It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but Aston Villa found a way through Albion’s bus-park to gain a critical 2-1 advantage in leg one of the playoff semifinal. Another fightback, and a return to winning ways in a game that counted. This team doesn’t have much quit in it. In days past, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see Villa walk away on the wrong end of an 0-1 scoreline.

Having secured promotion, Villa took their foot off the gas in the final two games for the most part. One could’ve been genuinely concerned that a draw and a loss were not what we needed heading into an intense playoff match-up. Momentum could well and truly have been lost. And for a while, Saturday, it looked like that might’ve been the case.

Gifting Albion an early lead gave them the opportunity and incentive to sit back and counter after Villa had started brightly and squandered two decent chances to take the lead. Albion were organized and physical, and looked comfortable despite Villa’s dominance in possession. Grealish was once again man-marked, and Anwar El Ghazi found himself with two to beat every time he received the ball anywhere near the Baggies’ area. There wasn’t any more room wide right.

With the balls we did manage to pump into the box we obviously got very little success, and were generally stifled trying to work our way through the middle. We looked bereft of ideas and John McGinn looked off the pace. Mings looked uncharacteristically shaky at times. The quick-passing triangles we like down deep were getting overloaded. Players were either taking too long looking for the perfect pass or trying to take on too many men to make things happen. Movement wasn’t great. Then again, there weren’t a lot of spaces to move into.

Villa were, in other words, playing into Albion’s hands. And West Brom were tenacious in breaking things up and winning the ball back.

But this is not the old Villa, and Albion were also playing into Villa’s hands.

The Difference
The Villa side know there are moments of magic in it. They keep attacking. They play to the final whistle. They can turn the screw late on. They can wear you down, constantly probing, resting on the ball, maintaining energy for the last 15-20. It can take a while, but between Abraham, Grealish, McGinn, Hourihane, and El Ghazi, there’s a lot for a defense to keep a lid on. The longer you have to do it, the harder it gets, especially with the constant effort it takes to come off the double-teams and pick up another player. Because of Mings’ and Tuanzebe’s pace, agility, and strength we can push up the pitch, offer a lot of support, and still not get caught out too easily.

So as frustrating as it was, there was always a sense Villa weren’t done. They kept coming, kept making Albion defend. Kept drawing fouls. And finally the breakthrough came as Smith made the two logical changes, getting Green’s athleticism on the pitch, as well as Hourihane’s uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time. Grealish got the ball in the box, defenders collapsed down deep, and Hourihane was all alone in the middle to beautifully take advantage of the simple cutback from Jack.

This was the soft spot in Albion’s defensive set-up all along. As players doubled up on the wings, and sought to deny Grealish, Abraham, and McGinn any room, Whelan was often finding himself in pockets of space 25 yards out. But Whelan doesn’t really present a scoring threat, so Albion were content to focus attention elsewhere. Hourihane’s introduction changed that. And that changed everything. Albion were deflated, Villa had gears to shift into, and suddenly there was confusion and space. Grealish was getting down lower, and a nice little pass to set him running into the box led to the decisive penalty.

So. Advantage Villa. Never mind Gayle’s sending off.

Lessons Learned
Albion obviously will have to come out at The Hawthorns. Whether they’ll be content to play for penalties at home remains to be seen. Albion were of course very reluctant to let us play Saturday, as we saw with the time-wasting. But, you’d also expect the away side to be conservative in the first leg, especially when gifted a lead.

What that means in terms of applying lessons learned on Saturday? I don’t know. Which is the thing with two legs. How open they are Tuesday, how quickly they look to score, how nervous the crowd gets, how nervous they are, what their injury situation ultimately looks like, how they’ll play if they get one back first…who knows.

One thing we do is that Villa will continue to play like Villa. The early stages will be particularly interesting since we look for fast starts and often create a lot early on. And given that we didn’t play at our best in the first leg, we’d expect a better overall performance with the nerves perhaps settled a bit. I don’t know whether we’ll persist in trying to find Tammy on the end of high crosses, but I expect we’ll see much more impact from McGinn. And probably instructions to let fly more quickly and frequently.

Does Whelan start again? Going by Smith’s brief history, I’d say yes. Dean knows he can always bring Conor on and change a game. But if he’s looking for a knockout punch early? We’ll see. He can always bring Whelan on to help steady things. Then there’s the Adomah-Green question. But again, Smith has gone back to favoring Adomah. He gets a lot of stick, and he’s certainly not been the impact player he was. But he is positionally smarter than Green, seems to work harder (in part because it seems he’s more assured of his role), and is involved a lot at the back. He has a lot of running in him, too. This is why I think he’s been starting. Smith isn’t necessarily looking to him for goals—more so how he fits into the system. And again, he knows he can change things up with Green, who definitely presents a problem to a tiring defense.

My Invaluable Advice
If it were me, I’d keep trying to get Jack and Anwar carrying the ball into the box. McGinn, too. After the penalty, they’ll get a little room, suck defenders in, and make the cutbacks available. I’d also be telling Jack to let fly along with the others, and I’d look to get him open a little quicker: If El Ghazi and Taylor keep pulling two or three defenders wide, we should have Jack cheat a little more to the middle and ask the pair to get the ball quickly to his feet as he’s drifting inside and before defenders slide over. Do this a few times, and it should give El Ghazi more room to attack. I think Jack is trying to be smart by not pulling the trigger when it’s not a real clear look so that a blocked shot doesn’t launch a counter. But with a little room and awareness from others that he will be shooting…They should be wise enough to position accordingly.

But you could also say the same about getting McGinn open as players move to deny Jack space. He’s just about due for another cracker.

Anyway. My tactical genius on display, which has obviously been indispensable to Smith down the stretch.

Whatever happens, they’re in thick of it now, know they can get a result when it really counts, and shown yet again they can overcome adversity. The team’s mentality has to be good at this point. If we get an early goal, take the crowd out and get the Baggies really stretched and needing two? We could end up scoring for fun.

We could also find ourselves at 0-0 80 minutes in with Albion throwing the kitchen sink at us, too.

I don’t really want to see that. So my advice is score early and score often, boys, give the next opponent something to think about, and the yam yams a bitter pill to swallow.

Over to you.

Comments 186

  1. Thanks JC- For me I thought the way to get at them was to get around the back and force them into errors which we managed a few times and it eventually forced the pen.

    The other way as you say was shooting from range, what was missing was the movement to open the door for the shot. That started to happen by firstly Abraham vacating the middle second half and leaving the CB’s holding nothing and the FB’s overloaded particularly on the right, Jack joined in there too rather than the left centric position he’d had until then. That led to both goals in the end.

    As for who to start I think Wheelan will start again, Albert’s a funny one, I think he gives elmo more space to cross and he is our best crosser. We could easily give Green that spot and use his pace and be more direct leaving Elmo to defend more or play Kodjia there who could hold the ball up and support Tammy better if only with his presence.

    what ever happened the movement and passing needs to be crisp and energetic, Players should not be put in the position where they have to take someone on every time. When Jack got near the box you could see the WBA panic but anyone else was channelled into a tackle for a counter.

    Smiths already said we are going there to win so I expect us to do just that.

  2. Mark,

    Deano does like to get in behind teams, and wants Jack getting up in there (as we heard). I’m certainly in the whatever-works camp. Biggest thing for me, as you’re saying, is the movement and crispness/quickness in passing. Just wasn’t there Saturday, for the most part, until we changed it up. I liked the short corner routines, apart from the one where we telegraphed it so clearly.

    I’ve defo seen better from Mings, as far as the long diagonals go. But overall, we don’t seem to have the necessary percentage of quality through balls to get behind that way, more so from distance. There was one Albion floated right down onto Gayle’s chest, I think, in between the CBs. Beautiful ball. I’ve seen Dean wanting us to have that in our locker, saw it against Leeds, couple other games of late.

    But Albion have a good record in limiting quality chances. Their CBs get back well, are hard to catch out.

  3. Another very good read and follow up from Mark, thanks both
    I’ve read that Gayle wouldn’t be able to play in the final if they got through because of the cumulative number of cautions he’s received.
    I’d thought that the were cancelled out prior to the play offs. Is that not the case? And if not, might McGinn have been playing a bit within himself to avoid a similar fate?

  4. The voice of reason JC. Balanced and thoughtful.

    If you want a real laugh, go onto some of the yam yams blog sites and check out their vitriol. Makes brilliant reading. Hourihane’s throwing punches like a boxer, Jack is diving to Olympic standards, the Ref was unrepeatable. My sides hurt laughing so much.

  5. r0bb0
    I think if anyone had over a certain amount of bookings, they were’t cancelled but carried on.
    So it could be so

  6. Funny isn’t it Plug.
    Is this the team that scored against us with a deliberate handball, and the other team that cheated to score and then had a player pretending to be hit in order to have our player sent off?
    They have no shame.

    As for the suggestion that Gayle shouldn’t have received the second yellow. . . . he missed the ball and clattered into our goalkeeper. That would be a yellow in any part of the pitch . . . . do they think that the normal rules don’t apply in the 6 yard box?

  7. Robbo- can’t understand the Gayle card situation as you can be out if you get two yellows one in each leg I think, getting a Red for two yellows might have the same effect, effectively a two match ban rather than one.

  8. I think the Gayle vs mings duel was interesting, maybe thats why mings is not no1 at Bournemouth? to many quality Forwards in the prem? or we pushed so far up he was a little exposed to Gayles pace.

  9. MK – It reveals their desperation. That the FA even bothered to look at it is risible. Better that they look at the stats of which player is the most fouled in the Championship and why. And how did Kieftenbeld get away with taking Jack’s knee caps off?

    The FA were looking for any chance of gaining an advantage from simulation? Look no further than Bamford for that. What did the FA do about the hand of Rod’s points theft? Yep, sweet FA.

  10. I did say in my comments after the game, that I felt that we deliberately did not get involved in any high octane stuff, being a Derby, as WBA are experts at niggling the opposition to get players riled and sent off, or playing for the foul, especially Gayle. That is the reason that not one Villa player got a yellow card, or made any silly tackles etc; which meant that eventually WBA were the ones frustrated, picking up cards, and getting tired.

    It was a very wise move by Dean, and we ended up with a clear advantage, and I am sure we will do the same tonight, especially as WBA will have to come out and attack. I think he will go again with the same team, but would not be surprised to see Lansbury on the bench this time.

    I am sure that we will attack and not sit back, but there will be no hurry, and no risks taken. This will then give us a great advantage if we reach the final, which should be a totally different game, if we do not have any slip ups tonight. I am confident now, after Saturday, that McGinn, Mings and Taylor will be treading carefully to avoid any cards.

  11. MK,

    You always have to wonder…I’ve been a bit surprised Mings was surplus at Bournemouth, so there’s a reason somewhere. I thought injuries had played a role, but maybe I’m confusing him with Hause.

    But Gayle will cause problems for a lot of players, especially with a partner.

    At any rate, there’s no telling about the step up. Have no idea whether Jack will be as effective week-in week-out, and I wonder about McGinn as well, tbh.

  12. On Grealish, penalties…I would think Villa already have, but I’d put together a highlight reel of all the serious challenges he’s been subjected to, never mind the lesser ones. I hate to say you have to ‘protect’ a player, but at the same time, you can’t just have a rotating case of characters continually taking him out.

    Big CBs fall over when you breathe on them. Won’t say Jack doesn’t know he’s going to get fouled and leads players into it, but you look at replays and all the lesser ones people complain about, there’s still contact that could’ve been avoided.

  13. With Mings & Gayle, Gayles timing as he started his run was excellent & gave him the advantage against Mings, who then couldn’t catch him, plus he was facing the play.

  14. Mings problems in the past were his injuries, and suffering a little red mist. He appears to be over his injuries, and there has only been a glimpse of the red mist earlier in the season, and he was given the benefit of the doubt.

    His position with Villa is that Eddie Howe will consider his release if Villa win promotion, and are willing to pay Eddie’s valuation. If we don’t get promotion, then he will return to Bournemouth for pre-season and his future will depend on how he fits in and what offers come in for him.

    I am sure that he will be a little more positive tonight!

  15. Ha…Well, it was close in, had power. Johnstone in the right spot, got down well. I’d have liked it a little further to the left as well, though.

  16. Well, I hate to trot out tired chestnuts, but that experience may have done us some good.

    Real test of nerve, and they still found a way to win through.

  17. What a dreadful performance…… Thank goodness for Steer.

    At least we will have plenty to choose from for the final, but surely they can’t be all as bad again..

    Adomah was a poor substitute… I hope Lansbury gets to make the bench for Wembley.

    Thank goodness for the Jedi and his penalty.

  18. Scary. At least we have a chance. Having watched the last few games I still feel we lack quality against the better ( in the case of Albion read, defensive fouling b*****ds) teams. Leeds aren’t as good as Fulham were last year, but I worry for us. Such a relief…sleep well my friends

  19. West Brom fought well in both legs. . . but it was the ‘fighting’ that ultimately cost them.
    Their game plan relied upon physicality and they executed it well, but it was always going to bring yellow cards and the prospect of reds.

  20. Agree R0bb0… you have to give them credit for working out how to nullify Villa, which is basically pack the defence. Leeds will be better going forward than Albion

  21. Smith has done superbly to get to this point from where he started last year. As JC said, much rebuilding to do regardless. Look forward with terror to the final

  22. Two saves Steer indeed MK. I couldn’t see us scoring if we played till midnight.

    WBA are such a filthy team. If it moves chop it seems to be their motto. Brunt should have got a straight red for stamping on McGinn’s arm. McGinn by the way was back to his usual self. And that twat Johannson just fouled and fouled.

    I was expecting a tight game but not penalties. As others have said, we shipped a really soft goal. Mings got barged over in the back but the Ref played on and the ball ended up in our onion bag.

    All things considered, I’m pleased its the footballing team going to Wembley and not the yam yams.

  23. PW. Yes Leeds will pose more of a threat up front. They’ll also pressurise our defenders, so keeping cool heads on the day will be important.

  24. Yep, will be a different kettle of fish in the final.

    I thought WBA matched up really well with us, tbh. Just a difficult, physical side to break down, and going up was always going to get them rolling at home.

  25. Consensus among the yam yams this morning is……….they surprised themselves with the atmosphere that they generated in the ground, felt their team gave everything and at the end of it all……they’re gutted.

    My view is that we never played well in either game but we still saw them off. Maybe that’s what’s hurting them the morning after. Bring on Wembley. VTID.

  26. Steer saving a hundred penalties a day for the last four weeks obviously paid off, and he will be a hero now, until at least the final.

    We have twelve days to prepare, and make sure that we have a team which is 100% fit on the day.
    Tammy’s penalty was the winner, but apart from that , on the night, he did very little. Will he make the starting line-up for Wembley?
    Personally, I would like to see Davies lead the line, as his hold-up play has been good every time he has come on.

    Now we have to wait to find out our opponents….

  27. im so tired! How can you sleep after that! Worst display from us going forward. Tammy was shocking but isolated. Green shocking. Mcguinn non exictent in 2 legs jack below form but still best player on pitch…..but west brom on there little narrow pitch camped in and defended superbly. Wembley pitch will suit us against a more passing team. Shocked about the baggies both legs….they were scared stiff of us. All they offered was set pieces when all season they’ve been attacking scoring lots and conceding lots.

  28. Does anyone else think we were cheated for the goal last night? I think we were victims of another Hand of Rod moment. Only this time it was the Arm of Bartley. As that long throw came in, Dawson arrived in front of Bartley who’s job was to wrap his arm around Hourihane’s neck to prevent him from jumping for the ball.

    Consequently, Hourihane was wrestled to the ground ensuring that Dawson had a clean header on goal. They were at it again in the second half deliberately obstructing Steer on corners to stop him coming for them. And the Ref did sweet FA. The officials are there to stop these dark arts.

    Cheating b*st**ds. We now know what WBA do on the training ground week in week out. So glad it’s us that won.

  29. Heroes…

    I thought having the man advantage for ET would help, but it didn’t, obviously. Can’t blame them for camping out at that point, but wasn’t much different than the rest of the game. They couldn’t risk stretching as much and everyone was tired, so they conceded possession further up the pitch, but otherwise, not much difference in tactics.

    AEG, yes. He just needs bringing along, good player in there. Green has the tools, but he needs to be sat down and have some things explained. Poor decision-making, positionally adrift.

  30. Plug,

    It really was poor officiating all round. Mings clearly gets a shoulder into his back. Was never shoulder-to-shoulder. Then we have the throw, the melee in the box, and….a very nicely set up situation for WBA. Haven’t watched the replay yet, but if the ref can’t call Hegazi clearly holding onto McGinn, pulling his shirt all along the edge of the box?

    Seems like whatever-his-name was scared to call the Baggies out at home. Far too much was let go. And while we put a couple hard tackles in, we don’t have thuggish players, apart from Mings, perhaps.

    Johansen was a disgrace in both legs, throwing hip-checks, launching himself into Grealish. If you can get away with that, then you can stop a team playing.

  31. Yep, JC and that is what they did. They stopped us from playing. It was happening all over the park, in both games. It’s why I’m not disheartened. These obstacles were overcome.

  32. Exactly, Plug.

    They were expecting to be in the auto places, had just come down. I’ve not mapped out who we played and when amongst the top sides, but when we see that every game can be a struggle, I don’t think we should be discouraged about a bruising, hostile derby match-up playing out the way it did.

    Obstacles overcome—and the side got to have a good long look at itself in the mirror, found they didn’t wilt under some pretty serious pressure there at the end. For all the nerves and shaky play, they came through.

    I’d like to think it’ll do them good in the final.

  33. Quite an honest interview with Chris Brunt.
    He’s no complaints about hisbred card although he felt that he first yellow was harsh because ‘it was my first tackle’.
    I thought that was quite telling. Referees have allowed the position to develop where players expect to be able to commit a couple of yellow card tackles before they will be punished. They will then share around the ‘free’ bad tackles.
    This mentality encourages teams to ‘train to foul’ as we saw from them in both of the play off games against them.

  34. Brunt also said that they’ve re-made the connection between the team and the fans and will fix the decline in attendances.
    If their new, negative style of play is how they intend to go forward then I think he’s got that all wrong

  35. Quite funny to read baggy fans thinking that heys won on away goals and complaining that they didn’t.
    A bit behind the times eh . . . the rule only changed 20 years ago

  36. Well PW as I thought would happen Derby are through, not sure it’s much of a bonus they played very well, at least they are not dirty. Will be a great game if we turn up.

  37. PW- Should be a better game for us, Form does count and Derby are second in the form table we are 5th but equal on points with 3rd and 4th, WBA 8th and leeds 16th. We have stuffed Derby twice so hopefully Smith has their number but equally the odds are they are due a win.

  38. And the first leg between them was open, as well. It suits us, suits them. Should be a good match, and at least we’ll have the opportunity to play our best game.

  39. Mark,
    Yes Derby are second of the form table for the last 6 games but Villa are top over the last 8 games, 10 games and 12 games
    We dropped off in the last two games against two of the top 3 sides when we’d already just about booked our place in the play offs.

    So. . . it’s Terry against lampard

    Have the 5th and 6th placed teams ever made it to the final before? Seems unlikely that both the away teams win the second leg

  40. Just about got over that
    Listened to the match on the radio with 2 other old supporters with a combine age of 208 years.
    Nearly lost all 3 with nervous collapse!

  41. Events over the last 5 days or so tell us that there was nothing much between the 4 competing teams and we can therefore expect a tough game against Derby. Previous results are no indication of future results as they say in the investment markets.

    Every football fan should be pleased that the two dirtiest teams are gone and the game itself should be pure football. May the best team win. As long as it’s Villa.

  42. It must also be said that Leeds’ collapse has been as spectacular as Boro’s. Here’s hoping our streak is still influencing matters.

  43. Great game and a great result last night. It really should be a pleasure to have two footballing sides in the final.

    Just managed to get ticket, transport and hotel sorted for our big day! So looking forward to being at Wembley once more. I just hope that this time it will be our time…..!!!

    Our last win was against Liverpool and Jack was outstanding, and now he has the chance to make up for the disaster against Arsenal in the final. I am sure he will be Captain Fantastic this time and do everything he can to fulfil his dream of taking Aston Villa back to the Premiership.

    Derby will be a tough call, but hopefully our defence will be the difference, and see us through to a great success. Our forwards must be ready to start scoring once more now.

  44. Just had a look at Derbys line up against Leeds and its very different to the two games against us, mason mount didn’t play in either match either. Their record against the top 4 is better than ours thrashing WBA twice ( I doubt WBA played the same way Though).

    I agree with PP that our defence should make the difference as with the FB’s slightly less advanced than against WBA we should be more solid and less error prone and nervy.

    Thought they looked very Quick and inventive against Leeds but we should look similar in an open game just a little more controlled. Tammy should get some joy from Crosses which will be good as we have seen naff all for a while from him or them.

  45. just watching the highlights of the WBA game and the throw in they scored from even looks suspect with the player jumping as he throws it 🙂

  46. The average age of our team for last year’s Wembley game was 30.

    If Deano picks the side we think he might (playing Uncle Albert and Whelan) our average age this year will be 27.

    If he picks Hourihane and Green though, the average drops to 25 and a half. And if Hause replaces Taylor it would be 25.

    Whatever, we have a much younger team this time around which should help no end.

  47. I think the games against WBA were a good test of the team’s resilience, and in the end they came through.

    Struggled to get my ticket for the final, but succeeded in the end.

    Lots to look forward to now.

  48. it wont happen but god I want hause at lb.

    whelen or conor has to be conor…..his assists and goals!

    Green or albert a tough one….both pretty useless! Id lke to see kojer up top with tammy wide, think he is much better coming in from the flank.

    But we have come this far….cant see deano changing anything much apart from whelen and albert.

  49. Mark
    Crazy? Well who isn’t.
    Fool? Tut tut, it takes one to know one.

    I’ve been taken over by the gods of volume output & youth.
    Either the rules have changed or interpretation of the rules [& therefore the importance of the interpreter] has become more important & higher profile than the original reason for the rule.
    Very Trumpian really

    It seems to have started with the appearance of so called professional referees, vast wage increases all round, & as in society, the blindness stemming from the resulting self importance, & as in everything else these days, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, & so blinds itself by thinking it does.

    It could be worse, the decisions could have to be reviewed by pundits.

    As for the upcoming match which I am looking forward to, even if it is only on the radio, [congrats for being a minority in the crowd PP, wish I could join you], I don’t think there will be too many surprises.

    I just hope DS has them in honing their focus.

  50. H & V
    As for Hause he won’t be fully match fit.
    But I always feel that Taylor has a disaster in him, going from excellent to amateur hour.
    Also it’s difficult to score 27 goals in a season from the wing.

    Mark – I don’t think we’re favourites, in fact it may be very even, depending on individual brilliance.
    As has been said, we have the advantage of having been there last year with much of this team, & it’s a big pitch.

  51. IanG- Yes mate I think all this taking yourself to seriously is making a mess of everything. every statement is now scrutinised for advantage so it follows that football has caught the disease. The other worrying trend is not accepting you have lost, Brexit seems to have sparked that one.

    Anyway never thought much of that takes one to know one saying because it would mean that lunatics are indeed running the asylums for the lunatics that they put in there, and that can’t be right 🙂

    the odds are Aston Villa 13/20 Derby County 6/5

    Don’t know what that means in real terms other than its not worth betting on.

    Going on hols tomorrow and back in time for the game on Monday week, funny thing is as I came out of the gym I bumped into a mate who said his firm have a box at the final, he went on to say he may have some spaces if the bosses don’t fancy it. I swiftly volunteered me and my mate pronto so I wait with baited breath 🙂

    Anyway I meant crazy fool in a mr T way either that or your right, don’t know I’m to far gone, Can’t you watch the final with the same folk that you watched the semi’s?

  52. Mark
    I was trying to work out what the odds mean yesterday but gave up as there’s no sense in it, bit like Brexit really.

    This lunatic is keeping away from those lunatics who believe it, as they are a lower order of lunatic who can’t see the wood for the trees, or is it wine for the bottle?
    Mr T? Now there’s a thought.

    Good luck with the box for the match, I hope it works out.
    I’ll be listening to the final on radio WM, due to there being no sky & no internet there, the price of loyalty.
    Even my Dab radio has broken.

    Have a good break

  53. Iang – look at you with your technology 🙂

    I see one of the EU big wigs has called turkeys annulment of an election that went the wrong way undemocratic while calling for a second referendum for us. Pot kettle black.

    Have a good week all might pop in might not.

  54. Anyone else trying to book tickets for Wembley and getting the message when you’ve picked available seats
    “!This event is no longer available for sale”
    Absolutely maddening!!

  55. I can see that tickets are being sold because areas are becoming unavailable
    Not usually one for conspiracy theories but if I find a load of tickets becoming available through ticket companies I’ll be f**king annoyed and very suspicious!!

  56. The message “unavailable” came up if you were not logged in to the Villa site with your ID and password…..

    You needed to be logged in to access sales…

  57. So City have achieved the amazing dream, and in style…..

    The greatest since I saw Tottenham Hotspur complete the double in 1960/61 with a team of similar greats…

    Bill Brown, Peter Baker, Ron Henry Danny Blanchflower (captain), Maurice Norman, Dave Mackay, Cliff Jones,John White, Bobby Smith,Les Allen,Terry Dyson

    Danny, of course had been a Villa player for a short time, and we also nearly signed Dave Mackay….So Villa maybe could have done it instead, if we had not been displeased with Blanchflower and his attendance at night clubs…

    Onto Wembley, and the mammoth task of winning the play off final, on which so much hangs.

    I do trust our management team to do the right thing , and make the right selections on the day, which means I fully expect Whelan to start, and there to be no changes in the normal line-up.

    I am sure Dean will be looking at experience to start the game, and to get the players settled. He will push for an early lead without taking chances, and then if we have not got the advantage, then Hourihane will be coming on, I am sure. However, Kodija may get the start over Green or Adomah.

  58. PP – There is no favourite in a game like this. It can go either way. Making it go our way is down to the coaching staff. As you say, in Deano and JT we trust.

    Last year I was gutted because we didn’t have a go and went down without a fight. That much will be different this year.

  59. PP, Plug…

    Indeed. We’ll be as prepared as we can be. And I like that we’re playing the sort of team that should make it a good game of football.

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