I think the timeline Sawiris and Edens had for Aston Villa being promoted from the Championship was 2020.  As fun and as exciting as last season turned out with Dean Smith’s crew putting in an eye-opening run plus a successful 3 games in the playoffs, it actually threw a spanner into the works.

Now this is all conjecture on my part and this is how I see it. Tyrone Mings would have been happy to move to Villa, Jack Grealish would have been happy to do one more year in the Championship, Jed Steer would have been #1 with Orjan #2. Players would have come in and players would have left as is usual with most teams but the nucleus of Villa would have been left intact.  A lot less money would have been spent.

Let’s go back to the “left intact” thought. Teams who have kept their core group of players together are a better team player for player. Wolves took an intact core to the Premier League, so did Sheffield United and to date both teams are thriving. Liverpool has had at least 3 years for the team to work seamlessly under Klopp, so has Leicster now under Rogers. Conversely, Arsenal, MU, Tottenham and more glaringly Southampton have struggled due to the breakdown of their core and short term managers. Some quickly, some over several years.

Which brings me back to Villa. Mings, Jack and newcomer Heaton have turned heads (Heaton for several years) in the Premier League which is wonderful until its not. Until it’s not–and that is relegation. Does anyone think for one second that these 3 will be around when summer arrives and they find the team in the Championship?

The realization that they have played in the Prem and want to stay in the Prem will be the deciding factor for Villa. As for the rest of the team the same is true. Not one of them will willingly drop down a league if they can help it. A definite dilemma for the chairmen and Smith if relegation should occur. They would effectively be starting all over again and hoping against hope that they can bring a core of players down with them. Two rebuilding years in a row without a block of games to glue the team together. A not so bright future.

None of us have a backdoor into the thinking of the two chairmen. Of course they want to stay in the Premier League but even at almost $200,000,000 spent on players, they don’t seem to be any closer to a cohesive unit that will stay up as they did at the start of the season even though they showed some promise last August. How are they thinking over the Xmas season? Are they true fans of the sport? Are they looking at the team from a purely financial view? What is their timeline for success in the Premier League? They’ve put some solid people in place. They’ve invested in Bodymoor Heath, and done some upgrading to Villa Park. Are they willing to let the best go in order to meet objectives that are several years down the road? Unfortunately the average fan wants success in the moment, perhaps within a two-year window. At least to be competitive. It’s going to be touch and go this year and staying up should be the only objective.

Getting a solid team together is more important than buying a couple players in January. Villa have good players, some excellent, but they are playing pick up football, not familiar with each other enough to make some serious headway in the table. They make each other look average. They’ve only been together for 16 games. It’s going to take time. Time that Villa don’t have. I certainly don’t have the answer right now. Building a core of players who can play seamlessly will be all for naught if relegation happens. But this is the only way in my mind. Smith, Terry, and O’Kelley are trying, but are the 20 games left enough to develop into a team that can compete?

They only have to be better than 3 teams. One of them just beat them rather decisively.

Merry Christmas guys! All the best in 2020.

Comments 51

  1. Some good points Ian. I think it is too early. I commented earlier about the problem with scraping up in the playoffs and what that usually means for the quality of the team. How Villa get to the place where Sheff Utd are is a mystery to me. For too many years we have been terrible in the transfer market, spending relative small fortunes on poor players; the likes of McCormack, Hogan, Targett plus too many others I can’t recall at this second.

    It feels like the final phase of Lerner with a team that is abject and doesn’t know where the next win will come from.

    Mings, McGinn and Grealish have papered over cracks that are now gaping chasms

    People will say I’m over reacting but the performances have been in steady decline for weeks. Saints are very poor and we were reamed.

  2. Thanks Ian, always was and always will be to early considering where we where start of last season. I do think that the owners would of spent still but I doubt Villa’s team would be so exotic. We picked up Guilbert for £5m last Jan and I would of preferred more in his mould if we are going to coach a team to success. Maybe more of the Youth would have their chance rather than sitting on someones bench.

    Like PW I wonder about our recruitment, lets face it we bought an £8m keeper last Jan that on paper should of been fantastic but turned out not to be, the way he is being turned round now and Steer installed last season I assume he was not the new Managers choice, I wonder how many are of that Ilk? certainly our early missed in the transfer market were more Brit based and used to the physicality.

    Taking a glance at Brentford and their ratio of good buys for nothing does make you wonder how another year in the champs could of worked for us. Or maybe Villa re just to big to go cheap?

    Happy xmas everyone

  3. Seasons Greetings Lifers.

    Ian, we did get promoted when it didn’t look like we had any chance. Once that happened the dynamics changed. Team building became much more urgent and meant Compass had to throw money at the challenges ahead. We can’t complain…..they have been magnificent.

    I thought it would pay off. There were some promising early performances. Unfortunately, as PW alludes to, our performances have tailed off alarmingly of late. So we arrive at the classic situation next week. Do we stick or do we twist? Compass will be as upset as the fans if we stick and just miss out on 17th place. On the other hand, if we twist, there are no guarantees of 17th place. Some dilemma.

    Today, I just want to see us fight. No coasting, no going through the motions, no slow stuff. I want to see sleeves rolled up and everyone put in a shift. For the full 90 minutes. As an average fan, I don’t think I’m asking too much.

  4. Interesting selection today…Obviously looks as though Jack will be counted upon centrally. I guess the question I have is will his responsibility there lessen or increase his influence, and will he be able to give Wesley a different kind of support/service.

  5. Nakamba with the defensive blunder again. We are the worst team in the division by a country mile…no doubting it.
    Why can Smith never prevent the shocking second half start?

  6. Awful from Targett…never cuts out a cross. Norwich have had the best opportunities today. Nothing has changed my mind about where we are heading based on this effort. We create very few openings from open play

  7. Thank god it’s over,
    Heaton man of match by country mile,luis did well jack had good game no booking either,conor pips up with a goal,2 centre halves after shaky start performed well as for elmo can’t cross cant defend awful player,target maybe convert to wide midfielder as a defender hopeless,elgazi missed 2 sitters and in general poor,trex non existent, marvellous gone of the boil,as for wes if he was playing for Norwich he would have scored with all their chances, he works so hard but no service

  8. After 19 games last season the bottom 3 was 18 Burnley 19 Huddersfield 20 Fulham.

    Burnley escaped and were replaced by Cardiff. The team who looked sound but almost went were Brighton. As the table stands now we’ll need to finish above one of Everton, West Ham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Saints…how lucky do you feel.

  9. Thanks James.
    Considering the injuries To the better players Villa are carrying I don’t think it’s too bad. Good players can make average players better. The result is a more tentative team. Like Frem said, things will get better.

  10. Paul, I don’t think Villa are as bad as what we has seen lately. They are definitely better than 18th. West Ham are in trouble, Brighton too and really the table is still fairly tight in the bottom ten. Southampton have just done their season miracle

  11. Just after reading Ancelotti wrote it took platini 6 months to settle in italy from France,rush couldn’t cope in italy came back to pool and tour would thought he never was away

  12. Jack was a cut above every other player on the pitch today. And Heaton had a good game. I thought El Gassy and Trez were poor contributors and Naarwich were unlucky to lose. I’m grateful for the 6 points we got from them this season. El Gassy marked a few blades of grass and missed two good chances.

    Great stop on the line from Luiz. And Hourihane’s goal was all Jack’s in the making. I’d change the team for Watford and play the second eleven due to 2 games in as many days. But I’d leave House and Konsa at the back. They looked more solid as the game progressed and House (I think it was) won 2 great headers in the last knockings.

  13. For the love of god play 3-5-2 we are crying out for it. Our wide men are struggling so gives them a rest, gives wes support and maybe some service!

    Maybe the saints defeat wasn’t that bad seeing as they just did Chelsea 2 zip! Great 2 game for them. Back to back wins parachutes you up! We need another to get out. Still think the current bottom 3 will drop. Have until end of Jan to change my mind villa!

  14. Trezaguet needs a run of games, but why we should we do that?
    ELG plays as if he’s desperate, & he’s making me feel like that.
    Hause improved dramatically with a prolonged run in the team last season, so maybe he should play now ,especially as he seems to have a good understanding with Konsa, who is improving all the time also.
    Got to have a solid pair with the fullback’s defensive frailties.

    At least they gave it some, especially Luiz & Connor, & Wesley put a shift in, just a shame about the service he gets, which is enough to make anyone uncertain.

    So glad we have Heaton & Jack.

    Due to onstage team building, the squad players are auditioning for their positions, especially with the transfer window nearly here.
    They still seem to have a plan, & I’m wondering what they have in mind.

  15. Konsa is pretty dam good. Will be some centre back.

    Target- We got done over with him. Awful defender. OK on the ball.

    Wingers are just dire. Need to buy a couple in January, as well as a left back, mcginn replacement and a DM. Marvellous isn’t good enough on the ball

  16. Frem

    It’s so hard to judge players for villa. Sometimes it’s good to step back and look. Liverpool, went out and spent 100 mill on Fabinho and Keita. And they have the luxury of giving them a season to bed them in. We have literally asked every new player to gel as a team and hit the ground running in the prem straight away. Others will adapt quicker than others, some may not make it but 18 games is impossible to judge.

  17. Frem

    Hourihan would be the perfect guy to sub on and off on set pieces! I love the guy but it happens all the time with him. Comes off bench delivers starts next game and goes missing! I think games at vp against lower teams he should always start. His wand of a left peg makes magic happen.

  18. Iang

    I’m very much on the fence with wes. Like I said above early days. But also a complete lack of chances given to him. I really didn’t think smith footy was about having a huge target man to come and hold the ball up! A very strange type of striker to buy for smith. The man is working like a Trojan though. But we def need another striker to create competion.

  19. Morning lifers, still happy we got three points when we probably shouldn’t. Just shows you that in some games the dice drop for you, I’m sure plenty of teams that we have enviously watched get results they maybe shouldn’t we’re not much better on the day than us. These kind of games can give a team the lift they need though.

    I was wondering why fat frank didn’t turn on the genius tactic tap against Southampton? Maybe it’s only available against teams his ex manager is in charge of. Don’t know if he played 3at the back but it was clearly the wrong formation

    Can’t blame any of you for pointing out how cr*p some players are, it obvious until they have a good game. In my mind it was always about let’s see how it goes and let’s attack rather than sit back where possible. Dangerous in this league but is it any less dangerous than losing 1-0 instead? Clearly we have scored a fair few goals and conceded plenty . Is it easier to teach a team to be offensive or defensive? Going on the players we bought it would seem smith thought the attack option was more likely to bring some success. Going on the many nearly games he wasn’t far off only our inability to convert even more of the chances we create has seen us drop points.

    Yes we struggle to see games out but many should of been buried way before the opponents took their chances. It’s a gamble in this league where all teams have top finishers, we appear to lack that apart from Conor and recently jack. It would of been fantastic to have arrived at this point with a team odds on to stay up but it was also very unlikely, to not give Smith the chance to make adjustments in jan would be criminal in my mind and less of a gamble than another Boss who parachutes in his favourite players to scrape survival.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what transpires next, shame we have injuries to important players but smiths tactical use of Heaton keeps him in the seat and we march on.

  20. 8th highest scorers in the premier, wonder what it would take to improve that? Understand that we are defensively poor as a team and some nous in midfield could help both ends improve along with that extra option up top or two .

  21. Mark
    Goals conceded is a big problem, the way we concede even worse,we give too many corners away elmo near the end quite content to give away a corner that burst a gut to clear it,we have no player willing to command our team no leaders,heaton great shot stopper but that’s it,sorry jack bawled target out for clearing the ball wildly instead of playing it to jack

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