Another top side, another heartbreaking defeat. That was the story when the reigning European Champions came to visit Villa Park and walked away 1-2 winners after Villa held a lead up into the 86th minute.

I did manage to see the game while traveling, though clearly didn’t have time to do a post-match write-up. Which isn’t necessarily the worst thing as it gave me a chance to see all the other takes.

First, there are all the plaudits, entirely deserved. The team played its socks off. Got a lead, didn’t surrender it quickly. Threatened once or twice to double it. But didn’t. And finally succumbed to a very strong and deep side on an impressive unbeaten run and nowhere near short of goal-scorers and difference-makers.

There was a lot to be proud of. There was a lot to be gutted by. It was the third time Villa have led against top-level competition only to fail to see the match out.

And for me, this is the thing. Which I should preface by saying there’s no shame in it, and there are plenty of positives to take away.

When we ask what’s not working, the three matches all seem very similar in my mind. Playing pretty even and playing well, taking a lead, then failing to extend—Arsenal being the exception in that we did get pegged back and found a second before going under. Otherwise, we’ve been penned in at some point, defended with all our hearts, and found that the pressure told, in the end. We did get chances on the counter, but we somehow fluff our lines.

First, the caveat I have to offer—which will sound to some like making excuses—is that we’re still on a very steep learning curve. So any observations come in that context.

As far as learning goes, I see us rushing mentally. I see us lose confidence in front of goal. And I see us failing to relieve pressure long enough to frustrate and take the steam out of the opposition—we don’t get pushed out and hold onto it long enough to recuperate, get the other side chasing, and disrupt their rhythm. Against these top sides, it’s a question of will and belief—also quality and perhaps match-management.

Might seem strange to talk about a lack of will after such a spirited performance. But will expresses itself in more than just defending resolutely. Will is an expression of belief. Or vise versa. Something like that. Anyway, it’s about contesting/winning the ball further up the pitch, sticking close and constantly harassing. Not giving the opposition the time and space to play. Easy to say, hard to do when you face a starting XI with great players at every position. Everyone’s afraid of over-committing.

But if we’re going to try and get a second, we have to be smarter. If we’re going to hunker down, we have to be better. How do we do that?

In the case of Liverpool, if Villa are going to find ways to slow the traffic and relieve pressure, they have to hold the ball better. They have to get upfield and settle, not just counter full tilt and go right back to defending. They have to have a guy that’s in the frame for an England call-up for doing exactly those things. If I’m the manager, there’s simply no way a healthy Jack Grealish does not start every game. Same is true of McGinn. I think Grealish might’ve made the difference last Saturday.

Let’s carry that through with a follow-on thought experiment (not necessarily limited to Liverpool): Let’s suppose you can’t sit AEG or Trezeguet. That means you have to sit Wesley. If you’re going to keep Wesley, one of the two has to give way.

So it might be right to give Wes a rest in games like these, at least, and perhaps play Jack as a bit of a false 9, leaving AEG and Trez in to threaten, and McGinn space to run beyond.

This often happens somewhat in practice, but with Jack drifting in from the left and Wesley playing a more traditional center forward role. Targett provides the wide dimension when Jack goes central. What it all comes down to is more playmaking fluidity up front while keeping two quick and dangerous wide men on the pitch since we’re not getting a whole lot out of the CF up front in many matches. Wes is occupying some attention, but at what cost?

When we’re without the ball, Wes isn’t helping with the press much, which is part of why Abraham was so important. If the front three can’t all be working against the defense pushing up high, Nakamba and Luiz get pushed deeper, leaving more space behind McGinn and the wingers—and we’ve been giving up a lot of space between the lines in the channels. Jack, on the other hand, has the legs to get forward and back, never mind carry or hold the ball. Nakamba and Luiz, when switched on, can carry or pass well enough to get the ball to Jack, John or the wide men. Luiz has to move it a little quicker. Nakamba is getting it.

Me saying all this means against a Liverpool, I think I’d play a nominal 4-2-3-1 and just leave out the CF. There are days we want a Wesley, and, one hopes, those days will increase. It isn’t Liverpool or City every week. Which means it also doesn’t have to be 4-2-3-1. 4-3-3 will work a lot of days. I guess I’m saying Dean has to be thinking about Wes.

I’m sure Smith is wanting to give him the run of games and minutes he needs to really find his feet. I don’t necessarily disagree. But it might be the case that Wes could benefit from being sat and watching. That comes down to Smith and how he reads the player. Wouldn’t hurt if he started getting some calls going his way. Not saying he’s been brilliant, but too often the officials are not allowing him to at least stand his ground.

The other thing I’m seeing from last week is talk about substitutions, and it’s fair. I’ll just leave that alone. If Wes is coming off, Kodjia is not going to help anything.

What I’m hoping here is that Dean isn’t being stubborn in regard to the substitutions and that he’s trying to drill a toughness, identity and ethic into the side so that they can build the required mentality from these outings. Naive or tactically inflexible? Maybe. But Dean, who consults John Terry a lot, doesn’t strike me as naive.

Anyway, all a bit confusing from me. What I’m basically trying to say is perhaps there’s a different way to play the top sides, and a different way to get your best players on the pitch. Everyone wants Wesley to be one of those. But he might end up being a longer-term investment. Bottom line: We currently do not have a  striker deadly enough to make it worth us play like 10 men without the ball. And we don’t have a hold-up man who can hold up against top-level opposition.

Beyond all that niggling, the big takeaway has to be that matches against Spurs, Arsenal, and Liverpool have all been within our grasp, regardless. That’s not bad. It’s something to keep building on. We’ll be wiser next time round, and certainly more switched on to lesser opposition.

Wolves? We’ll come back to that.

Over to you.

Comments 118

  1. I don’t believe the issues are unique to us. The bindippers have scored plenty of late, late goals. It’s their hallmark so I have to take heart at the way we stretched them to the limit. Seeing them cavorting all over the place after the winner shows how relieved they were. Such events will only make us stronger.

    Looking forward immensely to Sunday’s game. Hope we can give them a shock. It’s not off the cards at all.

  2. Southgate has made a rod for his back. If his selected midfield doesn’t perform in the upcoming qualifiers, he’ll be slaughtered by the Laaadan press.

  3. Plug,

    Liverpool are a mentally tough side right now, no doubt. And with the goalscoring talent they have, it’s tough to hold out. You’re exactly right…They score a lot late on. So, agreed, not unique to us.

    Where my thoughts above get a bit confusing is considering what we could/should have done with Liverpool (whether successful or not), and the overall question of holding out against them, or Arsenal and Spurs. While the talent and mentality of those two sides isn’t the same, our approach, or execution, largely was to my eye, in the end. So, just pointing out basic truisms as to how we could expect to do better and get the huge upset or gain a very good point.

    The big thing, which you’re getting at and many others are as well, is that these most likely aren’t the games that will determine whether we stay up. And the team spirit was fantastic.

  4. Southgate…I thought it was interesting that he was basically categorizing Jack as a winger in terms of competition for places. Seems a bit of a dodge to me.

    But I do think the upside is that it will keep spurring Jack on. And maybe (charitably) that’s what Southgate’s trying to do. Me, I think bringing him into the set-up, even if he doesn’t play, would be good for all concerned. So in that regard, seems like he’s worried about upsetting other players’ feelings, and whether he’d look bad if Grealish did come in, play, and not give a good performance.

    He’s playing it safe….which works for him if, as you say, he gets results. And maybe he thinks the continued ‘controversy’ will spur on the current squad to play harder for their shirts.

  5. JC,

    On the question of seeing out a game against the top teams. Deano picks a team and sets up to attack and score goals. It’s high risk, high reward stuff. We fans love it. So when we get into a great position, as the game wears on, then we look at the substitutions.

    Villa’s bench is now quite good. During a game, I wouldn’t sub any of the back four unless injured. They tune into the pace and moves of the opposition and are best left alone.

    We have 3 cards to play, and for me, when we are defending a lead against the bindippers or Arsenal or Spurs as we approach the last knockings, I’d always throw on 3 fresh midfield legs, removing the players up top to hold what we have. So in the last game, I’d have brought on Lansbury and Hourihane together and sacrificed Wes and El Gassy or Trez. I understand the argument about having an outlet up front, but for the final minutes, row Z on the half way line is a good outlet. The fans will roar on every tackle made.

  6. Plug,

    I am in agreement with you, if you are going to bring on a sub, one of the first, on his form, shoud be Lansbury, who has the ability to control and distribute in midfield, and would work well with Hourihane and McGinn, which is exactly what we need towards the end of a game.

    Looking forward to Sunday, but wondering how much we will cope with Traore, if he plays up front, and will he be able to terrorize the back four, and who will be given the job of marking him.

    Jota, fully fit now, could be a different animal now, alongside Trez or El Ghazi.

    On the England front, the only reason that Jack has been left out by Gareth, i think, is because of his recent injury, otherwise he would have likey been in the squad. There is still plenty of time for him, and especially, when we have so many matches coming up.

  7. Plug,

    Don’t disagree…final subs like that make perfect sense. The only reason I can figure that we don’t see that pattern is that Smith wants to stick with the same formation, keep the attacking options on, and not hunker down. Which isn’t to say Conor can’t get forward, or Lansbury. If you want to keep an outlet, of the players available Saturday, then leave Trezeguet or AEG up there. So, Wes, one of those two, then Luiz, say, come off, three sets of fresh legs come on.

    Naive? Stubborn? Dunno. Like I say, could simply be the case Smith wants them to play the same way regardless of situation, but even then, Dean surely has to see Kodjia just isn’t very useful. Shame Davis got hurt again…He’d be a much better option if we’re going to leave a CF on.

  8. PP,

    Yeah, Traore is a real handful. Targett’s going to have a long day, would think we’d need to stay with 4-2-3-1 so there’s another player to slide over there and help.

  9. Jack, could well be the injury…just seemed from Southgate’s comments it might be more than that.

    But, yes, he will get his chance, and for me, while I’d be very proud to see him out there, I don’t mind the lure of the call-up keeping him motivated.

  10. Watching Sheffield U and Spurs, interesting how well their high pressure is working. I know Spurs have lost their way a bit, but SU don’t deserve to be behind. I think we really do miss the energy Tammy brought up front. Obviously there’s the goals, too, but…

  11. Wesley has been called up by Brazil, which may liven him up.
    Another Brazilian international possibly, to go with Luiz.
    Feeling positive about tomorrow!

  12. I think you can’t just remove your attacking threat and defend to the death when you have been defending to the death anyway. Don’t forget we are not the only one with subs and at present theirs are better quality subs. Remove the front line and Liverpools FB’s can be even more attacking, they can even put on more attacking options if we sit back. The answer for me is to get fitter and put your chances away when they come, part of that must be to hold on to the ball at times but what do you do if the opposition will not let you?

    Wolves use a counter attack style effectively against the top sides, whether they will do that today I don’t know, could be a counter off 🙂

  13. Listened to Dean Smiths pre-match talk and he mentioned keeping the ball better means you are less tired in the last ten when most goals are scored, makes sense to me.

  14. so far its been poor, nobody stepping up to fill jacks boots and multiple injuries cropping up. I think Targett has gone off because he got dizzy watching the players go past him. we have zero creativity today.

  15. Bit late to the action…Already wasn’t the best lineup we could put out, now only one change the rest of the way. And not the world’s most influential set of choices.

  16. Yeah JC to many yellows on the pitch to use that Sub to change it if we could. Targetts 1st tough match with players running at him and he’s folded, trez doesn’t help either but Targett has no idea how to face up to a player.

  17. MK,

    Trouble is, there really isn’t anyone to fill Jack’s boots. And what we’ve got doesn’t match up well with Wolves’ formation. As is often the case, McGinn is easier to focus on and negate. Seems to me we’ve got to try and get a bit more narrow in the final third with Trez and AEG working the channels. Which of course just widens up the space on the flanks.

    Again, players are trying to move it quickly, it’s a bit hit or miss. The idea’s fine, but the execution isn’t convincing.

  18. Was always going to be a long day for Targett…With Traore on that side and Trezeguet being the most likely to carry the weight of being creative, our left is being asked to do too much. Now it’s Taylor, which could be disastrous.

  19. From, you can’t say that, they’re world class…they wear Villa shirts.

    The full-backs are also first rate…at ball-watching

    The first half was utterly, utterly embarrassing

    Chelsea and United are the next 2 away games.

    Villa, Saints and Norwich to go down.

  20. PW…

    McGinn’s generally at his best when Grealish plays. I always sound like I’m banging the same drum, and I am, but we just don’t have anyone else with that much composure on the ball.

    People point to lack of scoring, etc., and I’d like to see him score more, but no one else has the necessary arrogance and control to beat the pressure and open it up for others.

  21. JC…you’re absolutely right but apart from Mings, we’ve spent a lot of money on poor players. 15m for Targett who simply cannot defend. Wesley, nothing more to say on him. Luiz…lightweight. Forward players who don’t track back are costly in this league.

  22. Still waiting for Luiz to show a better range of passing and decision-making, and he’s got to have the skills to be more impactful through the middle. Trez and AEG can make things happen, but too often make the wrong decision at the critical moment.

    It’s not a one-man team, but to MK’s point about someone stepping up…There’s no real drive in the middle of the park.

  23. Luiz and Marvelous can’t play together. Needs to be one or the other

    Kodjia should have come on not Lansbury. Smith isn’t good at subs. Lose to Newcastle his job will be under pressure

  24. PW,

    I do think Trez and AEG work hard coming back…For me, when we get forward it’s poor decisions that often are our undoing. And some less-than-ideal final balls. It’s like we don’t make the quick through ball when we should, and we try it when we shouldn’t.

    To be fair, today shaped up to be a challenge with the enforced substitutions and Jack being out. You have him out there, and get a chance to bring on Lansbury and Conor there when we were getting at them…Might well have got something.

    Clear the big miss was not being able to get in a smaller, faster striker.

    The ‘encouragement’ I’m taking out of this is that at least Trez has managed to score in two matches.

  25. Frem,

    I think Kodjia’s really kind of a pointless sub, tbh. He *can* make something out of nothing, but just not the player he was. On a day like today, AEG and Trez have to cut in and really drive, then pull across and take shots if they’re not going to get clear of the CBs. They can get players on their heels.

    Luiz and Nakamba? For me, more the case that Luiz has to take more on. Hasn’t played a whole of course, but he should be able to provide more. He’s hesitant.

  26. We were poor today. Outplayed and out battled. Out passing was terrible.

    Not sure what our game plan was.

    Target was taken to pieces

    Wesley – please come on, start to fight for this team

    We need more quality signings in January.

    Today wasn’t good enough in terms of effort or quality.

    It was difficult to watch.

    We desperately miss Jack.

  27. To your other point, Frem, agreed Wes isn’t having the impact we need. Had that one opening where he was perfectly set up. He’s got to put that on goal, at least.

  28. I’ve now watched all the teams after seeing Watford and Norwich on Friday. Without a doubt, Villa, Watford, Saints and Norwich are clearly the most inept teams. Three from those 4 will go

  29. Richard S,

    Yep, poor passing, cheaply conceding possession.

    Effort was better in the 2nd, but poor decisions. Just a couple, but Trez getting to the edge of the box, and then freezes, goes straight into the defender. He’s either got to cut in their and take the shot, or be thinking to lay it off. A bit later, he does very well going across toward the right, but tries to beat another man, loses it, and there’s acres left open.

    We do desperately need Jack…He seems the only one willing and able to take on the responsibility to try and carry the side, and he’s the only one that gives us something in the middle. Otherwise we’re playing wide almost exclusively, getting hemmed in, and players just aren’t being calm enough/anticipating well enough to work those little passes and get it back into the middle to beat the overloads.

  30. Don’t disagree, PW…I kept thinking “nearly, nearly, nearly” there toward the end of this one, going back to several other games. I think we can pull it off.

    Always said I’d be happy with 17th.

  31. I wonder how long DS can keep Conor out of the side? love him or hate him we are better with him.

    Just goes to show how Good jack is too, McGinn is less than super at the moment, provides the odd run which usually ends in being robbed but looks strangely disinterested to me.The midfield was constantly pressed by wolves and we just continue to stand and stare while they do it, our movement is poor and doesn’t provide outlets quick enough.

    That said it was a bit after the lord mayor’s show with the team leaving it all in the Liverpool game, That can often leave a team drained and as we saw injury prone.

  32. Another poor performance from us,another goal conceded from set play,to many problems with not since st of fixtures to come
    All in all Smith’s buys seem ok,bar kallnic and target how ducking hard is it to get decent full backs because I will literally cry if taylor puts on a villa shirt again
    Our set up is not working Smith’s needs to change it and with plays available I don’t know how he is going to do it,maybe go 5 at back instead
    Tactics we moaned how bad bruce was but it has been shocking how many goals we concede from set pieces,and how little we create from ours
    Subs surely no need to go so defensive as like today have we got no youth at club

  33. We were dreadful today. It certainly didn’t help losing Steer and Target due to injury. I think Target was pleased to exit.

    It limited our options to make any significant changes

    We certainly miss our playmaker Jack. Mcginn looks better with Grealish in the team.

    However we have limited forward options and the effort of Wesley is beginning to piss me off. I haven’t given up on him but he needs to start putting some effort into his game.

    Dean Smith also needs to start changing his tactics when it is not working on the pitch. We are one dimensional and teams have worked us out. He needs start earning his money as a Premier League Manager. We keep throwing points away.

    We are in a relegation battle and need new additions up front and in midfield to keep us in this division.

  34. So many worries.

    Our front 3 mainly for now, are crap.
    Targett. That’s a lot of money we spent on him for someone with no pace.

    Midfield are all to small. We need a 6ft plus physical DM.

    And we need to change formation. I’d like to see 442 for a bit with Mcginn and jack wider but ticking in. Wes needs support

    Ee can’t keep playing 433 with such bad wingers

  35. Wesley is unbelievably poor. It’s like playing with 10 men. Hopefully he just needs time to settle. For a big lad he gets bullied a lot, and his constant moaning is annoying.

    Luis also had a poor game, and needs to be dropped for Lansbury against Toon. Lansbury deserves a couple of games.

    I thought El Ghazi was decent. Not sure about Trezeguet, his tracking back is poor.

    What a mistake to have only Wesley, Kodger, and injury prone Davis up top. School boy error from DS

  36. I said on twitter before the season we haven’t done enough in terms of front 3 signings.

    I can’t get over how poor wes is either MD. He doesn’t look a footballer

  37. We were very poor yesterday. The scoreline flattered us. I was expecting something out of the game beforehand but was well deflated before the end. We need to start collecting some points quickly.

    I’m worried that Jack is suffering from the same injury as last season. We’re told it is different but it’s still his calf. Hope his absence is not prolonged. We really need to beat Spud and the Wai Ayes now.

  38. And I don’t think a lot of the players we got were first choice. No way was Wesley over Muapay. No way was luiz over Phillips. Trezeguet was a board signing. He looks so bad. Ghazi I think we had to sign but isn’t anywhere near good enough

  39. Don’t know why everyone thinks lansbury can do a job in premier league, our sub bench yesterday was full of players only fit for championship, that I don’t blame smith for,after the 3 seasons in championship selling our best players Ghana,vertout traore signing duds like Ross Hollins bree then onto spuds love of loan players we were promoted with a shocking squad
    We have no youth coming through when you look at bench,smith has made mistakes but unless we can sign another 3 4 players in January it’s going to a battle to stay up

  40. Agree James. The bench yesterday was crap. Although Chester is good. We need Davis and Jota back on the bench

    Lansbury I think could be ok. I think he’s a better footballer than Hourihane actually. He passes forward. Hourihane is always sideways and backwards

  41. Interesting comments from everyone, which seem mainly in agreement about how poor Wesley is, and as Dean said Villa just did not turn up in the first 45minutes.

    The positives, for me, which came out of the game, was how well Konsa fitted in to the back four, and Nyland was able to show that he is still capable of vbeing a top keeper. Lansbury showed once more, that he is capable of fitting in the team, and should be considered in front of Luiz, and maybe he will get his chance. If we had started with Hourihane, Lansbury and McGinn in midfield, rather than Luiz and Nkamba, we may have faired better.

    I am in agreement that McGinn has not really shone in the last two games, and maybe is a little lost without Jack, or is under more pressure, as the opposition have been able to give him more attention without JG on the pitch.
    Trezeguet and El Gahzi, are both still learning as they play, and are probably being asked too much, with the lack of experience around them. I am not really sure how we expected a team to gel at this level with not one single player with at least a full season’s experience in the Premiership.

    Like Frem, I do not understand the purchase of Targett over Phillips, or why we bought Wesley, when we could have got Maupay or Grabban, who is still doing ok at Forest, and does not miss when a chance comes his way. Still think Jo Lolly would have been a good addition to this squad.

    Dean Smith really has got his work cut out, if he is to keep this team in the Premiership.

  42. Konsa was class. Fact remains it was always going to be tough. New team (squad) in one window. Its impossible every signing will be great too. It is what it is I’m afraid. We have a bloody tough run coming up. I think Norwich and saints will drop but feel Watford could have a winning run at home when deeney is back.

    such a shame as if we stayed up would be so much better next season

  43. Knew we would loose yesterday. We just aint good enough without a few key players out. Especially jack, who makes everything better for us. and wlves away is tough.

    Need a full fit first 11 to stand a chance

  44. PP- Can’t believe you would drop Nakamba, he was like the little boy with his finger in the dyke at times. McGinn was poor so was luis and I think Conor would certainly have been no worse, Lansbury probably deserves a start.

    If Jack is fit I would try El Ghazi in wes’s position and trez out right. Targett was so poor I’m almost considering Playing a back three.

    Whatever way you look at it this kind of season was on the cards, Smith can’t be blamed for every player bought ( its a committee) and everything they do on the pitch when you have had to Buy almost a team on a budget (for the prem) things are not likely to go smoothly.

    We are just as likely to come back next game and look the business.

    I thought Wes tried he’s just not quick off the mark when pressing, needs 10 yards to get up to a sprint.

  45. I still want a public enquiry into how anyone in their right mind could sign Wesley. If we’d paid £4m for him I’d feel robbed.

    Targett at £15m is a close second. Saints fans are still laughing

  46. The difference this year compared to 2016 is that current owners will want to do everything possible to avoid relegation. The penis Lerner didn’t care, he just wanted rid.

    What I think that means is that Smith will be very vulnerable if we don’t beat Newcastle

  47. JG…you don’t think Wesley is a dudd?

    I would also say that that Trezeguet and El Ghazi should be no more than squad players and not regular starters in the EPL. There is not enough quality in the team

  48. I don’t think our owners would get rid of Smith, even if we are struggling all season. Even if ee go down I think the board will keep him, and rightly so. He should be our manager for years to come. He’s learning this league to.

    Paul- I’d sell Trez snd Ghazi in Jan. Sign 2 or 3 more wingers, and a striker. Sell kodjia

  49. Frem
    Yes, as there is life outside football.
    Especially when you get old.
    Although insane fans on the internet come close behind on the irritration spectrum.

  50. South American player’s first season in GB tend to be a bit low key, coming good in the second season, if at all, & Wesley has scored 4 goals so far.
    Villa were onto a hiding to nothing with the amount of players they had to sign for a first season back in the EPL, & I think we have done ok considering there wasn’t a settled side to come in to.
    January incoming might improve the whole deal as there is more of a settled squad.
    The constant attacks on players from emotionally projecting keyboards, for me is even more irritating, as it’s one thing to express it, but another to use it as an agenda.

  51. Wesley…wracking my brains to think of anyone as poor as him. I’ll go for Ian Ormondroyd and Marlon Harewood.

    The 4 goals don’t cut any ice. It’s what he doesn’t do for 99% of the game that has more of an overall impact. The 2 against Norwich were against a joke defence. He creates nothing for others.

  52. IanG…so what do you want me to write about Villa’s forward line? If my opinion (and thats all it is), is that they’re poor then I’ll write it.

    Take a look at the comments from independent football journalists and show me those who think Wesley is a good player.

  53. PW
    And if I have the opinion that what you post is not correct & that you’re offloading, then I will politely post that.
    As for Wesley, it is about equal between the two opinions, with a lot of knee jerking & agendas on one side, with attempts at analysis using a broad factual approach on the other, that doesn’t need constant affirmation..

  54. PW
    Too early to say if wes is a dud,remember he is coming from a side used to winning, plus playing with a partner not easy playing loan striker
    As for trex, elgazi how much did we pay for them less than Ross kodga hogan I think
    Should be more focus on Smith’s mistakes, our defensive play from set piece is shocking (what is terry doing) our fitness levels(something terry mentioned in the past),our subs,picking of taylor

  55. IanG. Which of the following statements about Wesley is incorrect?
    1. He’s slow
    2. He can’t hold the ball up
    3. He can’t jump and head it
    4. He doesn’t score from more than 6 yards out

    I think all accepted/respected good forwards can do those things. The fact that he’s Brazilian or any other nationality is irrelevant. He’s not good enough for the EPL

  56. PW- I thought this was a good article highlighting the likely difference between Tammy and wes and Villa and Bruge. You have to say he rarely gets a chance created for him, Personally I think he’s a link up player and Smith will have to coach him into a no9. Unlike Tammy we rarely look for him once the team is near the oppositions box, I doubt he’s had 1 shot a match on average.

  57. “Attempts at analysis using a broad factual approach.” That’s vague waffle. You haven’t been able to point to a professional journalist that thinks he’s a good centre forward.

  58. IanG. I’m surrounded by misinformed and misguided season ticket holders in the Doug Ellis stand because all I hear is Wesley being criticised.

    By the way, you didn’t answer my questions

  59. Mark, There isn’t time for passengers in this division. A lot of people talk on here as though this season is some sort of dress rehearsal for the proper thing in 2-3 years time when the inept will miraculously come good. Wesley may well be a star waiting to shine in the Championship

  60. MK
    The kindest thing you can say about Wesley based on the Abraham comparison is that he’s a good player in another formation, and Villa’s recruitment was poor. I don’t buy that overall because he is slow, lacks ball control and awareness of the right pass to play.

    I do think that Smith made a mistake (maybe it was someone else?) with him and a few other signings. Smith wasn’t the first choice replacement for Bruce. His game management has been poor during most matches. The owners will act soon

  61. PW
    I’ve answered it twice.
    Mark – That was the analysis when he arrived, & it sure seems that way.
    Not being able to go to matches any more I’m mostly stuck with highlights, whatever he is doing he is a work in progress, but I seem to see him in the box more as the season goes[not with good service], but as I said at the beginning of the season, we still need a normal forward, & the whole team is up & down like a yo yo.
    Jota & Grealish seem to be on his wavelength, but they haven’t been playing.
    Also Trez seems not to look up enough & always too late with the pass.
    Abraham would struggle while they sort it out.

  62. IanG- yes mate Tammy would not be banging them in as he is for chelsea, he’s getting at least 4 shots on goal a game for them.

    I think Wes’s position is opposition dependent, against poorer teams with Jack up alongside him he is asked to occupy the CB’s while others take the shots from the edge of the area. Then when we are against the better sides he drops deeper and trys to help the counter or relieve pressure. At the end of the day the quality in this league is so much higher, didn’t really appreciate it until we returned.

  63. PW- Who was 1st choice? surely not henri? I think with our financial situation at the time Smith was a good choice, unlikely to cost the earth and if we could not go up then Ideal to rebuild. Jesus Garcia Pitarch is the Sporting director and has mucho contacts, Smith is certainly not getting all the players he wants as there are constraints billionaires or not.

  64. Last season Of contract:
    Chester, Codger & unfortunately Davis.

    21 contract end:
    Nyland, Elmo, Taylor, Lansbury & Jota.

    So unless Codger has a second coming, In January it’s pretty clear that we need another forward, & probably a winger, which will not be cheap.
    I can see an odd sneaky addition for less money.

    Also we need to improve & as someone said, the next 9 games will show what we need to add, hopefully not so clearly that it freaks the bejasus out of us, possibly lighting a fuse.But with Jack back SJM may perk up, because then Wesley makes some good runs, & the wingers be more instinctive.

    I used to sit in the Witton Lane stand, but I’d need to do 2 million Hail Marys to sit in the DG stand.

  65. MK, yes granted it’s only 12 games but it’s obvious that we’re toothless up front. Jack covers some of the cracks, but we’re a joke without him.

  66. Villa md- what do you suggest? Last few games the front three have scored goals, we have a decent goal difference for where we are compared to others and we can’t change it until Jan even then we might just be starting the process over.

  67. I can see a player in Wesley. The trouble is he has been isolated far too much. Something we have tried to fix putting jack up near him. The mans mostly been having 1 chance a game.

    Re watch the everton Norwich performce. He has the ability

  68. You’re right Mark, nothing can be done until January, so people are stating their frustration that the recruitment wasn’t good enough. El Ghazi was an average Championship player so it was pretty obvious he was going to be poor this season. I don’t blame him for the fact that he is inadequate, I blame the people who have a squad so poor that he is a regular starter. Same for Wesley; probably a lovely bloke but a sh!t footballer

  69. I can see a player in Wesley…sounds like the start of a Martin Luther King speech. How can a man who can’t run, jump, shoot or pass forwards be a potential good player? I’m really baffled.

  70. On this day in 1959, Gerry Hitchens scored five goals in an 11-1 demolition of Charlton Athletic at Villa Park.

    Hitchens became only the fifth Villa player to score five in one game, while Bobby Thomson (2), Peter McParland (2), Ron Wylie and Jimmy MacEwan were also on target.

    Heavy rain restricted the attendance to 21,291, but Villa were on a roll.

    They won their next two matches 5-0, Hitchens netting a hat-trick against Bristol City at Ashton Gate and two against Scunthorpe United on a day when the Villa Park attendance soared to over 37,000.

    Couresy of Rob Bishop.

    Hitchens was my number one centre forward for Villa!!!

  71. Amazing what a dressing down from Joe Mercer could do!!! He was not happy with the lack of goals and gave a warning to Bobby Thomson, Ron Wylie and Gerry Hitchens.

    They had been on a 14 match unbeaten run, ended by losing 2-1 to Liverpool, and he was not a happy man. They did go on to win the second division, with Cardiff City runners up ( where we had got Hitchens from!).

    Joe for me was our best manager, after Ron Saunders.

  72. Mark
    More the brazil style of play I would have thought.
    He’s actually 5th in line, with the main 2 not playing in the competition, & one of the reserve 2 got injured after the call up.
    They must see something.

    Yes Hitchens, a great player, & a good team & manager.
    I’m having trouble remembering yesterday, but can still remember Hitchens & McParland

  73. Those of us who wallow in frustration & doom & gloom, might remember that we’re actually in a lot better position when you think about the old 3rd division.
    As someone posted, DS’s seasons always started slowly as he had to gell a new team every season with Brentford & Walsall, so there was always going to be ups & downs, both with the team & with the younger players.
    As we had to fit in so many players without enough money, why the surprise that after only 12 games we are where we are, especially after playing many of the top teams & nearly winning some.

    I don’t see the point in harping on for ever about things that are nebulous or things that can’t be changed right now [unless it’s funny].
    Things can change fast, especially if we don’t suck the life out of everything.

  74. IanG- I agree mate there is not much point but as we keep going close its tantalisingly appears to be fixable ( just an illusion) which gives people the pip and hence the sack him bolyuks , then again if ElGhazi is on the street s begging maybe its financial.

    PP- did Mercer threaten to cut their cigarette ration or Close the boozer early?

  75. MK,

    Both I would think, as he would not like losing to such an average side as the Bindippers in those days!!!!!

    Worth a lot in those days when you would lucky to earn £30 a week. We lost Harry Burrow3s for the sake of ten bob a week, to Stoke!!!

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