Last weekend, Villa notched their third consecutive clean sheet against Arsenal for the first time in the club’s history, capping off a roller-coaster run of 6 games in 18 days following the squad’s return from quarantine. It was a good victory that left Mikel Arteta a bit nonsensical, even if it wasn’t one for the ages.

What I thought it showed was the side’s resiliency. The W-L-W pattern of late could be an argument about inconsistency. Likewise, about bouncing back. Not long ago, poor performances would’ve come in bunches. Now, it seems like Villa can look in the mirror, dig down, and stop slides before they get started. What Smith will be talking about is putting those runs together, and following up a “surprise” victory with a more prosaic one.

Which isn’t to say Brighton are pushovers. They’ve notched some big wins themselves of late, climbing away from the swirl at the bottom as they so often do, and did take all three at Villa Park in November. But, with up to seven starters out, you’d think Villa will be looking at this as an opportunity.

A week between matches has felt like an eternity, and Villa players have had two days off for the first time in a long while. While Smith will adamantly deny it, I think Villa really did need a regular recuperation period. Whatever Smith says about West Ham, that looked a leggy side. The requisite energy wasn’t there to press and win second balls. Passes were misplaced or misweighted, and players just didn’t seem to be on the same page. And indeed, throughout this run, Villa just haven’t been quite as electric as they’d been prior.

Calls for rotation have fallen on deaf ears, but we know Smith doesn’t go for wholesale changes. I still believe he looked at this period and decided he had to run his starting side through 90 minutes to get them back to full fitness as soon as possible for the rest of the season. Others will see it differently, but this, to me, is the simplest explanation. We’ve heard Jurgen whinging, while Dean offers the players no excuses. It’s not only a physical exercise, but a mental one.

They payoff was a reward for early industry and a resolute defensive display that preserved the advantage. Holding on to a 1-0 lead for virtually the entire 90 minutes is not something Villans are used to seeing. And despite Arteta’s claims, it was Villa who really should’ve had more.

We also saw Luiz rested, Barkley brought off a bit sooner than he’d have liked, and Traoré subbed for the more dogged Trezeguet. It would’ve been nice to see the opportunity that fell to Jacob Ramsey on what had to be almost his first touch find the net. And Barkley’s pique has been deftly handled with Smith’s trademark unflappability and good humor.

As far as the team tonight goes, I’m expecting Barkley and Luiz to start along with Traoré. However. Now that he’s been around a little, Morgan Sanson should be entering the conversation more and more. I’d expect another substitute appearance, but if he’s taken to training, has the fitness and makes the most of his minutes, maybe Smith will start to rotate his midfield a bit down the stretch, even if as a matter of tactics.

We’ve seen Marvelous Nakamba acquit himself well deputizing for Luiz, and if Sanson emulates anything McGinn brings, it would be sort of amazing to see four players vying for two spots. But it could also be putting a little pressure on Barkley, too. In fairness to Ross, though, he really has been running himself into shape on match-days, and when he’s fit, he’s good. Smith will respect that the same way he did SJM’s perseverance in Restart. I don’t think he needs competition, in other words. He’s fairly self-motivated and still talking about the Euros.

Anyway, while I thought Villa might find their legs and expansive football a little sooner during that run, they did close it out with a strong response to a poor outing, and got a regular period of recuperation and training following that quality win. Will it show tonight? I’d like to think so.

Over to you.

Comments 125

  1. He does need to produce something.

    Been a lot of clattering, though, and afters. Grealish having a word with the officials, Watkins, too.

    Need to get them stretched more often.

  2. Wow! What has gone wrong????
    We are yards off the pace, and without Martinez, we would be two down at least. Barkley and McGinn need to step up, and the midfield needs to get a grip. Traore isn’t in the game.

    Dean needs to sort them out half time, as we are looking more like Sheff Utd, or the Baggies at the moment. The only thing is, can Brighton keep up this pressure. Graham Potter has certainly done his homework!

  3. PP,

    He does, yes. Sure there’s some strong words from Deano right now.

    But I think part of it’s set-up, with Ross high, SJM and Luiz are outnumbered in midfield. We’ll see if that changes.

  4. What a shambles!!!
    We are becoming a one trick team which will never work. Every attack does not have to be played down the left through Grealish. When he is so heavily marked , we should be bringing other players in. Ollie was left out on his own, and when in a perfect unmarked position to score, Barkley gives it to Grealish who is not in a good position, and the chance is gone.
    Villa really need to look at the set up!!

    I am with Frem after tonight, Trezeguet is a liability! El Ghazi would have been a better choice.

  5. Yeah, Emi stole that point. Ross was pretty useless, McGinn was all over the shop, doing a couple things well, but turning it over repeatedly. Luiz in the right places, but again, often turning the ball right back over. Out of sync once again. Everything fell to them, and quite often from us.

    If teams are going to man-mark and then double up on Jack, someone is open, and it has to be someone who can make something happen. Earlier, that would’ve been Ross, but he’s just not right.

    It’s also hard to judge when you can’t get out of your own way. The oppty that fell to Jack from Traoré, that kind of thing should’ve been there more often.

    Anyway, it’s a point.

  6. Dean not happy, “We were not even bang average, gave the ball away far too much”
    I expect to see changes next game, as Deano is definitely not happy with our midfield and forwards.

  7. To look at it from a different perspective, Brighton were very impressive. You can see why they’ve recently beaten liverpool , arsenal and Leeds.
    Martínez was superb (and needed to be) and for whoever mentioned it, he COULD actually qualify for England although surely Argentina will step in and give him a full cap very soon!

  8. JC, I thought the same as you. . . with Jack being marked out of the game, there really should be space for Ross, but he was anonymous tonight . . . let’s see him show his character and get his mojo back

  9. Don’t know what prompted your criticism of Trezeguet tonight PP . . . did he really stand out as being poor compared with the other midfielders and forwards?

  10. PP. yes we did give the ball away too easily. I thought it was more a case of Brighton playing well than us playing badly . . . . but there were few times tonight when it felt that we were in control of the game which is unlike us this season.

  11. PP yes it was a silly foul to give away but at least in the time he was on the pitch he got stuck in . . . . some other players wore their Harry Potter invisibility cloaks tonight.

  12. I was going to say: You have to give Brighton credit. Very well set-up and organized. I didn’t like the fouling to keep us getting into any rhythm, but you can understand it as long as no one gets hurt.

    Their problem, as always, is lack of goals. But Potter’s a good manager.

  13. I still think there’s something off…That’s just not the Villa we’ve gotten used to seeing.

    Dean won’t say anything, because you don’t advertise weakness and he won’t make excuses, but it seems squad-wide. Konsa making mistakes you never see.

    Was it all down to Brighton? If so, it was just more energy in denying space and time. So, why don’t we have the energy? I was hearing about us having an abysmal February record. Must be something to the timing, not just something superstitious, but given what’s gone on, I think the disruption to the squad was pretty significant. We just don’t look like us.

  14. That’s two games on the trot where teams have sorted out Jack. As good as Emi was, and he was good, Brighton weren’t clinical enough. Villa’s defence did the job tonight. I lost count of all the blocked shots. As long as either the defence or offence are clicking, Villa, this year have a shot at a win or draw. This winning and drawing ugly was a good thing a few months ago. It still is. Like John says, something is amiss and I wonder if the bench has to become more involved.
    I also wondered about the pitch having an effect on the players as it seemed that they fell over a lot and passes weren’t good at all. Watkins changed his boots but I didn’t see if it was to his benefit. Do all the players have different boots to change into? Did Brighton do anything to the pitch that they were aware of and prepared for? I could see spray come up on some passes so maybe a good dose of water and a partial freeze before game time? Brighton just didn’t seem to have the same problems as Villa today—just wondering.

  15. Couldn’t get to watch last night as had a pre valentines meal and had to keep in the good books 🙂
    I will watch the game and but it doesn’t sound like a thriller.

  16. I am beginning to wonder if the problem is becoming the Jack Grealish Villa, rather than Aston Villa.
    We all know that Jack is a superbly talented player, but every five minutes there is something about jack, and now the talk of him getting another new contract of £200,000 per week, must have an effect on other players. I think the Harry Kane Spurs has a similar problem, along with the Bale dilemma.
    Football is very much a team game where everyone is playing for everyone else, and the great teams, are the ones where every is equal, and treated equally!

  17. El Ghazi must have been disappointed yesterday that Trezeguet was in front of him. Also Ramsey did well for the few minutes that he replaced Barkley. Lot of conundrums for Dean to sort. Sanson may get more opportunity too. He looks solid enough.

  18. PP- I doubt Barca would have been quite as good without Messi or Madrid without Ronaldo, there are loads of examples where a really good player makes a team what it is.

    Having seen the Brighton game 1st time I am not surprised we struggled, they were one of our toughest games. Likelihood is Leeds will be just as tough for us. The way we play is ok 90% of the time, the teams we struggle against are in our faces and keep the ball well. Its something DS will have to sort out.

    However he can’t just second guess that we won’t just have a good or bad game, if Jack gets the treatment and others don’t use that space then he is stuffed. I would say Deans next big hurdle is to get us keeping the ball well under pressure. We have a lot of good runners with the ball and thats our main threat not so much a quick passing game like city.

    Spurs were going well until Kane got injured again and the way they play if they concede then they struggle more often than not its the Mourinho way.

  19. As for Trez people keep discounting his work ethic, in a game like yesterdays its needed, ElGahzi got subbed for Traore against Wet Spam at Half time. Unless we switch jack to 10 can’t see him being the 1st choice RW, Trez is just as likley to play as Traore who does not turn up against the tougher teams imo. I see Both Cash and Traore came off suggesting that Brighton were getting joy down the right again.

  20. As far as how the seasons going? we just earned a very hard point, we still have games in hand on some and have 9 games to play against the potential top six teams. That means we have a big chance to change things with plenty of ahem six pointers.

    Also at present we are 9th in the form table, we have just played 5 of the top 8 on form and taken points while not being on fire, Thats not to be sniffed at.

    12 of our remaining games are against the bottom 11 teams on form at present which includes Spurs, manure, Liverpool , Everton and we have 3 against Leicester, City and Chelsea who are top 4 on form.

    Who’s 3rd on form? Brighton and we got a draw.

  21. MK,

    I don’t disagree with a lot of what you are saying, but the likes of Ronaldo and Messi, complement their teams, and produce the magic. We were doing that with Jack at one time, but now when Jack has the ball in a tight situation and he moves it on, instead of opening up the play, we are passing it back to Jack, who is then struggling to find an outlet.

    The problem we are having, is we are failing at the teams below us, and close to us, West Ham, Burnley, Brighton, and Leeds. Will we be able to step up to the pate against Everton, Leicester and Leeds. I certainly hope so, but I also see that Dean is not happy. Something is not quite right.

    Dean rarely criticises the team, but he believes that we can play better, and also Martinez made it clear that we are fighting for European places this season, so perhaps there is a little pressure from the board. They have backed dean and spent well, and with European football next season, they will spend well again.

  22. Interesting to see Lowton MOTM yesterday for Burnley, and how good he was with his distribution, as well as his goal. Nice to see MOTD pull up his goal for Villa which kept us up!

  23. PP- As I see it teams like west ham, Brighton, Leeds and Burnley is they are decent sides that are either a bad match for us or are willing to play in a way that nullifies are strong points. Lets face it We battered West ham and Burnley and they learnt, Brighton and Leeds basically play like they play all the time.

    The teams that think they should not fear us have come unstuck like Arsenal and dare I say it Liverpool. There are then the teams that just are not on our level even if they try to nullify us.

    Is something wrong? maybe, but I don’t think its a massive problem.

  24. Great comments guys,

    Hey, we got a point when we didn’t play except for Emi and Mings who’s back to his best.

    I’m not going to critique any Villa player for the rest of the season. With covid and coming back from injuries it takes time to get up to speed.

    I try to talk about only football on here, but the fact that racism is still a topic in 2021 is a disgrace. Anyone that looks at a person differently because of their skin color, well I want nothing to do with that type of stupid person. We have male and female, nothing else.

  25. One problem we have now is our expectations, which are so very different from last season. This time last year we’d have expected to lose to a team showing the recent form of Brighton and would have been delighted to have hung on for a draw.
    This year we expect to win
    Having said that, our midfield were outplayed yesterday and I can’t think of a single player outside our back 4 and keeper who shone. We’ve become used to Villa winning the 50:50 balls but yesterday the ball just wasn’t sticking. Will they come out all guns blazing again next week?

  26. The game went how I expected it to. The Seagulls are a tough cookie to crack. But I didn’t expect us to be hanging onto their coat tails most of the game. I thought we would create some good scoring chances but there was not a lot on that front.

    Yep, something is not quite right. There’s small perceptive signs of grumbling among a few players. Have no idea why but we don’t come across as such a tight group at the moment. Brighton played 3-5-2, a very attacking formation. Nothing new in that, it’s how they’ve been since Lamptey got injured but we struggled to cope with it.

  27. I wouldn’t read too much into things being ‘not quite right’. The players all seemed very together after last week’s win. I think a few of the players just had a bad day at the office yesterday and having come to expect to win every game now, it’s going to get them down when things don’t go their way.
    Like you Plug, I was waiting for us to take the game up a level and it just didn’t happen. We’ve been tending to finish games strongly and I was convinced that Brighton would slow down and we’d grab the game by the scruff towards the end. . . . . . .but it just fizzled instead

  28. Looking on the bright side, it’s a team game, and if our defence steps up a gear whenever our attack slips back then we’ll carry on doing just fine.

  29. Good decision from John Moss. What beats me, is why doesn’t McGuire get a yellow for cheating. Defenders get booked all the time, but if an attacker cheats to try and get a penalty, he doesn’t, so their is no deterrent.
    Baggies were unlucky, holding the Scummers well, but missing two glorious opportunities to score the winner. Wolves won too, so a good weekend for West Midlands soccer.

  30. Still haven’t watched the game beginning to think it would be a waste of 2 hours.

    Read this though, our lowest XG score since coming back up, along with us struggling against a high press done well and the Mid two being overwhelmed. I’m sure that Ross and Traore being a bit lightweight would not help matters because in theory we should have the same number in midfield as we defend. Giving the ball away 120 times doesn’t help.

  31. Villamd- I agree re racism, it shouldn’t happen you would think but does all over the world not just in football. I see Zaha has said he finds taking the knee demeaning and I don’t blame him. Just a bit more woke virtue signalling rather than addressing anything.

    I am not sure your statement that there are just men and women is correct in this day and age which is another story all together 🙂

  32. When I say something’s not quite right, I’m not reading it into the dressing room. I think it’s still a tight-knit group. It’s just the play/performance. Where players were telepathically reading each other, they now seem not to be. Where players were steady and quick in possession, they’re now not. Barkley and McGinn both just had very poor games.

    Me, I’d think about Nakamba pairing Luiz and Sanson starting to freshen it up. Easy to say, no idea how Sanson’s getting on in meshing with anticipation, etc., in training, but can’t be much worse than what we saw yesterday.

    Very surprised with Ross. I’d have thought after forking out for a new water-bottle bag he’d have been a bit more energetic and impactful. McGinn, we’ve seen it before.

    But if Nakamba has shown he can now handle the deeper role, Luiz isn’t bad at getting upfield. Don’t think he has the same range of passing as SJM on a good day, but is usually steady.

  33. MK,

    You have voiced my thoughts, that sadly there are not just men and women any more. Racism is abhorrent, but people’s colour is just a small part of the problem, there are just so many differences which are growing day by day, and an acceptance of one’s fellow human being is no longer as simple as it was 100 years ago.

  34. To the point made earlier, certain teams will sacrifice a player to aggressively man-mark Jack and use the others to double or triple up on him. If others can’t take advantage, then it works. So, if SJM or others aren’t switching play well, it’s just another turnover. Brighton were challenging them to make an impact, and they didn’t.

    So, if we’re “over-reliant” on Jack, it’s because others aren’t doing enough. And if Ross is having an off day, he could do more defensively. But we also know we want him further up the pitch. He just doesn’t have the gas to play box-to-box, atm.

    Right now, Dean’s cagey comments on Ross seem to hint at the fact he’s far from sold to date. It started off brilliantly, but 7-8 matches missed, then quarantine, and Ross has become a non-factor. I know Smith prefers to let players play through their struggles and show faith in them, but I think he was as baffled as the rest of us in how much we turned it over.

    You don’t want to see Emi being MOTM very often, but that’s why you have a keeper, and it’s been more than once or twice we’ve come away ruing an opponent’s fantastic goalkeeping performance. I’d have backed us to produce at least one moment of magic, and Traoré almost did, playing in Jack, who probably should’ve just gone ahead and taken a whack at it. But I’m thinking he got caught up in not wanting to squander the rare opportunity, and it closed down quickly.

  35. Few teams can play well every game and although we do seem to have dropped off from early season standards, we’ve seen in previous seasons that we’re capable of ending seasons strongly.
    I see that Ole Out is trending again now that United have apparently “lost all chance of the title and will struggle to even qualify for Europe this year”
    At least Villa fans aren’t over- reacting (yet)

  36. Interesting seeing Bamford being sandwiched in the penalty area, which I have always assumed to be a foul. apparently , it was and always remained so until the1990’s, but it seems it became a grey area then until in 2010 FIFA decided it was no longer a foul, if two players simultaneously charged another one, as each player was deemed to be carrying out a fair shoulder charge.

    Leeds at least finished on the front foot, but a very good win for Arsenal, but both remain behind the Villa!!!

    Now we need Fulham to beat Everton!!

  37. PP, the stumbling continues as Fulham beat Everton.
    A BBC quote: “Everton have only touched the ball once in Fulham’s penalty area in 85 minutes. A genuinely shocking performance today.”
    So what went wrong with Everton, or was it just an off day?

  38. Well it was a great 0-0 for us away from home. Brighton done what they do, lovely footy side on there day, pass, move, and press as good as anyone…but they cant finish! Must be so frustrating as seagull fan to watch.

  39. Our issues are pretty much the same has it has been most of the season…..keeping the ball and controlling a footy match. I think with Shakespeare and how we turned it around last season its fair enough at the mo to carry on focusing on our shape, nice and narrow and keep the ball out and counter. Its prime foxes when they won the league. But we will continue to evolve and deano has already said we have to get better playing through the middle. With time to train now playing once a week I reckon it will get worked on. And deffo in the summer. Its our next step

  40. If I was Nakamba id be banging on deanos door this morning. Played very well, dropped and mcguinn and luiz play like that! id be fuming. Mcguinn is very lucky he is not being rested imo. Would be nice to see deano change it and be more flexible when against 3 at the back. Has the beating of our system and Jack is getting marked out the game. Id of let jack roam as a 10 and tighten up the mid. we was just out numbered in there

  41. Champions League place is within touching distance. But we could do with some early season form.

    Everton play Man Citeh on Weds. Here’s hoping the Toffees lose another one. But our fixtures don’t get any easier. The Foxes next.

  42. plug

    Nice dreaming but theres no way we are getting champ league!

    Like frem I was sure we should have jack as a 10 then seeing him so far I was 100% keep on wing. I am now back to Jack as 10 🙂 Barkley ain doing it. Jack as 10 helps us play through the mid and build our play up. Let him sit there and dictate. Get trez in and ramsey. Mid needs shaking up. Would offer legs and energy

  43. MK 🙂

    How nice is it as a Villa fan to be able to cheer for Fulham, Sheff U and other bottom teams knowing we’re not in trouble. I still can’t believe it.

    Last year was a disaster with covid, but thank you Dean Smith and Jack for giving me the best year since I was a boy. I guess some may say I’m sad to be happy with 8th place, but as a 50 year old die hard Villa fan….I’ve never been so happy with the overall setup, including owners and youth

  44. What happened to Frem? I miss his annoying comments, well maybe 50% annoying.

    Surely Sanson and Ramsey must both start the next match. For me, Ramsey is much, much better than Barkley. + he’s Villa. I’ve no issue with Barkley, but I prefer Ramsey and youth. I would play Sanson ahead of Traore and surely Marvelous has to start ahead of Douglas or SJM?? Am U the only one that feels on current form Nakamba is a huge upgrade?

    I’d also agree with PP, El Ghazi is a better option off the bench over Trez

  45. villa md

    its so unreal that we are 8th and nothing to worry about. im not used to these!

    The midfield is a puzzle at the min with teams taking more notice of us and setting up to kill our counter and jack! Im sure deano will work it out. Surly they’ll be at least 1 change against foxes

  46. barkley is annoying cause he just doesn’t put it in. Not having fitness as an excuse now. He doesn’t fully press or chase anything down or get back and make tackles or interceptions. All a bit too half hearted.

    Looked on chelseas comments about him and all the same. Not consistent and lazy. That’s why hes out on loan!

  47. In the perfect position to try different things out with this team . Would love to finish in top 6 or even better, top 4! I don’t think it’s beyond them by any means but the alternative is squad use bravery .
    I would rest Barkley, Traore, McGinn and possibly Grealish against Leicester and start with Nakamba , Sanson,El Ghazi and Ramsey, possibly even Louie Barry along with Watkins! Why not ! It’s a free hit at home . To build muscle you have to break down the existing muscle tissue.

  48. Prox

    Maybe a tad too many changes but I think the point is right. One thing Id like to see from Deano is more flexibility in formations and personal.

    Like with Cash possibly out lets play Kesler. We all know what elmo can do and he is off in the summer so why not!

  49. Yeah H&V , probably a bit ambitious but our kids stood toe -to -toe with Liverpool for an hour so why not?? Leicester have their game plan already worked out so I’d love to throw them and road test some of our hopefuls against a side whom I have genuine goodwill towards. Leeds or wolves would be the wrong teams for the experiment.

  50. I would like to see Ramsey given a run out. Against the Foxes I think we’ll need 2 holding midfielders so some young legs in front of them would be nice. Naka needs to be one of those holding midfielders.

  51. Think the bottom 3 will be the ones who drop. Unless Fulham can catch the Wai Ayes. No hope for the other 2.

    No hope for small heath either. Chinese owners who have no income due to Covid. The sale of Bellingham was needed to pay salaries. They are sunk.

  52. Leicester have about 6 players out 4 that played last time when Ross gave us the points. They also have a Europa league game this Thursday so I think we should grind them into the dust for our second double win against a top side this season.

  53. Love Proxopera’s bravery . . . . .I cant see DS making THAT many changes though.
    If I was the manager, then I’d see us as being at a crossroads now. Do I go all out for a European place or do I blood as many of the youngsters as possible to set us up for next season. There’s a half-way house where more of them come on as substitutes initially but even if we were in 11th place with 2 games to go and 5 points behind 10th, DS seems to be the competitive sort of guy who’d want to set the target of ending in the top half. . . . .that makes half-way compromises difficult.

  54. robbo

    yeah to be fair deano is going to look at it right now and see us close to Europe with 2 in hand. still a long way to go. bit early to be changing it up. maybe different with 8 to play and nothing to play for

  55. That is bold, Prox.

    I can maybe see Barkley sitting out the next one and maybe McGinn, too. Neither would like it at all, but Ross seemingly could use that fire lit under him, and SJM might just need a rest.

    Dunno what’s up with him, Barkley, but if he thinks his performance at Brighton is going to make Southgate take notice, well, it’ll be for the wrong reasons.

    I really hesitate to read too much into things, given a player like Saint-Maximin was out for six weeks from covid. Ross could be struggling with fatigue that’s not down to effort or desire. But, for the good of the team, there can’t be any passengers, atm, and he certainly can’t be on the pitch against Leeds. He’d be run ragged in the first 15mins.

  56. John,
    I’m not having a pop at any of the players I mentioned , I just think it would be good for the Squad in general to give it a go. We have a great defence and goalie , and we’re saying to fringe players “let’s see what you can do”? You have quality to bring on if it starts to go badly wrong but I don’t think it would. Looking at some of the s**t fixtures, the top 6 teams are playing in Europe to the detriment of their own league place , I’d gladly sacrifice that ‘privilege’
    To really give the Villa project a shot in the arm!

  57. And I think it’s going to be a bit tricky for Dean. I know he’s up to it, but if the side are going to push on next season, there’s some choices to made in the middle and out wide and they’ll certainly surface over the summer if not earlier.

    To your point, prox, now we know Villa will be safe, do you push on for Europe and keep the same trusted, tight squad of starters, or sort of let it ride and work on development?

    My guess is that the push for Europe will be too hard to resist for anyone in the organization until you reach the point where you know you’re just not going to make the cut.

    I’m also guessing that everyone’s a bit surprised to be in the mix at this point.

  58. I think that regardless we will push for as high as we can go, Might bugger things up as far as a steady progression if we get Europe or it might move us forward with the extra money. I am waiting to see the books as we made a huge loss which might mess the owners ability to put more in. Therefore a few million per place might be useful and even money from Europe.

  59. MK, I can’t see our books for this financial year being any worse than other EPL teams. Purslow was pointing out the loss of gate revenue at around 20 million but admitted that other teams will have lost more. How much do Lifers reckon the Arse have lost in fan revenue? They had the highest season ticket prices in UK. Man Ure will also be affected with their size of gates.

    The move for Sanson suggests we are still OK due to amortization of transfer fees. But I do reckon we need Europe to sustain our income.

  60. Plug,
    I don’t see Europa league being of huge financial benefit for us especially as UEFA have reduced the pay outs for the next 5 years. Most clubs will earn less than £5m . . . . . around 25% of the average cost of the sort of extra players we’ll be looking for if we want to compete, and the annual wage of maybe 2 of those new players.
    I’d still prefer us to qualify next year rather than this although I know I won’t be able to help myself getting excited at the prospect of us qualifying if we’re still in contention as we approach the end of the season.

  61. Robbo- I saw something a while back that had our losses a over £100m, could be wrong. Its not the money that Uefa pays its the extra fans, shirts ,tv world viewing etc.

  62. Spot on MK,

    It is the hidden earnings that make the difference in Sponsorship, advertising, kit shop sales, tv broadcasting and programmes, etc.
    Hope Frem comes back in time for the match.

    I would love to see Carney Chukwuemenka given his Villa debut alongside Kaine Kessler, both of these youngsters have shown what they can do, and are part of the future. Their energy could also make a difference!

  63. Mark and Paul, The benefits or otherwise of Europa qualification are not clear cut. Research into the benefits for small clubs in Portugal was not decisive although if they qualified over a number of years then there did seem to be a financial benefit. This was not however the case for the first year of qualification.
    The research stated:
    “Despite the positive evidence of the effects of qualification, the impact on economic and financial indicators is not always significant. The problem may be related to the stage of the competition reached by the clubs”
    In other words, a clear benefit only became apparent after competing consistently and then reaching the latter stages. The report goes on to say:

    “The obtained results also reveal that the economic and financial impacts on small clubs is not immediate, and that it essentially affects the revenue directly related to player transactions. It has been shown that the impact on the remaining sources of revenue is not significant (except for television rights), nor is it beneficial if managed inefficiently”.

    The television rights money only becomes significant for teams that reach the latter stages, and even then the income is only around 20% of that dished out in the Champion’s league.

    The next question then is what impact could qualification have on our performance in the Premier league the following year and there are various reports showing that the form of teams in their domestic leagues can drop off as a result of having to travel far and wide to midweek European games:

    “Several teams have struggled after competing in Europe’s elite competition, with Manchester United’s class of 2009/10 recording the biggest slump – picking up 1.5 fewer points after each Champions League fixture that season, on average. United would have accumulated 15 more points and claimed the title that season – if Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had matched the 2.64 points-per-game ratio recorded during weeks without European football.”

    This was an extreme case, and other teams have actually managed to gain a lift from their European forays. Over the years though, on average, Champions League football and Europa league games produce a dip of -0.1 points per game or around 4 points over a whole season. The last 46 involvements of British clubs in the Champions league have seen domestic performances adversely affected in 33 of them over the past 10 years.

    Europa League football also usually reduces Premier League form with 24 out of 33 teams recording a drop in domestic form the following season.

    If we were to qualify for the Europa league, on average, we’d most likely lose out financially, and perform less well in the Premier league in 2022.

    If . . . . . we were able to build the squad sufficiently to be able to compete and reach the latter stages of the competition and also maintain Premier league form so that we could repeat the trick over a number of seasons, THEN, we’d start to gain financially from European football.

    Leicester have managed it, so although the statistical odds are against it, it IS possible.

    I still think we’d benefit from building the squad for one more year before we qualify, but if we were to get there this season then I wouldn’t be able to help myself from being just as excited as everyone else.

  64. Robbo- Right now there is talk of the 7th place prem team getting champions league ahead of other countries champions, purely because the big well supported teams do not want to play poorly supported teams there is no money in it for them. You have to be in it to win it and I think the way things are going I would rather have us in the running. Especially as our owners are very savy and ambitious.

    What you put up may be true but if we act like a small team at this time we might miss a very large boat.

  65. Mark, I’m not suggesting we’re a small team but we are building back from some of the worst years in our history. Along with everyone else on this blog I’ve not expected us to get Champion’s league football next season and still don’t expect us to. There’s been plenty of speculation about new
    European leagues and I think the 7 English teams speculation is further ‘out there’ than most. More realistically we may qualify for Europa football . . . . .and I don’t find that especially enticing at this stage in our come back.

  66. r0bb0,
    Not sure in the figures you give, how much account is taken of the additional publicity a team receives, thereby increasing its following around the world, which in turn increases revenue from sales, as pointed out before.
    I imagine that the figures you refer to, are for increases in direct income for ticket sales and tv rights.

    perhaps there will be an influence on more EPL teams with the poorer tv deals in Europe at the moment.

  67. Robbo- We are in some very strange times mate and I think the world is likely to look very different one way or another. I am not sure many give a flying cr*p about history/tradition etc anymore, if the globalisation continues its a natural step.

    Personally I am with you and would like to see the team progress at least another season but the club have made noises about Europe so I guess thats what we are targeting. I’m sure they know the realities of what it can and cannot bring better than us.

    The way we play and the way we have captured the media’s eye in half a season says we would of got more screen time even if things were normal, so being in Europe would bring other fans that like some excitement.

    The biggest pull we have at this point is Jack Grealish, If he goes to the euro’s and makes a name for himself he will attract even more attention to the club, European games would lead on from that and would at least provide something that appears to be lacking , playing time for the squad and youth, it would have to increase to cope.

    This season is about bedding in a talented but young team and not so much about youth progression, that will change next season I feel as players mature. We have purposely bought potential in that 15-18 year old bracket and discarded many youth players we all thought could progress, that suggests to me that next step is upon us next season. Brentford had a B-team that played teams from all over Europe including Barca in arranged friendlies rather than a league and did well, I think that if we make Europe that is how it will work.

  68. PP, the researchers were apparently given complete access to the accounts of the clubs involved and worked with them to compile the data on condition of anonymity. It included all sources of income so presumably, the increase in club profile was part of the reason that European football started to become profitable for the clubs in time but not immediately. I only read the summaries and didn’t delve into the detail so didn’t see if the clubs progressed further in the competitions as they went on but there were a few things that came out:
    How the clubs were managed was crucial. it’s possible to regularly compete in Europe and do well on the pitch and still fail financially if you manage it badly.
    Qualifying for Europe provides an imperative to improve the squad in order to compete. This is part of the reason that the early years of competing in Europe can be financially negative for the club.
    Improved club profile from the early stages, particularly of the Europa league is minimal. I’m not sure that: Bate Borisov, Kaisar, OFI, Dunajska streda, FC Shirak Gyumri, Drita Gijilan, FK Qurabag, Honka Espoo, gained much international profile from competing. You’d expect Villa (if we decided we had the squad strength to really go for it) to progress to the later rounds but Crvena Zvezda, Slavia and Bayer have progressed to the current round of 32 and I doubt it’s going to bring them many shirt sales in Shanghai.

    What I’m not keen on seeing, is a re-run of our last foray into Europe where the Europa league was seen as an uncomfortable distraction from our Premier league campaign. We only had eyes for Champion’s league football (because that’s where the money is. . . potentially) so we didn’t really try and win Europa games as they were a distraction from trying to get into the top 4 of the Premier league. On the other hand, the likely loss of Premier League points as a direct result of competing hard in the Europa League may well cost us Champion’s League football the following year.
    If we just miss out on Europa football this year it may not be a bad thing as it seems likely that our owners will continue to invest so that we’ll be in a much better position to gain top 4 status next year.

  69. Mark, it seems we were having ‘some’ similar thoughts at 8.44am. The development of our youth is a really interesting one. As you say, the club certainly have been investing in that area so you have to believe that they intend to try and bring some of those players through into the senior set up. I guess we shouldn’t expect too much too soon and if we could develop just one Jack Grealish a decade then the youth programme would pay for itself!

  70. Robbo- I think the emphasis is likely to be on bringing through more Konsa and matty cash’s and the odd McGinn to keep the squad strong but affordable and then move on the odd 1st teamer for a little profit. For that to happen we need to show some success or they will get picked off I’m Guessing. Cups, Europe etc are a shop window and a developmental step for me. The more Players see a way into the big time with us the better.

    That said I think Barry is a nailed on star.

  71. I wonder what we will see tomorrow? it seems clear Ross and McGinn are off the boil. I have seen suggestions that maybe Sanson should start with Luis and Traore at 10 rather than RW. We can then add Trez’s pressing ability and strengthen that Right hand side with Cash being out.

    That looks pretty decent on paper, You could also put Ramsey at Ten quite easily and provide a stiffer midfield if needed. Nakamba could also start but that would be a complete new midfield. Hard to know if Ross and McGinn need rest or more time.

    Also a rumour spreading that Jack is injured.

  72. Mark, yes I’ve been seeing those rumours about Jack and they feel uncomfortably plausible.
    Well . . . . if so, then others will have to step up and prove that we can manage without him and it’ll be a useful part of the learning curve.

  73. Martinez, Elmo, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Luiz, McGinn, Traore, Barkley, El Ghazi, Watkins,

    Subs: Heaton, Kessler, Taylor, Nkamba, Chukwuemeka, Sanson, J.Ramsey, Trezeguet, Davis.

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