Draws, draws, draws. Villa don’t lose very often, but they don’t win enough, either. Sitting four points off the playoff spots heading into tonight’s game with Sheffield United, it’s Villa’s 13 stalemates that have us sitting ninth with a record identical to that of small heath.

So, as always, it’s all about finding a way to get over the line with three points instead of one. Simple game, football.

But in predictable fashion, what looks to have been a solid addition to the squad—one that might very well help start turning those draws into wins—has his immediate availability in question. Tyrone Mings, he of the infamous stamping incident, is apparently not quite out of the woods yet.

I’ve largely avoided the controversy. I’d looked away when it happened during the game, and just saw the results. All the ensuing events, well, I’ve not paid attention other than to see he escaped a sanction, but that Reading aren’t happy about that. So we’ll see. Chester’s back in training, so maybe the layoff has done him some good, but I’m guessing with three games coming up in the week, it would be nice if Mings can avoid a ban, and if he doesn’t that it comes when Chester is more back to himself.

Otherwise, not much. Obviously the schedule over the last 16 games gets tougher, starting tonight. Smith says it’s been a good week of preparation, which is good, as the players are going to have to really get stuck in for all of the week’s fixtures.

We could be a lot better off a week Saturday. Or we could well be wrapping our heads round another season in the second tier. Let’s see what the boys have in them. This will come down to desire and grit as much as anything.

Over to you.

Comments 48

  1. Lineup:
    Kalinic, Mings, Elphick, Hutton (c), Taylor
    Jedinak, Hourihane
    McGinn, El Ghazi, Kodjia
    Steer, Whelan, Green, Elmo, Bjarnason, Adomah, Hause

  2. Kalinic looks like a blundering oaf. The midfield gets outpaced like they don’t exist. Does Villa’s recruitment policy provide positive vetting for very slow, one-paced players?

  3. Another 3 goals shipped, another game without a win. Billy Sharp, he’s about 5ft 1 and still heads a ball that Hutton missed. What the phuk was Taylor doing for their 3rd?

  4. Bearing Billy Sharp
    “We should have won that game”
    Their 2nd goal should have been disallowed . . . twice! And that came at a point when we were on top
    AND should have conceded 2 penalties

    Let’s hope this gives the team the lift they need
    Jack coming back soon
    We’re still in there fighting

  5. Can’t argue that officials are poor but you can’t blame for all the other poor results and goals conceded in the past 10 games…there’s a pattern here and it is that Villa have a woeful defence and midfield.

  6. Paul, yes it’s disappointing and frustrating that we’ve slipped so badly recently but I’m so glad that I am able to get pleasure out of a fight back like that.
    I feel so fortunate that I don’t inhabit your world where there is so much gloom and so little joy.

  7. Each to his own I guess. If joy is seeing your team concede 2-3 goals per week, play cr*p football in the second tier, then it must feel like you snort coke every week

  8. What a comeback! I switched on when I got up at 0430 thinking to watch a re-run only to find Villa 2-3 with 3 minutes to go.

    There was much discussion on Sky after the game about the off-side on Sharp for goal 2 as well as the fact he kicked the ball out of the keeper’s hands. I don’t think he had hold of it long enough for it to be considered ‘under his control’.

    The post-match discussions will continue but as I often quote the great Shankley ‘If you read about it in the Echo that is the score – so move on’.

  9. Hi all, thanks JC for keeping things going on here & all the regulars who post. We were certainty shocking for most of the game but, maybe with claret & blue tinted glasses, their first goal could have been cleared off the line by Tammy. The second should definitely not have stood & the shirt pull on Mings, right in front of the c**k of a ref should definitely have been a pen. All things considered, whether against the balance of play, we should have come away with 3 points. I’m hoping that the amazing come back inspires the team & pushes us on to make the play offs..
    .then who knows what might happen. There’s no doubt we need a rebuild this summer what ever league we’re in but I’m prepared to have faith in the owners, CEO & manager that they will bring the right players in to get us back to where we should be. UTV

  10. And here’s a tweet from a ‘supporter’ who left the game when we were 3-0 down:

    “First time I’ve left that early from Villa Park..

    Embarrassing display. Hats off to Sheffield United this, look well organised and Hungry. Unlike us!”

  11. Howdo Costa,

    Totally agreed. How Tammy was standing back off the line puzzles me!

    And the second? Highly dubious. As Clive says Villa’s keeper didn’t have the ball fully under control … but … in these days when keepers are supposed to be sacrosanct within their own 6-yard box, I don’t think it should have been allowed. A suspicion of offside as well.

    But until that point Villa had done hardly nowt of note. The Jedi’s passing was awful most of the time, but I suppose it’s his first start for a couple of months and was rusty. I suspect Jack will be rusty too when he returns.

    But Villa at no time looked as though they were disheartened, and they got back for two reasons i.m.o. (1) because Villa had more tenacity and concentration than the Blades and (2) bringing on Green was just what was needed i.m.o. His support play was a bit all over the place, but his shot produced Villa’s second goal and then he scored himself what was a real striker’s goal.

    I also thought Whelan did a good job. and was willing Villa to recovery just by himself.

    Well, we’ve actually moved above Small Heath, but today’s games have yet to be played.

    With Mings and Elphick mainly looking solid, it now needs Jack to sort out our midfield issues. But we shouldn’t be dependent on one player.

  12. My opinion on this, which I know many will disagree with . . . but it’s just how I feel:

    Too many of us are living on past glories. Like narrow minded little Englanders who still believe in Empire we have a rose tinted vision of Aston Villa as giants of English football.
    After last night’s game we have risen to being (maybe temporarily) the 5th best team in the Midlands.

    Some will say that this is a defeatist attitude and you have to aim high in order to succeed. I agree that you need to aim high, but you also have to be realistic. Overly ambitious expectations actually ‘reduce’ performance. Targets (if you believe in them at all) need to be set to be achievable if they are to act as an incentive.

    If expectations are set too high then fans become despondent far too easily.
    The atmosphere created within Villa Park is just incredible when things are going well, but at other times it can feel positively hostile.

    I have real confidence for the future of the club under this ownership and manager, but it’s going to take time to come good. I really don’t see how actively seeking out the bad and the negative will help.

    I’m not in any way saying that we should ignore or not discuss failings of management or players . . . or fans come to that. . . but whether we want to admit it or not, we all recognise the difference between constructive criticism and the sulking and sour faced carping which (to my mind) is far too prevalent in the club.

    I’m a fan. . . . I’ve sat through too many years of poor football and even poorer results, but at some point we need to recognise that we are currently just another one of maybe 30 clubs who aspire’ to be in the top half of the premiership. . . . . no more no less. . . . just one of thirty.

    We’re going to have to work hard to get there and there’ll be many knock backs on the way. We need to learn to accept the knock backs and then gain even more pleasure from the victories (or incredibly memorable and exciting) 3-3 draws.

  13. John. You make a good point about Jack. I think his rerun will give the whole team and fan base a lift, but let’s not expect him to immediately return to his previous form. It’s will probably take a few weeks for him to regain his sharpness and understanding with his teammates.

    Still very much looking forward to his return though!

    Anyone heard anything of Tuanzebe? What was his injury anyway?

  14. r0bb0,

    Enjoyed reading your philosophy and when we think of Villa as “giants of football” then we can’t be thinking of anything other than a very short period of 2 years or so (1980-82) when Villa won league and European Cup – and Super Cup v Barcelona.

    Since then we promised for about 10 years between 1992 and 2002 and 2007 to 2010 … but not really achieving a lot except keeping pride maintained to a certain level.

    Memories of teams and achievements pre-War are just not available except I can recall the tangible sense of expectation after WW2 that Villa would get back to their “rightful status”. But once we reached the 1960s our expectations weren’t very high and then we really were “living on past glories”. The 1972-82 decade of coming back from rock bottom to the very top heralded a lot of false expectation for the future – that the 1982 pinnacle could be repeated. But it would have needed a very special ‘owner’ of Villa to get us back there, especially given the economic situation in the Midlands then. Doug was not that man. And since we’ve acquired further delusion and now – as you rightly state – the reality that we are just another club with ambition but not quite yet having the equipment.

    On the way, people have lost their ability to just enjoy what scraps come their way. Living in the moment is the only basis for contentment, but most of us don’t think that’s a real way of looking at things. TV really took hold once breakfast TV hit the screens, and now we’ve forgotten what it’s like to be without a screen of some kind in front of us and constantly being prompted that we need something more than we have.

    As to Tuanzebe, I believe he’s out until end of the month or later. But I can’t recall what his injury is.

  15. Gregg Evans nicely points out that Villa have the second-worst defensive record in the division. Must always have dodgy referees then.
    Who organises defensive training at Bodymoor Heath? It’s the same mistakes at left back and central defence every week. Smith should be stabilising the performances by now

  16. Can someone write me a short paragraph on the reasons that Jedinak should be playing in a team that has ambitions of success? He can’t run, he can’t pass, he gives fouls away unnecessarily…

  17. Just about got my head round that.
    But was the ref cr*p, as well as us, too right.
    Sorry to say JL, but it was more than a suspicion of offside, it was a linesman who should have another profession, gawd knows how he is as a referee.
    The problem with injured players returning is that we leave them exposed when we play like that, so it’s much harder to get into the flow of the game.

    r0bb0 you seem to have acquired an expat’s point of view.

    Paul W, yes they were cr*p for most of the game, let’s hope that was the end of indulging in confusion.

  18. My son reminded me of the 2003 [I think] defeat against SU in the FA cup, when it was royally f**ked up by O’Leary [again], & we were embarrassing.

  19. IanG,

    Yes, you’re right – there was more than a hint of the feller being offside.

    The one big plus I take from that game is that Green came on and did just 2 things right – shooting once well enough to enable Abraham to score, and then scoring himself.

    Green really is a match-winner in my eyes and has been since early last season. Except he didn’t this time – ‘draw winner’ is near enough though!

  20. Well said roBbo. It was a real fightback. If we were 0-3 up away from home with 8 minutes left and failed to win, there would be serious cr*p. So well done Villa.

    I definitely think we were robbed. It was never a goal (their second) and how about a penalty? Officiating in this league is just so sub standard.

  21. Hello, everyone.
    Thanks again, JC for the leader. Yes! we need wins.
    An “Aston-ishing” finish, to a poorly officiated game. Villa showed character in adversity to get the point. Well done.

  22. Just a couple small thoughts: Jedi’s passing has always been cr*p, and the defensive issues are rooted in a) personnel, and b) what’s happening (or not) in front of them.

    Terry is obviously no fool, has seen it all at the highest levels and excelled. Maybe he’s not a great coach, I dunno. But i’m Guessing he can tell them all they need to know, and he’s seen how the best are trained and coached. Smith is no fool either. If the coaching staff are good, you look at the players.

  23. Just to confirm what John L stated – here is an excerpt from Law 12 of the official IFAB Laws of the Game document:-

    A goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball when:
    • the ball is between the hands or between the hand and any surface
    (e.g. ground, own body) or by touching it with any part of the hands
    or arms except if the ball rebounds from the goalkeeper or the goalkeeper
    has made a save
    • holding the ball in the outstretched open hand
    • bouncing it on the ground or throwing it in the air
    A goalkeeper cannot be challenged by an opponent when in control of
    the ball with the hands.

  24. ston Villa

    Verified account

    1m1 minute ago
    It is with great sadness that we hear of the death of our former captain, Ian Ross.

    Ian was skipper when we won the League Cup and promotion to the First Division in 1975 – as well as helping us to the Third Division title in 1972.

  25. Robbo,

    A lot of fans would probably agree with you, there is no divine right that we deserve to be in the Premier League. The part that rankles is that we have had all the ingredients to go up in the last three seasons but still struggle to put out a team that dominates. Now before JL jumps in and states the obvious facts that the ownership, the fractured dressing room and a despondent fan base needed to be addressed, let me state that I agree. The puzzle is that with good players (at this level), decent managers & support staff and new owners fully behind us, we cant seem to win. Why are other teams with smaller budgets able to do this but we continue to struggle no matter who is at the helm?

  26. wow what a comeback. totally bonkers!

    I aint fussed about going up…..well id like to one day but im not thinking of it.

    The only thing I want is for aston villa……at last to be run properly with sonme sort of plan and indication they know what they are doing. dean smith is a builder. not a fire fighter. roll on the summer. next season this time I may start to ask questions but for know it is what it is. I want smith to be given time to build a young, energetic team who can play as smith likes his teams to do. see Walsall and Brentford.

  27. other teams like sheff utd have had wilder in place for 3 years now implementing his ways.

    Norwich last season struggled, lost there best player in the summer but still kept faith with firlirk.

    We have just been run badly chucking money around with no idea! look at Hogan and McCormack…24 million pounds……24! and both out on loan. its scandalous and we deserve to be were we are.

  28. Villalore: “before JL jumps in and states the obvious facts that the ownership, the fractured dressing room and a despondent fan base needed to be addressed, let me state that I agree.”

    Ha!!! 🙂 Well, when I do state such as things it’s because the people I’ve addressed it to have either forgotten it or choose to ignore it.

    However, in this case I would not refer to it as I don’t think it’s that relevant right now.

    I happen to think that Villa is now better set up and has better intelligence at work than it’s been for around 20 yearsm and that eventually the pendulum will work back to getting this outfit to where it really belongs.

    However, for the last 2 months or so we were without 2 important players – and are still without them. Before that we were doing pretty well after Smith appeared and got things better organised. Most importanrly, though, the defence wasn’t right and still needs some tinkering done to it.

    Now that’s because of what Smith inherited.

    It will alll come out in the wash. I still think we’ll be seeing a lot better stuff from Villa before too long.

  29. Yes JL, things behind the scenes seem to be better and I hope Compass has the patience to stick with us. On the pitch, is the inability to win all due to the absence of Jack and Chester? Watching the highlights over the past few games, our passing has not been as good as the opposition. DS’ motto was Attack, Attack, Attack but he seems to be more conservative now (the Villa effect?)

    It will come together as you say but probably not in time to make the playoffs. Then we go to next season and do it all over again with the change in personnel.

  30. Yes, there’s room for doubt – I agree.

    As far as whether it’s just missing 2 players that makes the difference, I believe it largely does as their presence enforced a high-line approach in Villa’s play, and without them were have lacked the personnel to enforce that. Conor is not much more than a deadball specialist in my view and is poor in the tackle. Bikir seems not to want to play, and we then get left with Whelan who no one wants but was able to induce extra drive into the team late on to help get us the draw.

    For me Villa lack a lot just now in the centre of the park, and Jack’s return will partly get over that and also restore some confidence in the manner of the play.

    Whether Jack will be enough by himself remains to be seen.

    Yes, promotion might well be out this season, and I think the Board are accepting that possibility. But I also think they are working on a development strategy that’s going to utilise more of the likes of O’Hare into next season’s challenge, and that has to be a better basis for survival in the top tier, as may have been saying on this blog for yonks.

  31. @GaryLineker
    Oh no. Gordon Banks, an absolute hero of mine, and countless others, has died. @England’s World Cup winner was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and such a lovely, lovely man. #RIPGordon

    Sad to hear – a truly great among the greats like Yashin and Swift

  32. Clive,

    Yes a great one indeed … or at least he became a great.

    Perhaps he learnt a lesson that day in Easter, 1962 when Villa put 8 (EIGHT) past him!

    Villa then scored five in the following match on the Easter Monday.

    Back then it looked as though Villa might be going places.

    The following season I went to see Villa play at Leicester (against Banks again) and saw Harry Burrows score a 25-yard screamer past Banks. And Villa went 3-1 up. But Leicester mounted a late recovery and drew 3-3.

    It was remarkable that, after Banks left for Stoke, Leicester had an automatic replacement keeper from their youth setup. Someone called Peter Shilton.

  33. The Mail’s team to face Brentford

    Kalinic; Hutton, Elphick, Mings, Taylor; Whelan, McGinn; Adomah, El Ghazi, Green; Abraham

    I’d think that’s a good call. Green must surely start, particularly as Kodjia did not impress, and the Jedi didn’t do a lot.

  34. Have refrained from commenting on here after the debacle that was Friday night where Villa went 0-3 down after 62 minutes of some very poor play, where so many people blame Hutton and Taylor, and also blame Jedinak, but the real culprit has really got off quite lightly in my opinion.

    I was at the match, and know what I saw, and then have watched the whole match through again on Sky Sports, and to me, the weakest link on the night, was once again Kalinic who totally failed to command his area and cut dangerous balls which should have been easy for him, including the second goal, which he could have taken the ball earlier, and cut out the danger. Apart from last season , once Sam Johnston settled into the role, we have not had a capable keeper at Villa Park since Brad Freidel disappeared on a free to Spurs. Why can we not find one when so many other sides seem to succeed in finding them…

    Yes, it was a good come back again, but so unnecessary, if we start with the right players who have the right mindset. I disagree with JL completely, as I think Thor is an excellent player when he is in the defensive mid field role, and much in front of Whelan and Jedinak. McGinn made as many mistakes in the game, as he did good, because he is just having to do too much, while Hourihane strolls about the pitch half the time, and again could be an awful lot better.

    El Ghazi hardly contributed for most of the game, and is still too easily dispossessed, Adomah again struggled, and Tammy struggled to see the ball.

    The defence in the main did its job, but when the ball keeps being lost in the final third it creates pressure, which teams like the Blades just love inflicting on us.

    Much as many want to heap praise on Smith for the type of football he is trying to play, he must accept that if he does not have/ use the right players to carry out his tactics, then he must accept the blame when it does not work. I would be backing him all the way if when the injuries occurred to Jack and Axel, he had taken a chance on youngsters like O’Hare and Bree, and I feel he would also have had the backing of the fans.

    His substitutions of McGinn, Whelan and Adomah with Carroll, Jedinak and Kodija, may have been better if it had been Carroll, Kodija and Davis. Davis has now been on the bench ten times and only been used once, yet we have been lacking goals..

    The Baggies have cheated their way to another point tonight, so I do hope that this time they get dealt with in time before they play us on Saturday.

    I really hope that tomorrow night that Dean is able to put a team out that has the desire to take the game to the opposition for the first time in THIRTEEN games. It is time that Villa put their stamp on a game, rather than continually chasing the opposition. It maybe great for the neutral, or the tv viewers to have cliff hanging games, but the fans need something to cheer from the start.

    Villa Park may still be drawing the crowds, but it used to make more noise when there were under 20,000 watching them. I want to be yelling and cheering from the start. We don’t necessarily have to be scoring every ten minutes, but lets see some opportunities created!

    I do accept that at least we are seeing players that fight to the finish, but a better effort at the start may make life a lot easier….They need to want the ball more and use it..!!

  35. Some interesting comments, Paul, but you accuse Adomah of struggling when he didn’t even play! And the substitutions you refer to are the ones from the Reading game, not Sheff. Utd. 🙂

  36. Paul,

    Yes … funny subs you state there! Hey ho…

    You state a very interesting view on the state of the affairs at VP.

    1. I do agree with your comments on the keeper, but the fact remains that the second goal should not have been given. A terrible decision in my view.

    2. On ‘Thor’, yes, he has shown some capability but when the chips are really down he doesn’t show enough character for me. And Smith seems to think something similar. To me ‘Thor’ and Conor have a certain similarity, that they’re fine when they have a strong team around them (or vs weak opposition) but do not stand up when the chips are down.

    3. On players such as O’Hare and Bree to me it’s clear that Smith does have intentions for their future, hence why he’s put them out to get regular first-team experience having decided it’s better dealt with that way – presumably to build experience without the pressures that players come under at VP.

  37. villalore,
    My reference to the substitutions were for the Reading game, which we should have won, and I did not realise that I had not said so…… Brain moving faster than the words…
    But you are right about Adomah, that comes of adding a comment after, and you have lost your train of thought….geriatric old farts…!!!
    It was meant to be a comment on how poor Dean’s substitutions have been in some matches, and that they are reactive and not proactive. In other words, he waits until things have really deteriorated, before he changes things. Jedinak should have been changed at half time, not waiting until we concede more goals.
    On the second goal, it was difficult to see clearly from the Holte End, but we knew that something was not quite right, but you could clearly see Kalinic’s failure to go for the ball in the first place.
    However, there was a suspicion that it was offside, the rest was too difficult to see until the tv replays.

    Once again, the need for VAR is crying out in these situations, and once again, last night was proof, with a Premiership ref and his officials getting it wrong twice, and Forest being robbed of a deserved win. (The result suited us !!). Gayle is a very successful cheat, having gained 5/6 penalties for the Baggies this season.

    The more I see of Joe Lolly, I wonder why we did not have him signed up on the 1st January in front of any other player. He would have been outstanding for us and made the difference, especially with JG not available.
    On Friday night’s substitutions, I concede that Whelan and Green, made the difference, but they should have been in the mix much earlier, and we may even of had a more positive result rather than getting a draw by the skin of our teeth again.

    I have to say that I am a little disappointed in Dean’s AVTV conferences (they are not press conferences by any stretch of the imagination- that takes pace after), as he seems to lack any real positivity going into the game, and if he is not positive, then how does he expect the players to be!!

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