It’s The Derby up next, and no one really cares how it happens—we just want to see Villa break small heath hearts. It’s about emotion and pride, which is why you most often will simply say, “throw out the table, recent form, and all the rest.”

For the players in the modern age, however, it is, by and large, just another game. The difference is in how much it means to the fans. The weight of their expectations will color the day.

Small heath are on a slightly better run of form, but sit level with Villa on 24 points, Villa just having the edge in 11th versus 12th due to a single goal differential. Beating blues is always sweet, but the three points are what count as they won’t really move us up much, if at all, depending on results. They just need to be had as a stepping stone, because it’s the quick succession of matches with Forest and Boro, then Albion a week later that really is the making or breaking of the first half of the season. Three matches against clubs currently in the top seven, an opportunity to make a serious statement of intent and climb the table.

In other words, small heath is more a distraction than anything else. Maybe it’s a bit heretical to say, but there it is.

Appropriately, we’ve heard Deano talking about preparations for the first three outings taking place during the break. He gets the derby as well as any of us, but he’s paid to see it as a match like any other, and to play to win in the context of really wanting to win all four upcoming games.

So what can he, JT and O’Kelly do while so many are away? What they should be doing: watching film, analyzing, and developing game plans.

The players return, the staff are ready for them, and they’ll get their heads focused on the fine points identified as keys to victory. And given the always silly congestion of fixtures after a break, time spent with players who didn’t travel will be important as they may very well be called on to keep the side fresh.

And don’t think for a moment that Smith himself isn’t relishing the upcoming slate. I’ve a feeling he has a point to prove. Several, actually. Points about fitness and training, methods, actual planning, and the like. This is where recovery and nutrition are vital. Where running training sessions to get the most out of the limited time available is crucial. Where ‘management’ is actually just that. Where a man finally has a talent level throughout a squad that he’s never enjoyed before. He wants to prove that he wasn’t just good at getting smaller clubs to overachieve. Rather, he wants to prove that he’s a good manager at any level.

On Management
In the previous and now very stale thread (which was no less fascinating for its philosophical digressions), we had a bit of talk late on about Smith’s pre-blues comments. And in those comments we got another indication of how things have changed at Villa Park, this time on match days. Players are now required to show up quite a bit earlier. To eat a prescribed meal together at a given time. And then sit down and do a tactical review before changing and warming up.

I expressed surprise that this wasn’t already the case (silly me). As someone who watches a lot of American football, it’s simply stunning to me that these kinds of preparations have not been taken for granted for years now. Game planning, nutrition, film study, rest, recovery, rehab, installing the game plan…These have all been dialed into a level of precision that’s virtually militaristic.

The games are very different, obviously. So one could argue that it makes the necessary approaches are apples and oranges. I’d strongly disagree with that. The rationale and intended outcomes of preparation are the same: to be focused on what’s coming, know what you’re planning to do about it, and be as physically ready to give 100% for the entire game as possible.

Playing three games in a week? You’d better have a plan to create the circumstances and environment that will allow you to be at your relative best.

Before, we heard about returning players being tired, not quite seeing that and getting the lineup wrong. Followed by a hodgepodge rotation. Now we’re hearing about whether they got enough minutes over the two weeks to still be match fit. That’s night and day in terms of expectations. In Smith’s world, the international breaks apparently are light duty.

That said, will any of it make a difference? The bar has been raised in the Championship. Villa are just now catching up to what other progressive managers have been doing. What worked in the past won’t necessarily get you over the line anymore, and doing what others are doing simply puts you on a level playing field.

At the very least we’re apparently now creating the conditions that should allow Villa to be more consistent and prepared. (Ironic that, prepared.) On the day, anything can happen despite your best efforts. But when you raise the bar, your best efforts tend be…better.

So as always, we’ll see. It may still be a bit soon to see us play three good games in a row, never mind three great ones. Our opponents will have something to say about it, as well. One guesses that to get all nine points, there’s going to be some serious graft, ugly passages of play, and a bit of luck. And I’m sure Dean would’ve much preferred to have another regular week following Derby so he could build on that performance properly. But, he’ll have been doing everything he can to make up for that. And you know what they say about luck.

What we do know is that Villa Park will be rocking and the players should feel more confident and prepared having played a very good 90 minutes last time out. Making it three on the trot would do nicely and then it’s on to Forest. All I know is that I’m glad we’ve already been thinking about this one, that one, and the one after.

Over to you.

Comments 213

  1. Jc
    Thanks for the leader & back to football.
    I noticed in the england v oz rugby match this afternoon, the distinct improvement by having an intense disciplined attacking focus.
    The improvement in villa in the past few games in this regard has been there for all to see.
    I feel that this plus the emotional & tactical discipline that DS was talking about are the bedrock on which we can base performances.
    Can’t wait for tomorrow & the whole week’s 3 games, then the baggies.

  2. Back to football, IanG…

    Very big week, indeed. You’re right to point out the emotional discipline, as well. Never too high, never too low.

    Saw the same thing with England against Croatia. Like Villa, a bit profligate when they were running the game early on, but were pressing, passing, taking it to them, then having the reserves and emotional balance to stick with it and nick it at the end. Didn’t succumb to pressure or ghosts, just kept playing. Deserved result.

  3. Thanks JC- I have to pinch myself when I think how lucky we are to have Smith. A man that not only seeks to apply modern methods seems to understand them.

    To back that up his understanding of what it takes to create a tight nit group and a good working atmosphere is outstanding too. Read he goes on courses in other sports to see how they create bonds and prepared, rugby being one he especially liked. Ironic really when Steve Bruce was brought in to achieve similar only to undo it at the end.

    Think we missed this on here but he is thinking about a set piece coach,

    “Employing someone to focus solely on dead ball situations remains a rarity in the game but Smith is a convert to the approach, after seeing the benefits first-hand during his time in charge of Brentford.

    He now plans to discuss the possibility of doing the same at Villa with chief executive Christian Purslow and sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch.

    “It is something I will discuss with Suso (Pitarch) and Christian further down the road,” said Smith.

    “They (set pieces) are important. It still staggers me rugby union players have to remember 60 or 70 line-out calls and football players struggle to remember six corners.”

    Italian Gianni Vio was already on Brentford’s staff when Smith joined from Walsall in November 2015, with Frenchman Nicola Jover then taking over set piece responsibility at Griffin Park for the last two seasons.

    The club’s approach even drew the attention of England, with Gareth Southgate’s assistant Steve Holland visiting the Bees prior to last summer’s World Cup.

    Neil Cutler, who was last week appointed Villa’s goalkeeper coach, was responsible for set piece routines at Albion.”

    The owners seem a lot more in touch with the modern game too when you look at our backroom staff and with Smith as their 1st real manager pick it bodes well.

  4. Huh? You mean Eric Cantona had nothing to do with football? 😀

    And good one about the herrings, Ian.

    JC: “In other words, small heath is more a distraction than anything else. Maybe it’s a bit heretical to say, but there it is.”

    To the professional coaches it may be a distraction, but not to the fans. And it’s how the fans perform in the ground that might determine the outcome.

  5. Oh and I agree, although the Derby is a must win its also a must win if you know what I mean as far as the season goes, along with every other home game. I read that 20 wins 6 draws and 3 losses would likely see us in either 1st or 2nd, with 29 games to go thats a tough ask but I feel its possible barring disaster.

  6. MK,

    When are you and everyone else going to stop justifying Smith’s appointment?

    Though I also like his approach he’s still not won anything yet! That’s not saying he won’t, but let’s stop warbling until we’ve really had a tangible run of results.

  7. JL- when I feel good and ready mate, after two years of swallowing Bruces football I feel like enjoying the new start if thats ok with you? You may have noticed I have been banging on about the very things now being implemented for longer than that, before Remi’s stint in fact. You may not like it and it might ruffle your feathers but I am now being positive and strangely your not 🙂

    Bruce didn’t win anything with us either.

  8. JL
    You old troublemaker you.
    We talk about what DS is doing as it is different as chalk & cheese as a way of working from what went before.
    He actually seems to put his money where his mouth is, & the constantly seeking to improve across the board.
    For me it is his inclusivity that makes that different in terms of the internals of the game.

    Bruce always took credit when there was a good result, & blamed everyone else when it wasn’t a good result, & split the fans .
    He was secretive in ways which insulted the fans intelligence, & talked mostly BS.
    Yes he did get results some of the time, but the journey was not exactly enjoyable, which was a huge part of the negativity that ensued.
    But I do thank him for some of the good he did with the internal chaos at the club, but am relieved that he is gone, & feel much more in tune with the club, although it will never be perfect as you know, & often is out to lunch,

    Now it is interesting, we feel part of the journey, & we are behind many of the changes coming through.
    It’s not all about results except on match days, as there is now much more going on, including the sport professionalism displayed by the owners.
    It is much easier to actually enjoy the football, & the hope of success is not so one dimensional now.
    Thank you Steve Bruce, & goodnight.

  9. JL,

    The fans will buoy the team. Just like they’re supposed to at any home game. The professional coaches are the ones we expect to treat it like any other game so that we get the result that sends the supporters home happy and full of bragging rights.

  10. MK,

    Well, I clearly am different to you. I “enjoy the journey” whoever is in charge and making some headway (as Bruce was 9with 45% win rate) making headway *of some kind*.

    But I do think we’re going a bit OTT about Smith right now, no matter how much his way seems to be a step forward in itself.

  11. MK: “You may not like it and it might ruffle your feathers but I am now being positive and strangely your not”

    Not at all. Simply put, there’s an old adage that goes something like “don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched”.

    Follow that principle and you won’t get disappointed so easily. Don’t get elated nor get disappointed – that’s the middle path.

  12. JL,

    Dean Smith may not be the messiah. As you say, too soon to tell. But what we can say is that Smith appears intent on getting Villa up to speed with modern game. Where once we were innovators, we’d become dinosaurs. The game had passed Villa by. In the MON era we heard from a certain someone that Villa were running on fumes after 60 minutes. And nothing seemed to have changed. New man comes in and hey presto: We’re not fit enough to play modern football for 90 minutes, so that’s going to change. He knew it from playing us.

    What’s happening is indeed as MK said what so many have been crying out for: explanations, understanding and remedies. That we’re all so “euphoric” only goes to show how lacking was any insight into Villa’s ponderous decline, and now the apparent revelations pointing to the fundamentals of our decline. Why couldn’t we improve? Why did other teams look better and fitter? Why weren’t we consistent? Why did players seem to regress? Guess what? We weren’t doing anything to help ourselves get better. Just banging our heads against the same tired old wall.

    The malaise hanging over the club was the same at any organization that had once led, expected to still be leading, and couldn’t quite understand how all the competitors had passed us by without ever trying to learn from them and change our ways. If players felt doom and gloom, well, they’ve always known things were being done differently elsewhere. But we kept feeding them more of the same. Milner, Barry, Young, Delph (ahem)…They voted with their feet.

    If Deano doesn’t get us over the hump, I’m more confident than ever that the next man in will have something to build on, and will approach the game in a similar way.

  13. On Villa vs Blues by John Terry

    “There’s not getting away from this, this is a special game for many reasons,” he admitted.

    “It’s the first one the fans look for when the fixtures come out, I’ve been reminded many many times.

    “It’s about going into work the next day with your colleagues who might be of a difference preference to you and having those rights.

    “We totally understand that, the very first day I arrived at the club I was reminded of the Aston Villa game so it’s a constant one, they’re special days, we’re prepared for it and we’re looking forward to it.”

  14. JC,

    I already understand that. But when Bruce was in charge and periodically getting a good string of results together, many posters here were disinclined to give any credit of substance whatsoever.

    A good supporter (in my view) gets behind any manager who is trying to do his best (albeit that Bruce was ‘old hat’). The manager is put there by the chairman and if he’s fully committed and getting anything like 45% win rate then he should be given some backing.

    Instead posters here are treating Smith as though he is already some kind of Messiah. I think it’s a total disrespect of Bruce and not worthy of Villa supporters.

    That’s my view. Period. I dodn’t disagree about Smith’s +ve approach.

  15. JL,

    A professional team will go into any environment and win. That’s the difference between champions and also-rans. The staff and players’ job is to maintain the emotional composure we’ve talked about, have a solid plan, and go out and execute. Let’s face it, with so many players from so many different places, where the team they’re playing hails from geographically doesn’t really matter much to them…the remit is the same.

    They know the result is a big deal to the supporters, of course. And they’ll want to win for us. But the overall mentality we’re talking about is that Villa want to win every game (and are working to come into every game with the expectation they can and should win) and part of that is not being intimidated by anything on or off the pitch.

    If Villa lose, what will hurt the players most is not letting us down. It’ll be dropping three points they know are there for the taking (along with whatever individual failings they brought to the table). The key to big games is always treating it like any other game and not letting the hype get to you.

  16. JC,

    I’ve come to the conclusion that you live too far away from the cauldron!

    You write as though you think I don’t understand the points you’re making.

    Of course “The key to big games is always treating it like any other game and not letting the hype get to you.” That shouldn’t need to be said. But derbies very often prove to go in a different way, and in my opinion they’re all the better for it. And gets away from football being a winning machine.

    Of course I want Villa to win … but thought I want that win to get points I’d be more pleased if it’s a well-won result to keep our neighbours in the shadows.

  17. JL,

    I disagree that it’s an insult to Bruce (as you might expect). One could easily flip that round and say Bruce’s failure to bring anything more than “there or thereabouts” was an insult to Villans. Which it wasn’t, just his way of downplaying expectations.

    As for Terry, of course he says that. Boilerplate. If the various players really have internalized it and it’s bad blood, then great. I just don’t believe that’s the case much anymore. But of course he’s going to acknowledge it means a lot to the supporters.

  18. JC,

    By the way I today saw the 1947 film “Miracle On 47th Street”.

    It’s actually a brilliant Christmas story (full of psychological issues) that should make people think about what’s really important and get away from the grind of getting results.

    A parallel to the matter of sport too, I think.

  19. JC: “I just don’t believe that’s the case much anymore. But of course he’s going to acknowledge it means a lot to the supporters.”

    If what you say is really true then you’re only substantiating my point that the world (sport included) is getting more and more ruled by objective thinking.

    As the last twenty years has been nominated by the development of mobile phones and their derivatives, so now we also have things like Alexa that everyone is craving about as we move into AI.

    If I’m still around in 10 years time I might come back to AVL talking about benefits of players being fitted with AI gadgets to make hem shoot better and straight. And JC will be applauding it, I expect! 😉

  20. JL,

    I get it. You already know everything I’m saying, no one understands anything you’re saying, and whatever we say proves your point.

    Things change. What can I say?

    btw, Miracle on 47th Street is a good film, I agree. And I don’t disagree about the message. I might actually live by some of that simple wisdom. Who’s to say. Elsewhere, I care about many different things.

    Here, I care about the football. As such, I take the game as it is for what it is. If people are getting paid vast sums of money to do something, then they at least ought to be doing it well. Or trying to.

  21. And now I’m off to my happy place (one of them, anyway) in front of the easel.

    To be continued, I’m sure…

    Oh, and I was typing the above, I thought, “That’s not right, is it? It’s 34th Street.” But it was released in 1947.

  22. JL- People on here didn’t get behind Bruce when things were going well because they saw that it was more luck than judgement. Now If results are not important then why support a manager who’s entire reputation is based on the them? By all means pay me an average wage and I’ll be Villa’s manager for as long as I can, pay me £2m a season? boy I better be better than there or thereabouts, Mr Bruce was a lucky man.

  23. It’s almost like reading a discussion on Question Time between MPs from opposing parties!
    My view is that Bruce was brought in to do a job; that was to get promotion as he had a reputation for being adept at it. As in any case where a new manager comes in there is a new impetus amongst the playing staff in order to gain access to regular selection.
    Bruce was largely effective – after a slow start Villa only dropped out of the top 6 twice after losing to Wolves in week 12. It was a 3 matches in 7 days period that I think caused the failure to reach automatic promotion – win 4-1 v Wolves and then fail to maintain the impetus by losing 1-3 to QPR 3 days later and 1-0 away to Bolton.
    It could be maintained that the postponement of the QPR game was instrumental in this slump as it should have been played when Villa was in a rich vein of form winning 4-2 away to Shefield Wednesday and 3-0 away to Sunderland and 4-1 at home to Wolves. I think Villa would have beaten QPR on the original date but ended up losing to them 1-3 and then to Bolton 0-1 4 days later.
    So JL res ipsa loquitor – SB’s tenure during 2017-18 was no a disaster and his family troubles did not help at the end. What I think caused his downfall was a poor start to the current season (seond season running), his apparent loss of tactical nous and the incoming new owners who want success and did not see any signs that this season was going to be an improvement on the last.
    As you say, time will tell on DS; he does seem to be more in touch with the modern training, psychological and physiological approaches. We wait and see.
    I will be watching tonight at 1900 Thai time.

  24. JC,

    All I did was to state a p.o.v. based on substantive philosophy, not expecting to have to defend it like a combination of Terry and Chester! 😀

    And I stick by that as it feels very much as though people seem to regard Bruce as a waste of time. He’s dead and buried already. I agree the past is the past but this premature lauding of Smith seems excessive to me.

  25. Clive: “What I think caused his downfall was a poor start to the current season (seond season running),”

    Which was probably affected substantially by what went on during the summer when Villa seemed to be going into a bankruptcy at one point, and Bruce having to re-hash matters.

    But I agree with what you are saying in the most part. But I have no wish to resurrect a debate about Bruce. That wasn’t my intent.

  26. MK: “By all means pay me an average wage and I’ll be Villa’s manager for as long as I can, pay me £2m a season? boy I better be better than there or thereabouts, Mr Bruce was a lucky man.”

    This is the problem – that we refer to a feller in such a way when it was clear that he cared about the job he was doing and worked hard to get things sorted. OK, he wasn’t the greatest since sliced bread, but a 45% win ratio is not by “more luck than judgement” i.m.o.

  27. Up and raring to go with just a little nervousness, but I am sure that a capacity crowd will have Villa Park rocking…!!!

    I have a plan to get there, and avoid a lot of the parking hassle etc. Train from Redditch to Aston, then hit the Tavern..!!

    Up the Villa..!!

  28. I have to agree with JL on recent comments. One adjective that should not precede Steve Bruce is “lucky”

    The money ran out and he had to generate rather than spend transfer money, he lost both his parents, was disliked by many fans before he even started, and then had the spectre of administration hanging over the club for months.

    Having said all that, I am glad that we now have Dean Smith. I didn’t believe that he’d switch clubs mid-season but he did! The play does feel more energetic and incisive and there is a renewed sense of optimism about the place.

    JL is right that it’s too soon to be counting chickens though. Surely Villa fans have seen too many false dawns to be heralding non stop sunshine after just half a dozen games?

  29. Mark, you said that you’d seen a comment suggesting that we could achieve automatic promotion with 20 wins out of the next 29 games . . . . a win ration of 69%. That’s greater than Newcastle achieved last year, greater than Norwich have achieved this year and 50% better than Villa’s most successful manager in nearly a century.
    If he achieves that I’ll pay for his statue outside the ground 🙂

  30. You have a lot of thinking time on the drive up to Brum from Devon and I’m not sure if it’s primarily excitement or nervousness that’s building. This time. The uncertainty over
    who is fully fit and who is not just adds to the tension.

    The drive home feels Longer than ever after a loss . . . . make it feel like a short drive home today please lads!

  31. Bruce also spent all the money, often none too wisely.
    He tried to do what he’s always done, which is spend his way to success [unsuccessfully].
    Everything about last season was in the posts, where everyone supported him, like it or not, as he was the manager of our club.
    But for those of us who saw it coming well before the event [which wasn’t hard], it was always going to end in tears.
    He bought his hand & it was never going to be enough, which became obvious last season.
    Even if he had got us promoted nothing was in place for us to stay up, like Cardiff.
    For those of us who saw an intrinsic need for a rebuild both off & on the pitch, are happy to see it.
    Whether it will bring success in a narrow way, who knows, but that is another issue, but I see us at least genuinely going in that direction.

    Every human would sympathise with his personal life issues, although the death of your parent at an advanced age is sad, & money can’t change it, but hardly a tragedy, as it happens to all of us.

    He was lucky in that he had 2 parents who lived a long life.
    Many of us did not have that, so to me it is laying it on a bit thick to imply it was the same as if a young family lost their parents, which is an actual tragedy.

    As far as him being unfairly treated, excuse me while I crack up laughing.

  32. Robbo- Bruce was lucky to get this season and I wished he hadn’t. From a purely footballing point of view Smiths use of the same players is going way beyond manager bounce when compared with Bruce’s floundering. Steve Bruce made a talented and expensive bunch of players look ordinary with the odd blip. When we lost we then went on poor runs, it was a roller coaster. So far under smith the performances have remained high despite some results and have improved each time. Early days but even a blind man can see the difference.

    On starts seasons etc, Bruce had a better start with RDMs team than he did with any of his own rebuilds, those periods cost us and him. But most of all we rarely looked convincing. Smith has come in rubbed his hands and thanked his lucky stars with the players we have and pieced/coached a team together properly that was already on the pitch playing for Bruce.

    I think Bruce was a miss match for the size of club we are, his style didn’t suit a team thats expected to mostly go forward by its fans try to win, we have the players to dominate games. Dean Smith only has that goal in mind when he sends them out whether he is at walsall or Villa, its a better match imo.

    On the 69% yep its a big ask but Fulham won 21 from nov 21st to the end of the season plus the the playoffs, so its been done. Burnley never lost a game from the 28th of dec to win the league so I live in hope early or not 🙂

    The biggest difference is this morning I woke up like its xmas, I can’t wait to see us play, I hope we have a full side.

  33. IanG,

    I don’t think that r0bbo’s reference to the death of Bruce’s parents was intended quite in the way you remarked on it. I think he was intimating that it was a blow to him at the very time he was trying to get Villa over the last hurdle and be promoted. Professional that he is, he tried to not let his personal blow interfere with Villa matters.

    As for not wanting a debate on Bruce my comment was in the context of the lack of respect offered to Bruce by trumpeting up Smith before the dust has barely settled behind Bruce. That was how I felt – not an offer to debate the man. That has already been done.

  34. MK: “The biggest difference is this morning I woke up like its xmas, I can’t wait to see us play, I hope we have a full side.”

    Unbiased Villa supporter that I am, I used to have the same feeling when Villa played under Bruce as I admired the way Bruce had changed the dressing room.

    That Smith shows a great deal of promise to take Villa further forward is undoubted, but don’t tell me that Bruce wasn’t an asset to the club. JC admitted that he was if you would remember. Courtesy should be offered to anyone who has tried to do his best.

  35. IanG. Your comment about Bruce being fortunate enough to have had parents who lived long (presumably happy) lives is certainly true. I didn’t however compare it in any way with a young family losing their parents.
    I’m struggling to find anything incisive or accurate in your response. You used to comment with humour and intelligence and both qualities seem to have abandoned you.

  36. On Bruce transfer policy, it was like a woman shopping if she seen a fur coat on Cindy Crawford she had to get one even if she looked like Onslow wife in keeping up appearances

  37. r0bb0: “You [IanG] used to comment with humour and intelligence and both qualities seem to have abandoned you.”

    Well he did say the other day that he had the Lurgy. Perhaps he might brighten up sometime next year.

  38. Mark, you’re right . . . It ‘is’ possible to win 20 of our remaining games but the Fulham and Burnley managers who achieved it had been in post for more than 6 games.
    I’m with you in thinking that Dean Smith just ‘might’ have what it takes but it really will be one hell of an achievement if he actually does it.
    So my offer of funding his statue still holds 🙂

  39. r0bb0
    ‘You used to comment with humour and intelligence and both qualities seem to have abandoned you’

    I wasn’t particularly replying to you, & my post didn’t have your name on it.
    If you want to take it all personally with constant personal insults then f**k off

  40. Team news
    McGinn’s out & O’Hare is on the bench.
    As far as McGinn is concerned, we still have 2 more matches this week, so probably just as well.

  41. Jl- do you ever get tired of lecturing?

    I’d wager you smith would have fixed the dressing room. As it was Bruce fixed it with umpteen purchases then unfixed it when Jt and snodgrass vamoused.

  42. MK,

    Do you?

    Team for today: Villa: Nyland, Hutton, Chester, Tuanzebe, Taylor, Whelan, Hourihane, Grealish, Kodjia, Abraham, Adomah. Subs: Bunn, Elmohamady, Lansbury, El Ghazi, Bolasie, O’Hare, Hogan.

  43. JL-Do I? Incredible. I don’t think you know how lucky you are with the people on this site, you continually claim intolerance while forgetting you can talk freely about any subject you wish and have a conversation. This is the most courteous and tolerant site I have seen on any subject let alone football. On top of that you claim a unique unassailable perspective on everything due to your vast studies, try that anywhere else on the web 🙂

  44. ha…Well it’s on now. Good spell, that, following the goal. Nice to see Kodjia finally get it on goal. Great delivery and finish by Albert and Jack.

    McGinn’s a big loss for us.

  45. Jc – massive loss mate, wheelan is doing his best but to slow getting it out of his feet giving shitty to much opportunity to shut him down. That slows down the whole flow of our game. Lovely to see the shitty fans shut the feck up 🙂

  46. Good outing. Chester not at his best, no McGinn, but matched the intensity, and quality showed through, in the end. Second time Albert’s been hurt in the fixture, thought Grealish might’ve been, too, on that late tackle.

  47. Lansbury doesn’t seem destined to play for us.
    Another leg injury.
    Adomah injury looked more than a niggle.
    JC – I think whelan infected Chester with his slowness, but he did totally switch off at times today
    Blues got away with some terrible tackles.

  48. IanG,

    No, he doesn’t. Couldn’t believe he picked up that knock just after coming on. Albert’s does look like it will take a while to heal, but fingers crossed. Bolasie put in a good shift.

    Whelan was a gamble, was relieved when Smith finally took him out. Chester definitely not fully fit.

  49. MK: “you continually claim intolerance while forgetting you can talk freely about any subject you wish and have a conversation”

    Again, a total misrepresentation. I really do think you need to question how you read people’s posts.

    I have *never* claimed intolerance against —myself—. To say otherwise indicates you don’t read what is said.

    I have merely claimed ‘foul’ for the attitude against Bruce.

  50. A good derby wasn’t it? You often see flaws and fervour and such matches and there was a fair sprinkling of that today.

    To think the result could have been quite different if it had become 0-2 on 35 minutes. But Small Heath are an inferior side, no doubt. For our part we have to get the defence sorted. ‘How’ is another matter.

  51. The Hutton goal

    This one had me thinking about the one that Stan Lynn scored in 1955.

    Stan was known as ‘The Wham’ but in that match he apparently did what Hutton did today, with the difference that Lynn actually dribbled the ball past the keeper as well.

  52. If we had a weak link today it was Chester . . . not sure he was fully recovered but with so few alternatives, Smith will have felt it worth the risk.
    He’s obviously not McGinn, but I thought Whelan did pretty well today.

  53. It’s all tony’s Fault for hiring Bruce and firing RDM. My truck does it’s best everyday but unlike Bruce it would get out of first gear.
    I feel sorry for landsbury. He just can’t get a break.

    4-2 with Hutton crushing blue’s spirit. Gotta love it.

  54. Have to agree with your comments about their fouling JG. . . it was shocking and should have been punished earlier and more harshly
    Having said that I bought we were lucky for the penalty. . . Looked as if Abraham’s manhandled their player off the ball just before the penalty foul.

  55. JL,

    The defense is a tough one…Tuanzebe’s done enough for me, had a good game again, taking on men and getting it upfield. Keeps improving, decent on the ball, good recovery pace and strength. Chester, great player, manages to get his head to the ball a lot despite not being very big. Can see Deano at least wanting cover, but it almost seems like Chester who should make way if a new CB is brought it, and that seems strange to say. However, Smith might want to start grooming his own man back there, and maybe Axel would get the axe.

    So, I dunno. The game probably looks different with McGinn. Big ask for Whelan today, and you could see the impact. At FB, I can see Smith definitely going for someone on the left. Still no idea what he thinks of Bree, but he’s obviously gone with Elmo when necessary up til now.

  56. Just searched on Alan Hutton on twitter . . . some great comments and was able to watch the goal again.
    It really was one of those moments that you live for as a football fan. You could see the delight of the whole team and all the fans . . . . . the ground was rocking, and he didn’t half milk it!

  57. So pleased to see Gardner get his come uppance.
    After their goal he danced all the way down the Doug Ellis stand line, grinning inanely and with his hand to his ear, taunting the fans.
    Complete twat.
    I guess that Gary Monk has had to coach his players to play dirty. When you’re relying on players of the quality and intelligence of Gardner then you are not going to be able to rely on skill to see you through.

  58. Woo Hoo!
    What a result, I had to record it and watch with a 20 mins delay. So once we went 1-0 down i forwarded it, thinking we’d be behind for a while, but 2 mins later were ahead!

    got a busy week ahead, though if we 2 more wins against forest and boro, well we could be 4th if other results go our way.

  59. JC, yes Tuanzebe did look more composed today. It was an even more creditable performance if he was having to cover a bit for a not fully fit Chester

  60. What. A. Game.

    What. A. Result. Cafu the magnificent. The city is ours (again). Four put into their miserable onion bag. Bring on the next game. Our team has goals in it so defensive frailties will need to wait to Jan before fixing if coaching in the meantime can’t fix it.

    Thought small heath were dirty. But we got control in the second half and tonight’s ale will taste like nectar. One happy bunny. We are on the march.

  61. Fantastic result. I do like Dean Smith – what a difference he has made to our style of play. And the guy is a real tactician – knows exactly what he is doing a complete contrast to the last manager.

    7 goals in the last 2 games – great stuff.

    We did miss John Mcginn today – what a player he is and fair play to Steve Bruce for signing him.

    Did anybody else see Gary Gardner pull on the ear of Jack Grealish when he was on the floor? What a complete reprehensible and odious cretin he has turned in to. No love lost between Grealish and Gardner

    A really exciting game and some great performances from our players.

    I do hope Albert is ok – he was playing great today.

    UTV.

  62. Alan Hutton the Scottish cafu..!!!

    Gone from Mutton to legend….and on half pay…!!!
    What a great atmosphere today!! The Holte was truly rocking and it was standing only from start to finish…no time to sit down. Gary Monk had obviously got his troops well fired up for this one, and it showed, resulting in them getting the first goal, even if Nyland was being held to prevent him reaching the ball….penalty evened it out..!!

    Dean’s words obviously sank in , remain calm and controlled, and that is just what Villa did, resulting in two great goals, and coming out on top to control the game. Loved Kodija’s goal and Jack’s header..!!

    Fractions decide games…Blues hitting the post and coming out, and Tammy’s penalty almost going wide, but just skimming in off the post…the God’s are with us..

    Dean Smith must also have nerves of steel to be able to use the exact same failures under Bruce, and make them gel into a winning combination, takes guts as well as ability to bring out the best in them. I do not see any real changes before January, and then it will be in very small moves.

    Wednesday night is now going to become a real challenge to get 11 fit players and subs to face Forest.

    I am more than happy with what Dean has achieved, and is way in front of Bruce, how JL continues to defend him, I don’t know. I do not remember him doing the same for RDM, during his short tenure..!!

  63. PP: “…how JL continues to defend him, I don’t know.”

    Here we go again! This is getting quite sad.

    JC and others (not just me) have been saying for some time that Bruce had certain qualities. We all agreed that he was not the greatest but he was there and achieved certain things until he ran out of luck or whatever it was that you need.

    We’re now in new phase under Smith and it’s beginning to show up pretty well though the defence is still iffy. And it’s mainly the defence that may need attention in January.

    All I’ve intimated is that in the light of what Bruce did achieve (however you measure that) he needs some respect instead of dirty water being dished on him or it being amde to be the case that he didn’t know what he was doing.

    Aside from that let’s just get on and see what happens under Smith and let’s stop bitching against Bruce, implied or otherwise.

  64. … and as far as RDM is concerned, in his case I don’t think he had the qualifications for this particular job.

    He may well have been good as a coach but I felt he was short on how to manage the Villa camp and short on Championship savvy.

    I would not abuse RDM or infer he didn’t know what he was about technically.

  65. “Bruce has certain qualities “

    Isn’t that the problem with Bruce? What he does is unquantifiable. You either accept he’s the champs expert or you go with what you are seeing which appears amateurish to me. Comparing it to now to smiths approach just magnified it. It’s not just people on here either it’s in every comment from the football media, the club ,Bruce’s own players, ex players you name it. I don’t feel the need to give him praise or owe him much I think he has done as much harm as good , a more intelligent approach like smiths would imo have seen us in a better place in olaying and monetary terms.

  66. IanG,

    As I said, I’m not getting into a debate about Bruce. That’s past.

    But don’t tell me that Smith is perfect! Although he’s done well, he’s not called everything right according to my view. But heck, he’s in charge and in he we must trust. As we should have with Bruce.

  67. Jl- why does smith have to get everything right? And who said he’s perfect? That would be a 100% win rate . Clearly he has done better with the players Bruce had than Bruce Did this season so far, yet all you say is he certainly hasn’t got everything right while chastening anyone who mentions bruce in a negative light.

    Are you enjoying the games under smith as you suggest you were under Bruce?

  68. Thought tuenzabe was brilliant on Sunday and one of our most improved players, what has surprised me though is kodjias overall game is better than his pre injury form. Not in goal scoring yet but I think he will. Hogans unlikely to get a game at this rate.

  69. MK,

    You do continue to over-study what people post.

    There is nothing in my statements to be challenged. It’s just my view and it does not mention *anything* about Smith “having to” get everything right.

    Indeed, if you read further you would see about putting trust in the manager. Trust means to believe in something or someone regardless of fallibility.

  70. Thanks again, JC.
    I got my times for the derby screwed up. Glad to get a 4-2 win and hear that Hutton scored the 4th.
    These international breaks are boring me. I prefer less disruption to the domestic season. I know it is what it is.
    Hey Clive now I know what you mean by lamb.
    Forgot to congratulate the Irish rugby team on their historic win against the ABs.

  71. Jl- well in that case when you next read anything I say about Bruce there is nothing to be challenged either it’s just my opinion . Just trying to understand why you don’t appear (notice I said appear) to be enjoying smiths approach.

  72. I posted a link from Heart of the Holte that was a link to a tribute to Hutton in song to the tune of I would walk 100 miles – but it has been waiting moderation for almost 2 hours; also a link to the goals but I guess most have seen them by now

  73. JL,

    Just like a politician, you have to have the last word: “in him we must trust. Just as we should have done with Bruce”

    You just will not let go, and I feel that you hate being wrong about Bruce, and that Smith is achieving more. Let it go. We all appreciate what Bruce did, but it was not good enough, and now, hopefully what Smith is doing is good enough, for me any way.

  74. MK: “well in that case when you next read anything I say about Bruce there is nothing to be challenged either it’s just my opinion”

    That’s a piece of old cobbled-together-thinking as I’ve ever read! 😀

    You defy logical thinking sometimes.

    The point I raised was about the *nature* of the criticism of Bruce and putting him down as though everything he did was wrong, often using Smith’s more attractive methods as some kind of barometer as to how inferior Bruce was, even before Smith’s era has achieved anything!

    I can’t help but laugh at these comments I’m reading…:-D

  75. Paul: “You just will not let go, and I feel that you hate being wrong about Bruce, and that Smith is achieving more. Let it go.”

    You’re another one! 😀

    Read back about my comments on Bruce, my friend!

    I constantly – always – said that Bruce was not the ideal choice as manager. And the fact of his dismissal does not mean I was wrong about his chances of getting anywhere as he was (i.m.o.) cut short before he had proper chance to get his new squad into order. Smith is now doing that for him, though I admit Smith’s approach is more progressive.

    If you recall, before Bruce’s dismissal I said that he should have been given at least until the end of October, and if nothing showed sign of coming together then he would have to go. But he was not given those extra few weeks.

    On the contrary to what you say, I am also opti about Smith’s chances at Villa. I simply see that Bruce should be more respected as a manager and as a man in dealing with everything he has to deal with.

    As for me not letting it go, just ask yourself who’s doing the “not letting go”. All I asked for was more respect for Bruce, but, no, everyone wants to come back and re-iterate their feelings about Bruce instead of acknowledging a basic human request.

  76. Jl- still haven’t answered do you like the football?

    Think you need to look at your own bias when reading anything about bruce and maybe tell me what he did do well? You don’t appear able to.

  77. MK,

    I’ve already said what I had to say about what Bruce had done in many previous posts. As I said I’m not going into debate again about this. It’s in the past and it would only end up by being a continual argument.

    Your p.o.v. is clear and so is mine. Let’s leave it at that.

    As to liking the football, well for the first 35 minutes on Sunday I was thinking to myself “this is what we used to see under Bruce!”. Then that thwack against the Villa post seemed to wake ’em up and 2 goals quickly followed.

    As to the quality of football on offer I don’t see much difference to that produced under Bruce earlier this season. In fact in the opening two matches this season I thought Villa’s play was even more persuasive. Then Villa started to be wayward in shooting … But, hey, I’ll leave it at that.

    As I said before (I did say it several posts ago) I enjoy watching football under any manager that’s making progress, and I saw Bruce as “making progress”.

  78. Jl fair enough if that’s what you see but to me it’s like chalk and cheese with the patterns of play particularly in the final third now, and 75% possession and 90 mins of effort. Most of the poor stuff came from wheelan passing and Chester daydreaming at times. I don’t think Bruce would of achieved this standard of play if he stayed, he looked baffled . Still I’m looking forward to the next game .

  79. Mark

    Agree with previous post re kodjer.

    He is becoming very aware now of his team mates and playing a more simple ball.

    more a team player which is soley down to smith

  80. JL
    You were the one that criticised our defence in support of Bruce.
    I was just making the point that you were provably wrong.
    Also for one who posted that you did not want to post about Bruce, your sheer volume of posts is a mockery of that.
    As everyone is saying here, your stubborn bias doth do you no credit.

  81. Mark
    Codger: yes he seems to play with the other players better now he is on the left side, but he is not a winger.
    I think he seems to have grown an understanding & good relationship with Tammy, & he seems to have benefitted from some coaching as Andrew says.
    How Hogan is supposed to fit in is anyone’s guess.

  82. Mark
    Passing: Chester didn’t look fit, & codger always does a few short passes.
    Whelan doesn’t seem to be able to raise his game in the middle of the game, so possibly this is his last season.
    Isn’t he 35 next birthday?

  83. I’m pumped. The attacking football now being played is right up my street. It’s exciting, as DS said, it gets bums off seats. Can’t wait for the next game. It’s chalk and cheese compared to Spud. JL, I think you are peddling up hill matey.

  84. IanG: “As everyone is saying here, your stubborn bias doth do you no credit.

    “Stubborn bias”. I could accuse you of a lot of things Ian, but that would not gain me credit, so I will refrain from that and let you make such comments as much as you like.

    Suffice to say what you say is rubbish. I have a p.o.v. and that’s it. Why should a p.o.v. be regarded as “stubborn bias”? Do you say that to anyone who disagrees with you?

  85. MK: ” I don’t think Bruce would of achieved this standard of play”

    As I said, he did achieve that in the first 2 games of the season and then the shooters shot wide and frustration set in.

  86. IanG: “I think he seems to have grown an understanding & good relationship with Tammy, & he seems to have benefitted from some coaching as Andrew says.”

    If you would kindly recall, those two were showing great signs of understanding immediately they were put together (by Bruce!). Their interplay at the very start showed almost a telepathic understanding.

    Sadly, now they’ve been put further apart, those telepathic interchanges have not been seen since….! Not to the same degree at least.

  87. Jl in those two games not one forward scored. So claiming they stopped scoring? Also elphick played in the 1st game and scored and was ditched another self inflicted problem which set the mood. Jedinak Played CB? There were many issues one being he couldn’t get the forwards going and we rarely had more than one player in the box except at corners and set pieces which is why all our goals tended to come that way.

  88. MK: “So claiming they stopped scoring?”

    I said “shooters”, sir … Again, please read what’s said. My term “shooters” means anyone who had a shot towards goal.

    I was answering your point about quality of play – not whether attackers didn’t score and Jedi played c-b!! 😀

    Anyway, no more comment from me on Bruce’s days. It’s not related to the point I originally wrote about.

  89. Can anyone guess who has made these comments in the last 25 hours?

    “Bruce was not the ideal choice of manager”

    “Smith’s approach is more progressive”

    “We’re now in a new phase under Smith and it’s starting to show up pretty well”

    Yes, those were all comments made by John Lerwill.

    He clearly doesn’t need me to support him, but it does seem that he has been seeing both the pro’s and con’s of SB and DS’s reigns.

    In essence, all he seems to have suggested is that Bruce had some good points and that although early signs are promising, it’s too soon to judge Dean Smith.

    For some reason, some (not all) on here won’t be happy until he recants, and decries everything that Steve Bruce did. He’s not going to, and why should he?

  90. Like JL, I have a more positive view of Steve Bruce’s achievements than most on here. I’m not saying that he was perfect at all. I agree that he made mistakes and have pointed out many of them in previous posts.

    I am more optimistic now, under DS than I was under SB but that doesn’t stop me from being grateful to SB for attracting some good players, winning the equal highest percentage of games of any manager in the past 60 years, and taking us from the risk of relegation to within a whisker of the Premier league in his first full season.

    I wish he’d been more aware of his faults and I’m happy to list those (as I see them) if it’d help, but like JL I’m going to carry on seeing two sides to his time with us and on one side there are ‘some’ positive things.

  91. Robbo- Taken out of context of JL’s recent posts it looks that way in context of his overall posts no. And do you think I am going to change my mind on Bruce? not on your nelly, I have been asked not to mention him and I was told not to big smith up though wasn’t I. As for balance pov? “He’s a murderer, but he loves his mum”, that is what I think of balance, overrated in some contexts.

    JL- I was merely replying to your claim we played as well in the first few games, we really did not. Also you seem to think Bruce would of arrived at the same place despite never playing expansive attacking football in his entire managerial career, even for you thats pushing it 🙂 May I suggest to you the shooters are being presented with much better chances now?

    From a report on the start to the season on 7500 to holte

    ” in one idea: Aston Villa have won three consecutive matches to start a season for the first time in greater than 50 years despite not playing their best football. This is good.

    The other idea: Aston Villa have struggled to beat two likely bottom-half Championship sides and a League Two team, putting in largely uninspiring performances each time out.”

    not exactly the scintillating stuff you seem to recall is it? 😉

    To top it off since Smith arrived the stat XG or expected goals has risen with each game played so we are creating and putting those better chances away.

    https://7500toholte.sbnation.com/2018/11/23/18101842/expected-villa-dean-smith-five-matches-promotion-derby

  92. MK,

    Well, if you are to take that 7500 article seriously, Villa’s previous football under Bruce must have been better than Smith’s if in the first 2 games this season Villa were not playing their best football! 😀

    I saw what I saw in the first 2 games – well, I have to admit, mainly in the first game. And what I saw was good cohesive stuff, though aided by a not too good opponent’s defence – as per Blews on Sunday. Elmo’s and Hutton’s goals were well constructed and the team showed good cohesion.

    But – again – you misquote me. When are you going to stop this, because if you don’t I will run out of patience. I never used the word “scintillating”. It wasn’t, and therefore I didn’t use it. I haven’t seen anything “scintillating” from Smith either yet but it might come.

    The point was, however, that under Bruce Villa played some good stuff – at times. That’s the point, and he made some progress as against what went before over the previous 5 years.

    Now, you say: “Taken out of context of JL’s recent posts it looks that way in context of his overall posts no. ” What makes you say that? I have always struggled to find a halfway meeting point with you but it clearly has been – and is – impossible. With your mates IanG, PP and JG you seem to disregard anything that comes near to being a compromise in favour of selecting statements that suit you.

    As to your opinion of balanced p.o.v.s I will say nothing. It’s not worth commenting on.

  93. I’m looking forward to wednesday night, although our injuries will test our squad depth & how the training across the board has given us that identity of play, although it is early days yet.
    I just hope we play better than saturday, as we started badly in both halves, & due to that lethargy we gave small heath a sniff before we even got going, but not 100% we still won 4-2.
    Our defending from the front wasn’t so bright, which shone the light on our back line again.
    As Plug said, the style of attacking play makes me look forward to the next match, which it rarely did with Bruce, as apprehension was more prevalent.
    JL You’d disagree with Shakespeare

  94. r0bb0: ” I have a more positive view of Steve Bruce’s achievements than most on here. I’m not saying that he was perfect at all. I agree that he made mistakes and have pointed out many of them in previous posts. …”

    That and the rest of your message is a very fine post, sir, in the true spirit of the fair traditional Villa supporter.

  95. Robbo- For me Bruces one redeeming feature as a manager was he could attract a few big names and had contacts even if he didn’t know how to use them properly, I will never forget him saying he’s been watching Hogan for years. As a bloke he seemed ok but had a bit of an Ego and a large chip on his shoulder hence the rows with fans imo. After he found out he’d got a budget he ditched the players he’d bigged up in the summer when they were all he had, no wonder players were p*ssed off.

  96. MK: “May I suggest to you the shooters are being presented with much better chances now?”

    Blatantly untrue as I saw plenty of scorable shots from Hourihane (in particular), Grealish, Kodjia and even McGinn go wide.

    If half the missed chances had gone in Bruce would still be here. (Be careful, don’t misinterpret that statement!)

  97. JL- On the context? because your posts have an air of I’m p*ssed off Bruce has gone about them.

    Another thing, if I were to say “well done IanG fabulous post that based on reality and not emotion like a true Aston Villa Fan” you’d be on my back in seconds yet you post divisive silly stuff like.

    “That and the rest of your message is a very fine post, sir, in the true spirit of the fair traditional Villa supporter.”

    By the way the day you actually have some patience with me will be a miracle 🙂

  98. Mark: “Oh Robbo, I’ve also been harangued for the last two seasons for not being Positive, now I’m positive I should shut up? ”

    Oh absolutely not. . .
    I much prefer the positive version!

  99. IanG,

    As to your comment about Wednesday’s match, I go with your statement there, but why anyone should feel apprehensive about any match under Bruce I don’t know. But, hey, let’s leave that aside as apprehension is something I don’t follow. Any suggestion of that and I try to find a thought to transcend it.

    But the Forest game is one that we could do with winning. In fact if we do beat them we can go above them on goal difference.

  100. JL- The best chances are from inside the box preferably six yard, fact. shooting from further out is a lottery.

    could of, would of and Ifs and buts, thank god the opposition don’t have the same option eh.

  101. MK: “I’m p*ssed off Bruce has gone about them.”

    Of course I am … he used to send us the lunch left-overs from Bodymoor to feed our (10) cats! 😀

    In seriousness, you read – as I’ve said often before – too much into what is written. All I have done is to seek fairness for Bruce and his place in Villa history. Nothing else.

    As to the “silly” things that you say I write then I will just say it’s good to read someone who has a balanced view on things. After the battering I get from you (and others) it comes as a relief. 😉

  102. MK: “The best chances are from inside the box preferably six yard, fact. shooting from further out is a lottery.”

    Of course, but players like Conor and Grealish are known for their capability of scoring from 20 or more yards. At least they could put them on target – or most of them.

    Many of the shots I am talking about were in situations where there was a clear sight on goal.

  103. JL
    ‘but why anyone should feel apprehensive about any match under Bruce I don’t know. But, hey, let’s leave that aside as apprehension is something I don’t follow. Any suggestion of that and I try to find a thought to transcend it.’

    Only transcends in your mind mate.
    As you well know, having to think about transcending something that has already arisen in your mind, is not only manipulation, but not what one thinks it is.
    If you’re training to be able to transcend naturally, which is fine, then don’t project it onto me please, as it’s your mind.
    Looking into a mirror at yourself is much better than holding the mirror up to everyone else.

    Apart from that you’re an imperfect human being & I’m no one’s enemy.

  104. JL
    ‘But the Forest game is one that we could do with winning. In fact if we do beat them we can go above them on goal difference.’

    Absolutely, otherwise the buttocks may clench involuntarily with Middlesborough 2 & 1/2 days later.
    Then there’s the baggies…

  105. IanG,

    All I am doing is trying to encourage positivity rather than thinking that doom is at hand.

    You know full well what that kind of result that kind of thought can bring.

  106. James

    We have been linked to the forest rb. In smiths system the full backs are important so by next season I expect to see 2 new ones.

    Also the hourihan role is vital. I like Conor but fully expect smith to sign his own man

  107. Ian g
    Like you sick of loans sticky plaster is all they are ,Bruce loved them as one would expect,never a squad building job,but Bruce could never manage that either

  108. JC – Ah…beating small heath has wrought such harmony!

    I was just thinking the same. The spectre of SB seems to be hanging around this blog while Villa (and the world) has moved on. If a wonderful win over small heath can’t shift the focus, I fear nothing can.

  109. Jeez, that was some battle on here, granted late to the party due to being away for a couple of days and only seeing the first half of the game thru a facebook live stream.

    Just to add my two EU cents, not on the Bruce v Smith debate because the past is the past already but what an excellent result against the bluenoses. There has been much wallowing in greatness in the O’Rourke household following the win.

    I enjoyed the game, I enjoyed the endeavour, I enjoyed the goals via highlights, I enjoyed seeing what it meant to the like of Grealish and Hutton, I enjoyed being entertained at a very base level without having to get too analytical.

    I’d be less concerned than some about our defence, suffice to say we need cover at CB but who do we get that makes us better that would be available but I’d trust Smith’s judgement on that, bar return from injury issues for Chester, there is a fine partnership developing between Tuanzebe and Chester, Taylor could be improved on but the Scottish Cafu appears to want to run through brick walls for Villa and I’m not going to call for him to be replaced just yet, he’s having a renaissance.

    Whelan was a fine stop gap for McGinn’s loss, he had bad moments but did nothing beyond my own expectation levels of him having seen him 85 times for Ireland so can’t get disappointed.

    Another challenge on the way tomorrow and no sense of forboding and a reducing doubt of Villa messing it up. Like many, there is an increased ability to look forward to games now without fear, there will be application and effort and there will be goals from us.

  110. Afternoon all,

    A very good YouTube website has been set up called “PREPARED – Unofficial account of Aston Villa FC”

    Many many videos put on there already showing clips from games or entire games going way back to the 1920’s. More being put on day by day as it is a young site as yet.
    Really is well worth a look and a tad of reminiscing ……
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLzqgYpCifDxx_c7nFJ1MtA?fbclid=IwAR2oTPMMhpQHSVNuvgpYGfBdTrg-Vva3wIrj3aVgSYZeZH44u1LVSbKUqG8

    oldvilla

  111. DOR,

    Nice to be bought back to the real world of here and now, and some positivity. I am enjoying the Dean Smith era , and really look forward to games, along with all the other season ticket holders that I sit with, and travel many miles to watch our claret and blue team.

    Like I said earlier, it is a very long time since the whole of the ground was standing and singing throughout the match.

    I also agree that no-one is too worried about the defence, except for substitutes, although it was a revelation to see the subs for the game with Elmo and Bunn the only defenders on the bench.

    I am sure that we will go all out to sign Scott McKenna in the January window, and maybe bring Elphick back from loan, but don’t see too many signings coming in, as Smith feels he has a nice tight knit group to see us through to at least the play-offs, and then if we gain promotion, he can build during the close season for the new campaign.

  112. JL using your analogy, you’d be perfectly happy with Donald Trump or closer to home, Boris. Time to get your thinking straight and not revere those in charge regardless of their failure or success.
    My old man had the same thought process with his doctor. The doctor had to be right because of course he was a doctor. A misdiagnose and everything was good to go for Dad. Well, a couple months anyway. Couldn’t talk him into a second opinion. Had his blinders on when a person of some authority spoke.

  113. villalore…

    “If a wonderful win over small heath can’t shift the focus, I fear nothing can.”

    Right? I know I’m guilty of drawing distinctions because they end up supporting things I’ve said. Is that petty? Well…I like to believe that it helps my credibility. But maybe it is just petty.

    As JL has pointed out, I have said good things about Bruce and thought that overall he did good for the club. But he had a remit, it didn’t happen, and the new owners said goodbye. Where I diverge from JL is in terms of patience for Bruce.

    I’d concluded, like Compass, that it wasn’t going to get better, and that was down to limitations, not time.

    So…We’ll argue for a bit. What I hope happens is that we just kick on, and the Bruce business becomes very uninteresting.

    For example, we’ve stopped talking about MON, but me? I think he did far more harm than any of his successors.

    Discuss. 😉

    Only reason I point out the differences between Bruce and Smith is that they’re the reason Compass hired Smith to replace Bruce. But…Bruce is a good man. He was just overmatched.

  114. And wait for it…fresh page is up.

    Feel fee to carry on.

    COYVB ( not least because I’ll be watching the game with a Forest supporter from Camden, of all places).

  115. Ian: “Time to get your thinking straight and not revere those in charge regardless of their failure or success.”

    😀 Oh, Ian, what do I say to that…

    I do not “revere” any person i.c. at Villa! That’s an OTT statement if ever there was one, if you don’t mind me saying. I’ve not said that about Bruce nor anyone else…

    This is only sport … I do not regard it as the be all and end all of life. It’s not to be taken *that* seriously in my view. If I am to watch it then I watch it because I want to enjoy it, not for any other reason – except that as Villa is in my DNA then Villa is always at the forefront of my sporting interests.

    There is only one entity that I “revere” … and I am not going into detail about that.

    Meanwhile, football managers are appointed by their clubs to do a job and we should get behind them as much as possible to maximise their effect. Simples.

    I always said that Bruce had his foibles and was not the ideal choice, but, hey, for me he didn’t do that badly and in the middle of personal trials, as well as the financial nonsense that went on over the summer. But he’s gone now and I accept that.

    I tend to agree also with JC about MON, though there were times when we had some fine entertainment during his time i.c. Memories of Barry and also Milner’s shooting and the enthusiastic defensive qualities of Laursen, Dunn and Collins will always stick with me as much as the time when we beat Man U 4-0 back in 1963 and in the 1957 and 1994 Cup Finals.

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