Today, Villa welcome the reigning, and currently also-ran Premier League champions, having drawn midweek with Leicester at the King Power in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semifinal. With City on the other side of the bracket, today could well be a preview of the final, providing Villa can do the job at home in the second leg.

But that’s all secondary to points and survival. Nevertheless, what we saw Wednesday could possibly offer some hope in that regard. Having announced the team sheet for today’s encounter, Smith is sticking with the 3-4-3 that’s seen us beat Burnley and contain Leicester. Though results were generally favorable yesterday, Watford’s resurgence continued earlier today, and their 3-0 victory over Bournemouth sees Villa come into the match having dropped to 18th, one point behind.

Which is to say, the draw that no pundit is predicting would be a very nice point to pick up. Then of course the run of fixtures against Brighton, Watford, and Bournemouth could end up being pivotal.

While I don’t necessarily expect points today, I would like to see another solid, and confidence-building performance. Danny Drinkwater will make his debut alongside Luiz. One hopes he’s up to it and that his experience will add something.

But it’s all about keeping our shape again, pushing danger away, and trying to make the counter work. Don’t expect to see us camped out in their half, but we can always hope the players are learning and that we’ll make some better decisions today to help take the inevitable pressure off and not gift City anything. I’d also like to see some attacking moves that end up with shots, good or bad, that help end phases of play, allow us to reset, and perhaps yield some corners. We’re just about due something from a set piece.

The interesting bits in Dean’s selections today are that Elmo will step in for Guilbert, which would seem to be tactical since Guilbert is on the bench, but could be down to his exertions in the cup tie, and Conor Hourihane stepping in for Trezeguet. Conor’s going to need to put in a shift, but if he keeps things simple and helps us move the ball a bit better, that could help, and maybe he’ll even display his knack for popping up with a goal when we need one after being on the bench.

Anyway. Tall order, and we’ll see what the lads have in a few minutes.

Nyland, Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Hause, Taylor, Luiz, Drinkwater, Grealish, Hourihane, El Ghazi

Subs: Kalinic, Chester, Lansbury, Nakamba, Trezeguet, Guilbert, Vassilev


Comments 142

  1. It’s hard to watch. 2nd goal was so sloppy, should have booted it out. Hopefully Man C sit back now that the match is over. Rest Jack for 2nf half and bring Vass on

  2. Utter disgrace

    Terrible team selection

    The players looked scared to death

    How can you start with Elmo and Taylor

    Drinkwater at fault for the first two goals

    We have no striker. We are in a relegation battle and we don’t have a forward

    This is an embarrassment

  3. Man C players look so much faster and fitter. Villa players are trying, but totally outclassed.

    Drinkwater may come good, some positive touches, but he’s not match fit. I think he’ll be good after 2-3 games

  4. City are our nightmare, they overload the midfield, keep the ball and have strikers that play on the floor and rarely miss. I cannot think of much Smith could of done differently unfortunately, especially with no Centre forward.

    On the bright side there is only really Liverpool to play after this that will give us this hard a time.

  5. At least it’s over.

    But agreed, MK. We’ve got what we’ve got, and all that quick, nearly flawless one-touch passing…Only thing you can do is get closer and really challenge every pass. We just don’t have that in our midfield.

  6. It was interesting to hear pundits say how disappointed they were with Villa. Said we should have played long balls over the top for Jack and El Ghazi to run on to. Trying to play thru Man C was suicide.

    Brighton away will be very tough next week, then Watford at home, the Bournemouth away. We need 6 points.

    I hope Nyland doesn’t get dropped as there was very little he could do today. Maybe Ashley Young would come back and provide some experience at LB

  7. Dean Smith – a very honest man.

    However he did just refer to his mate Suso as the Sporting Director.

    I sense he is frustrated at not having a new forward.

  8. Simple fact is our scouts, our recruitment, our players, coaches and manager aren’t good enough for this level.

    We wl go down, unless we spend big on quality this month #avfc

  9. We’re sunk. There is not enough time to improve the squad. Would need a new left back, centre half (Hause and Konsa are s**t), 2 midfielders and at least one striker. It ain’t happening

  10. AAAHHHG!
    Well at least they now know what they’ve got to do, & they will come back more focussed one would hope.
    They really need to.

    I agree that there is little blame for Nyland, which is more than you can say for the rest.
    At least El Ghazi doesn’t give up. even if he is outclassed.
    There was not much he or Jack could do with surrounded every time they got the ball.
    The midfield now know they’re not what they thought they were.

    Even Savage on 5 sport felt sorry for us & didn’t pot the boot in.

  11. I don’t think the owners care about relegation any more than Lerner did. If they did they wouldn’t have sanctioned the dreadful summer spending. Targett, Konsa, Trezeguet, Nakamba, Engels, Hause, El Ghazi, Wesley…all s**t. The only decent newcomer is Heaton. McGinn, Grealish and Mings we already had last season. It still goes on. Drinkwater FFS…a Burnley reject

  12. What can you write that hasn’t already
    Getting to stage now where smith backers are similar to the spud ones cant see he is failing,not cut out for the job,over 400 shots on villa goal in little over half the season and he signs drinkwater who hasn’t played for 2 years as his big masterstroke and plays him that went well
    Elmo only at fault for 2 4 and 5 goal how does get a game
    Taylor bigger donkey than all at Blackpool
    Why have we no under 23 players coming through,and even then smith prefers to put lainsbury on another spud dud instead young lad on bench
    Smith has to go

  13. Agreed James, but it’s too late to fix now. The new managers who have been appointed have some decent players…we have the worst squad in the division so Jesus Christ can’t save this lot

  14. PW – Maybe you can’t or won’t understand English, A+ for being predictable.

    As for not being in a state of happy equilibrium, we’ve all been smacked in the face with that, but you can bet no-one’s giving up.

    As for your premonitions in pre season of what we now need after unforeseen injuries which have attacked our weak points, I’m impressed, did you take a course?

  15. JG
    Out of the frying pan eh?
    We are not world beaters that’s for sure, although I still think we can stay up.

    As for DS, he’s who we’ve got as coach, although I’m not sure now much influence he has with recruitment or letting players go.
    Who would you suggest at this, the worst possible time, that’s practical?
    It’s never worked before.

    I thought us Brummies were the champion moaners, but maybe a place in Ireland has caught us up, but glad for the competition.

    We surely need 6 points from the next 3 EPL games, because today we were s**te.

  16. Iang
    I am both brummie and irish so the cap fits
    Getting beat is one thing but today and watford soton sheff utd and to be honest since smith took over
    Yes he got us promoted evergratefull but enough is enough team selections, subs shocking to say least drinkwater my god ,over 400 shots on villa goal how many do we have

  17. Ian g
    Watched conor play for ireland quite a few times live,wouldnt play him in my local sunday league side lifeless can’t tackle can run and smith plays him today ,if I had hair I would pull it out

  18. JG – yes Connor plays really well, when he’s not anonymous…

    The Villa has been in a state for a long time, where even the best would screw up, changing it has proven difficult. over & over again.
    I can’t get my head round what direction the owners are actually taking us, it’s hard to pin down.
    They could be very pragmatic & are prepared to go down if necessary to complete the rebuild, or they could have some plan we know nothing about.
    Or they don’t know what they’re doing of course, & it’s all a conspiracy.
    Who knows what’s going on.
    In the meantime the coaches & workers are being professional, working with what they have, so while they’re here I support their efforts.
    Who knows what they’re really doing over transfers, & what the financial position really is concerning the club.
    We’ll have a better idea at the end of the month.

    I’ve a feeling that there will be a positive reaction for the next match, as they won’t forget today in a hurry.

  19. Everything about yesterday was wrong. The team selection, the tactics, the approach to the game, the desire, the pride, the will to win. All missing.

    We did absolutely nothing in the game. It was embarrassing. Awful. Hapless

    It was a painful watch.

    And we don’t have a forward. This is unbelievable to leave us in this predicament. All of the teams around us have players who can score. We don’t.

    This kind of performance expedites the departure of our better players- Grealish – Mings and Mcginn.

    We need improvements to the squad this week. Other teams have acted and got in the strikers they need. But the league knows we are desperate so the price inflates. And the teams around us will not help us out – you can forget Benteke and Gayle. And we are in foul of FFP. We are in a real predicament. Poor planning by the management team and we have purchased poor players in the summer. We are heading for the exit door of the Premier League.

  20. It almost like we played the champions with no strikers and a 3rd choice gk!

    But the manor of it was depressing, just rolled over. Need to bounce back again but me thinks the goal difference swing is another nail in the coffin

  21. I agree the performance was dreadful, but Man C are now at their peak. They rolled Man U during the week in the 1st 30mins, and look at what they’ve spent!

    I hope DS can learn a lesson and we get tougher. Before the game John Terry was in a big team huddle with the players, so if we’re pointing fingers – not sure what motivation he provides. Sometimes you need a slap in the face to finally wake up. Let’s see in the next 3 games, or at least after Brighton.

    PW – I think Konza will be as good as Mings. He’s still learning, but for me his quality is clear.

  22. All the reactions are understandable…A painful defeat, and, yes, outclassed. But we all know the gulf in spending, quality, expectations, and experience.

    Should Drinkwater have played? If we weren’t counting on anything anyway, probably didn’t hurt to get him the minutes and see what he does or doesn’t have.

    As for the rest, I think what was most lacking was getting up in their faces. Too much respect, too much time and space. Whatever we’ve got to work with, that’s one thing you can address that doesn’t really require talent.

  23. JC
    We seem to have forgotten how to press from a few weeks ago, & it seems uncertainty is what sparks off the amnesia.
    Confidence is a fickle thing, & lack of it shows all the weak points.
    It all leads to thinking instead of competing, & backing off rather than being proactive, & the lack of experience doesn’t help.
    The injuries have shown the gaps in our summer recruitment, & to be fair the job was massive, but needs repairing for us to survive.
    The late necessary rebuild was never going to be perfect, but I am sick of some people’s unreal expectations on the transfer issues.

  24. Ouch, that stung. And the day after I’m still stinging. I suspected a battering was on the cards but not 6. We just stood and admired them rather than get in their faces.

    I’ll wear this one on the gob. They are one of the leading teams in Europe that has been put together over many years with massive financial backing ahead of FFP coming into force. We knew when we got promoted that some of the EPL teams are capable of ripping us open. Yesterday demonstrated it. This league contains some of the best in the world.

    But I’m expecting a reaction this weekend at Brighton. I want to see us put in 110% for 90 minutes. If we don’t, we will get exactly what we got at Watford.

  25. Getting beat is one thing the manner something else
    Chelsea,Leicester wolves sheff utd soton watford Fulham man city have all been the same shocking,shocking team selections, subs, everything
    We are bottom in every stat defensively, so can somebody give a good reason why smith should get another game, if drinkwater is his idea of plugging the gap we are done for,as for purslow who gives a 4 year contract in middle of bad run
    Smith is a nice guy same as bruce lambert etc but as a top flight manager not up to it

  26. The options pre-season.

    1. keep a load of old crocks and add a few quality players to replace the outgoing loans and use the kids who were not good enough for the champs. Have same ridiculous wage bill (a waste ) with no re-sale value for our gift From Smith of £100m plus parachute payments. Go down and sell quality players a unlikely to stay start again.

    2. Take a punt and get rid of the deadwood where possible and get some players that push come to shove can command a fee when sold. Crucially reduce the wage bill from the levels of la la land it was in so that if worst happen we can field a team in the champs with a few additions that won’t stink, Use kids that went out on loan.Probably end up selling our top 3 players to offset and buy.

    3. Blow way more than we have on experience and quality, keep all the kids we let go and sent on loan retain massive wage bill and probably be no better off in terms of how things have gone. As real quality these days is £25m upwards we would only need 12 players at £300m min 🙂

    The owners have looked at this as an opportunity I think mainly to balance the books while filling the squad out for either going down or staying up. Its a gamble whatever we do and the ultra expensive route would have had to be spot on to have succeeded, when has that ever happened? The owners are serious about the club or they would of gone with ultra cheap options and said sod it, take the thrashings go down use the money there, they clearly thought while theres a chance lets dance.

  27. We were poor and city were good, they were also good when they stuffed Watford 8-0, West ham 5-0 Arsenal 3-0 , Burnely 4-1, Leicester 3-1. We joined the list, with our full team available and jack getting injured we lost 3-0 at theirs go figure.

    Southampton lost 9-0 to Leicester and haven’t looked back. Leicester lost 4-0 to Liverpool and recently 1-2 to Southampton, s**t happens. Southampton , watford etc have been in this league for a while, have extensive academy’s and players on loan all over the place, they have the depth to weather bad runs and yes sometimes a new coach can change things. Villa are most definitely not in that league, our youth set up has been revamped some sent out and our team was made in August not several consecutive seasons in the prem. There is no way you can reconstruct a club overnight and be much better than we are in my eyes when we literally have L plates on.

    From what I can see the owners want us to be the royal version of that style of club (watford etc) but it wont happen by waving a cheque book at it in five mins unless you get really lucky.

  28. Mk
    Smith promoted 1 side us mainly down to jack tammy mcginn(at that level)but not once have I seen make a change to help us,every other team figures us out before half time hence the second half collapses we keep seeing, keeping injured players on the field mcginn mings look what happens,playing conor full stop

  29. JG- Believe me if I thought anything could be done different I would say. On the promotion, we had those players under Bruce and he got sacked as we were shocking, we went on a ten game run when Smith had sorted the defence and jack came back. If you can name me a team that can get promoted without their best players I will take my hat off to you, you make it sound like Smith could of gone on holiday and we would of still gone up.

    Also can you name me a team and manager that makes 100% correct decisions on all fronts? I can they are the ones in teams that are doing ok at the time, might not last but for the odd run of Games, Season, or in SAF’s case decade, it all goes well until it doesn’t.

    I can’t defend Smith no point as you can make a great case to sack him, I could make a great case! but in the circumstance I think he has been asked the impossible, the only time that its not impossible is when someone does the impossible like win ten games and get promoted.

    All I know is we have a chance, I’ll put Leicesters great escape season up for you to compare, they only won 4 games by the 29th of march, then won 7, will we do that? I doubt it, could we get 6-7 wins between now and season end possible, we only have Liverpool away thats a write off, all the others? lets see what the window brings.–15_Leicester_City_F.C._season

  30. My only beef is not recruiting more pace in the team and muscle! And tbh smith may of lost his way a bit re garding his style and set up. I was expecting more front foot pressing footy, setting traps etc. Been more Bruce ball at times but the prem can do that. Players and staff learning on the hoof.

  31. We are now at the mid-point in January moving in to the most critical point of the season and we have no recognised striker available for selection.

    This is catastrophic – calamitous planning from the Management team.

    I think Reina will be a good stop gap solution and his calmness/experience and good distribution will be most welcome for the rest of the season.

    Drinkwater – or Drinky is clearly not match fit so you would have to question the board sanctioning his £110K per week wages for a player who will take 10 matches to get back to the pace of Premier League Football. Well done Purslow.

    The striker situation is now at critical point. We need a guy who can come and start scoring immediately. Another Danny Ings. But who is there? Dean Smith said he wanted Premier League Experience so this makes the challenge even more desperate. And let’s face it – who wants to come? The striking equivalent of Drinky. That can only be Benteke who is so low on confidence and goals it is beyond ridiculous. But he is available for £120K per week. This is Madness Economics.

    The drubbing and humiliation after Sunday is still making me vomit. And we appear to have sealed the Super Star Status of Aguero in the Worlds Greatest Striker. Pass me the bucket. We clearly couldn’t pass the ball on SUNDAY – unless it was to a City player (Hause) – a gutless display.

    Jack Grealish must have one foot out of the door. The sweet MOOOOSIC of a £250k per week contract from Man UTD must be beyond tempting. We will not be seeing him next season.

    The owners must be getting worried. They have deep pockets but FFP could kill their ability to spend. Will they risk dropping another £30M to buy a decent striker and face the MOOSIC later?

    We shall see.

    Welcome back to the Premier League. It is brutal. The days of winning 10 in a row are firmly in the rear view mirror.

  32. JG- on the injury side, Footballers of all levels are notorious for tryng to play through injury, some really do want to play regardless, I should know that was me. I have told managers I’m fine when I’m not, Jack is well known for wanting to play every game even when we may want to rest him in the cups. I can’t imagine McGinn is much different and Mings didn’t know it was a hamstring gone, he thought it was cramp. If anything Smith seems to give players loads of time to recover and plays them in very slowly to my mind. It just shows you the position we are in when last season he had to play Chester and this McGinn if it was on purpose. At the end of the day you can’t always tell if someones faking. Footballers have always been stupid with injuries.

  33. Richards S smith did say they will look at all options not just prem experience as that narrows the field. Linked to Nzoni today which is just what our midfield needs. drinky a gamble but these are desperate times. long term injuries to our spine and best players have destroyed us.

  34. Its all ok having targets lined up of course we do but getting deals done are not easy in Jan. Especially as we have no hand to play. Agents and clubs are probably trying to take us to the cleaners knowing how desperate we are for a striker.

    Deals in Jan always get left to the end of the window but unforuatly for us our season could be over by then!

  35. PW
    Courtesy is not what you’ve been displaying, & you’ve been objectionable period spewing your asinine unpleasant comments & language, as others have noted also.
    So go away with your BS, it’s a bit late to protest innocence after the fact.

  36. RichardS
    Depressing isn’t it, seems we’re not paying all Drinkwater’s wages after all. & neither should we.

    H&V – it seems more difficult this year than for a long time, & the quality seems to be missing.

  37. Ian and Paul.

    Please stop this behaviour. This is a site to discuss all things Aston Villa. We all have differences of opinions – that is football.

    Please demonstrate compassion and empathy towards each other.

    There are so many problems in the world – child poverty – knife crime – etc

    Let’s make this site a happy place where we can vent our passionate opinions about all things Aston Villa

    We don’t have to agree

    And we don’t have to make insensitive comments and resort to that kind of language.

    Please chaps

  38. RichardS
    Well I think that it’s a sense of humour lacking, to be profane & boring without wit or humour, also for those who have difficulty with appearances & irreverence.
    I hope the football isn’t too depressing for you, but it’s been a lot worse before in my lifetime.
    Also Villa supporters tend to be direct in the moment, & very averse to being managed, & political or moral correctness is just that, but I’m not offended by how you would like it to be, life just isn’t like that.

  39. As for the transfer window this year, it appears at the moment that there’s not much quality available.
    I suppose it could all appear towards the end of the window when someone may blink.
    But right now it seems a little bleak.

  40. Ian G

    I am not sure I understand your message?

    Despite my posts – I am not finding this season depressing.

    It was never going to be easy.

    However – I get immense enjoyment going to Villa Park our Mecca and I get huge enjoyment watching Jack Grealish – the New Messiah

    I also think we have a decent spine to the team (when fit) Heaton, Mings, Mcginn and Grealish.

    I haven’t been overly impressed with the performances and I think we wasted a lot of money in the summer.

    You only have to look at the amount of shots against us to understand we play to open.

    And I think Purslow is a clown and the club could be run better.

    But hey, that’s football.

    The next two weeks are crucial – I still believe/hope we can get the results to stay up – however we need new recruits, a striker and Dean Smith needs to wise up.

  41. I find it a bit of a paradox when Dean Smith is labelled with being to open, certainly with this team in this league it looks the case and thats even when we are trying not to be to open.

    At the start of last season we had 11 games with Bruce the defensive genius and conceded 18 with an easy run , Then conceded 38 in 35 games. In this season with a complete makeover we conceded 14 in 11 in the prem with quite a harsh run so not bad until recent weeks.

    Against Brentford Villa never beat them once not even with Smith and I always remember them being fairly tight, so I don’t know.

  42. Mark – what team have you been watching this season?

    Look at the Man City game – the Watford game – the Leicester game – the Southampton game – we are so open. Teams have taken us apart.

    Especially on Sunday against Man City. It was ridiculous. We stood back – didn’t get close to them and didn’t put in a tackle. The definition of being open. No press. Didn’t close the space.

  43. Richard’s
    City didn’t take us apart ,we did it ourselves it’s like last of the summer wine watching that lot except think drinkwater drank all the wine

  44. RichardS
    Just got in to see your post.
    You weren’t the profane one = rather obviously, unless you have a secret life.
    The rest is straight forward.
    I’m glad you’re not depressed, me neither.
    But I am wondering about your comprehension of plain English, unless of course it was a ploy to block something that isn’t you, & I hope not.
    I also am not mostly glowing with the wonderfulness of life like you seem to project [like outwardly religious people also tend to], but then people rarely are in a state of glow, most people just have to laugh instead.

    I’m glad you can still go to Villa Park, but there are many who are not able to for good reasons, so it is a little thoughtless to crow about it, maybe a little awareness would be good.

    I wasn’t attacking you, just saying what I see in response to your criticism about something that wasn’t directed at you, mostly bemoaning the lack of humour from some people, so if you don’t understand that, fine.

    All my cells have changed since my post, so I’m a little younger by the minute, & am glad not to have moral turpitude & still able to be annoying to the humourless.

    Back to the football.

  45. JG
    As usual unfortunately.
    Drinkie got there first.

    It’s not that we’re open so much as we don’t get started.
    It is odd that Smith hasn’t been able to change it a little, & it makes you wonder what’s going on behind the scenes, & Smith & co are not that professionally incompetent, maybe not the messiah, but they know their trade.
    Reina has it when he says they’ve got to believe from deep down.

  46. RichardS- What I am saying is I don’t think Smith intends for us to be open and last season improved that side considerably. During matches with Brentford I never had them as Gungho, they could counter well when under pressure and Keep the ball and attack with pace. They were never negative really but always suffered from runs of games when it never quite clicked and they conceded a few at times, they were a very young side though.

    I think Like IanG that its confidence or lack of, when we beat Burnley and Smith said they were brave on the ball things improved a lot, Shame we lost Wes because we pressed in that game, in the two since not so much and less threat. 343 helps but not when your front line doesn’t, its a very attacking set up despite the potential 5 at the back.

  47. Hello everyone,

    just checking that I can access this site.


    Have used windows, which I used to use, rather than firefox, and it has allowed me to sign in???

  48. Good evening all, just saw this website on an old list of favourites and thought I’d take a look. Good to see that PW and James G are still moaning away – it’s just that the names they are moaning about have changed.
    Mark K – you seem more chilled so well done. Love does that …… ;o)
    IanG – always the voice of reason trying to bring some sense to the moaning comments. Good to see you again ….
    Me – I still support the club and whatever team that it may put out. Think Deano will come good once a few issues are resolved. Like a striker lol ………
    Few clubs could stand losing the players that we have throughout the season and of course the question is – do we buy/loan stopgaps until the injured are back with us or do we buy money signings and then have issues once our injured are back.
    Luckily i’m just a supporter so cannot possibly know what is happening behind the scenes so I keep my trap shut. Most of the time.
    Happy New Year all and toodle pip until the next time :o)

  49. Mark
    I would think that rag is profitable, a bit of a blind alley though.
    I think trial & error always worked, using local produce, so not rocket science, but now there’s super food coming out all the time from planet Zog, & I wonder where it will all lead.

    I recommend Kefir, makes my microbes dance, yeahhh!

  50. Hiya IanG – we haven’t had any snow either yet where we are, which is quite remarkable. Maybe the rest of January and February will be a right bitch here ………..
    Take it easy and continue to ‘enjoy’ the Villa rollercoaster ride :o))

  51. Hello OV good to see your still out there, and nice to see I can now get a pat on my back for being myself thanks. Think all the snow is with Ian in Canada.

    IanG- that rag at least trys to print stuff thats not mainstream, the owners a bit out there so I tend to take with a pinch of salt but the sources are usually genuine on the science side. I was just listening to a scientist who says Alzheimers is about fungal toxins I think the more we poke and feed the critters the worse they get.

  52. Mark – Yes but we’ve known that for years, some of the stuff in fashion has been there for years.
    The Yanks do like to think they invented everything, when we know it was us.

  53. PW,

    An excellent article followed up with very good comments, all of which tend to say what everybody else is thinking and saying.

    I understand why Smith played Drinkwater from the start, but totally disagree with it, as I do with much of his team selection for the day. The difference in the second half when Trezeguet, Nkamba and Lansbury were involved showed what a difference Villa could have been from the start.

    Drinkwater should have been on the bench, watching and getting bused to seeing his team mates in a match, and maybe could have slotted in for the final 20 minutes, depending on how the team was doing, but once again, Smith did not reward a team for getting an excellent result in the previous league match, and made poor changes, as he did in the Fulham match.

    It is embarrassing when you see ex Villa youngsters showing their worth elsewhere, albeit at a lower level, in the FA Cup, with Nathan Delfouneso and Harry McKirdy, being the top scorers in the competition with 4 goals and 5 goals respectively, and Villa cannot find a striker to save them. How do we always lose our talented youngsters, time and again. In my time I have seen George Graham, Gary Cahill, Marc Albrighton, and many others slip through the net.

    Pepe Reina may or may not be a great signing, but surely this is going against all that we were told at the end of last season, about how the club was going to build its future. It is a sensible move, on the basis, that if anything happened to Nyland, we would be seriously in the mire.

    I see us in no better position than when we decided that Brad Freidel could leave on a free to Spurs, Ron Vlaar was no longer required, and we could sell Benteke and Delph, goodbye to the spine of the team, hello relegation. Left with a bunch of money ball players and a few raw under 23’s. I still think that Remi could have done better, given the backing in the January market to get a goalkeeper and maybe one other player, but that backing just did not exist.

    Today we are linked with everybody and nobody, some great and amazing targets that will never materialize, and an awful of has been and some maybe, but most that we have not even made an enquiry for. I wait with very little serious anticipation for anything that will be a concrete and sensible move.
    I hope the board prove me wrong before the end of January and sign Jarrod Bowen, a great striker, and maybe one other. If we really are taking a punt on a lot the rubbish around, why not bring McKirdy and Albrighton back, even our old friend Ashley Young. I am sure they could all enhance this Villa team.

  54. Happy New Year to everyone!!!


    Have stayed quiet with my frustrations of late, and was not able to make the match on Sunday, which was probably in everyone’s best interests, as I was able to vent my spleen toward the tv, rather than frighten everyone around ne !!
    Good to hear from Old Villa,
    Would be good to make contact with a few more old faces at this time of the year, including
    Bibulus, B6toBrasil, Clive Evans, Steamer 75, Monty, Jenny Truman and many others.

  55. PP – You’ve come back with a vengeance then.
    No idea what I would have done with the selection as I don’t have the inside info on their condition & anything else, & I could only say what players I would like to see in under optimum conditions, but frustrating yes, which is why I’ve given picking the team a rest.
    But what I don’t like is the manner of the defeats, & it is very odd.

  56. IanG,

    Yes, it would be good to hear from r0bb0, as he has been quiet for some time, and DO’R is overdue too.

    I think that we are all just a little frustrated with the way things have been. Dean just seems to be getting on top for a match or two, and then suddenly it goes downhill for one reason or another. We don’t seem to be able to maintain any consistency this season, in part to be fair, injuries have not helped, but substitutions and starting elevens have been confusing, with Dean appearing more like Bruce in sheep’s clothing.

  57. HNY every one. Yes Paul I’m still around too. I read the comments every night, but the Brits are all in bed by the time I get on normally. Half 6 for me is half 11 for you guys, Ian is three hours behind me so 8 total behind you guys, don’t know where he finds the time to post as much as he does.
    The snow blower has been working over time this winter in Ontario, so with work been quite busy.
    Haven’t missed many games though, DZN or DZONE as they call it is a great service as long as you have a good internet service, I’m broadband unlimited down loads so no issues and the best streaming of Villa games I have found to date. I know a few guys are unhappy but have been unlucky to be honest, and I still prefer a struggle in the big league, than trundling along in the chumpionship with a manager like Bruce. Lets see what we get in the window and how Deano uses what he gets. I’ll be happy if we can just survive this year as I believe compass will open the purse again this summer for a couple of better quality players knowing there is another year of Prem money coming in. Nice to OV back on for awhile too.

  58. IanG

    I’m on your side (and totally get 7500to holte).

    There are 2 of the current crop of AVL readers who just won’t get what 7500to holte are writing about and will just grind on with their misery and poison this site. Been dipping in and out of this site since the Turvey startup. Think that was in the Alex McLeish season (or thereabout!). I came from the Vital Villa site that was being stunk out by poisonous vitriolic entitled keyboard warriors whose pithy observations often included the sharply observed one liner “f@@@ off AMc”. This site was calmly analytical and reasoned at that time and was very easily digested. Over time, the site developed it’s own community including some of the old time names mentioned previously. Trouble was, some of them developed a very cosy whinging moaning circle which just got boring. So I lost track of this site. Didn’t even realise that Turvey had gone. Got involved again when Steve Bruce was getting flak. I tried to inelegantly make a similar point to 7500to holte that SB didn’t even have a football team to start with (much like Vic Crowe in 1970 (or thereabout!)).

    I presume that any website depends on “clicks” to generate income to keep it going. A couple of poisoned rotting apples in the barrel can drive those clicks away.

  59. Interesting to see Ashley Preece’s take on the team to face Brighton on Saturday, after him speaking with Dean Smith:

    Reina, Konsa, Chester, Mings, Guilbert, Drinkwater, Nakamba, Targett, El Ghazi, Grealish, Trezeguet.


    With Nyland and the rest to choose from for subs, including Vassilev.

  60. IanG- thats the best explanation I have seen of our Situe mate.

    jbd656 – I can have some sympathy with Bruce because the mood the club was in when they sacked RDM was ugly. However I don’t think what he did helped at all just added to the mess. That 1st window compounded the problem. It had buy the best in the league and get us up stamped all over it. What it really did was kill the season and make subsequent seasons impossible to fix with a massive wage bill to boot. We never looked convincing under Bruce for me. Maybe if he hadn’t flushed it down the pan in that 1st January it could of worked for him. As it was they might as well stuck with RDM and allowed him bring 2-3 in. In short he was asked to get us up now and we all know how that went.

  61. jbd656,

    Your points are well taken. Since there’s no revenue associated with AVL (just outlays), it’s never been about clicks, either with Matt, Matt and me, or just me. To be fair, at one time we did harbor illusions of making the site something bigger, but we just didn’t have the time or resources (ie, money) to invest.

    So that’s why you don’t see click-bait transfer articles, misleading headlines, any of that.

    Commenting-wise, I’ve come to see certain patterns. Like you say, arguments and poison do drive people away. I’ve always taken a fairly hands-off approach, just telling people to knock it off and be polite, agree to disagree, ignore the people you can’t get along with. Was never much for banning people from my experience on The Villa Blog, where I met Matt. Maybe I should be more activist in that regard, I don’t really know. Any and all thoughts welcome on that front from anyone.

    People also come and go, and I often never know why. I get a few direct messages, but not many, so I largely have to infer.

    One thing the site was always supposed to be about was a diversity of views from supporters. No orthodoxy, no “I run the site, so that’s the view.” I’ve got opinions and thoughts, but there’s lots of others that are very good. As I’ve said many times, our beloved Steamer (RIP) was almost always the first to comment on with anything I wrote, almost invariably writing, “Great article, JC, thanks for the write-up. I disagree completely.” Usually made my day.

    And a reminder to all…if anyone has an article they’d like to write, everyone is welcome. That was always the idea, too. Just drop me a line, send it along, don’t be shy. I’m happy to tidy things up (since I’m an editor by day), so no one has to worry. Obviously not looking for wind-ups or attacks (and I can’t pay), but anything calm and reasonable is fair game.

  62. On the 7500-to-Holte article, agree completely. I try to make the point, as others do, that what we have is all we could’ve realistically expected. All of it had to happen, only so much money could be spent, and apart from a few world-class players, almost all transfers are a gamble.

    Supporters do get wound up by all sorts of things. If venting helps, that’s okay. But I think Compass and Smith have done all anyone could ask. Was never a guarantee to work, but it was the best shot Villa could take, and I, for one, think Smith’s a great manager and coach.

    Will he always get it right? Nope. But I think he’s smart, honest, even-keeled, loves the club, and knows what he’s doing. He’s only got so much to work with, and we should all know the reasons why. Years of bad decisions and bad spending add up and can take a very long time to undo.

  63. Yes about RDM, but think Steve Clarke would have been better. Had no problem with SB and can’t disagree that his time was up but it was a crappy way to go. History tells us that there is no quick fix getting a mediocre team into the upper echelons. How many years did it take Alex Ferguson to get MU going after George Best rotted the club from the inside? Leeds Utd inflicted many years of excruciating misery on the league before emerging as a Rolls Royce team. Our own Ron Saunders was lucky enough to have the foundations that Vic Crowe built but it took him several years to win the league (out of nowhere!). Over the years I’ve always felt that Villa were less of a team than most of their opponents (Sir Ron excluded) but always had classier players that didn’t quite gel into a fully integrated effective streetwise team. I’ve seen WBA play us off the park with teamwork but Delph and Benteke have dragged us to a win. I’ve seen Wolves play us off the park but Heskey or Robbie Keane have got us over the line with a bit of innate superior class.

    Sheff Utd have been developing as a team since their L1 days and have achieved a critical mass that has got them up the prem with a bunch of relative no names who probably wouldn’t get into many other prem sides. We’ve stated from square one every single year since MON sulked off. Will we ever break that habit? Dean Smith has as much prem experience as Billy Wilder but 3 or 4 less years with his team.

    Would love to have Jarrod Bowen as a late Xmas present. Reminds me of Ray Graydon.

  64. Frem
    With our our luck we would end up with Marshall Dillon’s Chester with a peg leg.
    But we can definitely win, I just hope the stars don’t have to align

  65. Jimmy Danger gone for 2.5 million? I’ll take that. He never pressed anywhere near hard enough for me. It’s an important aspect in the EPL and why I liked Tammy last term.

    On the wider debate, Compass have been great. Just great. At least we are trying to build a team of young players and until we get the youth system finely honed, we have to do it the current way.

    But I was never a fan of Spud. I accept he may have been constrained by the chaotic moves of the good Dr and Wyness but in the second tier, the least the fans should expect is attacking football and we didn’t get it. Sure, there were some big wins but there was so much anti footie as well.

    With respect to this site, JC is a Trojan keeping it going. Everyone’s views are welcome, we are all different, and that’s what distinguishes this blog from the rest. There’s always plenty to discuss. A win tomorrow will be a lifeline. I hope we let rip at the Amex.

  66. Happy New Year!
    Like everyone else here, whatever their outlook on Villa and life in general I’m sure we’re all united in wanting to see Villa have a decent second half of the season, stay in the Premiership and enable our owners and manager to continue the rebuilding.
    Reading through the comments, it feels a bit like a family reunion in here . . . it’s rather nice! 🙂

  67. JC, I’ve always been a big fan of your calm, conciliatory approach on here. Although I sometimes struggle to understand the motivations behind some comments of a some people on here I’m with you in not wanting to see anyone banned. . . . . . that might be because I was banned myself from the Villa blog for disagreeing with the views of the owner at one point and he doesn’t take well to people disagreeing with him.

  68. Rarely have 16 games been so important for us. You sense that if we were to go down we’d lose a couple of key players and it could take a while to get back.
    Stay up and we seem to have sensible, ambitious owners who will continue to invest in a steady, sensible rebuilding of the club and the future could be exciting.

  69. Ever since MON ran amok with Randy’s purse things have been s**te at Villa Park. There have been some exhilarating times—beating MC at Etihad a few years ago, Sunderland 6-1 and winning a place back in the Prem. But TBH the club has been run by Abbott and Costello on drugs the last 8 years. Every one who came into the club were considered the new messiah only to be found out in short order they were picking the last few shekels out of the treasury. Just average managers have come and gone leaving nothing but tears and pie wrappers on the sideline. We got conned by Tony-what an asshole. RDM didn’t even get his desk in order before he was shown the door. There’s nothing he did that Smith has been forced to do to start life in the Prem and that was a huge spend. And what is really aggravating is the Birmingham Mail bigging up every player bought to “god like status”. A pilgrimage to Europe to find the best, unknown nuggets, to prize them away from the teams they played for. Like teenagers stepping onto Honest John’s used car lot I think Villa got Fleeced more often than not.
    Perhaps the slow approach this window is to make sure the team picks the right player(s). I hope so.

    Slagging the players for poor performances is only valid when you know they have better performances in their tool bag. It’s fair game to get after Grealish but others when it’s obvious they’re in over their head?

    I think Villa are on the right track. They have a committed ownership, a manager and managerial team who are invested. They put a team together that in all honesty should stay up but that was without any problems like injuries cropping up. The injuries exposed the lack of reinforcements on the team. Once the defeats start it’s hard to turn that ship around and confidence erodes. Hopefully the new players coming in buy into Smith’s plan and hit the ground running.

    I find it funny with all the slagging that Wesley got and is now injured how much the team needed him.

    If there is one thing I would like to see, it’s the Birmingham Mail Actually write a piece that’s worthwhile to read.

  70. To say the next two games are massive is an understatement
    Lose to Brighton and Watford at home and we are gone.
    And we go into the Brighton game today with no recognised striker.
    Poor planning by the board at the start of the season – absolutely
    We gambled on Wesley – Kodger (who was supposed to be more suited to the Premier League and Davis (who struggles with injuries)
    Only the arrogant are underprepared
    We are all missing the much-maligned Wesley now.
    It looks like we have gambled again on our transfer approach with – Samatta – who?
    Who is this Suso character?
    Smith asked for a ready-made striker with Premier League experience
    It was always going to be a tough ask in January with FFP to abide by.
    We end up with Samatta
    I wish him well – I truly do – but he will be under massive pressure to perform and at the tender age of 27 and for a measly 8 Million you start to wonder
    What are the alternatives?
    £125K per week for Benteke – the romantic choice – Palace fans would drive him to Villa Park
    I think we have learned our lesson with Drinkwater
    The vultures are circling Villa Park.
    Lose Grealish and we will lose the soul of the club. A soul for a soul.
    Off to the AMEX Stadium today – and I remember them playing us off the Park at VP until they had a man sent off.
    Pepe better still have his goalkeeper reactions intact.
    As Dr Strange said to Tony Stark – we are in the end game now.

  71. Ian g
    Give bruce time if not this season ,next is a sure bet when he is let replace good players with his,he has managed to shaft every club he managed a mate who is a blues fan hates him blames bruce for squandering money(Wigan blues Sunderland villa)he says as bad as mcleish was he won a cup more than bruce ever managed as a manager

  72. I would really like to see what the true cost of this season has been. Players let go from top to bottom to reduce the wages and second highest spenders in the prem?

    What would this mythical team look like that would be nailed on to survive in the prem? Crammed with prem experience and that nailed on 20 goal forward and likely to only include 2 players we own from last season. How much would that cost? £250m £300m ? To build that in 2 months with astute £2m buys like mcginn would of took an incredible scouting network in place . So it’s no surprise to me we have so many that are from abroad from top divisions in Europe as that’s suso’s focus. They are all sellable back to Europe no doubt where they made their reputations. The only thing the club could not afford was more time.

  73. Good to see so many people commenting once again. It is what the site and JC, in particular, need and showing a diversity of opinion.

    If everyone felt and thought the same, there would be nothing to talk about. Debate is the lifeline of a good blog, without people needing to resort to nasty personal insults, but a bit of good humoured banter should not offend. I know that many miss the great humour of Steamer , Steamer 75 and a few more.
    For me, over the years that I have supported Villa, we have been a nearly team, being good, setting records, winning the league cup for the first time, winning the European Cup and the super cup, but never retaining that consistency in the league, missing out on winning the first Premier league title.
    Since we last won the FA Cup for a record seventh time, we have been overtaken and left behind in FA Cups, league titles and in Europe. I am so glad that I was supporting Villa in the days when the players names were known, and I have seen a list of legends that are known throughout the football world. From Gerry Hitchens, Peter McParland, Charlie Aitken, Tony Daley, Tony Morley, Gary Shaw, Dennis Mortimer, Bruce Rioch, Nigel Sims, Colin Withers, Peter Withe, John Gidman, Nigel Spink, Brian Little and the list could go on and on. Would have loved to have seen the three seasons in the 1950’s when Danny Blanchflower played for us and only missed three games!!

    My hope now is that we stop selling our best, and that we retain our stars and build on what we have got. I would love to see Jack Grealish and John McGinn become household names, part of a Villa team that can go on to win the Premiership one day, and for Villa to have a modern day history to match the Liverpool, Man Utd, and Man City’s of this world.

    Our new owners, manager and staff, are what we all want to see take us forward to that dream, and when they fall short, it bus understandable if we are a little critical, but it does not mean that we love them any less, or will not give them a 110% support.

  74. Mk
    Agree about the size of problem at villa player wise,but last week performance by certain players is nothing we haven’t seen from elmo taylor in championship, houirane likewise ,organization is something for training ground yet smith has never once convinced me he has a clue listening to sky all saying same ,hause goal last week I hadn’t noticed but mings was badly at fault too,no one taking charge

  75. If we lose the next two games then the pressure will become intense and the calls will come for a new manager. It’s the ‘go to’ response for underperforming clubs, but in recent years more than half of the premiership clubs that changed their manager in the first half of the season have ended up being relegated.
    Bearing that in mind you need to go beyond considering who may have a better chance of keeping us up, but also, who would be best placed to get us re-promoted. My money would stay firmly with Dean Smith.
    I feel bad about even discussing this but as others have brought it up I thought I’d give a counter view.
    At this point last season how many of us thought we’d get promoted? (if anyone here answered yes then I’d say they’re not being honest with themselves or us). Luckily for us, Dean Smith had more faith in his team than we did and was able to drive that confidence into his players.
    Our players are not mostly rubbish as some would have us believe. We ‘know’ they are capable of playing good, exciting football because we’ve all seen it this season. . . . . .just not consistently enough. Let’s hope that when the chips are down, Dean Smith can bring it out of them again, as he did last year.

  76. How much better are Brighton?

    Only 3 points, we’ve each won 6, and we’ve scored 3 more goals. Yes, we’ve conceded more, but we’re now better at the back. Also with all the new players, they should gel more for the 2nd half of the season. We’re not playing one of the best EPL teams of all time, so let’s hope Jack, El Ghazi or Trezeguet can nick one in a boring 0-1 win

  77. JG
    As a player when another team overruns you, never mind hindsight & observer sight, it’s like moving in glue when you try to respond at that point, far too late to do anything about it.
    Our balance is shot, we need some more bodies, preferably good ones.

  78. Don’t forget that towards the end of the season, the mid table teams have little to play for so a team at the bottom with fight and confidence (and I would add, a supportive supporter base) ‘can’ win games that they may have been expected to lose.

  79. JG- Bruce was supposed to be the defensive genius and look what happened at times, Coaching isn’t fool proof it takes time for trust and understanding to develop. As for the players? look at the squad and realise there is no other choice, it was £130m of newbies and the thin line we had, that is the reality, can’t squeeze orange juice out of a Lemon.

    Smith Proved that last season he could access a squad and add players to turn it around, I am more than ready to give him the season.

    Frem- Give over 🙂

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