen several shoulder barges in recent years and the ref gave a foul in every case, I think it’s seen as not being in possession of the ball these days, more reffing foibles.

  92. MK,

    No, it was not just Villa – but, yes, because of the ilk of members like William McGregor and Fred Rinder and because of the club’s trophy successes it did try to raise the tenor of the game more than most.

    But you can also name teams in the 1890-1940 period like Everton, Newcastle, Sunderland and even (later) Arsenal whose on-the-pitch play was of such a standard. Other teams too.

    There’s a marvellous report of a Villa match vs Arsenal in 1931 (Villa won 5-3) which gives a vivid account of the quality of the teams’ play and sportsmanship. Eric Houghton (Villa) and Cliff Bastin (Arsenal) couldn’t hold back their feelings after playing in that game, such a great match that it was. It was known as Jimmy Gibson’s match on account of how the Villa centre-half-back dominated the midfield play in the days when centre-halves attacked as well as defended. What a match to have seen – and many were close to that standard in the 1890s-1930s time.

    BTW, Eric Houghton much later claimed that Jimmy Gibson was the Franz Beckenbauer of his day.

  93. MK: “I have seen several shoulder barges in recent years and the ref gave a foul in every case”

    Perhaps, but I see a lot of so-call shoulder charges that are more to do with elbows in the ribs or the stomach, and they get away with it. More bad refereeing. And some say that the quality of refereeing is better?! Like heck.

    Bring back Clive Thomas I say!

  94. JL

    Supposition for you

    Would the rapid rise of Brian Little have much to do with men becoming men in line with their age as opposed to now where being a cossetted football doesn’t require footballers to grow up as quickly mentally.

    Such that footballing intelligence played a greater part in Brian Little’s ability and most of our issues with Jack is not around ability but seeing passes more quickly, seeing opportunities, keeping in mind that sportsmanship no longer exists and players are sent out to stop the likes of Grealish at all costs.

  95. Darren,

    I would like to concur, particularly your opening para.

    On the second para, perhaps our use of the word ‘ability’ is being understood in too limited a way. But it’s not easy to define what I mean by that word in this case. Perhaps I’m seeing his lack of ability in terms of the style that (presumably) he’s been encouraged to keep to. His style is not (for me) in keeping with the reality of the football you describe. His style invites the kind of attention he receives and that, I feel, limits his effectiveness.

    Why by thinking “he can win free kicks around the area” instead of thinking that perhaps he should be a more direct player who can make the incisive pass to an attacker or score more himself? For me, Jack’s style of football is pretty but brings about tunnel vision as he gets closed down.

    So I guess I’m saying that I see Jack’s ability to be more constructive being weighed down by his style. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a great playmaker who gives much time for the defence to think and, unfortunately, I think Jack dwells too much on the options. When it comes down to it that’s probably what you’re saying.

    For me, however, ‘football intelligence’ is a lot to do with playing ability, or at least it’s effectiveness. And, therefore, I still would put Little at a higher level of ability.

  96. According to today’s lot Grealish is supposed to be of ‘great’ ability. That seems to imply that he should be on the same pedestal as Little

    I never said that or implied it.You must be looking for criticism.
    Of course getting injured for months at a young age then ignored can be detrimental to progress, so comparisons tend to support one’s prejudice.
    As for Brian Little, he was also a different kind of player, & to repeat, I don’t think Jack is a true No 10.

  97. JL- I would put Little among the very best Jack is not that, although he has rare dribbling ability. Please bare in mind the teams on a new journey and style he’s spent the majority of his career under is not about pass and move nor playing through the centre. Bruces team played very direct and from the wings a lot, Hogans frustrations illustrate that as do the many players comments that we are playing better despite results.

    I concur with DOR Jack is not exactly worldly wise.

    Saw an article earlier where Smith talked about the type of work place he wants Villa to become and how he wants visitors to see it. I think you’d like the general ideas. wish I could find it again but had no luck.

  98. Mark
    I have seen several shoulder barges in recent years and the ref gave a foul in every case, I think it’s seen as not being in possession of the ball these days, more reffing foibles.

    Absolutely what I’ve been saying, & shoulder charges are not the only thing they have foibles about.
    They probably think a shoulder charge is violent conduct.
    Interesting that reffing sounds like a swear word

  99. JL
    His style is not (for me) in keeping with the reality of the football you describe. His style invites the kind of attention he receives and that, I feel, limits his effectiveness’

    That’s a little more accurate John, & the differences in the teams as well as the current culture plus question marks about being grown up or whether some even have the intelligence to start with, let alone playing intelligence.
    Too many variables for such a strong statement for me.

  100. James Chester comments below, I Can’t see the best start bit other than the two early wins But hey. Seems pretty unanimous we are improving in more subtle ways than results at present.

    “We started the season really well, definitely the best since I’ve been here. But then the odd decision or result didn’t quite go our way and the atmosphere around the club changed a little bit. It was probably too far for Steve to turn it around.

    “When he [Smith] came in he just told us he believed in us as a group of players.

    “We have had three games already but he’s only been in charge for two weeks and I think you’ve seen, even with the results, that the style and performances have definitely improved.”

  101. IanG: “I never said that or implied it. You must be looking for criticism.”

    What are you talking about Ian? Where did I refer to the name “Ian” in that text?

    It was not meant against you consciously or unconsciously – I was speaking generally…

    Bloomin ‘eck’ you have to be cautious on what’s said on here! 🙂

    But I disagree to a large extent with what you say about Grealish’s absences through whatever. If that had given rise to very few appearances then you would have a point, but after 126 I tend not to go with your argument. I could go into it a lot more but it’s not such a huge issue for me.

  102. IanG,

    Brian was simply better i.m.o. – not just a different player! 🙂

    Grealish has got a good shot on him, but doesn’t score many (unlike Brian) … Grealish is supposed to be a playmaker … and that’s what Brian could do also without too much thought.

  103. MK,

    Style is fine … but we do need the substance, do we not?

    If Villa were in the current position with Bruce i.c. there’d be calls for the manager’s head!

    But tonight Villa have chance to start a proper recovery…

  104. JL
    Little was a better player & I didn’t say he wasn’t, but that doesn’t mean a lot in context as you can’t really compare because of different positions & the fact that Jack seems to be a late developer & really needs to be in the premiership [as do the Villa], & also the times are different with the facility of high tech to analyse the minutia, which would impact on how players play against him, & also the team itself isn’t organised/ good enough at present to support him.
    I remember the Liverpool game in the context of how good he was when he was younger.
    He even isn’t my favourite current player, so why you think I disagree with all the time I don’t know, it was just a discussion.
    Maybe I just respond to the tone more.

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