As per usual over the festive period, Villa won’t have had much time to lick their wounds after the 2-3 setback against visiting Leeds United at the weekend. And unfortunately, since I’ve been traveling over the holidays, that was one I didn’t get to watch. And I’ll likely not be able to see today’s match, either.

Big-picture wise, it seems Deano will now have to deal with one of the great caveats of Steve Bruce’s tenure: injuries. All teams have them, but Villa have had some hard luck over the last few years, and just as the side has been coming together, Smith is now having to work without Jack Grealish and Axel Tuanzebe. Given previous injuries to Birkir Bjarnason and Henri Lansbury, it’s left Smith without a lot of midfield options, and even fewer at the back.

We all know what Jack brings to the side. An extended absence is a bit of a disaster for a team looking to play expansive, attacking football…never mind one just learning how to do it as a team. Tuanzebe, of course, was just beginning to come into his own, and with no backup at CB, it’s a big blow to what was already a shaky unit. Take out James Collins, who nobly tore up his short-term deal when he injured himself just after signing it, and it was James Bree pressed into action. No Neil Taylor saw Hutton left and Elmohamady right. The result was not pretty.

Smith’s post-match comments indicated disappointment again with the lack of upfield pressure, and as in Jack’s first game out, one has to wonder about the team’s overall confidence insofar as that impacts their commitment to pressure. Sounds a bit like they’re falling back on old habits. I would think Bjarnason brings more in that department than Whelan, but we’ll see again whether he has the minutes in him, or whether Whelan instead gets the nod.

Smith says top two is still the aim, and it needs to be. While Purslow and Compass have signaled that Villa aren’t under financial pressure to go up and are committed to building and doing it right whatever that means, everyone at Villa will still want to go up. Right now, that’s looking like another run through the playoffs. And while that should be attainable, I really don’t know how they address Grealish’s absence. The window is fast approaching, and with it the ability to address some of the squad’s shortcomings. But Grealish will not be easy to replace, and the team may have to settle with getting a boost at the back.

I do feel confident that the new regime will make the most of the opportunity. If Jack’s out for a long time, maybe O’Hare finally gets a shot, for example, or we make an audacious bid for Barry Bannon or some such. You never know. Might unearth another McGinn.

Anyway, travels call me again, so I’ll simply say let’s hope we bounce back and get a result.

Hope everyone had a happy Christmas, and here’s to a good performance to take some of the sting out of the late loss.

Over to you.

Comments 88

  1. Hi JC.
    Hope you had a good Xmas also.
    I wrote a comment twice, but it disappeared on posting.
    So suffice it to say, I also hope we do the business today.
    It will be interesting to see who he brings back off loan [if anyone].
    But it is his chance to find out about the fringe players in depth for a rebuild.
    I hope you’ve all survived Xmas, there’s a lot of games to get into.

  2. Hmmmmmmm don’t like that line up. Was expecting a freshen up. Where is our u23s????? No kodger who was amazing against Leeds.

    Honeymoon period over. Come on villa

  3. I’m at the Liberty…did Bruce actually leave. Swansea are better passers, thinkers, tacklers, runners…and how much did their squad cost?
    Apart from Mcginnn and Abraham…this whole f**king lot needs dumping.

  4. Missed mcginn chance link cut out,but overall v poor,2 wingers babysitting 2 full backs leaving Tammy all alone ,we play ball back to keeper to much all he doing is launching it forward to Tammy all alone

  5. bloody hell , needed that win. cr*p game , but doesn’t matter. 3 points, woohoo!

    glad to see albert back, tell u what though, norwich, were 3-0 down with 10 mins left, and the fookers came back to 3-3, and leeds win 3-2 again, in the dying minutes.

  6. we got a few defenders coming back from loan possibly, elphick, clark, we will buy in another cb, and 2 fullbacks hopefully, add that in to kalinic, and now suddenly nylan is stepping up a level. play offs are still very do able.

  7. Whew, great result for us. Only 3 points off playoffs. Elphick will make us stronger, as will Bree at RB. Can’t believe Norwich and Leeds results. Still, just need to keep winning. We should be able to beat Preston

  8. Not sure about Grealish leaving. He’s a diamond in a dung-heap here but has not had a good season and doubts remain about how effective he would be in the PL…doesn’t dominate/influence EFL games very much and PL scouts will see this. Sat on the M4 services now…all Villa’s issues laid bare again today. Fair play to Nyland for the save and not dropping the ball in his net from open play.
    Bolasie is unfit and overweight…horrible waste of money.

  9. Jack signed a new 5 year contract in September. He’s not going anywhere. Will be interesting to see who DS brings in. Remember last time Jack got injured, he came back super charged.

  10. It was never a penalty. Justice was done when Nyland saved it.

    Overall……just edged it. Fabulous cross from Cafu for the goal. Great running from Hourihane to get on the end of it. Another booking for McGinn. Was this one for mouthing off?

    We managed a clean sheet. But I’m not sure how. Can’t knock the winning of 3 points though. We need a few more wins.

  11. Could easily have had 3 today:
    Still don’t know how their keeper saved the one at point blank range from McGinn ( from a cross provided by Hutton)
    When McGinn was brought down as he was about to knock in the cross ( provided by Hutton) it looked a dead very penalty to me.
    And finally, the one that went in (from the cross provided by Hutton after he’d sprinted the whole length of the pitch to provide the overlap)

  12. Like the penalty was gave away because Hutton was ball watching as per usual and left 2 men for elgazi our winger,like Leeds 2nd goal when wrong side of man for corner school boy stuff,like stoke 1st goal caught trying to dribble ball out,as play off final when he was ball watching for Fulham goal,so I wouldn’t get to carried away with o e decent cross leading to an assist

  13. JG. All I’m trying to do is give a bit of balance.
    I’m not suggesting that Hutton is the world’s greatest left ( or right) back. I’m not even suggesting he’s the best in thechampionship, but he’s doing a decent job there and I simply don’t understand the obsession to find fault with him.
    Every defender will make mistakes. . . . . we’d soon get bored of 0-0 draws every week otherwise. He’s been given an even more attacking brief under Dean Smith so we can expect more goals for, and against, over the coming weeks than we would have seen otherwise.
    I’m an Aston Villa fan that wants his team to do well. I’ve also seen over the years that people perform better in just about any role when given confidence and freedom to express themselves. We’ve seen how Mourinho has lost the ability to do that with all of his players and the team suffers. It’s always seemed odd to me when ‘supporters’ turn on a particular player and seek to find fault in them every week. Hutton seems to have a real strength of character and is able to rise above it but I still find the overblown criticism of him by a minority hard to understand.

  14. Nyland is an interesting one.
    Is anyone else now wondering if we’ve moved too quickly in bringing in a replacement?
    I can’t help remembering Sam Johnston’s early days with us. He too showed from the start that he was a good shot stopper, but failed to command his box. Nyland is another very young keeper that is starting to show signs of the goal keeper that he may become.
    Dean Smith seems to have handled him extremely well and actually turned the signing of Kalinic into a motivational factor.

  15. r0bb0: ” It’s always seemed odd to me when ‘supporters’ turn on a particular player and seek to find fault in them every week. “

    Yes.

    One of the things that Villa fans have always loved in any of their players are those that bust a gut to do their job, regardless of any error they occasionally perpetrate.

    Hutton has constantly proved that he has the ability to ‘come back’ and prove that he not only has resilience but also the skill to earn his place. As I said, regardless of the occasional blip. I would say that the quality of his usual performance is worth far more than any error he commits. Indeed he regularly puts himself about to cover his fellow defenders and frequently stops opponents from scoring in the middle of the goal.

    But some just see the errors.

    Not saying I wouldn’t prefer a world-class full-back in his slot, but just being realistic.

  16. JL. It’s a good observation about the effort he puts in. I’ll add his excellent attitude and professionalism to that. By all accounts, when he was out of favour, he didn’t sulk, but used it as motivation to work as hard as he could. . . . .in contrast to certain others who have been sponging a living off the club for years.

    I stand to be corrected by someone who knows more about the game than I, but I wouldn’t have had him down as being responsible for their goal yesterday.
    Dean Smith likes his wingers to help out in defence and El Ghazi had tracked back to do that. Hutton was trying to provide extra cover in the centre rather than doubling up on the same man. Why ask the wingers to track back if you’re not expecting them to do a job once they’re back there?

  17. RObbO,

    On the Nyland debate, I noticed yesterday that he just will not come for crosses inside his 6 yard box. The odd time he does usually doesn’t end well which is probably why he’s stays put I’m guessing.

    At 6’7″, the new keeper should be able to take out many of the aerial crosses and if he does our defence will improve big time. Having said that, with Swansea pressing at the death yesterday, Nyland released a beauty of a ball to our man furthest forward which came to nothing but the intent was there and the opportunity spotted.

    Now let’s get stuck into PNE and take another 3 points.

  18. Bruce’s red face nice put on fb,all teams in red bar 1 are in bottom half of table all teams in green bar 1 in top half of table
    Bruce and his supporters are to blame for where we are

  19. I don’t understand most of that sentence JG.

    As for Bruce’s supporters ‘taking the blame’ for where we are now then there are a few points.
    Before he joined us we were heading for league 1. So I’m grateful to him for keeping us up and then taking us to a play off final.
    You’re right that he started this season badly and Dean smith is an improvement.
    He did however leave us with some good players (although an imbalanced defence)

    I’m pleased we have swapped him for Dean Smith. I didn’t think that DS would leave Brentford.
    You wanted us to take Thierry Henri. . . how’s that going?
    If you’d had your way we’d very likely be in serious decline now so I wouldn’t be too cocky if I were you.

  20. Hard fought win yesterday and we played with two sitting mids second half in a 4321, giving what has been a bit creaky recently slightly more resilience. Has to be said Swansea had little threat on the wings its not their game though.

    On Nyland, deserves to be dropped overall along with the full backs if we had better options. Nyland would likely carry on as is for the rest of the season he’s already kept us in some games and gained clean sheets. He has equally made very stupid mistakes like the FB’s that have cost goals and games, to the point we could be on the heels of the top two.

    Its easy to forget it seems that this is a professional team being paid a lot of money to get it right. Being bettered occasionally by an opponent is part and parcel of any players existence, constantly making poor decisions,adopting poor positions and downright sloppyness is not a great trait to have in defence.

    I can understand people get emotionally attached to a players perceived effort, it can be admirable but absolving them of all sins if they get the odd bit right is not how the Coach will see it. He knows that many things feed into the conceding of a goal sometimes from the forwards carelessness but basic errors should be eradicated over time to a once in a season amount, not 10.

    Damn shame Leeds and Norwich squirmed their way out of defeat, they have tougher tests coming up I hope they run themselves out. Hard to tell if everyone is average this season or every club is just going for the win, makes for some thrilling stuff, stiffen up at the back and we will be even better going forward.

  21. Just saw I wrote 4321, should be 4231 🙂 Maybe that is the way forward without Jack? leaves mcginn free to support Tammy, could soon see Thor or Lansbury in with Hourihane as the two.

  22. MK,

    Cynical comment I think. You’re almost trying to equate our Championship players with bankers – that what they do is dishonest. Some where – until Bruce came along.

    Though I’m agin the amount of money players get, the fact is that at the beginning of the 90s the game needed an uplift and a new era evolved to provide it. Since then players’ pay has gone crazy, but Villa’s average support has only increased as everyone has both fallen for the message-line but also seems to enjoy the game more.

    To provide football at the best level actually requires players to have pride in their own game and a willingness to go the extra mile, and in players like Hutton that sort of commitment is clearly there.

    When a player like Hutton continues to try to bust that gut at an age when many will clearly be ready for the scrapheap is a credit to him i.m.o. I don’t believe he does it just for the money.

    He should get cred – and respect i.m.o.

  23. Mark
    I’m not sure if you were referring to my comments when suggested that some are absolving Fullbacks from making mistakes. If you read my comments you’ll see that I have absolutely not done that. I just don’t think that the vendetta against him is justified.
    Yes, he makes mistakes, but he’s made fewer than Chester this year and yet he doesn’t come in for the same criticism.
    We are Aston Villa . . . In the championship, after years of low investment compared with most premiership teams. It’s futile to expect us to have a squad of top quality premiership players at this point in time.
    Jack is the only one of our players that might hold down a place in a top side right now and even he would probably be a bench warmer at Spurs.
    I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t criticise players when they have a bad game but to do it every game goes beyond constructive criticism. And becomes an unwarranted vendetta.
    Ps. I’m not suggesting that ‘you’ do this

  24. Robbo and JL- you both need to have word with yourselves 🙂

    Robbo- Aston Villa are top class football team not a home for misfits or players being paid peanuts, we have spent more than any other champs club in our time in it and continue to do so by the looks of it. Player have to be held accountable beyond sentimentality and should do so themselves. Villa not being Spurs is fairly irrelevant, I don’t see other teams players making these basic errors.

    To put it into context we have the worst defensive record in the league at home, think its 5th best away now nearly 2 goals a game conceded at home, 8th worst overall yet second best attacking.

    I’m not for attacking players but I’m not for molly codling them either, I’m sure smith doesn’t. Surprised Chester hasn’t made more, no partner for months then injured and is having pain killing injections and two fairly dodgy Full backs, no Keeper, its like ok Corral and can’t even rest the bloke.

    JL- Cynical? trying to equate them with Bankers? been at the sherry 🙂

    I don’t mind some of Huttons game, the going forward bit which has improved, You will often see him trotting back though when he’s made a run with the opposition in full flight down his side, Thats when he should really be busting a gut, that I don’t like along with an iffy positional sense and for getting put on his bum easily. The clue is in the name “professional” footballer, he’s supposed to know what he’s doing at 30 he doesn’t it seems. For me he is the most improved player at Villa but that just shows you the level he started at.

  25. Pleased to see you corrected yourself MK over the changed formation for the second half, which made a big difference.

    On the fullbacks, Elmo just was not at the races, and had a very poor game, not helped by some of the poor cover from our wingers. Hutton did his best, but when he is making his forays up the pitch, then others should be ready to help cover, and the same desire to help is also lacking at throw -ins, rarely do you see players looking for the ball. Remember, also that Hutton got his contract by offering to play for his wage…!!!

    A lot of additional pressure is there without Tuanzebe now, who was the main one of the back four carrying the ball forward.

  26. PP
    We still need another left back, & hopefully better than what we have.

    I must admit, There doesn’t seem much cohesion in the winger/full back department, especially in defence,
    The 4231 seems to be helpful when needed

  27. MK. Again an outlandish remark: “you both need to have word with yourselves”.

    Football the way you describe it is more to do with generating an era of automatons – and that might indeed take place once AI gets into full swing.

    I have no time for football the way you describe it. It’s not worth discussing. I’m on planet Venus while you’re on Uranus by the sound of it.

    PP,

    Agreed with your remarks.

  28. JL- You and Robbo Don’t like players being got at as you see it, that hasn’t changed in 3 years of you two nagging and it won’t. People see what they see, rise above it.

    Like what you did there with the Uranus comment very mature.

  29. Mk,

    You saw what I was doing with mentioning Uranus did you?

    I think not. Here’s an astrological interpretation of Uranus:

    In Astrology, the energies of Uranus are electric and crammed with change. Uranus is forward-looking. It balks at tradition, and celebrates originality and individuality. Uranus is associated with technology, innovation, discovery, and all that is progressive.

    That’s not what you thought is it?!!! Be honest. But I don’t hold with that vision by itself, hence why I illustrated our differences in astrological terms.

    Get it now? You clearly didn’t before.

    As forr0bb0 and I “nagging”, it would seem to me that you’re not innocent of that charge, are you? Dear oh me, such twaddle…

  30. Robbo
    Are you sure you are not borris Johnson in disguise, some of the stuff wrote lately has been as Chris kamara says unbelievable Geoff
    Chester being at fault for more goals than Hutton
    We were heading to league 1 before spud saved us
    And yes Henry not doing to well at Monaco they are bottom of the league for same reason we were relegated, and I still would prefer Henry to spud in fact McLeish Lambert or mad Mick couldn’t done worse job than Bruce
    Jeep taking your self righteous pills because last I looked this was Aston villa life site not yours

  31. JG: “taking your self righteous pills because last I looked this was Aston villa life site not yours”

    MK: “You and Robbo Don’t like players being got at as you see it, that hasn’t changed in 3 years of you two nagging and it won’t.”

    MK: “you both need to have word with yourselves”

    Two persons stating their case and the above is what results. This is the blog where everyone can state their opinion is it? Some seem to forget JC’s first law.

    I rest my case.

  32. JC,

    I honestly suggest that this site does not gain a good reputation when some resort to outlandish statements as given immediately above.

    This is not how AVL used to be. Perhaps the Riot Act should be read. Don’t you agree?

    If not then this site will end up with just JG and MK talking to one another. Perhaps refereed by IanG!

  33. Mark,
    I agree that we ‘should’ be a top class football team, but the fact is that right now we are not.
    It’s right to aspire to be better, but self awareness is a useful starting point.
    In my comment I referred to our investment in recent years being lower than most ‘premiership’ clubs. I did that deliberately because it seems that many fans still seem to compare our players with top quality premiership players. Bearing in mind our current position and investment over recent years that doesn’t seem to be a sensible reference point.
    I reckon that Hutton would get into most championship sides (that’s an opinion and you may have a different ‘opinion’)
    To continually blame our defensive frailties on the fullbacks and absolve the centre backs seems ‘odd’
    When we all know that is the position where we are particularly exposed.

  34. R0bb0,

    I would have to agree that a lot of the problems in defence are as a result of over exposure of the centre backs, who in Bruce’s time were always protected by having a defensive mid fielder sitting deep, in the form of Jedinak or Bjarnason, but since that is no longer the case, the whole back line has much more work to do, with an unfit James Chester, an injured Tuanzebe, and now Bree the only cover, making it far harder on the full backs too, and then we wonder why we are leaking goals.

    PNE is going to be a different kettle of fish, as they do have strikers, including Callum Robinson, (now valued at around £7million) and Johnson on form in mid field. Fortunately, Swansea were lacking a serious strike force. Our best hope, is that we score more than PNE!

    Just waiting to see who we recall, and who we manage to sign now. We will definitely need a permanent replacement for Tuanzebe, as he will not be back until the end of January/February, and then, I cannot see United parting with him on a permanent basis.

    IanG,

    We do need full backs, but will Mitch Clark be as good as anyone we sign, if we recall him.

  35. Evening, all.

    “JC’s First Law.” I like it!

    Yes, please do just converse and debate without condescension, acrimony or swipes. It might sound like sacrilege, but it’s only football in the end, and opinions will vary. This is a blanket declaration directed toward no one in particular.

    Take dear old Alan Hutton. A true gamer who divides opinion…I take the two views combined: He gives his all, and is not Cafu. And all teams are in a perpetual race to find the elusive, perfect combination of players. For some, the challenge is much greater than for others.

  36. PP<

    An excellent rendition of why the defence has problems these days! Clearly Bruce saw that deficiency and why it was covered – probably contributing to the lack of fluidity in the football during his time.

  37. PP,

    But I don’t quite know about the lack of striking ability at Swansea! Bony was red hot before he went to Man City I think. But he’s not quite what he was, I’d agree.

  38. Lots of passion and debate as usual. What I see on the pitch is what I expect of the squad left behind by Bruce. I’ll reserve judgement on Smith until he has a couple of windows of signings.

    Of course Villa have fallen a long way in the past 10 years, but how they have managed to spend so much money achieving so little in the Championship is criminal waste. Norwich, Leeds, Sheffield Utd etc…how much have they spent?

    The other failure is the youth team. Why do I never see a promising youngster in the line-up…I suspect because we don’t have any. As badly as I viewed Bruce I do not believe he selected the players he did and wilfully refused to play talented youngsters. Villa cannot keep spending without a blend of home-grown thrown in.

  39. Some may say “we were one game away from the PL last season, so we haven’t done so badly”. If we had beaten Fulham we would have returned straight back with a Derby-esque points tally. For the money spent, progression should be expected based on a clear development and recruitment strategy. Villa keep wasting good money on both poor loan and permit signings (Bolasie… and then Bree cannot even make a 10 yard pass).
    Most of the current squad would not be suitable for the PL and you cannot get promoted needing 12 new players

  40. PW: ” Why do I never see a promising youngster in the line-up…I suspect because we don’t have any. “

    Not exactly true, Paul, but I do agree that the youth system could have done better. But then we give away the likes of Albrighton and Bannon, which of course doesn’t help. Albrighton played a pivotal role yesterday against Man City.

    Far more recently, we’ve had Green and Davis, both of whom succumbed to injury when we were thinking of how well they had done. But we seem to have forgotten them already although Davis has been back on the bench these last 3 games. And O’Hare and others have also suffered injury.

  41. PW, a couple of good posts. I’m in agreement with you on them. The money wasted by the club in the past has been scandalous. Take Dick Turpin. What return have we received on that “investment”.

    JL, Preston are indeed struggling with injuries. Young Robinson won’t be there to damage us. Their injury list is longer than ours by a distance. We should get after them and grab the points.

  42. As JL said. . . two good postings PW. Too much cash has been wasted on players over the past 7 or 8 years. The blame lies more with the disfunctional, inconsistent board level management of the club than the 8 different managers (10 if you include temporary ones) that we’ve had over that period.
    I don’t think it’s right to put too much of the blame on Steve Bruce.
    It’s true that the value of all the players on our books is one of the highest in the championship, but that’s a legacy of 10 transfer windows rather than just the 4 under Bruce. He had to cope with negative net spend in his time with us and I reckon he’s left us with a good enough squad to gain promotion from this division. It didn’t look as if he was going to be capable of doing it this year but Dean Smith has shown that this group of players, under his guidance, is good enough to compete with any team in this division.

  43. Sorry Plug . . . it was you who praised PW’s posts.

    I also agree that we’ve not gained as much from our academy as we should have done.

    By all accounts, our facilities and set up are excellent but compared with the very best (Southampton for example) then we’ve underperformed and haven’t developed as many top players as it feels that we should have done.

    We’ve brought through plenty at Championship or lower premiership level, but precious few who can hold down a place in the top 6.
    Having said that, maybe that’s an unrealistic target when you consider how few british players turn out for any of the top 6 clubs!

  44. Robbo- I agree with PW’s answer on the money spent and ask yourself why after three seasons of rebuild we own two CB’s one on loan?

    PW- I think since Smith has come in we have seen the true worth of some players come through making the use of the youth less urgent and even then the likes of O’hare have got injured and others that may of been of use like clarke are on loan. We have been generally cr*p at bringing them through though, Brentford were very good at this so I hope for improvement. Our players develop away from Villa park not at it.

    JL- He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone

  45. r0bb0,

    Surely Southampton have lost their way a bit? They certainly were lauded for their system, but it’s amazing that it doesn’t take long to go backwards. Perhaps I’m being unfair to Saints as I’ don’t try to keep up-to-date with what they’re doing, but in the PL they’re not doing too well now.

    Mark,

    And when did I throw any stones? The only thing I’ve ever accused you of that comes close to that category is accusing you of not understanding what I’ve written on several occasions, as far as I recall. On that Uranus thing you completely mis-read it, though I agree that when I read it again I could see that your interpretation could be taken. But since I don’t write that kind of rubbish (and never have) I’m mystified as to why you should assume that I meant that.

  46. Mark, I agree completely with you about our shortage of centre backs. It’s a bizarre situation. I know I’m repeating myself from previous postings, but it seems inconceivable that a manager with bruce’s experience allowed it to happen!

    Having said that, my point was that notwithstanding that weakness, he left us with a squad that is capable to getting promotion under our new manager.
    Bearing in mind that we’ve closed to within 3 points of play off places despite the run of games that we’ve had it’s hard to argue against us having a squad that is ‘capable’ of promotion under Dean Smith.

  47. I reckon this squad would be capable under Dean smith of a mid table position in the premier league but we’d struggle to get further than that without improvements in certain areas.
    For now though, we have shown that the players ‘are’ good enough to more than compete in the championship.

  48. Barbet and sawyers pretty much done.

    A number 6 will be signed too. Knew smith wouldn’t be having out mid. Especially that number 6 role is vital. Barbet has a nice left peg and can play CB too. Sawyers would be fantastic in the middle. Energetic pacey. Radoja of celta Vigo linked heavily. Not played much so will be patient with him.

  49. r0bb0: “…but it seems inconceivable that a manager with bruce’s experience allowed it to happen!”

    May I suggest that it was an aberration on his part brought on my pressures both domestically and professionally (the state of the club before it’s ownership was redefined)?

    I believe he was also under pressure to ship Elphick because of the amount of wages he received.

  50. JL ‘If not then this site will end up with just JG and MK talking to one another. Perhaps refereed by IanG!’
    Really?? I think there might have been a few contributions from you as well.
    As John says ‘“But at the same time it must be permissible to defend your corner – so long as it’s a reasonable riposte.” Absolutely. Debate away!’

    I feel a lot of the diatribe lately has become more of a personal attack on commentators rather than a reasonable discussion of opposing viewpoints – something AVL has always previously been an exemplar.

    So let’s not take offence at any comments and follow John’s advice so we ‘bystanders’ do not have to scroll down lengthy arguments to reach the meaningful discussion please.

    As far as the attacking backs are concerned the need for support from the midfield is paramount; here we are missing Adomah who has always raced back to defend and Tammy has not been slow to race back when required but there are a few slowcoaches. Whelan obviously because of his age but Elmo should have no excuses. Even more scary is the amount of ball watching rather than opponent watching that goes on in our defence; you only have to look at some of the goals conceded from unmarked attackers

    I’m expecting 3 points today. UTV

  51. Another transfer window is upon us. FFP hasn’t gone away. We’ll need to batten down the hatches otherwise punishment will be there or thereabouts. We need to put a shift in to avoid it. If we don’t mass hysteria will break out.

    Clive, I’m expecting 3 points today too.

  52. Clive
    ‘here we are missing Adomah who has always raced back to defend and Tammy has not been slow to race back when required but there are a few slowcoaches.’
    ‘but Elmo should have no excuses.’

    I agree, this is where DS talks about ‘defending as a team’, & says the defending has been poor.
    Elmo has had a lot of off days lately once his confidence had been knocked, more of a wingback.
    AS I’ve already posted, we need a left back & CB now, whether from youth or recalled loans, or to buy/loan another, & some fine tuning.
    This is also sorting out the squad that we could do with improving.
    ko in 45 minutes UTV

  53. Team for today (c/o BBC):

    Nyland, El Mohamady, Bree, Chester, Hutton, Whelan, El Ghazi, Hourihane, McGinn, Bolasie, Abraham.

    Substitutes
    9Hogan
    17Davis
    20Bjarnason
    26Kodjia
    31Bunn
    37Adomah
    39Revan

  54. Easah Sulliman has also been recalled. Tommy Elphick eligible for the QPR game.

    Just watched the Old Firm game, and what a difference to the last one I saw where Celtic battered Rangers 5-0. This time the pupil, Steven Gerard, has defeated the master, Brendan Rogers, in a great performance, and they are now on equal points at the top of the table, with Celtic having a game in hand.

    Not sure about the unchanged Villa side, but will trust in Smith for the moment, but would have preferred to see Adomah for El Ghazi, and maybe Kodjia for Bolassie, after the Swansea game.

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