Struggling Sheffield tonight after a hard-fought victory over Leeds, which was basically a lesson in how to nullify a team that simply wants to run you into the ground. Get in their faces, get a lead, then dare them to show enough quality to break you down.

Integral to that plan were runners. So we saw Ross Barkley dropped, along with Douglas Luiz. Jacob Ramsey and Marvelous Nakamba didn’t disappoint. So, naturally, there are calls for the two to start again. They will, and you can’t say they don’t deserve it.

I had a whole thing written up about youth, Barkley, etc., but I couldn’t get it up before the team sheet came out. So, I’ve scrapped some of it, and this is a bit disjointed. Big news is that Ramsey and Nakamba get a second consecutive start. Though that’s not really all about youth.

This year has gone better than expected, to date. Far better. You have to give Smith and the players credit. They’ve earned the points, played the matches, executed the game plans. Still a young side. Still up and down. There’s nowhere to hide in the squad, everyone is exposed. There’s not yet a 25-man squad of world-class players to rotate and mix-and-match.

Villa in all honesty are probably punching a bit over their weight, and are still fighting tooth and nail for a spot in Europe with just over 1/3 of the season to go (for us). Most everyone in the league, bar Fulham, West Brom, Leeds, and Sheffield have had multiple windows in the PL with PL money to spend. We’ve had four, but January hardly counts: desperation market (except, oh look, we got a player we wanted for half price because we have money and others don’t).

It’s the players Smith has picked that have us in the top half. They’ve gotten us this far. You don’t keep faith with them by dropping them while they’re trying to get into Europe and are finally enjoying their football. They’ve only just got to grips. They’ve earned the right to play. The kids don’t have us sitting ninth, five points off Chelsea in fifth with two games in hand.

El Ghazi, Trezeguet, Nakamba, and Elmo have come in when called on, worked their socks off, and contributed a lot. Ghazi, Trez, and Traoré all know they’re fighting for the same spot. Trez might feel hard done by, Ghazi even more so, but Traoré offers goals from the right, and Ghazi’s better on the left. With Jack out again, El Ghazi gets another start. Nakamba can’t have too much to complain about, I don’t think, and it’s great to see him come in, and like the others, show the right attitude and signs of improvement.

Anyway, Smith has shown time and again that he believes in sticking with his best players, and letting them play together through think and thin. He doesn’t believe you lose your place because of injury or an off game. He lets them play through struggles. Players gain confidence from that, and loyalty. That spreads to the bench, dressing room and training ground.

Likewise, sticking with a winning side. Ramsey is trying to take the chance that comes from being called on and being trusted for his time around the first-team set-up. Another solid performance tonight will boost his case further.

With Barkley and Luiz, though, I don’t think it’s anything more than simply physical. With two weeks off, can Barkley get back to his best for the run-in, or has that ship already sailed? As Ramsey showed, that player has to do a lot of work off the ball in a 4-2-3-1. I don’t think Luiz has lost his spot, but Nakamba may well keep getting the nod if we’re getting results, and it will depend on when Luiz can get right again.

Rest assured, the youngsters are in the frame, getting included in the match-day squad or brought along to watch, though tonight it’s only Kesler as back-up to Elmo on the team sheet. They may be a little unlucky in that they’re coming of age (19-21, as Villa have it) right when Villa are likely still looking for ready-made players to slot in. Going forward, the development curve will be different. But Ramsey’s showing it’s possible to make that jump.Villa are tying up the best of the young players at Bodymoor to new contracts. Some may well be next season’s back-ups.

So, all a very long way of saying I understand the calls to play youth. And I think we will. But as long as Europe is within reach, I doubt we’ll see much other than cameos from players besides Ramsey unless there’s an injury crisis. The summer will determine a number of futures.

All that aside, it’s a tough game tonight. Wilder’s men will still be fighting for pride, and they don’t really ship goals for fun. That said, they’ve only kept one clean sheet all season, only scored three in their last five, and have lost four on the bounce. Villa will still need to fight, and then fight again at the weekend. Wilder may have all but given up hope, his players, too, but that can also lend a certain freedom. We need to be on our game again without Jack, and I’m counting on players wanting to prove they can do it consistently without him.

Starting XI
Martinez; Elmohamady; Targett; Konsa; Mings; Ramsey; Nakamba; McGinn; El Ghazi; Traoré; Watkins

Sanson; Trezeguet; Luiz; Davis; Barkley; Taylor; Engels; Kesler; Heaton

Over to you.

Comments 192

  1. They are doomed but I’m not very confident. They are always in games and we do love to slip up

    It could be like Burnley away all over again

  2. I hope we actually try and play some football tonight and retain possession because we didn’t against Leeds

    I want to put a bet on say Targett and Elmo both to get booked

    But it doesn’t let me do it as a combined bet? Like it doesn’t combine both the odds together?

    Just does singles

  3. Ha, Frem.

    It’ll be what it’ll be, but I think there’s hunger in the side.

    Remember, we weren’t trying to hold the ball against Leeds. The whole idea was not to get stretched. Like MK said earlier, we’re at about 50% possession this season.

  4. Frem,

    We often look to get at teams quickly like that, especially if they’re pressing hard. We’re not trying to pass it around for style points.

  5. Mcginn s**t again

    We’ve taken 1 point from losing positions

    Lack of quality and tactics there

    No plan B

    Normally its hope Grealish plays well

  6. That was a horrible performance

    They are bottom and ee created absolutely nothing

    Maybe get Barkley on second half. Ramsey not at it.

    Sanson for mcginn to

  7. Frem,

    You have one of the best players in the world…Of course you get him on the ball as much as possible.

    Without him, same system. SJM and Traoré could both have had goals, and our attacks have been more incisive and penetrating.

    Just watching highlights now, all Villa besides their goal. Which was entirely against the run of play after their initial huffing and puffing.

  8. Dean smith took over us mid table in the championship and got us first attempt. Had to basically replace the whole team but kept us up and also a cup final. Mid season and we are already safe and every pundit are singing our praise. You’re right frem. Such a 5h1t manager.

  9. Performances exactly like this have been too common over the past couple months

    We don’t score goals anymore and just look clueless on the ball

  10. We should have had a penalty, but once again, rarely does Ollie get one. He does not make any fuss.

    If the front three we more switched on to each other, we should have been 3-0 up before McGoldrick was allowed to stroll unmarked into the area!

    We need to step it up, Sheffield enjoying their football and not feeling the pressure.

  11. Smith clueless when we concede first. Clueless without Grealish. Clueless whena team goes down to 10 men.. Clueless when we can’t counter attack a side

  12. Mcginn is s**te recently.

    All these crosses going to Ramsdsle

    Smith just doesn’t have this team coached to break teams down

  13. How long has Smith been absolutely s**t when we concede first and or a team go down to 10 men?

    It was so obvious Davis should have come on much earlier and he made a great difference.. He gave him 10 minutes….

    He’s clueless

  14. Poor but one of those nights , pen should of been given, mcginn and Traore big chances Ollie hits the bar and a goal line clearance, it just was not going in.

  15. Is Dean Smith just going to write that one off and not watch the tape back like Brighton? Joke

    Mcginn needs to dropped

  16. Not a clue tonight. Unfortunately, El Ghazi being selfish in the first 15 minutes cost us. We have to be much, much more clinical in the final third, and play as a team.
    Sheffield were out on their feet, and we still could not make it count.

    The Wednesday night hoodoo continues, because of one slip, which we should have been able to recover from, a huge opportunity to climb the table has been lost.

    We did not play badly, but we failed to play well, or make use of the advantage we had. I had the feeling that the sending off would not turn out to be an advantage, as we always seem to struggle against ten, and fail to break them down.

  17. How embarrassing was that…i,m sorry but Smith is starting to look out of his depth…hasn,t been good for weeks now….his inexperience is there for all to see… tactical switches to play against 10men and not for the first time….we still can,t play without Jack even though we,ve had several transfer windows to address that….as Frem says any chance of european football gone

  18. This guy on twitter says it perfectly

    “Our play is so telegraphed is laughable. Think up some new s**t on the training pitch ffs”

    Exactly. Dean Smith everyone

    One man team fc

  19. Blimey that was a painful watch

    for all the good things about this season we do seem to be our own worst enemies when we have poor results .. we have given the ball a lot recently and loads more tonight

    And we really struggle with both beating the press and attacking fluidity though we do have our moments I think Jack papers over the cracks a fare bit at times

    At least we know we can play much better

  20. Sheffield United are one of the worst premier league sides in history and we can’t even score against them with 10 men for half an hour

    We played 111 minutes out of 180 minutes against 10 men this season and scored one goal…

    Smith ball

  21. replay.. Smith out his depth. He absolutely is.. He’s fluked it this far but to often gets shown up fot being tactically awful

    A new manager in the summer needed.. A big name. A tactical level ahead

  22. 45 Crosses with only 6 being accurate (14.3

    As I said in January we needed another winger and striker

    Instead we spent 15 million on a player we didn’t need who sits on tbrnebch

    Watkins needs a rest sometimes and Trezeguet and Ghaizi aren’t good enough Premier league players

    We lack so much quality and signed the wrong position in jan

  23. Oh well tactical genius one week amateur the next. Never mind we have a league winning coach and a league winning player turned coach that know nothing either then.

    Thought we failed to get in behind them enough and inverted wingers against a packed defence not so good.

    All in all s**t happens

  24. Davis has to be involved more in games as I’ve been saying all season

    He made us more of a threat and another body. Smith needs to play him more

  25. Frem don’t agree we need to get rid our players we are better than Sheffield but let ourselves down by our current standards

    I do want to see better patterns of play but that is more down to drills than players as Southampton and Brighton show with much lesser players than what we have

  26. Runtings.. Exactly we have absolutely not pattern of plays which is Smith fault

    Graham Potter is a better manager and I’d love him

    Wed score loads

  27. We’ve been awful in 2021

    Basically Smith has absolutely no idea how to break teams down

    Wolves will sit in and we create absolutely ne

  28. Our tactics were cross cross cross when they got the red so why not bring Davis on?

    We are a team that actually don’t like having the ball. We can only counter and make minimal passes

    If a team sit in a make us think the manager and players are clueless

    Wolves will absolutely love playing us

  29. “Quality in the final third was the difference”

    There isn’t any quality in the final 3rd Smith. You f**ked up in January

  30. “smith has done a fantastic job for us up there with the greatest in my lifetime but the guy has no plan B. Awful when it comes to subs if we want to go to the next level it wont be with him.
    he actually moved watkins wide right to bring on davis”

    Another twitter view

  31. How the f**k do you say that Smith said we played well Frem????
    Don’t know where you get some of your information from. I have just been listening to Dean on BT Sport… the official channel. where Dean felt the same as me me that we should have won it in the first half with the opportunities we had, and that in the second half, especially towards the end, there we too many aimless balls into the box

    Tonight was not Dean’s fault, it was down to the players on the pitch not being clinical. The sloppy defensive mistake is nothing to do with Elmo, as he was not the one tracking McGoldrick, it was McGinn who had lost him.

    The team is still learning, and they will get better, but Sheffield Utd are still one of the hardest teams to beat, even if they are bottom.
    Wolves will be a test of whether they have learned anything from tonight.

  32. Frem – if you made as much noise in a pub and kept trying to dominate conversation by shouting the same rubbish over and over, somebody would have tipped a pint over your head by now.
    What a shame we’re not in a pub! 😉

  33. I know the feeling runtings…..

    Sheff Utd have only lost four games in their last 19 fixtures by more than one goal. All their games are very close,

  34. Guys take your Smith tinted glasses off….without Jack the guy probably wouldn,t have lasted his first season….only Jack coming back from injury and dragging us through that winning run saved his job….Frem is spot on we need a proven manager with fresh ideas….just lumping the ball into the box when your best player is out injured doesn’t cut it……and the lack of striker options is criminal….2 Premier league seasons with only 1 recognised striker in each is ridiculous….any top class manager would have been banging his chairmans door down demanding more….this it such a poor quality premiership season that we should have taken advantage of it but sadly once again we are falling short due to inexperience at the helm.

  35. A lot of people on twitter realising Smith just isn’t good enough.

    He might get us 10th place but that’s it

    At some point people have to realise we are out growing him

    He just is tactically know where near good enough for what this club want.

    Graham Potter is a better manager.. More advanced.. If had this team we’d get European football

  36. Dean Smith’s weaknesses shown today. The lack of plan B, there’s no formation change & the timing of his subs are really poor. I’m not saying he needs to go because he’s done well here but if we are to go to that next level I don’t think it’s Smith taking us there tbh


  37. We’ve scored 5 goals in 7 games

    We are tactically so predictable and one dimensional on the ball

    We have no plan B

    Smith loves watching Watkins struggle on his own up front eveeygame

    Davis needs more game time

  38. Guilbert showing up Smith in France as well

    Assist v psg last week and winning goal tonight

    And we have to watch Elmo let Sheffield score a tap in and not beat a first man with crosses

  39. It’s actually 63 comments in 4 hours 24 minutes – that’s an average of one every 4.2 minutes.
    There have only been 103 comments (104 including this one!), so Frem represents 60.6% of the opinions, this evening, of Aston Villa Life.
    JC, Haggis, Mark K, Replay, Paul P, Runtings and me make up the remaining 39.4%, an average of 5.6% each. Frem therefore has more than 10 times as much to say as anyone else on here.
    JC: I think, mathematically, that you’ve got to do the decent thing and hand the whole shebang over to Frem, who plainly is the most important and well-informed “Voice of Villa”!

  40. vivavilla if you check when we win I recon Frems comments are the same if not less than anyone else’s which means as I first stated he is only happy when we lose making him a bluenose troll. He has been on here for years but it’s getting worse and worse. If villa upsets him this much then become s glory hunter. Liverpool last season Man C this season. I would dread to think how he treats people close to him if he flares up this much over a football game.

  41. 1st off, Twitter? give me a break.

    I am beginning to wonder if people realise what has been developing at Villa park since the new owners walked in. We are a club and team in development, a very young team at that, we will have games like this and yes we do miss Jack Grealish. You can’t have one of the all time great players in your team and develop a style that does not maximise his involvement and abilities, he is to boot a worthy leader and captain. What we are not is league contenders and next years champions league winners. This is a long term project get it? Changing manager every season is a foolish way to short term gains and big f**k ups.

    Replay- A proven manager with Fresh Ideas? isn’t that an oxymoron? Look at Liverpool, a great manager having a terrible season for the champs that can’t negate the loss of their Captain. How about Maureen at Spurs? still playing the same as his Chelsea days, Wolves and Sheffield last years media darlings, the only worthy manager that thinks a bit more out of the box is Pep. Yes this is a strange season but all teams are in it and not all teams are doing well are they? I do guarantee though that if this side was being developed in front of our home crowd we would not be better off, I’ll leave you to work out why.

  42. Lets examine Dean Smiths accomplishments at Villa. First off he is not the only manager to have had the pleasure of having Jack Grealish. He is however the only one to maximise his use and achieve anything. The last Incumbent had massive experience and was given 13 matches by the owners to sort things out , we know how that went.

    The 1st thing Smith did was to bring in Mings whom everyone thought was a LB and Hause, if anyone thinks we would of got promoted without those two give your head a wobble. We began beating the top teams suddenly by a lot and added a 10 game historic winning streak to Smiths list of accomplishments. Oh and a cup final in which we were not embarrassed for once.

    We all know how the next season turned out, Some bad injuries to Big players for us and a squad full of strangers. We stayed up from a position with 4 games to go that nobody had ever done before, and on the whole it was not down to Jack but to a new found solidity. We had not been expected to get up and we had not been expected to stay up but we did.

    This seasons aim was to be out of the relegation battle and develop the squad, another tick, the fact we have done that quite spectacularly is beside the point. Their have been blips but never more than two losses before getting back to winning ways. So far we have more wins , Draws and cleans sheets than last season by a country mile. We have taken some very big scalps and lost to some we probably shouldn’t on paper, maybe won a few we should not, having jack has not made that any different, we have lost with and without when we should or shouldn’t have. In some games Smith has changed tactics and come out on top despite claims to the contrary and sometimes been out thought, its not a crime.

    Whatever you think of the squad, number of forwards etc its all being done within limitations and with players with some ceiling to go, only Barkley this season is a genuine top prem player and he’s on loan.

    This season and last we were unlucky with Forwards, we took a gamble with unproven players and those coming back from injury. Strikers are expensive, so money needed in other areas was used there. We only play one CF its a gamble but most our goals come from the Front three and the rest of the team anyway, that is pretty much how most prem teams are, look at the top goal scorers and its not 1-20 centre forwards, 15 of the top 24 are wingers and mids.

    There are many more records Smith has set quietly at Villa like best start to a season in the prem, is he the messiah or the best manager ever? of course not but he’s the best for were we are at and for what we are trying to build and he knows how to build an club environment to learn in.

  43. lol Frem does get repetitive but I would suggest is very passionate about Aston Villa
    I f we would have followed Frems advise we would have big Sam or someone else in change and calling for players to be included in the starting line up only for calls for them to be subbed soon after they do start is a common happening

    What I would agree with Frem on is that we do not keep the ball well and that our general patterns of playing need to improve if deano is to really take us to the next level
    His Brentford side played better football than we do so I don’t think deano is not capable of getting us to that type of football … don’t know if anyone has noticed the improvements in Arsenals patterns of play but Mikel is showing that ticker tacker is on its way … Would love to see this happening at Villa .. as pointed out without Jack the football we play in general is not good enough and it has lots of room to improve with him playing also

  44. haha the reaction to a defeat! Frem word of advice, take twitter with a massive pinch of salt!

    But in my view deano got it wrong. he said the leeds game was horses for courses fair enough and made the mid changes. But so was this one. blades aren’t leeds. we needed the killer ball and creativity. Said yesterday I wanted sanson and barkley starting. It was a prime example how not to play against 10 men. Mcguinn lofted balls into a crowded area and repeat. was the most frustrating game every

  45. and mcguinn and elmo for the blades goal! awful.

    And to take toure off was a scandal. should of hooked elmo instead.

    Deano has to be more varied and flexible with the formations.

  46. When has smith ever tactically made a change during a game to go win us a game? Pretty much never. When we concede first our record is horrible and that’s all down to smith not being good enough. He doesn’t react quick enough.. He doesn’t change things often enough.

    We are now the most predictable side to play against.

    The standard of our football in 2021 has declined massively from the first half on the season. We went from being the best side to watch to now being by far one of the worst

    Smith ball is a myth. It wasn’t good in the championship, it was absolutely shambolic last season and its getting close to that the last 8 games or so

    Just because he’s a Villa fan we shouldn’t have a blind faith to him. This club is moving quicker than his tactical ability.

    When we finish 12th the what? What happens when Konsa and Grealish go? And probably Mings

    We need to move to the next level manager

  47. When they went to 10 men Davis and Barkley she have been on straight away. He gave Davis 8 minutes when our tactics were cross cross cross for the last 30 minutes.

    Awful management

  48. frem

    Its madness what we are seeing really. we have gone from prime Newcastle under keegan for 15 games to prime arsenal under George graham!

    Deanos an XG man too, he wont be happy. The slander is bad though man, need respect. The process is on going and we have done it thanks to him. Another important summer. Id add Buendia as the second most important signing behind san berge

  49. Frem:
    Smith added: “We shouldn’t be leaving with nothing. We threw points away tonight with a sloppy goal where we should have never been behind in the first half. We feel like we’ve given points away.

    “For all of the possession in the final third we needed better quality, better runs and better balls in but, for me, we tried to get the goal back inside the first five minutes after the sending off instead of being patient, pulling them out and finding holes.

    Nothing wrong with Smith’s tactics, it is about players doing the right things when they are on the pitch. Apart from putting himself on the pitch, it can be very difficult.

    We live to fight another day, but I am sure the coaching staff will be having serious words with the team.
    you also asked Smith to bring on Barkley and Sanson, and he did…..,

    Perhaps he shouldn’t listen to you…….

  50. Actually when Barkley, Sanson and Davis came on it made little difference. Sanson did nothing and nearly gave them a big chance. As Smith said we tried to hard rather than being clever about it. That tells me its not how he wants us to play.

    He was right about Sheffield they fought for every ball and we out fought them most of the time.

    I am sick of saying it but we will not learn to play without Jack overnight, players have to think for themselves. As Runtings has said Arsenal are beginning to get what he wants, we have had to relearn defending this season and I don’t thing getting them to Barca levels on the ball has been a priority, as Runtings said Brentford kept the ball very well under him, they could also switch to counter attack.

    I’ll put it in big letters for you


    He was right about Sheffield they fought for every ball and we out fought them most of the time.

  51. And ee have absolutely zero patterns off play anywhere on the pitch. Our ball retention and creating of chances through patterns is non existent

    Look how many chances Brighton create

  52. Mark l. Davis made an impact with his first touch chesting it down to ghazi who could have done better but doesn’t have the ability to

    He also nearly scored a tap in if it wasn’t for a great slide tackle.

    He needs to play more. 8 minutes was a joke. We are throwing crosses in to absolutely nobody for 20 minutes then he decides to bring a target man on

    He just isn’t tactically good enough to change a game

  53. Eh? He nearly scored a tap in? there were umpteen desperate tackles that stopped us scoring thats why we lost on top of us not being calm enough.

    We actually passed the ball about well going back to front, as I have told you Frem a billion times it takes time to establish those patterns, that side had 4 regular players missing so it will take time. Your not going to achieve anything by just spouting anti Smith b*****ks.

  54. I have also listened to you repeating stuff about tactics, I would like to know what expertise you have in the field to come to the conclusion that we have a manager with no tactics even with one of the leagues best coaches by his side?

    Seems to me you will just rattle off any old tripe with the conclusion that if we had XYZ (all of which we don’t and can’t have at this point) or the manager was somehow better we would transform into a premier league contender over night.

    This season is about progression so forget about what you think we might win or Europe etc and just enjoy it and watch us get better.

  55. ive said before deano has already said we need to get better at building through the middle and we do! We are pretty much just a counter attacking team. Hence the great results when we are in front but coming from a goal down we just cant do.

    ive already said for me jack as an 8 next season. will bloody make us play through the middle then!

  56. frem

    its weird as like I say first quarter of the season and nearly half a season we were battering teams. High xg and scoring goals.

    Know what you mean about potter though. Brighton can be very easy on the eye but still cant fix there attack and there in some trouble down there.

    Remember when we played them at vp. we battered them and created over 20 chances. was playing so much more up the pitch then. All about getting the balance right

  57. I’m glad for the calm heads. The meltdown stuff does my head in.

    All sorts of counterarguments to the doom and gloom or slagging of Smith. As has been said so many times, a work in progress. Sheffield got a sloppy goal and did SFA the rest of the match besides desperately defend.

    As H&V says, going a man down probably actually helped them. They had a lead, no reason to get stretched. For all their goals and Bielsa’s ‘genius’, Leeds couldn’t break us down, either.

    Ramsey was pretty invisible, which is why he doesn’t yet play more. Luiz is more astute in the attacking transition than Nakamba, which isn’t to say Marvelous didn’t play well. He did. McGinn was relatively decent on the night. Lots of fight, and looking to spring attacks with some decent balls. The killer ball into the box was lacking, obviously, but we see that time and again from all sorts of sides with more talent than ours.

    And we do have patterns of play. I can’t understand claims to the contrary. They may not be varied enough, but we have them. What jumps to mind? The way we work the overlap on the left to produce cutbacks, crosses, or open space toward the middle. We try that from the other side as well, but the left is more heavily trafficked because of Jack. We often notice other teams coming at us down their left flank as well, making Cash a very busy boy.

    Barkley and Davis coming on were an attempt to get through the middle, that’s where Ross links up well. But coming through the middle is hard against a packed defense. That’s what they want to deny. We needed to be a bit more patient, get them moving wide more and opening up spaces. Did they come on too late? Maybe. But it’s not like we weren’t making Sheffield defend before then.

    So, no one’s happy losing a game like that, but we all know Villa are looking at a busy summer and improving the overall talent level.

    And yes, it’s lovely to envision a team that doesn’t need Jack, but that’s not exactly where we are, atm, and that’s just the reality of building from nothing to something.

    As I said above, we’ve been punching above our weight, and should still be rather happy with where we sit this year. There’s lots more to look forward to.

  58. Deano said after the game that he was angry. Which means he was steaming. But that was Deano in a microcosm. At 57 minutes, Jag gets sent off. Our subs start 11 minutes later. Seemed obvious to me at the time that as soon as Jag departed we could go to a back 3 and perhaps hook Elmo for an additional midfielder or striker. But the game was left to drift away from us.

    All games in this league are tough but we really need to be beating the bottom team that was laid low with injuries.. Think it ends the European debate.

  59. plug

    exactly man. I was so mad at toure being hooked instead of elmo! barkley and Sansom coming on when they did with blades all sat behind the ball made it too hard. One at least should of started. Nakamba did play well and I really like him but he aint going to hit a killer ball to open teams up.

  60. In fairness to Frem the point he is making about patterns of play is completely valid imo

    I think it becomes clear what you are doing in training as a group by the general way the team plays … if I was describe our style of play I would have to say very direct with most things going through Jack ….. not sure if that’s the best approach going forwards
    For me I its always been a concern that we don’t pop it about nicely and have treated the ball like a hot potato at villa for many years

    Deano and co sorted us out defensively but within that we are very hit and miss with our attacking play our attacking movement and how we link the play I often watch frustrated as a good run which requires a simple pass is ignored and how many times we give the ball back to the opposition

    Deano has been great for villa but no one is perfect and these are my only concerns but they are also important ones that will need to be addressed one way or the other going forwards

  61. Spot on runtings. The football is poor and predictable. We have been absolutely dire this year. Smith just isn’t good enough.

    He says Grealish “might be ready” for Saturday

    We all absolutely know that means he won’t be ready and will probably be out for another 3 games at least with smith saying he might be ready before all 3

  62. Plug. All games drift past Smith tactically when we don’t score first. He’s absolutely awful at making subs. The worst Villa manager I can remember at making the right subs at the right time.. He doesn’t react.. He never ever changes a system during a game when itsso obvious we need to. His subs onky change personal, not formation.

    It was so obvious yesterday get players on as soon as Jags was off

    Our record when we concede first is god awful and it’s because of Smith

  63. Look at Carlo

    Everton 0-0. 65 gone

    He changes to a diamond formation and puts sidardon onn and he gets an assist with his 3rd touch

    That’s how a top manager changes system and personal during a game to win it

    Smith never does it. Just stands and watches them struggle, then makes late subs who don’t change the system what so ever and change nothing in the game

    Wd need the next level manager

  64. Runtings- as I said earlier all in good time Its a young side in a tough league and they have proved they can learn. I think a proper pre-season will see us push on again. As JC pointed out its rubbish to say we have no patterns of play you can see them every game. They are not Pepes 12 passes from back to front though and we struggle because teams press very well these days, It will improve, I can’t think for one Minute DS is content with where we are style wise.

  65. Wrong again Frem Smith has changed systems several times to win matches this season and made subs to do so.

    And when you say Obvious do you mean its obvious to you or do you think a bloke thats been in professional football for nigh on his entire life has got no knowledge compared to you in your armchair?

    Why do you hate Smith so much you do know nobody can win every game don’t you? Last night he played the players you thought should start and we didn’t win, chew on that for a bit.

  66. Mark he really hasn’t.

    He changes nothing

    Everton and spurs win against they s**t sides

    That’s Europe over now we have 10th to play for. We’ve been absolutely shambolic since 2021

    Grealish won’t stay doe this and Konsa will go Liverpool

  67. Mark. I don’t hate him we just need to better

    I want the best for Villa and Smith isn’t good enough to take is there to the next level. I

    I don’t have a blind loyalty to him just because hes a Villa fanand and got us promoted

    I’d sack him tomorrow for a more progressive manager and it wouldn’t bother me one bit

  68. Mark look at Carlo and ejayhe did to they game tonight

    When did smithy do that?

    When we were a goal down ans he made a change to win us a game?

    When were we level in a game and he made a tactical change to win us a game

    They fact we’ve won all but one of our games by not conceding shows we have one plan. Score first ans Park the bas. That will get us 10th and no higher

    We have taken one pointy when we concede firsy

    That’s shambolic management and wont get us anywhere

  69. We are now 12th

    Arsenal will finsih abobe us

    We will end the season 13th/14th/15h

    Not exactly good is it. Not exactly going to keep Grealish and attract better players in the summer is it

    I don’t care what anyone says European football was the clubs ambition this season and we aren’t going to get it now

    The owners have a decision to make in the summer about improving us

  70. If they have they ambition of keeping Grealish and signing better players then we need a manager to go with it

    I guarantee you they owners and Grealish and Purslow won’t be happy with finishing 12th

  71. Look at Tuchel since he’s gone to Chelsea

    They are tactically absolutely fantastic. Play great patterns. Attacking play so well drilled

    We have the owners to go get someone like that now.. Someone who will progress us sns move us on a level
    . That’s what we need. Not 12th place

  72. Nice day away skiing, and I log in only to have you depress me, Frem. My god, man.

    I only have myself to blame, though. New rule: “Never check blog after a loss.” Arsenal finishing ahead of us? What a remarkable and unbelievable state of affairs.

    Way-back Machine: I was talking to Ash Preece at the Mail the summer we came back up. Everyone was euphoric, thinking mid-table, top half.

    Him: “What do you reckon?” Me: “Love the enthusiasm. But I think we’re a lot closer to 17th than 10th, and I’d be quite happy with 17th. Don’t care how it happens, we just need to stay up.” Him: “I agree.”

  73. Mark I agree that this side could develop into a very good one under deano if he continues to progress and I am very grateful for what he has done so far
    What i am trying to refer to is not that we don’t have any patterns of play exactly but more that so far there is no consistent pass and moves . you can tell the teams that drill to be able to play in this way and they get themselves to a level of being able to beat the press and progress up the pitch with cohesion
    deano is more like ollie at man u for me they style of play depends more on personnel than style
    I think if style comes first and you have class personnel you become consistently a very potent side

    Hopefully we will get towards that style of play under deano but from what I have seen he isn’t heading down that route at the moment

    just my view of things but I would never diss dean smith

  74. Runtings I agree to a certain degree, you have to drill for that style of play. What we have had for the last god knows how long is a shambles at Villa, style and set up wise. If we had begun playing that way when Smith came here we probably would not of gone up, and if we actually did and tried that in the prem I don’t think we would be in it now. It would of taken a monumental bit of scouting to find the players at the right price to emulate pepes style quickly. Even at city it takes a while when new players come in for them to adapt, usually a season. Don’t forget Smith is learning at this level too, once he gets to grips with the teams in this league we will improve. At the moment he is learning about what we have and what it takes to stay in this league. How many teams actually play that way in the league anyway? Brighton are trying it this season with Potter but are up s**t creek if they are not careful.

    The best way forward for me is to drill the kids.

  75. Not only have we gone from mid table championship team. We have a team that have pulled together and it is a pleasure go watch us now an attacking side rather than a negative 10 behind the ball that was served up for years. We were a team rotten from top to bottom and for the first time there is a light at the end of the tunnel. No one likes losing but we have won more than we have lost and it’s been a long time since we have done that in the premiership this time we are doing it with a young and hungry squad. As said by others patience is needed. We are ahead of schedule and the future is looking bright.

  76. Frem he categorically has change formation and won this season in one instance it was within 15 minutes of the start going from 4123 to 4213 , how do I know? because he actually spoke about it after the match. Regardless 433 as used by Pep and Tuchel can be any number of formations at any point in the game. You appear to be ignoring the reality of what is actually happening mate and where the club are at this point.

    Look at the level of player at Chelsea and Everton then look at ours, established clubs with either players that have come through the academy together or been at the club or in the prem for a good while. We are at the start of the journey and you will have to be patient while it develops. There is no chance that we will ditch Smith this season nor Next imo.

    If you look at how Tuchel plays is not a million miles away from what Smith is doing, DM, deep lying playmaker, box to box mid and quick wingers. The list of players he has had at Dortmund let alone PSG and Chelsea is awesome, Dembélé , Aubameyang, Pulisic, İlkay Gündoğan, Hummels, Idrissa Gueye.

    We just don’t have that level of player yet, If he came to Villa to coach our team I would be amazed if we improved that much. The next level is a ways off for us. Right now they are not even doing what Smith wants them to do.

    Whats more Tuchel is known for falling out with owners, Smith is a steady sort of bloke who is building a foundation and feel good factor at Villa.

  77. Mark I agree with all of you reply
    I think we started in the prem trying to play out for the back but it wasn’t working with the players we have so deano went more direct
    In fairness to Potter though he is operating on a different level to villa we are they type of club that will progress to take the best players from the likes of Brighton and Southampton
    What i do believe though re football in general is that teams that drill pass and move that also have good enough players within the system will become a powerful side that will both win a lot and entertain at the same time

    Pep is a great coach and i may get shot down for this but i think potter could be even better as he is operating on a shoe string but still plays fabulous football .. Pep loses a centeback and out comes the cheque book to stop them free falling .. pep has never had the challenge of working with anything less than the best players in the world

  78. Runtings- That gets said about pep a lot and it might be true but unprovable, that said plenty cannot handle the top players mentality, if they don’t respect you they won’t listen.

    As for potter I don’t understand why he is unable to convert good play into goals, he has Maupay up front and he’s not exactly terrible.

    I wonder what would be being said if Smith had carried on from last seasons gung-ho approach or implemented a passing style and was sat in 16th with nearly half the points we have? always easy to look over at something you admire and apply it to your own club, the reality is somewhat different. Brighton have spent some money too, they are not paupers.

  79. Pep does take very good players and improve them though, rarely does it take 5 minutes, usually a season or two then they are part of the machine.

  80. Pep himself recently was bigging up Potter and rightly so

    There are good players at Brighton but non that could even make the citeh bench … moupay like a lot of our players are novices at this level and are far from the world class players pep deals with
    would pep have got a truly shocking villa side from 14th to prem within 6 months of coming in ? i seriously doubt it

  81. Runtings I agree horses for courses but you never know. As I pointed out to Frem how many of our players would make a City Squad other than Luis? not even sure Jack Would be a good fit. Watkins I think could adapt and probably Konsa, no surprise coming from Brentford.

  82. I agree with Frem and runtings about style of play and the ball being kept and being comfy with it! Said it ages ago you cant blame deano since re start tweeking the system (yes frem, deano changed us and kept us up)! and keeping what worked for us into this season. And it has worked. Next phase in our building has to be playing more through the middle which deano has said.

    But lets not have short memories. Firs 15 games we were the nations sec fav team. Us and foxes were the great entertainers. shock horror a young small squad has tailed off and suffered a dip in form!

  83. and no one is perfect. I am always desperate to see more flexibility and change. Deano is pretty rigid.

    Like tomorrow a perfect time to mix it up. Wolves are the portugues burnley you know what your going to get. defend and counter. But on there day they can produce quality.

  84. Exactly H and V. Potch took over Southampton and took them to the next level. That’s what we need

    Smith bull shitting us again about Grealish. Said he might be back in training later this week

    Hes now siad he’s doing better but unlikely to play

    We all know Smith unlikely to play means he won’t. We have wolves then Newcastle then 2 weeks off and I guarantee Grealish won’t be back unti after the international break ans Smith knows this but won’t tell us

    Also says Cash might be back in training next week? Migebe? Je will or he won’t? Just tell us

  85. We won’t stand a chance off breaking down wolves without Grealish

    You know exactly how Smith will play. 4231. No patterns. Absolutely no quality.. No tactical change. Watkins running around isolated like a headless chicken. Ghaizi creating absolutely nothing.

    Wolves will sit back and we won’t cause them a issue

  86. Nuno won’t have an easier game this season then predicting what will do and having a plan to stop us. Sit in and counter and that’s is f**ked snd Smith will stand on the touchline for 75 minutes watching us create absolutely nothing and noy made a tactical change at any point to win us the game

  87. Why would DS be rigid? could be he has a decent 1st 11 and the rest is a bit iffy and not going to crash the party for more than a game or so at this point. Two seasons running we have brought in over half of a starting 11, all things considered its been pretty good, to be better under the circumstances would have us top six and challenging for champs league (which we still are).

  88. Frem- your sounding a bit demented now mate, you have a couple of things worth discussing such as tactics and can DS take us further. Unfortunately all you do is proclaim things like they are set in stone and they are always on the gloomy side.

    We have already beaten them this season and with 10 men for the last ten mins. So why didn’t Nuno pull some tactical magic off eh? His predicting like yours might be a bit off.

    In the previous Two seasons we have had good season ends and could again.

  89. frem will you be big enough to come back on here with an apology if we get a result tomorrow ?
    Was smith clueless in getting us up or keeping us up
    If you want another manager fine but I have to say some of your comments on our deano seem grossly unfair and without foundation to me
    in the last 6 months you have stated that the likes of mings , target ,hause ,AEG,Marv and Ollie are not good enough to name a few
    but Davies and Gilbert are top players
    its hard to take your good points seriously when you are making such calls which clearly are not true

  90. Some good comments from time to time, but Frem you are getting to the stage where yours are silly and some what pathetic. Try and stick to sensible constructive input that is worth discussing, and perhaps we may see a few more lifers back here commenting, instead of being driven away.

    Maybe Villa could improve on the manager, just like Chelsea have done, but they have done so with a highly proven manger from Germany. Dean Smith has done everything the board has asked of him, within the parameters they set him.
    If they had given him the type of money that Chelsea spend, then our side would look very much better, and we would players that Dean would love to have, given the money. Benrahma would certainly have come with Watkins from Brentford, We would have bought Wilson too, and those two alone may have seen us pushing for a much higher position, but that sort of money was not available.

    I am more than satisfied with what Dean has achieved with the funds that he has had available.
    Next season there will be more funds, and who knows what the board will be thinking, but for this season can we just be realistic and more than happy with what has been achieved.

    I do not see that there will be any news on Jack inn the near future. More will be known once the England squad is announced, when the extent of any injuries will be confirmed.

    Tomorrow will be a good day and I expect Smith to change very little of the team, although Luiz may well come into the reckoning. Wolves will be a gentler pace, and they are not fighting for their lives, so there should be a lot more football played, and it will be interesting to compare Adama against Bertrand to see who is the top Traore!!!

  91. Just listened to Smiths pre- match and he said he will set up a hotline for Frem to tell him things before they actually happen.

    He also made a comment about wolves and how they have improved as a team having lost Jota and Jimenez, but obviously its taken them a while to adjust this season. Not much different to our Jack situation, there is no magic wand even if your manager is called Nuno.

    Wesley is ready to play games in the U23’s so thats great boost for the lad.

  92. pp- on the international Break, Villa have said they are not letting their players go and they are allowed to do that. Its all down to the countries on the red list and the 10 day isolation shtick. Don’t know if that is all the internationals but it would actually do us a favour to have a couple of weeks of intense Training without a game, sort a few kinks out.

  93. Wonder if Smith will change anything tactically to improve us going forward as we’ve played the same cr*p attacking way all year and created near to nothing in games and scored basically no goals either?

    Or will he just keep tge same 1 up front 3 in midfield.. Same patterns l. Watkins isolated running around to much. No idea on the ball apart frm hoofing it?

    I wonder

    Mcginn has ti be dropped also. He’s been absolutely dire recently.. Doesn’t get goals ir assists and gives the ball away nite often than he keeps it

    Drop Ghaizi and mcginn. Get Barry in the side if we can or play ramsey left or play a diamond

    Go Davis snd Watkins up top

    Change something Smith because otherwise wolves will be unbelievably comfortable

  94. Play Hayden righback to. Elmo can’t play again after Sheffield. Awful for the goal and awful delivery

    Be brave Smith and play a youngster

    Hayden Konsa Mings Targett

    Ramsey Luiz Sanson

    Watkins Davis

    Change something Smith because what we are doing predictable every week isn’t working any more

  95. Honestly frem. Have you got anything positive to say. Now I am famous for speaking first and thinking later but ffs you take it to another level. Take up weed or crack as your stress levels are definitely not health. Like someone said earlier you have driven people away from this site and I’ve left and come back several times and again on the verge of going because I really have better things to do and read your toxic drivel of how 5h1t everyone at villa are. I usually avoid this site if we lose as I know what’s going to come. Please vent your anger somewhere else and be constructive on here. I know your a good kid and I know Steamer thought the world of you. You have it in you to be intelligent and constructive and I honestly think that if you put your mind to it you would be a great author for this site and maybe more.

  96. With respect to the debate about resting and rotating players, I read that McCarthy at Cardiff says some of his players are in desperate need of a rest.

    Deano says nobody has been to see him about a rest. It’s a case of protecting the players from themselves I reckon.

  97. Wonder what our line up will be today. Deano says El Ghazi can be unplayable at times. I think some Villa fans may be in agreement.

  98. I’m with Haggis, I decided to stay away for a few days vs write something negative. Actually I really didn’t have anything negative to write as we were unlucky the other day.

    I’d also love to see Sanson and Davis start. Give Ollie more support up top.

    It is nice that we’re safe. Heck, if we’re complaining about wanting to be in the top 6 …..I’m ok with that.

  99. MK,

    Thank you for sharing the Jack interview. I loved it so much that I had to watch it twice. I’m proud to be a Villa fan with such a great and humble captain. UTV

  100. Great interview MK,

    I enjoyed that, some interesting pieces in there.

    Haggis you are right, maybe JC should issue a yellow card if you write more than four negative comments, or put people in a sin bin for 24 hours!!

    We really need to bring more positivity to the site, and more humour, so miss Steamer’s caustic comments!
    Where is Steamer 75, The love of his life, Jenny Truman, B6toBrasil, and many more. Hopefully they are still alive somewhere, and will return one day…!!!

    r0bb0 and several others are rare commentators now, which is sad, would be good to encourage so new blood too.

  101. Burnley proving to be unbeatable again against the Gunners, helping us to remain in 9th place before the game. Good to see Lowton and Westwood still being amazing servants to a claret & blue club, years after they left us.

  102. Southampton haven’t won in 10…

    They are beating Sheffield away 1-0…

    They have started at a tempo and purpose and quick

    What did we do? Our usual slow, slow football. Same patterns. Slow snd predicted

    Our performance snd result was criminal. Same as Brighton away. Two teams we should be beating and put in awfull displays, like we have in most games this year.

    Villa owners need to he brave this summer

  103. The Sanson Situation is a weird one, it was stated we only bought him in Jan as a good deal came up otherwise it would be in the summer and it gives him more time settle. So clearly he is in the plans for next season and you would think Conor isn’t.

    Question is who is Sanson really here to replace, a bench player or as a starter? From what I have seen so far he is a bit raw and out of touch with the rest of the team at this point so I don’t think I’d start him yet. He has a habit of breaking right and even crossing from the wing, is this an idea to make up for Traore playing out right? I don’t know but it seems logical.

  104. Frem- Southampton haven’t won in ten? what does that have to do with anything? we beat Liverpool 7-2 do you think that will ever be done again by any team? I highly doubt it, games throw up strange results all the time because players are Human and luck can play a part to change the odds, its why you can’t make millions betting on the football being exactly what you think it will be every time.

    Do you play fantasy premier league (other than in your head) ? you should try it it might teach you a little about how certain certainties really are. Most of the time on average things go to plan the rest is up in the air.

  105. Sanson needs a run. For me, Traore needs to play #10, otherwise don’t play him. He’s wasted on the wing.

    We should have sold Conor. Cannot see him coming back with current squad and youth. If the Ramsey lads are not better than Conor, we have some serious issues

  106. Soton have a goal because the ref gave them a penalty.
    It is a game which is not over yet . Let us see the final outcome!
    Frem obviously is not willing to take heed from anyone.
    Now is the time to be giving our vocal support to our team in readiness for another great game, from our highest position in the table since O’neill’s time.

  107. Sanson is a weird one because in truth he is not really needed, we have midfielders coming out of our ears, he looks like a ball carrier with not a very good pass on him, We have a few of them, he is touted as having a better cross than his passing.

    Frem will use whatever he can to bash Smith with to prove some point he has rattling around his bonce at present.

  108. Right. Fresh sheet up. I’ll have to watch this one later, have a conflicting commitment.

    In the meantime, Frem, please behave yourself.


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