Villa’s stretch of matches against fellow cellar dwellers didn’t get off to such a great start Saturday, but the side rebounded on Boxing Day, securing a crucial three points against visiting Norwich with a 1-0 victory.

While not a thing of great beauty, it was a far cry from the virtually catastrophic Saints game. In that one we looked terrible, dropped squarely into the bottom three, lost John McGinn, and seemed to have lost our way in general. It was panic stations all round, and not without some cause.

But. It’s looking not quite as dire now, with a win finally back under our belts, and West Ham, Bournemouth, and Brighton all within reach just above us. Southampton and Everton aren’t out of sight, either.

The Good
Lovely strike from Conor, who, like El Ghazi, seems to benefit from a sit-down. Tom Heaton was top class. Konsa and Hause settled in together, and grew into the match. Douglas Luiz had, I thought, his most physical performance and a brilliant goal-line clearance. He and Nakamba did well enough. Wesley put in a good shift. Jack was Jack, though more centrally deployed, and had a perfect assist. After the goal, you could see confidence returning, and better, more composed football resulting—until the obligatory nervy finish, of course.

The Bad
Villa rode their luck, and keeper, at times, with Norwich creating more and playing better, overall. Trezeguet was poor all round, especially in getting dispossessed from behind. El Ghazi had two chances he fluffed that would’ve changed the nature of the game dramatically. Set piece defending was still a shambles for two-thirds of the game, but did improve. Service into the box was generally…poor.

The Ugly
Farke’s silly rant about a throw in.

Final Verdict
A win that Villa desperately and quite obviously needed. Villa didn’t look like Klopp’s men, but they somehow managed to keep a clean sheet and see out a lead. That was all that mattered. Villa came in seemingly bereft of all confidence, and turning it round was never going to be an instant turnaround. The side managed to find a way to stay in it, grab a goal, then grew in confidence after, and most important, kept ourselves in touch with the safety zone.

Interesting on the day was how moving Jack central played out. Defending, Villa looked to have a more 4-4-2 shape, with Jack and Wes at the top. Grealish’s free role going forward had the formation looking like a variety of things in attack, even going so far as to reach something as meaningless as a 4-2-1-2-1. Or 4-2-1-3. Or 4-2-3-1. Take your pick. There was a lot of moving around, is what I’m saying.

For their part, Trezeguet and Ghazi didn’t offer much, though they did help make up the numbers. This is a problem. Ghazi has to take his chances, and he’s been off lately when he’s been in the right places at the right times. Trezeguet was basically useless on the day, and being subbed out so late has me wondering about Jota’s true fitness.

Further, Villa keep getting lined up and static in attack, which is big part of why we aren’t creating a lot of chances. When we did score, it was because Jack’s position on the ball pulled the defenders deeper, leaving space for Hourihane. But we still aren’t succeeding at quickly getting between opponents’ lines often enough further out. If I were to point to a flaw in Jack’s game, it’s his hesitancy to play through-balls quickly. But when I look at how poorly they come off from everyone else, I can’t say I blame him. That said, it’s a key to unlocking more direct chances. If and when he adds that to his locker, he’ll be a complete and very dangerous player.

The thing here, though, is that we can all see Jack carries the burden for the whole team. It’s easy for him to try and do too much or be too cautious. No idea what Smith’s instructions are, but the way we’re set up, turnovers on that final ball can be deadly. What got better during the match was Konsa and Hause pushing up and getting to balls in the air and on the ground, which is also crucial to the system. You have to win that phase with the numbers we try to throw forward, and not let the ball drop in front of the back line. If the wide forwards aren’t going to cut in and convert, or find Wesley or trailing midfield runs, they may as well stay home, and it seemed to me Dean did have them lying deeper more often than in previous weeks.

Equally important, I thought Luiz showed more aggression and persistence off the ball. There’s a decent partnership to be had with him and Nakamba, and as tired as we all are of hearing it, it’s simply the case that this is very much what a work in progress looks like, especially when neither of them (along with Trezeguet and Wesley) have any experience in English football, never mind the Premier League. I think more than anything, it’s the lack of time on the ball, from all directions, that’s been the rudest awakening for most of the newcomers, as well as the complementary element of playing so tight without the ball. But those were the first real glimmers of tenacity I’ve seen from Luiz—if he’s finally taken that part of his role on board, well, let’s just say it’s not a moment too soon, especially without McGinn, who, when fit, does a lot of that dirty work. When we turn it over, someone has to be dogged in blunting the counter. For his part, Nakamba’s not bad at reading things, and being tactically subbed off for Conor had everything to do with Dean wanting three points.

All fixed? Nope. But it gave me hope. And it has to have done the lads a world of good. Winning always does. The trick, as we all know, is doing it again tomorrow.

Over to you.

Comments 248

  1. Great write-up JC, agree with most points. However the Ugly was
    Wesley starting ahead of Kodjia

    I also like Hause. I would play him, Konsa and Chester as a back three vs Watford. Kodjia and Jack up top, Guilbert and Jota on the right

  2. Ha, fair enough, VillaMD.

    I understand the calls for 3-5-2. Only question I have is whether Dean wants to try it. Chester might well pull it off, still don’t know how recovered he really is, but you’d think when Mings comes back we’d at least have the back line for it.

  3. Hi JC,

    Yes, hopefully Mings is back soon, then we can play Hause at LB. I just feel Chester has a part to play, even if it’s the last 20mins of games to protect a lead.

    I think we all agree that there’s no point in both Luiz and Marvelous starting together. Both good players and both will get playing time. For me it’s a very close call on the starter, and it will vary as they develop.

    What I would love is RHM getting a recall and bring him on for the last 30mins of games. He has pace to burn and would compliment Jota and Grealish

  4. VillaMD,

    I think Luiz-Nakamba can work, but it depends on what we do in the window. With McGinn out, and Hourihane not really up to being a regular starter, there’s not many options for now, and either one does more than Lansbury (who, to be fair, has barely played in a year-and-a-half). I’ve said it before (and others point to players that didn’t really get a chance and went on to do well elsewhere), but it took Gueye a while to adapt, and it seems similar for these two.

    LIkewise, not sure I see Smith using Hause as a FB. That’s why I can relate to the 3-5-2 argument. Targett and Guilbert would have a bit less defensive pressure on them, and Hause and Konsa (Mings, too) can play in space.

    I could always be wrong, but I think a big limitation to two up top is that Kodjia is probably not even a 70-minute player anymore, never mind 90. That’s probably top of the list in January.

  5. And I’ve wondered about RHM. He’s fast and athletic…couldn’t hurt having him around the side in training, and would give us something different. Don’t know that he’s played enough to do him much good on loan. Also not sure what the terms were.

  6. A must win. We have the worst away record in the league and unless we switch 352 it won’t improve. We are far to open and without any defensive shape. May the football gods be with us. Deaulfeau and Sarr could run riot

  7. Unless we change formation, we won’t win. Our front 3 simply won’t cause enough problems. They are useless

    Hourihane will start. Be invisible. Won’t play the next game. And the cycle will continue

  8. Thanks JC- when the going gets tough the tough get lucky.

    Not sure why people think formation over competence is the answer but hey could be. I saw that fat franks getting stick from the Chelsea faithless for his tactics, funny old game .

  9. Mark

    433 is a very bold formation. Need to be very very good to play it. Need 2 wingers who produce up top and track back….poor targett. And an excellent holding mid who can do it all. For me the reason we are where we are is defence and the amount of chances and crosses we concede. 352 or 343 would stop the wide open spaces we concede. But I highly doubt smith will change it.

  10. In history too villa has always done well 352. For me given el ghazi and trez are struggling, targett and Gilbert are better going forwards then back and having another person up top with wes may spark him. Just seems obvious to try. Especially away from home. Sheffield Utd and wolves play it to a tee.

  11. The 4-3-3 conundrum. It’s simple in my view. You need quality players to make it work. It’s very attacking but if deployed with players who are less than excellent, then the team becomes exposed with open spaces all over the place.

    Trez and El Gassy are not upto standard in this division with this formation. So we’re stuffed from the outset. We need to load midfield and play with one up front. A midfield comprised of dogs of war is what we need now.

    Having played only 48 hours ago, it’ll be interesting to see if Deano rotates his squad. I think 6 new faces from the last game is a minimum.

  12. H&V- If your team is good enough it will switch from 433 to 352 anyway depending on whether we have possession or not. Our FB’s start high up and Nakamba sits deep with someone like Jack or ElGhazi linking with Wez thats 352 right there. Our Problem is we don’t operate well as a team yet, with what we have I am not sure we would pose much of a threat with 3 CB’s on the pitch, it would require mings ability on the ball to step out too.

  13. To add having played in a three at the back and a 4 I’ll tell you have to have some very good CB’s, some top teams and coaches prefer to convert Mids into CB’s to play 3 at the back, its way more complex to play that way and much more than about filling gaps and numbers back.

  14. Mark

    I think it just plays to our strengths at the moment. We do have the Cbs to play it. Konsa house mings Engels all look to play it and step into mid. The personal setting up for 433 or 352 completely different, can’t switch it up in a game.

  15. Not sure what to make of team no pace whatsoever
    Jota lainsbury conor in midfield who is going to tackle
    Elmo to play twice in 48 hours last time smith tried that Leicester destroyed us

  16. H&V- So where are the mids that are comfortable in possession? It is as much about dominating possession and we have not shown that we can do that at all, and what about the front two who need to be mobile and full of energy? sound like Wes and kodjia? I know 352 can look good on paper but as our problems are more about cohesion and discipline adding more complexity could be a disaster.

    Do you remember the 8-0 drubbing against Chelsea under Lambert? that was a flirtation with 352 our worst defeat ever.

  17. No shots on target against Norwich in 1st half. There lies our problem. Im hoping that Lansbury can knick a goal. He has been playing further up the pitch, and is also decent in the air for set pieces.

    At least Bournemouth lost

  18. Great discussion…

    I do think there’s a cohesion/discipline problem. When you study the way Klopp has Pool organized, there’s a lot players need to be aware of and tending to…We are not good at closing the passing lanes, for example, in a more passive or positional press. I’ve no doubt they’ve gone over it, no mystery, but players have to execute. Same with the passes that make it tick.

    Jack’s frustration with Targett on Boxing Day…That panicked thump when he had time to get it to Jack in space and relieve the pressure. Any system struggles when you lose composure.

  19. When it comes to chances, we’ve still scored more than anyone else in the bottom half of the table, same as Arsenal (25). It’s the conceding that’s killing us. Genius analysis, but I think a fair number of the goals against have as much to do with us not executing/losing our heads as anything else.

  20. MK,

    I think that’s why Smith is sticking with it. Only one way to learn, and that’s by doing it til you get it right. Might not work, but as we’ve all said, if we’d taken more of our chances earlier in games, things would be playing out differently in matches and the table.

    Very curious to see what the window brings, what they think needs fixing the most.

  21. Plug…because they are f**king s**t…pure and simple.
    You have a team that executes suicide defending and a striker who is utterly cr@p. Chances are golden in this league and he misses every single one

  22. Dear god that was horrendous.

    Mark

    I still have nightmares about that 8nil! But like I say I look at our players and think 352 suits. But hey it ain’t going to happen.

    Out fought again here and not really playing like its a 6 pointer

  23. Pw
    Last chance wes got v newcastle ,early on we had the ball decent position elmo goes back with it ,over and back and then konsa hoofs it out play a magician would struggle up front in this side or way smith sets them up

  24. We are really struggling.

    This is not a good performance.

    How did Wesley miss that header – he simply has to score.

    And there goal was more poor defending

    Jota + Lansbury – Wesley are not in the game.

    Elmo is also struggling

    He needs to make chances.

    Things are desperate. Why not bring on Kodja and AEG.

  25. No complaints with the scoreline. Watford have created a boatload of chances. On top of that, we’ve gifted them a few more, with wrapping paper, gift tags and bows. Right now, I can’t see how we’ll get anything out of this game.

  26. Circling back to tactics, players have to execute. Targett was doing well with the wide diagonals until he wasn’t. Elmo keeps showing Delafeou inside rather than out. Konsa acts like he’s got all the time in the world, and Heaton gets unlucky on the follow-up.

    Watford were controlling possession, yes, but you can’t help them out. It would’ve come to naught in the half if Konsa shows more awareness and makes a better decision.

    Then of course, I don’t think you can afford to have Hourihane, Lansbury and Jota out there at the same time. Will see if/what changes are made. But I think we could use Nakamba more than Hourihane atm.

  27. Konsa was a complete knob for the goal. Which recruitment pen1s decided that the players recruited in the summer were good enough for the EPL? They’re so s**te that even Smith is leaving most of them out in favour of donkeys that played in the Championship.

    I believe the official term is “We’re doing a Fulham”. Utterly woeful. This stinks of the final months of Lerner

  28. Watford have played with purpose and pressed with intent as a unit. Pearson has organised them into an effective group. That turd Deeney can do one. He missed a sitter before he almost missed the one that went in.

  29. “Pearson has organised them into an effective group”.

    Yes, yes and yes. Which is precisely why Smith must go because he is failing to do that. He is weak and incapable of effecting change.

  30. Konsa and Hause had a decent game against Norwich, though. I’m curious to see if we’ll get the underdog fight in the 2nd now that there’s no choice.

    Me, I’d have had Guilbert instead of Elmo. When we did see him with Jota, they played better together, and he doesn’t slow things down like Elmo. That said, might be Smith wanted a more veteran, stay-at-home player on that side.

    Ghazi coming on for Jota, which makes sense.

  31. U could see the goal coming. Jota dicking around, then Elmo puts Konsa into trouble, and he duely messes up. It seems like theres no outlet.

    Good call for AEG. At least he’ll run his socks off. Theres clearly no leader on the pitch

    Bring back Glenn Whelan???

  32. given them the goal and what is smith supposed to do when everyone wanted trez and el Ghazi dropped? not exactly got loads of talent in this squad to chuck in

  33. Think everyone’s head is wobbling at the thought giving Smith any more money or time,4 v Leicester 2 v sheff,3 soton 3 v Watford and god knows how Norwich didn’t score a bagful enough is enough smith suso terry purslow all out

  34. Villa one shot from Hourihane 25 yards out on target…..

    Dean has been out of his depth from the start of November, when teams were working out that we never change our format.

    Failure to beat ten men for at least the third time this season and conceding more than two goals per game, has killed us off.

  35. Action should have been taken earlier. We cannot sign enough players in the window to make a difference now. 18 games left and I can’t think of anyone poor enough to lose to this lot in the upcoming fixtures.

  36. We are down without doubt. I’m over it. But now is do we keep Deano for the future? After today’s disaster pressure will be on him whether we like it or not.

    Very interesting to see what the owners think

  37. That’s the worst I’ve seen in a long, long time. No pace, no effort, no skill, no passion, no plan. They have gone backwards very quickly.

    We wouldn’t have scored had we played until midnight. I’m very depressed and downheartened. Where is the next goal coming from? Or the next point?

  38. My god did that stink.
    Is there a stat for being dispossessed of the ball?
    I usually look for the positive but all I can come up with is nothing, absolutely nothing.

  39. We’ll find out…I do think Deano got the selection wrong on the day. I suppose he was trying to rotate. But no bite.

    That said, when it comes to Smith coaching, I still don’t necessarily think that’s the issue. If the players haven’t lived up to expectations, well, there’s always that risk.

    In getting players in, a combative midfield ball-winner would do us a lot of good. I’m not writing it off yet, though I can’t blame anyone who is.

  40. John

    We were meant to be a young team that’s only going to get better. Facts are there’s no style of play, no improvement, no tactics. We have just become a shambles.

    Imagine if this was Bruce as manager.

    If Deano had any money in the bank by being a villa fn that’s been wiped out by this result

  41. If we go into firefighting mode, what’s BF Sam doing right now (or even David Moyes)? Don’t think either of them go in for pretty pretty tippy tappy cry baby football.

  42. We have played some great football….vs Everton, Toon, Norwich away, even Liverpool. I’m not sure why we’ve gone backwards, but the manager must take a lot of the blame. Douglas Luis is meant to be a DM, yet he looks more like an attacking MF. I dont see the players talking to each other. They should be forced to watch the game to see how poor and leaderless they are. We’re crying out for an experienced CM, someone like Delph

  43. H&V…

    I still think it comes down to confidence and execution more than anything else. Not that I think Smith’s a god, but we know he can get teams playing good football. I see individuals afraid to commit, not executing the passes the style requires, rushing, trying to do too much on their own, and making poor, panicked decisions. Maybe a change in management would turn things round. Maybe the number of players they needed to buy was always going to ensure there wasn’t enough all-round quality. Maybe the window gives Smith an opportunity to change the tactics, etc.

    A partner for Wes would be a big boost, or simply another option that lets us play differently up front. Along with a terrier in midfield, that might let us play an effective 4-4-2. And maybe when Mings is back, we can go 3-5-2.

    I know there was a lot of optimism, but I only ever aspired for 17th, and a chance to consolidate. Watford, for their atrocious start…Well, the PL in general—lots of expensive talent that’s been playing together longer. Sarr cost £24m, for example, and hasn’t set the world on fire. It’s a big ask.

  44. Can’t blame anyone for wanting Smith out on paper its a no brainer. I am surprised he has not been able to effect some sort of fight in them but I do think that it just shows the paucity of what we have available to us. Unless we have our best 11 fit and on form we have not much to offer (which comes as no surprise)

    I cannot see anyone of note wanting to take this lot over without a massive wage, if Smith goes then so should the rest of the scouting side and most of the players. I Cannot believe how many of them just don’t want the ball or appear to be passing while in a daydream, so many times players were sold down the river or got no man on call.

    Some have said give it to JT but I doubt he is being shut out of decisions, we have had drop ElGhazi play Jota and the reality of that is painful, every suggestion has been done more or less so I am afraid without the cavalry arriving in Jan??

  45. Smith seething with his playersin his interview after the game, but also trying to blame the injury to Targett with a hamstring.

    There seems to be a real lack of support from the players for the manager since he was awarded his 4 year contract.

    There have to be changes, but of the right sort, no more fire fighting for this club, if it is ever to go anywhere sensible. We need, at some stage to recruit a really top class manager, something Villa has never done for many years. It has proved beyond doubt that the most important recruit is the manager.

    We should have been looking for the next Pep, Brendan Rogers, Klupp or similar, rather than all the also rans that we have had.

  46. Hmmm…people would accept the situation more if the players ran furiously for every ball and crunched into every tackle, and were played off the park by great teams. but instead it’s all played at walking pace. The difference between Villa and the rest of the bottom 8 is effort, organisation and discipline (Luiz and Konsa being examples today of a total lack of it)…oh and a striker who can score from 5 yards out.

  47. VillaMD,

    Some of it just comes down to fine margins. If Wes takes his chance, what happens? But he didn’t. Luiz didn’t need to make the challenge…Konsa doesn’t need to telegraph that ball and allow the man to close him down—a little more composure and he pulls it down and sidesteps him.

    Trezeguet doesn’t need to get caught from behind and take on three men. Players can shoot more often. They can choose to aimlessly head the ball or take it down. They can pass on driving forward and play it sideways. Those are the things within our control.

    Then you’ve lost McGinn who was subpar before he got hurt (the knock he was already carrying, presumably), and Mings, who inspires confidence and fight. Jack’s the only one right now who doesn’t seem fearful, and he’s getting frustrated. Everything has to come through him, and teams know that. Conor does great, then disappears. Ghazi looks dangerous then incompetent.

    I could go on and on, but when don’t have many changes you can make…

  48. PW,

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the players’ approach…Is it down to Dean? He’s sure had players playing for him everywhere else, including Villa last year.

    It could also be the case they’ve lost confidence in themselves and each other.

  49. You’re right Mark, the squad is so poor that it doesn’t matter whether AEG or Jota play as they are both totally inept at this level. In fact, it’s easier to list who we have that are EPL standard…Heaton, Mings, Grealish and McGinn…the rest are very average lower division also rans. Look at Brighton FFS…when did we get lost in the wake of clubs like that?

    Fulham fans must have been having similar discussions this time last year.

  50. MK,

    Again, agreed. Smith is constantly consulting with Terry. He’s open to ideas, does all the film, etc. Like you say, players hiding, not moving, not closing down, not committing to actually winning the ball. Watford, who were better than their record, wanted it more and played like a team with nothing to lose. That’s how we’ve got to be.

  51. It’s the time in with the money, PW.

    We’ve all asked at some point if we came up a year too soon, and we might well have done. I mean, you couldn’t see Whelan or Jedinak keeping up with this, could you? More experienced, certainly, and full of fight, but simply too old. Would Hutton really change things?

    If we can stay up, we get that next year of money and shore things up.

  52. Paul Whiting. Well said. If the players put in everything, and I mean everything, the fans would accept matters. They do not accept players strolling out of defence and losing the ball in lethal positions or strolling through a game at half pace looking half arsed about proceedings.

  53. Yeah great comments. For me PW got it right – it’s the lack of fight that is most disappointing. Maybe they’re making too much money. Look at Norwich today, just got 1-0 up and fighting for their lives. Running after every ball as a team.

    I think if we bought the Leeds DM, Phillips, and Maupay we’d be a different team

    JC, I get your view that small things can change a game. Only problem is it happens every game for us, because we’re weak

  54. It does happen far too much, VillaMD. Don’t disagree Phillips was preferred, and not sure where the Maupay deal went wrong. Maybe it was jumping in too quickly on Wesley.

    I think the lack of fight is fear. Fear of over-committing and being the one who gets the blame, fear of taking responsibility. Fear of losing, basically…which, ironically, almost always ensures you will lose.

    It wasn’t until Villa were considered out of it when it came to the playoff spots that we saw the necessary fight last year. One can only hope they see where they’re at and fear the embarrassment of being relegated more than losing while trying not to be. And maybe that’s the difference between this side and those that have been together longer and identify with the club and supporters more.

  55. For me, the question is when and why did the fear creep in? If it’s because the players don’t believe in the system, training, etc., then yeah, you’re looking at Smith. If they don’t believe in themselves now to execute it, then you change things round, if you can.

    My guess is that we saw the fear already when we had leads and lost them, the way we played. We hit a string of matches where the opponent gave us their best on the day. When luck goes against you. When the can’t-miss opportunities are missed. But I certainly can’t say for sure.

    So that’s why I’m hoping that the window brings the right kind of player(s), those who fight, win the ball, hate losing, don’t give up. And a true goalscorer who can make chances wouldn’t hurt.

  56. 2 nil against Liverpool then lose 3-2. Three games like that had an effect. Some wins after that but the damage was done. Jack injured. All this adds up.

  57. Greetings lifers health and happiness for the new year to posters past and present

    Its not pretty when the tough times come in a premier lge survival dog fight

    Personally I like our manager a guy that took us from 15th in the championship to the prem when it was pretty unlikely .. his brentford team which he had time to build where 5th i think at the time and they play really good football and he has been at Villa just over a year

    The owners have done all that they can within the realms of fair play to build a side capable of staying up which is no easy task coming from where we have been in recent years
    We clearly miss any key play and Mings is as vital to us now as he was in the championship

    We lack a real goal threat and incisive creative play and these are things that it is possible to address in the next window

    The 2nd half to the season is going to be crazy for the teams down there … keep the faith UTV

  58. Hello runtings nice to see you again and seasons greetings to you. I feel the same about Smith, might just be to big an ask to build a side to play how he wants out of nothing. I do however back him to improve us as he did last January, he’s the man in the right place is anyone is. If they go for change then I hope it’s someone like Rafa that will stick around if we drop.

  59. All you ask of players is that they never give up. I have just watched a Norwich team that would not give up, even if the ref was Kevin Friend, VAR against them, and playing Spurs..!!

  60. I wouldn’t be surprise if the club are now considering a change of manager.

    Dean Smith will have a 12 months pay-out clause in his contract – that’s all.

    The guys who own the club don’t play to lose. They will act.

    I don’t put our poor form down to fear – it is the lack of quality.

    Dean gambled on potential – Konsa – Wesley – Hause – Target Not quality

    We needed quality to stay in the Premier League.

    It really pains me to say it but Big Sam made this point in the summer. Buy quality not quantity.

    Our transfer policy has not worked. We will get relegated

    We are only have 4 quality players – Heaton – Mings – McGinn and Jack.

    Dean Smith is to committed to his system – and doesn’t seem capable of making the necessary changes. He is a good Championship Manager. I like him. But he will take us down.

    I cannot see our owners allowing this to happen.

    Time to call Rafa?

  61. Family Grimm, shellshocked before they kicked off.
    I thought there was 40 games in the season, & we’re half way through now on 18 points.
    It all depends on the transfers & what DS does in the next few weeks for this season probably.

  62. Something is not quite right. Just a few weeks back, we beat Newcastle and drew at Old Trafford. Commendable results. We then hear that Deano has been given a 4 year contract. And since then it’s been one way only. Why? Has anything happened that we’ve not been told about?

    We can only guess and try to read the runes. It doesn’t feel right. A shift has occured that is affecting the bottom line. The loss of some of our better players for sure will hurt us. But not to the degree that we are currently witnessing with the lack of fight and urgency on display. It feels like there’s more to this than we are aware of.

  63. Plug you may be right there. Do you think the players are shutting him out? Even though Terry doesn’t have much in the way of experience you would think with the success he had as a player he would be able to suds things out too.

    Runtings how are you? I remember you had a ton of music. Here’s a couple you might not of heard—
    Josh Ritter and Delaney Davison.

  64. Richard S- If you appear to lack the qualities to compete then you become fearful and get worse. We are supposed to be coaching this lot because they have potential, it was always a risk.

    As for big Sam, buying quality would of meant us buying three players at best with Tammy, Mings , Tuenzebe, ElGhazi all on loan I wonder what you think our squad would now look like? I can’t even begin to imagine it unless we picked up 8 players like McGinn for £2m each.

  65. Plug,

    Yeah, something is very wrong. One item that is really concerning, DS said post match “I tore into the players at 1/2 time and got a reaction, we were much better until..”..excuses, excuses the 2nd goal

    I’m going to watch the 2nd half again up to the 2nd goal, as I dont recall any improvement. I could be wrong, as when you’re disappointed, maybe I didn’t see clearly.

    Either way, DS sounds like a dead man walking. What are they doing in training…..as there are no tactics on match day

  66. Frem, Smith looked utterly p*ssed.
    There is a disconnect at the club and change is coming. The cheapest and easiest is to can the manager. Go for the manager bounce and put some points on the board. But who to bring in? terry, O’Leary? In a caretaker mode? Not an old guy with old guy thinking.

    I’d like to be a fly on the wall in the dressing room. See exactly what it’s all about. If the quality isn’t there then huge effort is needed. The effort disappeared a month ago. Are Houllier and McLeish doing a guest coaching month at bodymoor?
    Whoever has shown the best effort of late should be the ones playing against Burnley.

    If a change is in the wind, go with Joey Barton 🙂
    A nasty streak, loads of passion, doesn’t suffer fools, has played in France, is young and can relate and a never say die attitude.

  67. When you’re an inexperienced player, you can be a breath of fresh air one minute, & then there’s a disconnect & it all drains out of your performance for the duration until hard work or something sparks it again.

    From memory it’s like being in a state of shock where you become more an observer & we are a fairly young inexperienced team, & it’s not just sport where this happens.
    Talent can mask this, but we all know very talented players who never find the environment to express it & never reach their obvious potential, within a team, & this obviously applies to teams themselves.
    DS appears to be banking on their will to live.

    Talent obviously has to have an environment where it can thrive, to be grounded, & we are, & have been in a prolonged planetary wide shitstorm.

    Having said that, double or quits without substance was Dr Tony’s style, not so Compass.

    But I don’t think it’s the right time to use the nuclear option, or it’s cousin Joey Barton.
    I mean, just imagine the mess.

  68. First time I’ve managed to watch the highlights

    Wesley has to score. He’s absolutely cr*p

    And watch hause getting back for their 3rd. Why doesn’t he run back? Just strolls

  69. Reality check, Have Villa bought a load of tactically and technically deficient players? Having raved about smiths football and seen many others do the same I highly doubt he’s managed to coach any ability out of them in 5 months.

    So what does that leave? I would say its confidence or lack of belief as its known.

    Anyone who’s played football and gone on a scoring run will know the feeling when it comes to an end. One day you are confident that you will score every game and you play with freedom and yes a bit of arrogance. You then hit a post, then another and suddenly your double guessing your approach to shooting (which can happen through injury).

    The other scenario is you are setting the world on fire for the B team and get noticed, you get a start and play your normal game but suddenly realise you are up against better players and your confidence takes a knock, suddenly you are not taking on that pass or shot and looking to others although you are perfectly capable.

    What appears to be happening at Villa is we have Three players that are/were very confident in Jack, McGinn and Mings. The second two have realised they are not quite as good as they thought and their form dips and get injured etc, all signs of trying to hard.

    Jack is the stand out and the captain who is asked to do to much under normal circumstances. Wears his heart on his sleeve and trys to do even more. The team around him stripped of the confidence they had and were given by the other threes confidence begin to take on even less responsibility and pile it all on Jack at every opportunity.

    Suddenly a team that barely knew where each other was anyway are now mentally moving a second slower.

    I remember thinking in the early season that some of our passing was only just getting to players but get there it did and it allowed us to get at teams but it was very close indeed. I expected that to get better with time and better movement.

    Movement has now changed into running away from the players with the ball or giving it to someone with no chance of him getting away from the opponents, Even Jack was guilty of this.

    To correct this either we have to get another manager whom they are trying to impress or scares them to death and thus forget they are cr*p (he also brings in his go to confidence players) or we let Dean Smith do the same by filling the gaps in the hope the others respond.

    Sometimes at the top level the difference is in your noggin, hell at any level it is.

  70. Frem, I think it’s 50/50 for Smith. When you look at the teams in the Prem very few are doing well and like Mark said they are only 7 pts from 10th.
    You mentioned ElGazi, Wesley, Jota, and Trezeguet not being up to snuff and to a point you are right but when you think about it their only outlet when they do get the ball is either Grealish or a Hail Mary cross into the box. Wesley doesn’t get many decent passes and then when he does he fluffs it. Maybe because of the shock to his system of getting a decent pass. The wingers always end up next to the corner flag with no escape and no outlet thus a poor cross. The only one who can escape opposing defenders is Grealish. I remember Traoré doing that. I guess he figured it out at Wolves.
    The team is young, inexperienced, and fragile like many here have mentioned. You would think Terry’s experience would have helped. Just maybe some of the older players from last year would have helped if only in a minor roll as a late sub. We’ll never know.
    It’s tough jumping into the deep end and Smith has a monumental job. A couple of players who aren’t intimidated in the middle with a bit of skill would go a long way. Hopefully players won’t worry about being beaten and thus stop being timid on the field.

  71. It’s all well and good defending smith,but in reality we are bottom in most basic things in my eyes any how
    Fitness, lost most points from been ahead liverpool match really springs to mind subbing kodga on for wes when we were crying out for a defender
    Set pieces we are woeful at defending them ,bringing everyone back leaves no outlet so we are always under pressure
    Attacking set pieces our corners are woeful
    Team selections who thought we could play watford without one tackler in team
    Subs goal down v watford they have a penalty our fullback injured surely it would made more sense to wait if it goes in attacking sub comes on, stays out put Gilbert on
    Not liking stories of drinkwater another lescott in making

  72. I can’t imagine that we are unfit, we were not last season under Smith and neither do Norwich or Sheffield appear to have suffered under the same managers.

    One of my best friends is suffering with anxiety currently, he is a personal trainer and the fittest bloke I know even at 56. It started when he wife became ill with IBS, I suspect memories of his Father dying of Bowel cancer when we were both teens may be at play.

    Right now he cannot train or even ride his bike properly, this bloke can do 30 chins etc but he has to lie on the floor because he can’t breath. The weirdest part is when he approaches the local railway bridge which is hardly a mountain and he has ridden over it everyday for years, now he has to get off and push. He is afraid that he will get out of breath! his anxiety kicks in and shuts his lungs down.

    Why the hell his body/mind does this is a mystery its hardly conducive to survival or flight or fight is it? I have seen this 1st hand so I am well aware of the power of fear on the body and it started with a fear for a loved one not his self.

  73. One theme I have seen all over the blogs lately is that Smith is doomed whatever he tries.

    I have seen people on this blog think that he should give Lansbury and Jota a go and that Trez and ElGhazi are not up for it, I have seen the why isn’t luis playing over Marv after he scored a worldy? Theres the why hasn’t Kodjia started? and Davis who even while injured has been preferred to Wes ( I do think Davis if he had not got injured he would of had some starts).

    Its been said Smith is stubborn won’t change tactics etc but when he does he gets it both barrels, he has stated though if players don’t perform he will give others the chance, and lets not forget its 3 games in a week.

    To me the team he has put out most of the time has been our strongest, which says it all, like it or not unless we are on top form we are nothing special.

  74. Also the Irony of Steve Bruce rightly or wrongly getting at least 4 windows and helping cause the problem we are in (because he’s the Expert in getting out of the champs) whilst the bloke who does get us out and oversee’s one of the hardest rebuilds in my memory gets 2.

  75. I doubt that it is Smith being stubborn in the way you mean.
    He’s part of a transfer committee, in fact the part with the least power, even though he will probably end up the scapegoat [unlike Bruce, who scapegoated everyone else].
    So he’s working with what players he can get, plus with what has been described as those having a neurotic episode, plus a fixture list like we’ve never seen, with 3 games a week with not a huge squad, & lastly 2 of our main players out injured, along with needed backups in attack.
    As for what goes on in training, Mark wrote coherently of the effects on young inexperienced players & the walls they can hit.
    I don’t doubt for a minute that DS will be sacked if the team badly implodes, but it is always possible that other future events outside his control are not considered down to him.

    We didn’t buy the right kind of players to play like Bruce did in a crisis, so DS has to play a certain way to suit what players he has, & the squad players have to perform.

    I think it needs a lift plus something to spark the mental recovery.
    Or as I said earlier, DS is finding out whether they have the will to live to come out of this.

  76. Mk
    Yes smith can blame size of squad for shortcomings but in all honesty apart from a few var decisions going against us ,bar norwich the other 19 we have been very average to poor,
    For smith to start a season with only an untried wes,none scoring davies an extra from casualty kodga we were always up against it likewise with 3 wide players,were are the men it’s like been linked with drinkwater we need a 6 f 2 midfielder in their as with up front somebody to start bullying for us lightweight s only work when its Barcelona and nesta xavi messi

  77. Mark,

    “Deano has put out his strongest team most of the time”. Yes he has, but when Watford is the 3rd game in a week and just 48 hours after the previous game, maybe his strongest team was only so on paper. Maybe they were just knackered. How else can anyone explain the lack of effort and fight? A bigger change in personnel might have helped. Otherwise why have a squad like ours?

    Against Burnley, all I want to see is effort and fight. Eleven players busting a gut, chasing and harrying for 90 minutes. More than that I cannot ask. I’m not confident we’ll get that from them. Something is wrong, we may find out sometime in the future what it is.

  78. Plug
    We played liverpool under 21 with much similar side and got the run around ,our base squad one we were promoted was as weak as could be,got to laugh at commentators saying we signed too many ,we didn’t sign enough ,hutton whelan jedi albert birr bree couldn’t cut in championship so how were they old men going to go up a level

  79. Plug- as JG has just said Smith has had to bring in an entire 1st team as the likes of Elmo, Taylor, chester, Kodjia, Steer, Lansbury and even Jota are unlikely to be starters at the best of times all things considered. Who exactly has he got beyond that lot to rely on?

    Its not like he can bring them into a well oiled unit and not miss a step is it.

  80. I also think that with Smiths instinct to attack and him building the side accordingly we are now in need of a few extras. None of the above would truly effect anything bar Chester if truly fit.

    Smith I think has tried to address the mistakes and defence which appears to be hampering the attack now, which at least for a while masked the defensive errors. We are now not either or but Neither.

    Both Sheffield and Norwich play very attacking with Sheffield having more experience in the side and so better defending as a team. We have abandoned the attacking side I think and now look hesitant.

    Sheffield’s average age of 28 means they have more players at their peak we have two more seasons to get there. Villa’s hierarchy wanted players to develop and we have that.

    Could Smith of taken a more balanced approach? don’t think so its never been his style and the owners want this young attacking and entertaining approach, doesn’t always work and takes time.

  81. Mark King – the owners should have taken a more balanced approach if it was there ambition to stay in this division. Buying potential is no guarantee of success. We are suffering now from the Boards transfer strategy. Blending potential with experience would have been the smarter option.

    We are not getting the basics right at present – desire – passion – shape – tracking back, taking responsibility, basic defending, stopping crosses, being hard to beat, being confident in front of goal. It has all diminished. We only have one way of playing at present and that is clearly not working.

    This was a great quote in the Telegraph.

    Villa fans are in a strange place: criticising Smith over tactical naivety and team selection, while desperate for him to succeed.

    We need to get Mings back in the side. And we need some urgent signings in January with experience to help guide us out of this position.

    All is not lost yet however, it is looking bleak.

  82. Ian G – I don’t believe that.

    We could have signed Mings + Heaton for £30M and then 4 x £30M players with the money we spent + few loan signings and promoted a couple of youth team players to the first team.

    I understand that spending money doesn’t guarantee success – but we have tried signing potential before under Paddy Riley and you don’t see the immediate returns and it didn’t work out.

    This season should have been about keeping our Premier League Status. We have gambled and it is not paying off. Villa fans can see we are destined for a return to the Championship.

    I have sympathy for Smith because I don’t believe they are all his signings – Suso has a lot to answer for. Smith wanted Maupay and Benrahma and we ended up with Wesley and Trez. Smith has to take responsibility for this because he is the manager.

    Now we are in panic mode. Our owners a guys who don’t play to lose so they will need to invest in the January transfer window. And this is not an easy time to sign quality players. We need cover for McGinn and a forward who can make an immediate impact. Plus a whole lot more.

    Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

  83. I am in agreement with Richard S,
    Villamanagement have made the same mistakes as they did in the Sherwood era, and gone for the moneyball option, and failed to keep a balance with experience.

    Did we really need to totally ditch Whelan, Hutton and Bjarnason, or could we have kept them just a little longer, and at least seen out the very severe winter run over Xmas and New Year. Many of these players have never played in our winter conditions, or under the pressure that has been paced upon them.

    Never mind all the stats, which may give indications and trends, but do not provide reasons. We have players used to the warmth and heat of Egypt, Brazil and the Mediteranean, not the miserable, cold wet drenching nights of the UK. Maybe the weather has had more effect than anthing over the last few weeks, when an Icelander, Scot and a n Irishman may have been a lot more comfortable.
    Dean faces a real uphill struggle, and any new players need to be able to cope with the Premier league and all that comes with it. I do hope that it is more the Joe Lolly, Jarrod Bowen recruit rather than some spurious import from some far off shore.

  84. RichardS- yes I think Suso has fair bit of a hand in this myself, so did the reduction of the wage bill which if we drop was crucial.

    PP- that team that beat us 3-0 are mostly south Americans and Italians etc and the league is rammed with Africans.

  85. MK.

    All players that have been here long enough to acclimatise, in the same way as those playing for Liverpool.
    Apart from Elmo, all ours are newbies to our conditions.

  86. PP- Trez is from a Turkish club and Luis played in Spain I’ll give you that but the rest all played in Europe mostly Belgium and northern France for years.

  87. Happy New Year everyone!!!

    Well, no excuses today, as it is a mild and pleasant day. Let us hope that it will turn around and a new spirit will emerge from today.

  88. Yeah 2-0 now should be three, we look much better but I can’t workout what the formation is as we seem to have three up front still. Wes and Jack on the score sheet can’t be bad

  89. Happy New Year, Lifers.

    2-1 win on the road, not a bad way to ring in 2020.

    The VAR decision was ridiculous…Like Jack’s hair being offside. But Jack comes back with the winner, and it turns out to be all we needed.

    I’m seeing the formation listed as 3-4-3. Which I couldn’t quite suss out myself, but it adds up.

  90. I am going to gloat…..a change of formation and a completely different side. Who would of thought! Well done ! Gutted about the injuries. Massive 3 Points and great to see the boys play with fight and spirit.

    Pheeeeeeew

  91. H&V,

    Figured if Dean was going to change things at the back, it would have to wait on Mings being fit. But it makes sense.

    Can see what you mean about 3-4-2-1, but the way Jack moves around (especially more central, as you say), I’m not sure what it means up front anymore. Defending, seemed more like 3-5-2, with Jack and Wes up front. Attacking? 3-4-1-2? 3-4-3? 3-4-2-1?

    I do know we had 3 CBs playing though. And that Jack is invaluable.

  92. Fantastic first half performance – a great result. The tonic we all needed

    Jack is the new Messiah – fantastic performance – wonderful goal

    Mings is our leader at the back – encouraging back 3 with Konsa and Hause

    Wesley put in a shift today. A real shame about his injury. The board will now have to invest in a new forward.

    Smith changed formation and we looked better for it.

    We are a better team with Guilbert

    Even Taylor was ok today.

    Shame about Heaton. Although he was rather rooted to his line today

    VAR is an absolute joke – it is killing the soul of the game.

    Much better performance.

    A great start to the New Year.

  93. John

    Jacks our ray of hope. Our captain who is that good could be the difference. Heaton and Wesley out for the season apparently. Man city up next in the league. No time to enjoy this win!!!

  94. So many Lifers have been clamoring for a change to another system as the opposition have our 4-3-3 taped. At last it happens and we win.

    As for VAR, our fans said it all so eloquently. It needs binning in the skip. We must now await news on Heaton’s injury.

  95. H+V – how do you know Heaton and Wesley are out for the season?

    Surely they are still awaiting results from their scans?

    I believe the Burnley defender did a number on Wesley – there was intent to follow through on him.

  96. great three points dampened by the injuries.

    JC- I was watching and Trez was always around the halfway generally and didn’t try to drop back to much. Even Luis and Nakamba appeared to play with more freedom and got forward occasionally. Yes we changed formation but as Smith has said it was for the extra height in defence after recent games. He felt that the difference was the players were really up for it.

    Me I think that Burnley are one of the teams we match up against well. We will see if he persists with three at the back if we get on a roll Man city next in the league, match up well with them with 343

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/football/50965651

  97. Richard

    Bloke of Twitter who usually knows these things. Saw wesleys leg too, not good! How it wasn’t a red card I don’t know.

    Mark

    They reckon that was tres best game. Bloody saints and Watford winning!

  98. BT Sport confirming that Heaton has done is ACL…need new keeper now.

    MK…the difference with Saints is that they have been heading in the right direction for many weeks. We haven’t and there isn’t time left to take chances

  99. The bottom half of the league is ridiculous. So tight. We played saints what 10 days ago and was above them….now there 11th! We are 3 points off arsenal!

    New manager bounce is ok….but it won’t last. Still think Norwich and Watford gone. Watford have had 2 home games on the bounce over a period of quick fixtures. We have been away twice. Makes a difference.

  100. Frem

    Wonder what we will do in Jan window. Mid and st now crucial. Linked to Sturbridge again

    Pw

    343 would bring best out of targett…..going forward he is very good. Left peg creates lots. His stats for chances created, balls played forward is up there. Extra CB will help him going back and not being left isolated. Hope he is back soon.

  101. Congratulations to Dean and the team. Today the team turned up, and he changed the system.

    The biggest difference was getting Mings back, playing a back three of Konsa, Mings and Hause, and Jack playing more freely up front. F***k VAR, F***k VAR, and so on….it could have made a difference, let’s hope there isn’t one goal in it come the end of the season.

    Good to see the effort today, but I watched the match on replay, and the main reason for Wesley getting injured is he was pulling out of the challenge at the time, if he had continued on for the ball, he would not have been injured. Shame about Heaton, who was very unlucky, but I feel that Nyland wil be ok, in the meantime.
    Jack’s display today was outstanding, and he never stopped running.

  102. Just seen jacks goal. Great finish but also great move….lovely footy. Wes played very well. There’s a player there. So frustrating with his injury. Wes looks to me like a player who prefers to get the ball and play. He has lovely vision and can pick a pass. It’s not like he has been missing loads….his finishes are calm when he gets Them. Just been isolated and given no chances

  103. Great win, Jack is unreal. So great in #10 position. 3 at the back is perfect, as our FB’s are not good enough. With the 3 CB’s there was much more support today. Thought Luis and Nakamba were very good.

    Bad to see injuries. I like Nyland based on his man of match performance vs Liverpool’s u23 in cup, and also today for a corner he came out and claimed the ball in a pack of players. Heaton never came for crosses.

    We need 2 strikers in Jan, and a winger if possible. Burnley are the worst team ive ever seen. Must be brutal for their fans to watch that rubbish. As for VAR, bin it.

  104. Var
    What a load of cr*p,according to motd because Burnley had cleared 1st cross we were on new phase of football so shouldn’t even been back that far,and why when mee s challenge was so bad does var not intervene, when trailing leg connects now it’s a foul and mee s was bad not his first either Gomez of pool last season

  105. Happy New Year all, was a good performance yesterday. Some thoughts

    Apart from the formation, the team really turned up yesterday. Pressed well with and w/o the ball, kept attacking in the first half, looked completely different from the Watford game.

    Apart from the ridiculous decision for the goal ruled out, the quiet wait and then ironic cheers when Wes’ goal was finally given shows that something is fundamentally wrong. Neither the players not the fans can celebrate anymore, what a soulless addition.

    Kodija is shocking, he couldnt last 20 odd minutes and was spent, made the wrong decision whenever he had the ball and barely helped out defensively. We were playing with 10 men when he came on.

    Ashley Westwood is still cr*p 🙂

  106. PW- It has to start somewhere, whats the difference if its Smith or some other? we have won and looked much more confident, no different to someone else coming in and claiming he has the fix. You seem to think Smith is totally incapable?

    My Thoughts on the match were that seeing 3 at the back would cause even more confusion in the middle where we rarely keep the ball, a prerequisite of 352 3232 etc and we don’t have two forwards. What I didn’t allow for was 343 3421. Its not to much of a leap away from 433, gives us extra height in defence ( although we still conceded from a cross) Makes us more solid down the middle and with two wing back and wingers to get through you would hope down the wings too.

    The second thing I thought was we moved the ball better and as Smith said afterwards we were brave on the ball. That to me was the best part and maybe having Mings back, the WB’s having less defensive duties and the CM’s not hung out to dry they could relax. Its been said by many on here and by Smith a lot of our players are used to 3 at the back so another comfort blanket for them. What was evident was a big return of confidence plus we even high pressed 1st half. Heads did dip when we conceded though and I feared the worst.

    I do think Burnley are somewhat made for us regardless, as I said 10 points from the two teams we beat and have played twice. Sort of looks like a good match up for us. Just need to convert those almost matches.

    On a downer the injuries couldn’t come at a worse or maybe better time I suppose. At least we can replace them but Would much prefer to not have to regardless of wesleys season so far, he could just be coming good, shame.

  107. I heard that Purslow came down and hugged Smith and thanked him at the final whistle yesterday, might mean nothing but I think they understand the situation and the undercurrents a bad run brings.

  108. Mk
    One win doesn’t paper over the cracks or forgive some recent displays
    Smith has to show he can adapt and yesterday was a step in right direction
    Injuries are hurting wes looked good yesterday with a bit of support and jack lining well,heaton great shot stopper but doesn’t command his box,nylan came out for a corner which was great to see and maybe with a decent settled defence in front he will be good enough cover,McGinn maybe over hyped from 1 year in championship and few early goals this season has been really poor in lead up to injury

  109. JG- I never said it was anything but a start mate, Funny how all our players suddenly remembered how to play and went up in everyone’s estimation (bar PW probably 🙂 ) When does a recovery start?

    I’m sure McGinn will come back and look good again, lets face it even Jack looked under par against Watford, I don’t care if this new formation is a case of tactical genius or a placebo if they buy into it, just shows the fine margins attitude can create.

    Could still all come crashing down especially if the injuries get any worse. Got a good feeling about Nyland after his Liverpool game, made some very good saves and yes the claiming the ball in a pact six yard area did not escape my beady eye, looks determined to work his way in and who knows.

    Watford target 11 wins for survival each season we are on 6, who knows?

  110. PW- Come on mate its a bit of fun but you can hardly say that calling players absolute cr*p etc constructive criticism, you are often the harshest I see on any of the blogs I see, thats going some, take a bow. You might be right but I bloody well hope not 🙂

  111. PW
    It’s not what we do as much as how we do it that resonates.
    Otherwise believing & emoting our own propaganda gets very boring,

    As for being right, the truth is more complex than anything we can dream up as so called ‘fact’.

    I believe the issue is whether people have a sense of humour.

  112. Heaton and Wes out for the season.

    Wesley isn’t a miss. Sign 2 strikers this month, plus 2 wingers.
    Need a left back to. And probably a goal keeper. We are in trouble

  113. IanG- Good point, and for once I understood it 🙂

    I wonder why the worlds religions don’t generally promote a sense of humour as top of their lists or at all.

  114. Frem- Wesley isn’t a miss? 6 goals now, I’d have taken 10-12 at the start of the season and he is starting to improve.

    Now we need 1-2 that absolutely hit the ground running. I will prepare myself for the moans and groans when they don’t. With everything we face at the moment (the loss of our backbone Heaton, McGinn, Wes, and Mings just back) we could of done without his injury.

    We don’t need Taylor as second FB we are now playing 343 so a winger or even Conor can play there.

  115. Mark- Not so much. Not if we replace him. We were going to this month anyway, weren’t we? I think Davis is a better player anyway. His hold up play will improve us no end.

    Wesley is slow. His hold up play is poor to non existent most games. Giroud been linked today. I’d like a smaller striker who can move though

    A winger and striker is desperately needed. Probably more tbh

    Our owners will have to break the bank again, or we will go down

  116. Wes does some nice things. He makes some nice little passes at times but we need a Benteke. Someone who will single handily run centre backs and batter them. Davis will

  117. Looking at today’s press, Villa are now 5/6 favourites to sign Jarrod Bowen, and now strongly linked with Sturridge now he is fully recovered and hitting the net again, scoring 4 in his last vsix appearances.

    Would love to see jack with Jarrod and Daniel, could be a great combo for Villa, and Davis as the front man. Then we need a new full back on the left, so three new players signed ready for tomorrow would be great!!!

    Nyland will be ok, and come good, from what I have seen in his appearnces so far this season. Sarkic has been recalled as his understudy, with Kalinic still being allowed to leave.

  118. It is desperately upsetting to lose Mcginn – Heaton and Wesley

    That cretin from Burnley should be charges with GBH – nasty s**t.

    Goals create confidence – Wesley would gave got better – he needed a season to settle and better service.

    Now we are being linked with every striker under the Sun.

    Batshuayi – I am sure he wants to stay at Chelsea – however they don’t want him. I am sure JT would have phoned Frank before we made an enquiry. He could come to Villa and score some goals – it might get him a call up for the Euro Champs. Could be interesting.

    Giroud. – World Cup Winner and can score goals in this league. A stop-gap solution.

    Sturridge – Local lad that nobody was interested in signing when he left Liverpool. Needs to get his career back on track. I am sure he would love to link up with Super Jack.

    Bowen – i haven’t seen him play.

    Benrahma – Is getting rave reviews – we could do with a consistent winger.

    Goalkeepers – Jack Butland. Perhaps on loan with a view to buy in the Summer. I cannot see us splashing 20M on a keeper in Jan.

    I do hope Dean Smith selects the players he wants and not Suso. We are in the end game now and need an immediate impact.

  119. its so so harsh to say we wont miss wes frem. Especially now we have just switched formation. Could of helped him massively. End of the day he is young and worked his knackers off for us whilst being isolated and given very little service.

  120. A striker is a must. Most probably 2. Batshuai my number 1 choice….deadly.

    Want benrahama massively…huge talent but should of been done last summer. Wont happen now.

    Bowen I would love. He is very deceiving. wont stand out being exceptionally quick or strong…but has the rare gift you cant teach. he makes the games slowdown and finds space and know where to be and when.

    Now we are playing 3 at the back id love Vida. especially with heaton out need another leader.

  121. Mark – thank you my son. :}
    Religions – humour? They’d have to look in a mirror first, they’ve already banned glasshouses.
    Target is a good wingback, which is probably the way he was playing minus the defending part.

    Frem – we needed another striker before Wes was injured as an addition. Now we need 2 regardless , even with a fit Davis, & I think most of us agree the what if not the why.
    Now the only fit striker is Codger, so why not get Little & Large.
    Keeping with the 343 would take some pressure off

  122. PP
    I’d like to see Benteke & Davis together, with a few scurrying round them.
    I also really hope the media is all wrong as usual, we’re better than that.
    Glad to hear Sarkic is coming back, he’s done really well on loan apparently.

    I have concerns over Green, RHM & others ever coming back & getting a new contract.
    Less so with O’Hare & Doyle-Hayes.
    I agree that Nyland is a good enough cover, but a more experienced loan as well wouldn’t go amiss.

  123. The obvious down side to losing Wes is available funds, could of sold kodjia splashed a bit on someone special now it’s possibly two lesser targets.

    On mcGinn , Smith has said the 343 was a solution to missing his energy in midfield. Whether that’s job done or we need cover who knows , we have 5 cm’s as is for two spots in a 343

  124. IanG,

    Sad that you write off Villa’s youngsters so readily. RHM had been playing most of the season as a wide player for Tranmere, which is not his normal position, then in November they moved him to centre forward, and he scored a hat trick, cos he is a skilful battering ram as a centre forward.
    Green has moved to Charlton where again, he will be playing in his more preferred role as a wide player and second striker, and they have great faith in him, and expect him to return to Villa a better player, and there is no doubting his skill and speed.

    Dean’s pre match conference was hardly inspiring, and only confirmed that Villa will be trying to beat Fulham.

    Batshuayi, like most Premier league players in London, have no interest in coming to Villa and the Midlands, which is why Sturridge makes more sense.

    I reckon a £15-20 million bid for Jarrod Bowen will be a great investment.

  125. Chelsea have recalled drinkwater now.

    I don’t get the logic of wanting benteke back and hating on Wesley! Tekkers has been finished for ages. Wesley has been a million times better than him.

    And also ayew who most villans hated is coming good and keeping tekker out the team!

    Patience and faith!

  126. H&V,

    Callum O’hare has settled in well at Coventry, making himself popular with the fans and ensured that the Sky Blues won their FA Cup matches against Ipswich Town, scoring the equaliser in the first match to earn a replay with a superb goal, and then giving a very solid display in the replay which they won 2-1.
    Hopefully, he will return in the summer as a much more experienced player.

  127. Any result will do tomorrow except a draw. We don’t need any additional mid week replays. We have a winning chance because Fulham will also play their reserves due to promotion priorities. I think our reserves will take them out.

  128. I know you have to try, but seriously, I’d just forfeit against Fulham and Leicester if it were possible. Can’t afford to lose anyone else, would prefer to give players a rest, keep everyone focused on City, and keep training the 3-4-3, or whatever.

    Play we must, though…Don’t care about tomorrow, but we’ll have to field a full-strength squad if we have any intention of trying to be competitive against Leicester. Maybe it makes sense if we can get some confidence. Still, can’t see the value of running ourselves into the ground to get a result when there are points to fight for just four days later.

  129. H&V
    I was joking, surely you didn’t think I was that anally retentive?
    It’s all paper talk, & I try not to to get involved in the media wind up.
    We can do better than he who drinks water anyway.

    PP-You misread my post mate, I wasn’t doing them down, I said that I was concerned that they may not return & be able to get a contract, I hope so but am concerned that the stability is not here for them at present.
    I voice this rather than going gung ho or parroting the crazy media.

    HNY on the borders?

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