Following Dean Smith’s first full week of training with the Villa squad, Bolton came to Villa Park Friday night and were sent home on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline with Jack Grealish and James Chester providing the goals. By Smith’s own admission it was a mediocre performance, but it was a needed three points and clean sheet.

The Good
Three points and a clean sheet. Jack finally opening his account with the goal and the assist for Chester. Chester’s goal-line intervention at one end and two goals at other, only one of which counted. Lovely turn and pass from Tammy Abraham to put Grealish in. More effort from Kodjia tracking back, and a decent cameo from Bolasie following that of the QPR game, hinting at a possible return to form. A fast start and long periods of possession.

The Bad
Some sloppy defending, lack of pressure. Kodjia and Abraham both profligate in front of goal. A match Villa could easily have put away earlier, and yet could also have got nothing from. Nyland’s mishandling of a cross almost cost Villa goal, but to be fair he also had a nice reaction save at his near post that prevented one.

The Ugly
Once again, nothing really comes to mind, but there were a couple of nasty challenges aimed at McGinn and Grealish, and McGinn in particular was probably feeling it Saturday.

Final Verdict
It was hardly a vintage performance, and what stuck in my mind more than the win were the number of chances Bolton squandered, which was only emphasized watching the highlights. Most of their moves started wide, and Villa had trouble getting to the initial cross and then clearing it well. That said, when you look at the back, there’s not a lot of height, and indeed not a lot throughout the squad. So it may well be the case that those sort of attacks will trouble us for a while. When Abraham went out against Norwich and they scored immediately after, Smith pointed out that was a ball that he’d expect Abraham to get. Short answer is to stop those balls coming in. Easier said than done, of course.

But we also saw some of the fruits of the week’s training in the way Villa worked the opener, the kind of goal we’re not really used to seeing. From us, anyway. After the game, Smith and Grealish both talked about the work they’d put in in creating those kinds of moves. Smith obviously sees more goals and assists from Jack, Jack would like that, and so would we all.

Amongst the support, there’s consequently been a lot of talk about Grealish and the start to his season so far, which hasn’t been as impressive as his performances in the second half of last season. However, when evaluating the situation, I stand by what I’ve said previously. He’s an extremely talented player who has not been served well by Villa’s lack of philosophy, nor the club’s over reliance on long balls and individual moments of magic. And he’s not the only one.

I say this because by all accounts, Villa really haven’t been a side that’s been coached in a cohesive fashion, and as we’ve watched them play it’s shown. It’s been clear to the supporters and clear to pundits.

Just this week, for example, Axel Tuanzebe talked about the way Smith wants to play being much more complementary to what he was used to at United and that it would serve him well upon his return. That it was less direct, and they were working on giving themselves more ways to score.

And of course over time, we’ve also seen a longstanding tendency for underachieving or marginalized players to leave and find their feet elsewhere. And we’ve seen a number of players like Hogan and McCormack come in only to seemingly regress from the form they displayed elsewhere.

It’s simply the fact that although football, at root, is a simple game, all athletes benefit from coaching. You don’t ping the ball around the park unless you’re pinging the ball around the training ground. Quick, one-touch football doesn’t materialize out of thin air. There’s a lot of understanding, anticipation, movement, pattern, and expectation. It’s fast because it’s natural and you don’t have to think about it. Automatic execution requires practice. And this sort of preparation also breeds confidence. As does fitness. As a schoolboy in the ’70s we worked relentlessly on fitness, our coach telling us we’d win a lot of games in the last 15 minutes. He was right. It inspired a mantra I’d repeat to myself over the years: Fatigue makes cowards.

The players’ comments about the new regime have been diplomatic as far as Bruce goes, but they seem to be enjoying working with Smith, and they all seem to be saying in one way or another that they’re benefiting from the change.

All a very long way of saying that the incessant focus from Smith on training, system, and tactics really does sound like a manager seeing a squad and knowing from playing against them what was lacking. And those are the exact things he would’ve told his players and built his game plans around at Brentford. Further, one assumes what’s likely well known within the coaching community about different manager’s approaches was certainly something Smith was more than a little aware of. As gentlemanly as Dean seems, it comes across as a little bit pointed, but confident. It also seems respectful to the supporters, who’ve had more insight into the club in two-and-a-half weeks than they have in years.

As always, nothing’s guaranteed. We don’t know if all the very complimentary things Smith’s saying about the squad are just diplomacy. We don’t know if we actually have the pieces to play Smith’s way. We know that some managers have success one place and it doesn’t come off for them somewhere else.

But at the risk of repeating myself, it’s been a refreshing couple of weeks, and I know I’m not alone in feeling like Villa have finally taken a step in the right direction. Not only with Smith, but also throughout the organization.

With a much tougher run of games coming up starting with Derby at the weekend, we’ll hope that Smith does indeed know what he’s doing and that the players are truly taking it on board. There’s a chance to make up ground, which Villa obviously want to do. It obviously may be far too soon to see much improvement and Smith has talked about patience, just like his predecessors have preached patience.

The difference this time is that more of us seem to believe our patience will be rewarded.

Over to you.

Comments 78

  1. Excellent summary JC,

    It is really good that Smith has only one game to concentrate on now, which if he can win, will really set him up for the international break and preparation for the Noses game.

  2. Cheers PP.

    Yes, another full week, and a result before the break would be just what the doctor ordered. Shame he can’t hold everyone out of int’l duty and have them training for two full weeks.

  3. Thanks JC

    One thing that struck me was “if we actually have the pieces to play Smith’s way”

    To me it seemed like we never truly had the pieces to play Bruces way and what followed was many attempts to force the pieces in to play that one way. He followed that up with several attempts to find another way less natural to him. I think if we had signed Tammy and Mcginn last season we may have got over the line but it never truly looked convincing.

    Strangely Now I wonder what this team would look like playing smiths way if we could add Snodgrass and Grabban plus JT replacement. Grabban is doing very well at forest now with 10 in 11 after a six game drought early on. He is certainly getting the service now.

    Karanka said

    “The big picture is we beat the top of the table team and the team which had the best form in the league, We can’t forget they’ve been working together for three years with the same manager improving every single day and we’ve been working together just three, four months and were the better team.”

    Smiths had two weeks so lets hope by Xmas we are rolling, these next few games will be make or break for this season though.

  4. MK,

    Think you’re right…Was just not a Bruce lineup, by and large. Almost put a line in about Grabban’s rate of return at Forest. Abraham finally a big target with pace who can be holdup man and get on the end of crosses.

    And I should’ve mentioned McGinn and Hourihane. John really does remind me of Milner, excellent complement to Jack, has really brought something we haven’t had for a long time. Hourihane did well in the deeper role. McGinn would make almost any team better.

  5. Nice thoughts MK, but there is no way that Snodgrass would have been with us this season, and now he is an integral part of the squad there, and I am sure Grabban is happier under Karanka, than he would have been under Bruce.

    Wonder how long Dean will stick with the small squad he is using, before he is willing to integrate some of the others, like Bree and Lansbury, and O’Hare, RHM and one or two more of the outstanding under 23’s we have. I understand why he has persevered with the present squad, especially the defence. He is basically having a pre-season all over again, which Bruce should have done. Moulding a defence together, but with different components.

  6. JC,

    Yes, a pretty balanced post of with which I agree with most.

    However … in your post and in various comments mad since (and before) there is the air that Bruce is to be looked upon as a backward step; that Smith is going to achieve the desired result (of good play and success).

    Well, I’m not going to go back and talk any more about Bruce except for one poi9nt which I think is germane to the kind of conversation we’re having. And that is I see us having a weakness in front of defence which someone like the Jedi is our best (physically and otherwise) exponent i.m.o.. – though not perfect.

    I think that Bruce saw that need and a route which Smith seems not to want to go down. Now it may well be that Smith wants to enhance the attacking part of the team so that we end up by scoring significantly more than our opponents, but just now I don’t see us being strong enough at the back to enable that. Plus some crazy passing around by some players (especially Kodjia) second half that seemed to invite the opponent to come on to us and at the same time risk conceding possession in a serious way when 2-0 ahead. One goal then conceded might have been just the booster Bolton needed to gain a draw. They were unfortunate not to score as it was.

    But -as always – we have to see what pans out. Patience may well be rewarded.

  7. JL- I think you’re missing a few crucial points. Bruce played jedinak at CB and more often than not one or two attacking players instead of a DM. Smith is not throwing caution to the wind but expects the team to press from the front , in his post match comments he said that was not up to scratch against Bolton.

    I suspect with the team working on more offensive patterns this week that it will take some adjustment to balance both out while using the likes of kodjia to do it. That feeds into the does the squad fit smiths plans line of thought.

    With the greatest respect your pricklyness over any perceived criticism of Bruce has made having a rational chat about managers styles etc like treading on egg shells at times.

    Will Smith get a better tune than Bruce results wise? Who knows but he’s already improving the defence and attacking areas so maybe some patience. Finishing remains average but should improve if creating better chances like jacks goal becomes the norm. Set pieces are still our bread and butter and have given the best return this season, adding more options can only help.

  8. There’s a thought, would RDM’s squad suited smith better? Bruce had a decent run with it initially despite the perceived defensive/ midfield frailties .

  9. the thing that killed bruce in the end was the defence whis is bizarre as he was such a good defender.

    Plying jedi cb and tuanazbe rb and lb hutton was just insane.

    when he change the gk at the end and tinkering too showed he lost the plot.

    the best thing smith has done is coming in and saying that’s my back 5 and not changing it. players in the position and developing a understading.

    its not rocket

  10. Listening to Pep and some of his players on their pressing style about pressing from the front to make midfielders and in turn defenders lives easier sound to me to be the perfect modern way and looking at Villa the last few games, Smith certainly wants us to get to that level of pressing not least because there are deficiencies in the full back spots and a lack of cover at CB so the less defensive work they do the better for their longevity within games.

    Excellent ball by Abraham to get Grealish in for the first definitely something worked on in getting Grealish ahead of the main striker or at least positionally aware to take an advance role if Abraham drops deeper to pick up the ball.

    UTV

  11. Andrew- It was bizarre mate, its a shame that Injury didn’t give the Delaet, Elphick, Chester and Amavi defence time to settle as I’d take that right now as an option. Love Tuenzabe mind but he’s not ours. Elphick meanwhile has become superback at Hull.

    I hope that Smiths arrival ends the conveyor belt approach of Buying, trying and buying again if it doesn’t work. Buying potential has to be combined with good coaching or good players bought for a system, anything else is hit and hope. I hate to think of how much has been waisted on CM’s alone let alone Forwards.

  12. DOR- That press has to work hard as our FB’s are being used to attack leaving space in behind, if the oppositions defence is just allowed to pick a pass we are buggered, equally if the opposition have started off on the counter and the ball doesn’t arrive it gives us overwhelming numbers in attack, done properly its a win win.

    Other teams have done that to us for two years now or at least managers have sussed our tactics, having players comfortable on the ball is also a prerequisite to control the games tempo when needed. Smith is slowly finding out who he can and cannot trust, at the moment we look a little Gung ho at times.

  13. Cheers, JL.

    For me it’s just the case that Bruce seems to fit some of the well-worn clichés regarding old-school English/British managers. And wasn’t just him at Villa. While we talk about a long rot in ownership and the club’s DNA, I think overall (and for whatever reasons) we’ve had a complementary long rot in management, training and development.

    Bruce’s preferred way, in and of itself, can get results, obviously. Which is why it persists. But like MK said, he didn’t really have the players for it (all the criticism about round pegs and square holes), and didn’t seem capable (or willing) of adapting his thinking, planning, training to the players he did have.

    Jedi: Get where you’re coming from, and it’s a pick-your-poison sort of dilemma. Put him in, gain height and physicality—but you lose mobility, pressure, pace and range of passing. So far, at least, Smith (not surprisingly, given his style) has opted for the latter attributes.

  14. JC- What puzzled me was the continued accumulation of players that were deemed not fit for purpose? you have to wonder who sanctioned that 1st Jan window and if they were entirely Bruces choices or not? it was like a who’s who of the top of the stats lists. There was a club announcement at the time I think by Tony Xia we would not be buying players without sell on value which might give us a clue. Following summer it was all very different.

  15. MK,

    We’ve done it a lot over the last several years. Whatever anyone says about MON good or bad, I will always maintain that our slide started from his willy-nilly acquisition of players he didn’t even end up playing. A lot of long contracts, a lot of money spent. MON throws his toys out the pram when Randy says enough, and the decline began, leading to Lambert’s enforced young-and-hungry recruitment drive.

    So, no idea whether Bruce had much say. Someone somewhere had the bright idea to just buy based on stats, and transfer fees, contracts, and suitability be damned. Seems like both times we’ve had an apparent abundance of money, we’ve gone out like drunken sailors on shore leave.

    And sell-on value…I’ve gone on about this before, but what a lot of people seem to miss about ‘moneyball’ is that it’s not about sell-on: It’s about using statistics to understand what constitutes a winning formula and then finding players who fit the necessary production numbers and are undervalued in the market….ie, don’t buy a big star if you can’t afford to surround him with other big stars, all of whom produce. Otherwise, the big star is a drain, and his individual stats aren’t enough to lift a team day-in day-out. The whole premise is based on stretching a limited budget.

    Sell-on is just a by-product of unearthing players fit for purpose. Hogan is probably a great example. Just not for us, because we paid a premium after Brentford found a way to make him productive. They got the goals and the transfer fee.

  16. Moneyball in a nutshell: “We have £500,000, and we need to get tougher, we’re conceding too much.” So, you go scour the stats looking for players who produce x tackles/game and win x% of aerial duels (because you’ve already determined the necessary thresholds).

    If they end up producing, someone comes along and says, “We’ll have that,” and you say, “Fine, we’ll go find another underrated guy to replace him and thanks for all the fish.” You just have to be able to systematically identify those players. If you say, “Hogan scores a lot and we need goals” that’s great, but he wasn’t an undervalued asset when we came calling and were willing to pay anything. If he doesn’t produce, you’re out a lot of money, and stuck with a long and expensive contract. That’s the antithesis of moneyball.

  17. JC,

    I empathise with your point about Jedi and that’s why I said his selection is not a perfect solution.

    But it still leaves Smith with a problem area and at present I don’t feel he’s trying to address it. Maybe – as I said – because he feels that he’ll be able to develop a formula that doesn’t need the Jedi type of solution.

    We have to wait and see what pans out.

  18. JL,

    Also to your previous point: “Plus some crazy passing around by some players (especially Kodjia) second half that seemed to invite the opponent to come on to us and at the same time risk conceding possession in a serious way when 2-0 ahead.”

    Absolutely. There’s no room in Smith’s philosophy for individuals who give the ball away cheaply, especially when the side are sucked up. I’m not sure what the knock on El Ghazi is (undisciplined, too green, won’t track back…whatever), but if Smith wants to play a 4-3-3 and try to get Kodjia on the field, then Kodjia has to change his ways.

  19. JL,

    On Jedi, yes. Easy enough for us to throw out starting XIs, but when you’re in the hot seat, those decisions may well keep you up at night. Smith doesn’t seem that sort (over-worried), but they’re tough calls, and if it doesn’t work out like you think it will, you have to be open to changing something back.

  20. JL- Understood it fine, you claim Bruce understood the need for someone in front of the defence yet played Jedi at CB. Wheelan the other contender hardly featured this season. Bruce played several more attacking players there (mcGinn, Thor and Hourihane )

    If you recall Bruce proclaimed we would be playing attacking football this season ( maybe to fit in with the owners wish of young hungry players etc) indeed he told Hogan as much when he wanted to go on loan.

    So I don’t agree that he saw the need particularly or Jedinak or wheelan would have played there more. I just think he messed up with the defensive recruitment and got in a pickle.

    I guess he hoped Jedinak would be enough and was wrong.

  21. JC- On Moneyball etc

    Brentford have a computer program (developed for betting by the owner ) that shows where the most goals are scored from and they aim to supply those areas and you’d assume Hogan was adept at exploiting that.

    Now I am wondering what Smith we have? The Smith that Was influenced by Brentford or the smith that influenced Brentford?

    Funny thing is they have a sister club FC Midtjylland that won the Danish league. There main attacking weapon was set pieces!? they have the same principles and ethos as Brentford and the manager left after winning the league as he didn’t want to go against his principles.

    Smith has said his main reason for signing players is attitude, mainly to learn and work hard. January window could be fun, I hope he’s his own man.

    https://beesotted.com/brentfords-sister-club-fc-midtjyllands-manager-resigns-due-to-a-difference-in-philosophy/

  22. JC- I think Smith will do what ever he has to, he knows the owners want promotion but hopefully he’s been asked to do more than just that. The questioning about tactics form the interviewers seems to have gone through the roof compared to under Bruce, makes me wonder whether the club just have their ear to the web or its something they are trying to promote hence Smiths employment?

    Think Henry’s having a rocky start by the way.

  23. MK,

    Very interesting article on Brentford and their sister club, and the similarities to Swansea and Southampton.

    Having now watched the full 90 minutes of the under 23’s, one wonders how much the new regime has influenced the changes in the way they are playing, with O’Hare now almost a carbon copy of what they want from JG, playing in a forward role, rather than his previous mid field one. Blackett-Taylor combing with Bree was in the main a very good combination, as was Bedaux combing on the left with Cox. The changes, with very high pressing caused the defensive weaknesses, but also brought more goals, with Bree getting two excellent headers, and it was interesting to see Lansbury covering two styles of mid field roles, and taking most of the dead ball kicks, some of which were very good, but some were also poor. O’Hare and Blackett-Taylor both scored excellent goals, and RHM showed what he is capable of when he came on near the end, scoring a great goal from a narrow angle. He certainly should be back in contention for the first team.

  24. PP- I have always wondered if that style of recruitment and philosophy could work at a club with high expectations? I think Villa are in the ideal position at present to find out.

    I think the U23’s may be trying new stuff but hey have lost a fair few to loans from DM and Defence so lots of u18’s involved at the back, that may be why they are so ragged at present with the two combined, that said they drew 1-1 against a WBA side with quite a few 1st team in it recently and without ohare ,blackett taylor and bedeau . I know its lower grade football but their movement always looks better than the 1st teams

  25. Well, England doing v well in the cricket in Ceylon.
    Mick McCarthy blathering on again.
    And only 3 days until the Derby game, with all quiet on the western front, so hope the training is going well.
    Also the House in the USA congress is back in Democrat hands & Trump is now more accountable which is welcome after the damage he’s been doing.
    Good news & probably less negativity & destruction possible, as others now have some actual power to slow him down.
    If only the same would happen to our equivalent in Maybot & her lunatic fringe

  26. IanG- Its hard to know who’s good bad or indifferent fed up of the lot of them. Saw the latest load of b*****ks, a tax on Meat!? They are years behind the latest science on so many things that they end up causing health problems with their advice, bunch of winkers.

    Anyway Huttons is next up to describe the changes/ high press etc, we will be the most knowledgeable fans in football at this rate.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kCietPc4Ck

  27. Mark
    ‘Its hard to know who’s good bad or indifferent fed up of the lot of them’

    In this country I am very similar to you, but there seems to be a seed change to a certain degree in the states, with a 100 women elected to congress, & many of them & others not previously politicians.
    But here it’s still the same old outdated hierarchy system, where you have to belong to a club, but behind the equality noises they don’t want to let go. Either no real roots there for growth or they’re damaged by the fuckwits who think they’re entitled.
    All the grass roots in USA that I heard today are saying that to change it requires work across the board by all.
    Work seems to have been discouraged or distracted from here, I wonder why!

  28. There’s no doubt in my mind that performances have improved under DS. It should lead to more wins and more points. I’m looking forward to the game against the Rams and feel happy that we can now give a good account of ourselves wherever we go. COYVB.

  29. IanG- Very smart and articulate, seems to be a trait Smith likes in his staff

    “The way I developed as a coach with Dean, not just technically and tactically, but as a person as well was key.

    “I learned a lot about improving psychologically with them – emotional base lines and keeping them level. I developed so much on that front.

    “The key for me is I always try and improve. I keep moving forward and don’t like to stand still. Dean and Richard are the same. That’s why I couldn’t turn this down.”

    What really caught my attention was he said Smith stays the same win or lose, very Calm. Stays on an even keel emotionally and its important the players see that. Also said he’s very astute and has an eye for detail and prepares for the matches in detail.

  30. MK,

    Me and delayed responses…

    But the Brentford article was very interesting. My hope is that Smith and Pitarch get along, and that having worked in the same kind of structure, he’ll be okay with it. I think the main thing is having input and having that input taken seriously. They’ve all made the right noises, we just have to see if they back them up.

    As far as recruitment goes, it really should be fairly straightforward now that we’ve got stable money. If you’ve got canny operators at all levels who work well together, then we really should be able to get the sort of players all through the club that can push us on.

  31. Oh, it’s been terrible…So hit or miss.

    Those who’ve argued for stability (which I think we’ve maybe all done at one time or another) have always had a point. It was all about who was fit to provide it.

    So, fingers crossed this all holds together. I do think Smith’s in it for the long haul, and I do think he can survive Villa not going up. We know he can craft a very competitive side with limited resources, so I’d like to think that if we have an exodus (I’d expect Jack to leave, would hope we could hang on to McGinn) Smith & Co will be positioned to take it in stride and maybe even give us a better side in terms of results.

  32. Mark
    I wasn’t actually talking about the Lords, as it is a sometimes useful distraction not the main point.
    The establishment isn’t exactly the government [but often includes it], but the holders of often invisible power that is passed down in a broad hereditary way as power & wealth are intertwined, & is explicitly, definitely lacking in any equality, although the pretence of it is sometimes/often there.
    Coming from the right background with the necessary wealth passed down for hundreds if not a thousand years, with invitees added as necessary.
    Also the quite small number of families are often intermarried, which protects the power & wealth.
    I’m not philosophising, as it is factual not philosophy or judgment.
    Judgment can be added if you wish, but the actual present Conservative government which is essentially the Eton boys & girls from the equivalent, & aspiring others, is peopled imo by intellectually & morally challenged people full of entitlement, on the whole.

    The County Set is related to this, as well as the debutant coming out ritual as was, so the blood & wealth is invigorated.

    This is history not philosophy, which can be verified, but these people are not all mentally deficient or crazy, but Parliament seems to attract the worst of them not the best.
    I ‘ve met [& sometimes p*ssed off] Kings & aristocrats in different parts of the world, so this historical perspective is from my life experience not opinion.
    As with everything it slowly changes.

  33. IanG: “As with everything it slowly changes.”

    In reality the answer lies with ourselves – do we wish to succumb to the status quo and allow ourselves to be ruled by it, or do we wish for something greater and which is durable? The key to that is to find that which is durable.

    If the challenge is too great to change ourselves then we can’t really complain about anyone else or the institutions that exist!

  34. IanG- A tough ask then mate as the amount of lies and false info given to the public pretty much ensures their continuation.

    JL- Can’t see how we should blame ourselves? those at the top are human too and possibly more aware and those at the bottom being hoodwinked and distracted. Sure we can change ourselves and live accordingly but its a drop in the ocean. Besides all I would like is some truth to be spoken nothing earth shattering but then again who’s setting the standard, it wont suit all.

  35. MK,

    Hame – missing my point I’m afraid.

    It’s not exactly “blaming” ourselves. If we choose to be “hoodwinked and distracted” that is no-one else’s fault but due to circumstances and environment, and we have the opportunity to wake up from our reverie if we would choose to. But it’s easier just to complain, so if there is any “blame” to ourselves it’s allowing ourselves to go with what seems the easier option. But I would not use the ‘blame’ word as that is the human condition and one we all face.

    As to “a drop in the ocean” that’s actually not the issue as one person changing can start a trickle and then a tide. It’s been worked out that if only 5% of the world’s population would wake up then that would be sufficient to start a shift in thinking and attitude. In fact I think that 5% has already been achieved and via the number of protests now taking place – helped on-line by agencies such as Avaaz and Greenpeace – we are now seeing the turn of the tide.

  36. JL- “Missing my point I’m afraid”

    why would I expect anything else? 😉
    therein lies a problem then, am I incapable of understanding you or are you not expressing it so that anyone can understand? Isn’t that whats going on in the world?

    Personally I don’t think anything will tip without a huge upheaval, If it only takes 5% what if there are multiples of 5%’s all coming from their own point of view? who’s 5% are right? and just on the 5% figure? its been worked out by whom? who is dishing out the values?

    For one instants Vegans are shouting the loudest in the diet realm, if they reach 5% do we all go Vegan? is that healthy ? is it even possible or healthy? what I am saying is there are many shiny baubles taking peoples attention and many who think they are right. You I assume believe you are?

    I am a member of Avvaz and have lent my vote to some things but I don’t believe that everything they are extolling as wrong is wrong, some of it is worthy, some of it assumptions they are right, some based on unsubstantiated science. One things for sure they are right for themselves. There are protests but by no means do all the participants even know why they are there, nothing seems clear cut any-more.

    We all have the hero’s journey to make if we choose and sometimes when we don’t, usually that occurs when crisis arises. A plan might be a good idea for when its all over, haven’t seen one yet. Bit like its been at Villa really.

  37. MK,

    As you choose.

    As to your first point there are some things that can’t be explained straightforwardly. Great teachers often used parables to put across their meaning. I am not a great teacher!

    I didn’t suggest that we should vote on everything Avaaz (or other) puts forward – we have a choice, as with everything. What I was alluding to is simply that on-line communications have now caused us to be able to focus more clearly on things that may need attention whereas formerly we were just told in the press or on the news what’s what – or by politicians when they wanted us to vote for them.

    The on-line petition mechanism has changed quite a few things, and we should be able to become more discriminatory as a result, not just vote like sheep.

  38. JL- Don’t know what you mean by “as you choose” but hey.

    I didn’t suggest you did, just pointed out that they are as capable of backing the wrong cause as anyone, mainly as things are as clear as mud and false info abounds in science and politics.

    I signed the one that tried to ban Glyphosphate but the EU I believe chose to keep using it, mainly as Bayer of Germany bought out Monsanto.

    “Adding a further question mark to glyphosate’s future is the fact that it is about to become a German product due to Bayer’s soon-to-be-completed $62.5 billion acquisition of Monsanto. Germany was the country that pushed the Commission proposal to renew glyphosate for five years over the line at the last minute, and may be inclined to do so again considering the level of national interest in the product.2

    I think it can do some good but not by asking those at the top but by asking those at the bottom not to buy their products.

  39. JL
    As I said it was not philosophy but a description of the world we live in.
    Of course if one gently keeps not getting too sticky to ‘facts’, then it tends not to stick to us so much.
    Otherwise one has to have an intellectual basis for everything, which leads to ‘positions’, & is not what we are.
    Mark
    Yes we have to actually be in the world, & action is inherent, so we do what we can.
    But as we’re within time, there’s no end to it, unless we’re aware in the moment that time is our joint construct also.
    To ‘first change oneself’ doesn’t mean what we become something else, just that we become more who we really are.
    In other words we all tend to think too much.

  40. IanG- Thanks. If I’m reading it correctly something like meditation or observing thought should strip us back to ourselves, which we then carry forward into this world were we can cause effect, which we shouldn’t get attached to maybe because it is and isn’t real unless we all agree it is or isn’t.

    Probably completely wrong but had fun trying 🙂

  41. Mark
    I’m glad you’re having fun, otherwise you’d drive us all mad.
    Mind you, if we have to all agree for things to be ‘real’, then we’re doomed I tell you, doomed.

  42. Davis is getting near to training also apparently.
    First names in the presser, bit of a change, a bit like arriving at college, being trained to be an adult.
    But an improvement as it’s even handed.

  43. BTW, spiritual philosophy is *not* intellectualism, as I’m sure you’re aware.

    Unless you see spiritual philosophy only from an intellectual standpoint, of course.

  44. MK: ” If I’m reading it correctly something like [1] meditation or observing thought should strip us back to ourselves, which we then carry forward into this world [2] were we can cause effect, which we shouldn’t get attached to maybe because it is and isn’t real unless we all agree it is or isn’t.”

    {1} (my numbering) is about right but [2] needs some work done to it! 🙂

  45. JL- thanks I will rework it 🙂

    IanG- Nice to know I’m still annoying at my age, might even make my own quote up ” its better to be annoying and live in the certainty that your thick”

    There appears to be a coming together for Jan, all Loaned out players are getting games and Smith saying we are looking at bringing in a fare few, its like double xmas

  46. JL
    Philosophy is not being, although it can be a beginning.
    Can’t remember the exact quote about seeing everything as a child sees it [in the moment].
    Definitely not philosophy of any kind if that’s the present awareness.

    Mark
    ‘a double xmas’
    Well we haven’t had a proper one at Villa for a while.
    Then there’s the sky fixture changes, where we have 3 fixtures in 6 days, leaving us at a disadvantage as we lose a day’s rest.
    Not keen on that.

    JG
    Everyone needs friends, even Bruce [I’ve finally sussed why McGate was sent to oz, bruce

  47. IanG- Sky don’t do us many favours bar the extra money mate do they. The chance to recall some players is a bonus but maybe a poison chalice too. Does Smith look to move on with players he may really want or chance bringing back players deemed not good enough or ready by Bruce?

  48. Before Dean Smith got the job it was thought it might be to big a job for him. I’m wondering what folks are thinking almost a month in?

    To me he seems relaxed and has a plan, he can explain things in both complex and simple terms and as yet has not offered up any excuses or built the championship and its teams up into unbeatable monsters. Just seems a very likeable chilled out bloke, confident in his own ability without being egotistical.

  49. JL
    I agree with that, & the one isn’t the other just the path, unless the fruit is actually achieved.
    The confusion can be the time scale as some paths are quicker but take more commitment, & some only go so far, but the direction is the same
    Glad to see that we agree.

  50. IanG- I know its early days but hope he will stop all the hype we have had for so long, its like the place has been on red alert for 10 years. Most of our problems seem like self fulfilling prophecies.

    Speaking of which if the breakaway European league happens then those top 5-6 teams will take some catching. It will be time to readjust targets, hopefully the owners won’t lose interest.

  51. Anybody else think we’ll get something at Derby tomorrow? It’s Lampard v Terry even though DS is the conductor. I fancy us for this one.

  52. Plug- yes mate I think we can get a point hopefully more, they are tight at the back and have goals and experience but we potentially have the best front line in the league, got the feeling Bolasie might give them a headache along with Jack.

    Smith lost there after going ahead with Brentford so he has that to draw on at least. shame this ones not on the box.

  53. Mark
    Fifa were saying that it would result in Court action, as it would be against the rules, & the club’s players would be banned from the world cup.

  54. IanG: “…some paths are quicker but take more commitment, & some only go so far, but the direction is the same.”

    Speaking of “some paths” I encountered Gurdjieff many moons ago and though I’ve never followed that “path” the methods he employed have always fascinated me.

    An example of one of his dances can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhTppzPdqN0

  55. Hi guys. I won’t get much”time” before tomorrow s game of “us and them” just to say. If we have to stay down one more season, them so be it. Don’t “speak to me” about having to go up this season or else, we’ll get “brain damage”, we’ve now got a direct link to to great time/teams of 75-83. Deano is one of us. He won’t need tons of ” money”, to get us to “the grest gig in the in the sky”,
    His ethos is attacking footy, get the ball back quickly, attack is the best form of defense,
    We might not have all the players yet, to “eclipse” all others just yet. but if we all “breathe” , we’ll see great times ahead, as the 80’s should have been. I mean ” any colour u like”, is just the name of a song! Arf,arf, Utv!

  56. IanG- I hope so mate would ruin football

    Roger- Hello mate nice to hear from you even if I made slightly less sense of it than trying to interpret others 🙂 I reckon you must be on one of those alternate paths at 3am in the morning 🙂

  57. JL- Had a quick look, apart form the obvious rhythmic parts there’s a lot of breath-work going on , reminds me of Russian martial arts breathing called systema.

  58. Mark, i was listening to dark side of the moon last night. Pink Floyd. 3rd or 4th best selling album of all time. And obviously quite drunk. Thought it would be fun to quote all the songs of the album whilst talking bout villa. Hang your head in shame for not knowing.

    Lol

  59. MK,

    Gurdjieff did spend a lot of time in Russia up to 1917.

    The martial arts of various sources and Gurdjieff’s own sources go back a very long way in time, of course.

    The breathing and music in Gurdjieff’s plan relate very much to the universal harmonic scale and knowledge of oxygen and its importance in usage and conservation.

  60. Well, it all got very philosophical. Which I always quite enjoy after a few bevvies late in the evening.

    At any rate, I’ve left it late, but a fresh sheet is now up for the game.

    COYVB

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