Ninety-third-minutes equalizers are never easy to take unless you’re the one scoring. So, full confession, after seeing the result and reading various accounts of the game here and elsewhere, I did not go back and watch a replay of the 1-1 draw with Newcastle. I’d had a lovely long weekend away, and there wasn’t really any need to ruin it. It’s the only match I’ve missed so far this season, though, breaking my perfect streak.

So I can’t really offer any insights of my own. I did see the collective post-match meltdown, which has gotten a bit predictable and, to my mind, a bit unfair. Sandwiched between Spurs and Arsenal in the top half, it’s hard for me to get very upset or concerned. Supporters have short memories and expectations bordering on the unrealistic. No surprise there.

Has ‘progress’ stalled, though? Yeah, it has. For the thousandth time, I’ll emphasize the quarantine interruption, and how the team has looked since. And coming right out of that, there was the fixture congestion in making up some our games in hand. As has been pointed out, it’s also been a rather long stretch of football from Restart to now, with very little time away for the players. There’s mental and physical fatigue all round the league.

Jack’s injury has obviously been a big blow, but we’ve not lost that much ground, in the end. Hasn’t been brilliant, but everyone should know this is not yet a team we can expect to soar in his absence. Part of it is how much he brings individually, another is how reliant other players are on him psychologically, as much as anything else. Again for the thousandth time, we know Jack holds it, carries it, stretches and moves defenses, wins free kicks, can initiate some fine interplay and cut across goal, or take it round defenders either direction. While Konsa might be starting to come into the frame as a potential world-class defender, he’s not really tasked with influencing things in the final third. The squad know they’re much better when the only world-class player (except for Emi Martinez) is on the pitch.

So, we’ve muddled through and picked up some draws and points we wouldn’t have last year. And if there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s draws that keep teams higher up the table: which is to say, not losing. Villa’s win total remains very respectable. It’s keeping the loss column under control that makes those wins really count.

Some players, of course, remain works in progress. Sanson is coming to terms with the quality in the league, the pressing and how quickly things close down. Likewise Traoré, who has done better when provided quality overlaps given his heavy reliance on his left foot. El Ghazi blows hot and cold, and McGinn is not consistently finding the form he’s shown in the past. Luiz has also seemed 75-80% of his former self, but Nakamba at least, has found his footing. We know Cash adds more than Elmo, and we know Barkley has completely lost his way since doing his hamstring. In what admittedly is still a thin squad, losing a dynamic RB, a #10, and Jack…well, it’s going to show.

Jacob Ramsey has gotten his chances, and while he did well running and filling the gaps against Leeds, he’s struggled to step up to a more influential level. He’s talented, and it will come, I’m sure, but he’s still very green, and it takes a rather special kind of young player to jump into the lineup and start imposing himself on games in the role he’s playing. Took Jack a while, if we remember.

Anyway, Spurs tonight, and The Special One hasn’t mustered much better out of a more talented, experienced, and skillful squad. On the heels of midweek European collapse, we can expect a response. But Spurs are a side that also blow hot and cold, should be a little tired, and really aren’t that different to Villa in style, with the obvious exception of the way Kane and Son are played up front.

If Jack were playing, and he might be though I doubt it, I’d quite fancy our chances for all three points. As it stands, I can see us either nicking something or playing for a draw to get us into the break, after which we’re all but assured that Grealish will return for the run-in. We know how that goes, however. But he shouldn’t be that far away, and you know he’ll be itching to impress after missing this latest England call-up. If he’s fresh, that should bode very well for Villa.

I’m pretty sure the game plan tonight will be familiar: Try to get after them early, get on top, and then see how well we can manage it from there. Son is out, which is a big plus, and given the ups and downs in form for Bale and Bergwijn, the job might come down to containing Kane and Dele Alli or Moura.

If it does go a bit wrong tonight, I’ll just encourage everyone to look at last summer’s business, and remain optimistic about this summer’s. The staff will have their targets identified already, and I’m pretty confident they know where the weaknesses lie. No idea what sort of outgoings we’ll see, but adding a layer of higher-quality players in midfield and attack should see Villa with more depth, more bite, and more danger.

Where we are now is just about exactly the amount of progress Compass et. al. would’ve reasonably expected. And we’ll have 10 to play after the break. Arsenal continue to do just enough right and wrong to keep us in the top half, though as I write, they have mustered a credible fightback against West Ham. Regardless, a win today, well, Villa are right back in the mix. But neither a draw nor a loss will be the end of the world. With Fulham up on our return, we’ll look for a couple results to go our way. I still find it rather refreshing and fun that we’re still chasing Europe, however long our odds.

Also, congratulations, Ollie Watkins. First year in the Premier League and here’s his first England call-up. At least Gareth can see what he brings, and it’s very well deserved.

Over to you.

Comments 214

  1. Thanks JC.

    No Jack. Sanson, Luiz and SJM in middle. Forward 3 comprising Trez Ollie and Traore with Cash back. Sorry guys.

    Spurs are one of our bogey teams so I’m not expecting much. COYVB.

  2. Thanks Jc totally agree but fans don’t seem to learn or care 🙂

    I’m just hoping we can give a good account of ourselves whatever the result. 1st time we have faced one of the big teams and not been thinking this could go either way.

  3. Traore’s a frustrating one isn’t he.
    If someone can get in his head and give him some of Ollie’s determination he could be great for us.
    After his poor corner he was feeling sorry for himself and slowly moseying back instead of saying . . . “f**k it . . . . I’m determined to win the next ball”
    You can see the skill . . . . . He just needs a bit more confidence and determination.

  4. Yeah, not quite happening. It’s interesting where Trez has been ending up, but have to say I’d be thinking about brining Ghazi on sooner rather than later.

  5. A real chance for Villa to put their stamp on the game and we fail to capitalise. Sure enough, then we get punished for being sloppy. Martinez made a similar mistake some while ago, but where was the covering defence?
    Sanson playing forward, but not up to speed, and looking a little lost. We so need a player that can take the game by the scruff of the neck and lead the team. We have a long way to go, if we are going to get anywhere.
    Jack in his pyjamas, ready to return to his sick bed! Oh! how they need him at the moment. Maybe we can find some inspiration of the bench, if things don’t improve.
    Jose has enough on the bench to ensure that he wins this one.

  6. Trez, Cash and Targett putting in plenty of effort, but some are not doing the same, maybe Barkley given a chance second half will make a difference.

  7. Not quite working for Samson yet
    Maybe still getting used to the pace of the Premiership?
    The management clearly have confidence in him and our league position enables us to give him the time he needs.

  8. Again, we saw Traore showing his disappointment with his shot. We don’t need to see that.
    Bertrand . . we know you’re frustrated just save it till after the game and do all you can to put it right. . . . you have the skill to do that.

  9. Clever Kane !! Golden rule Cash ignored…..STAY ON YOUR FEET!!!!!
    Mike Dean should not have been fooled, and VAR, of course backs him!!

    Shame Sanson went off, he was just starting to look comfortable out on the left.

    If Dean really thought it was a genuine penalty, surely he would have given Cash a yellow..Just thought he was a stupid boy.

  10. Well other than us still doing stuff in slow motion we lack Quality compared to Spurs. Again when Ross had his shot with 6 spurs players in front of him he could of shaped to shoot and then squared it for Watkins.

  11. Let’s get the Europe idea out of the way and start drip feeding some more of academy prospects into the team. Think Barkley is a lost argument.

  12. Poor old from hounded out for telling the truth,trez is to attacking what hutton was to defending,take our first 4 matches it’s been relegation form since points wise, surely when you spend what our owners have you expect more

  13. That really annoyed me. Not because we were particularly brilliant, but basically two errors, otherwise a very level game. Peno obviously really changed the way it looked down the stretch, but I don’t think that was an 0-2 performance, and I don’t care for Spurs or Mourinho.

    Konsa once again was pure class.

  14. Not a lot more to say. This was another performance where we were found wanting, and yet if we had made the opening twenty minutes count, it could have been a different story.

    I just wonder if there is not a big turn round before the end of the season, how many players like Cash, Konsa and Watkins will want to stay, especially if Jack decides his future lies elsewhere.

  15. JG,

    Frem’s opinions never the issue. Obsessive repetition was the problem.

    I thought Trez was terrible today, as well. If I’d been Smith, I’d have put Ghazi on for him.

  16. jbd,

    Yeah, Barkley just keeps going backward. Really a shame. He just seems so stiff and immobile. No quickness, no push-off. I don’t know if he’s still trying to protect the hamstring, but at this stage, what’s the point?

  17. James Gill – if you take away 12 points from our first four games, it’s still certainly nothing like relegation form. We’ve played 24 games since and taken 29 points: over a 38 game season, that equates to 46 points, and no-one’s ever got relegated with that many!

  18. PP,

    I think the players will stay…maybe I’m over-optimistic. I think they understand better than we the fatigue, what’s right, what’s wrong.

    Think they also know that 3-4 upgrades can change the team dramatically. Traoré’s been hit or miss, but the others have been good buys, think they’ll get it right again.

  19. Viva villa
    Has any other team spent over 250 m and fallen apart because 1 homegrown player is injured or out of form
    And looking at our remaining fixtures how many points will we get
    Me I think 6 or 7

  20. I am somewhere in between with JG, as our form after those first four games has not been quite relegation form, but we would be struggling now on 29 points, and have some tough fixtures coming up, and we have failed without Jack which is not a good situation. We definitely should not be relying on one player.
    WE do have some reasonable players developing, but are no where near a match for most of the top eight Premiership teams in squad depth.
    We really need to use the rest of this season to prepare our young starlets ready for next season. Perhaps now we are out of the Europe race we will take the opportunity to put together a strong development squad that can play some exciting football games, whether we win or lose them.

  21. JC.

    All I can say at the moment is that footballers today listen to the offers their agents put in front of them, and usually take their advice. If you are being offered a great contract with a top club that is going to play Champions league football and win trophies, when careers are so short, what are the things you are going to consider? You may be sat on a bench for periods in the season, but money in the bank and trophies in the cabinet mean a lot.
    These boys are not playing for a few quid a week anymore and a shirt to be proud of when you run out on the pitch.

  22. JG – I’m optimistic that with Jack back we can get at least another 10 points but, even with your worst case 6, that would have us finishing on 47 points, an improvement on last season of over 30%.
    Just how fast do you think a club that was halfway down the Championship two years ago should improve? We all need a bit more patience.

  23. Yes we could ignore our first 4 games because they shouldn’t really count towards our season should they.
    Tell you what though. How about. . . we ignore the last 4 home games of all the teams above us.
    Oh. . . . we’re well in the European places. . . Yay!

  24. I think we should also ignore Chelasea’s 4 games from 31st jan onwards. Oh . . . we’re in the Champion’s league places now!
    Double yay!

  25. Pp
    ,Smith had nice run of fixtures to try something different use some of young lads and didn’t preferred to use Elmo keep picking under performing mcginn trez etc now with last 10 matches 7 against top 6/7 sides of which we never do well against ,1 a local derby against baggies and big sam which won’t be pretty,another v fulham who are playing reasonable and fighting relegation can’t see Smith trying much

  26. Thought Konsa was immense again today. We need to start Nakamba. Douglas is not a defensive midfielder in my view.

    Sanson still way off the pace. He looks very weak. Not sure if he can physically adjust to EPL.

    I thought Kenian looked good. Please give him a chance over next few games as we’ve nothing to play for.

    Dean Smith- give the youth a chance. We’re not going to be a top 6 team with Trez, El G and Barkley. I see no point playing them

  27. We competed for 20 minutes when Spurs were there for the taking. It never happened and we faded. Didn’t think we looked fit. We seemed much slower than them. The team is currently a shadow of its former self in early season. Leaves me looking at the coaching.

  28. I think a top half finish will be beyond us. To make the next step, we need improvements on the front 3 that started yesterday. Dougie struggled too and what has happened to SJM?

  29. I also didn’t understand taking Sanson off, just when he was starting to make a difference playing on the left and becoming a real threat.
    The failure of Targett and McGinn with their passes, added to the general booting out of defence really made the game so much easier for Spurs.

    See Spurs fans are all clamouring to sign Ezri Konsa, who is a red hot Spurs fan this summer!!

  30. Oh dear the faithful are dropping like flies, you know things are bad When JG comes on for chat as he doesn’t post these days when its going well 😉

    I read an article stating the XG goal stats have fallen off in the games that Jack hasn’t played (6 games).

    So I checked and guess what, they haven’t been great really since the covid break and the kids playing Liverpool. Two games out of 7 with Jack playing since then where we have had attacking XG scores over 1, Burnley and Newcastle part 1, we won one and lost the other. Those games came after the City game then XG dropped off a cliff although we still managed to grind out some wins with jack and without, the attacking stopped with Jack and without him, Jack can provide that one touch of Quality needed in tight games even if he’s not on form.

    Of course there are also injuries to various players the most notable being Ross Barkley, Cash, Trez and some minor ones lately to Traore and ElGhazi.

    Yeah you can point at the money spent (like we would even have a team without that spend) but in reality its a couple of big Euro million Jackpots worth, Spurs Squad being worth close 3 times that. As Neville noted last Night If Smith had Just two more players of the quality that Spurs have he likely would of won the game, thats the prem, you need a bit of Quality.

    As for taking 12 points off us?? as Robbo pointed out is this across the board? or just those teams that started well? after all the teams that start the season well tend usually to do well enough and not end up relegated. Its not an unknown occurrence, considering we were touted to drop this year?

    Can Smith both be a good coach and a bad coach? is it feasible that we can be nearly safe by xmas but then forget everything we were doing that was good? not likely. We started the season and continued with clean sheets and high XG scores right up to xmas.

    Could he change things up? yes I suppose he could but then he has a thin senior squad and playing 2-3 kids would be a kick in the gooleys to his players at this point. They know things are not going well and the heads are down. I doubt that losing with the kids would stem the tide.

    To me you have to look at the facts, Fact one, 9 players and 5 staff got covid, fact two a break in the routine while on a good run, no training (especially for Ross and Trez) no game in 20 days. Fact three Results and attacking play (particularly the Midfield) has dropped off since that period.

    If Smith looks like he’s doing nothing then Its very likely that there is something other than tactics going on that he cannot change.

    I had the jab last Wednesday against my better judgement, While I didn’t feel ill from it you do end up feeling more tired for a while (nearly a week so far) When I had Covid in Feb 2020 It was at least 6 weeks of feeling like that even though the infection was over in 2-3 days. I would be amazed if thats not what Villa are suffering. yeah you can point at the manager (as people do in Normal times frequently) but this time? I don’t think so.

  31. well that was a disgrace. A spurs teams there for the taking and we had 0 shots on target in 1st half!

    sick of saying it but ill say it again. 433 without jack doesn’t work. hasn’t worked for the last 7 games without him. A late change with 10 mins to go saw davis do more than anyone else combined. ho hum

  32. theres arguments for playing kids but the massive worry for me is.

    Very late to make changes.
    style of play is non existent.

    We have been poor longer than we have been good. Smith got all the acclaim in the first 10 matches he can take some stick now!

  33. and the worry is did we just take teams by surprise first quarter of the season? The prem may of scene us as cannon foder again and we took them by surprise. we have soon been worked out and that was whilst jack was playing

  34. H&V- We largely play counter attack, which involves sprints upfield and back for the Mids and wingers. If we are suffering post Covid stuff that makes sense to me. If we kept the ball better you also get rests, we don’t, So the two combined? the confidence will be rock bottom too and even Ross and Traore are hesitant to shoot.

    One things for sure if its not a covid hangover then its better to know now before the summer, its actually valuable to the manager and Lange to see us with no Jack. Its all part of moving forward and all teams go through it rather than terminal. You just don’t want to go through it in the bottom 6 🙂

  35. MK – some very good points made. As Robbo said, it makes no sense for JG to lop off our four best results and then compare us to the rest, who’ve had nothing lopped off.

    Plus, unfortunately, maths doesn’t seem to be JG’s strong point. I don’t know where he gets the £109m in transfers this season – I make it £93m.

    And where he gets my “best case” of 46/47 points from I’ve no idea: my guess was 10 more over our last 10 games (i.e. 51 in total), and that’s 16 up on last year, not just 10 as he claims.

    A similar improvement next season would see us ending on 67, good enough for 3rd place last year!

  36. Vivavilla- Better is not enough these days mate 🙂 I particularly like the thought that Smith can’t be criticised and can do no wrong while ignoring he has blatantly got something right too or he is fooling a lot of experienced managers and players into losing to us. It then becomes evident that another manager would do better with the team that Smith has had a hand in finding and developing, making them Ideal for this better manager.

  37. How Kane fooled the ref I will never know, he lets the ball go out and moves toward Cash at least 2 foot to make sure he makes contact, you can see the ball about a metre behind him as it it rolls out.

  38. Well, I am one of the faithful but like others, I’m not dropping like flies. We’re safe in mid table of the toughest league in the world which could not be dreamt of under Spud. But I recognize danger signs when I see them. And if left unaddressed, events can overtake you very quickly.

    Expressing concern at our recent run of results is NOT calling for Deano’s head. If others interpret it that way, then I can’t help it. But what I won’t do under any circumstances, is watch a deteriorating situation with apathy and silence.

    We’ve gone from Mourinho’s favourite team to strugglers in no time. I’m not happy and I ain’t clapping.

  39. Viva villa
    Don’t slag anyone’s maths off,no one knows exaxt price of players but martinez cash Watkins traore samson and loan signing of barclay are sure more than your figure as for getting your points total for this season get real
    As for robbo putting his pennyworth I never mentioned any other side form just ours but his lack of class on this site I,is one the reason so many have fallen away

  40. Mk
    I don’t slag you off so need to do it to me,I see you are chasing frem now on the villa blog,hounded from here now you are doing the same
    As for xg goals who does he play for some Chinese side,we all watch the matches we can see what’s wrong,Smith has one play jack without it he has none,,funny Smith was 50 last week and this is first big job he got ,it shows brentford haven’t missed him

  41. Ha, Plug. Fair enough.

    I’m working on a very long-winded take on the issues you and others are raising.

    Me, I’m not at all surprised at what I’m seeing…Doesn’t mean I’m enjoying it, but I’m not surprised.

  42. JG,

    It’s always hard to know what makes people come and go. I always tell folks to write something up, and if I don’t get direct messages, then I’m in the dark as much as anyone.

    As I mentioned, Frem was a unique case. Not because of negative views, but relentless repetition that was driving more than one person round the bend. I like Frem, he goes way back, good lad. Disappeared for a long time, then came back when I think he got banned elsewhere. No real idea.

    But, I made the decision to block him, no one else. He’d had a couple warnings, I had a few messages with him, and he just wouldn’t calm down. That’s it, nothing more.

  43. JG- Frem is his own worst enemy on there , to be honest he just makes me laugh the lad is full on in his dislike of many things Villa at the moment and to be frank its non of your business its Frems, as its a blog. I have never once suggested he , you or anyone should not post what they want, even said he is a Villa fan when others said he’s a troll, doesn’t mean I agree with him or have to. Sad you have taken it so badly mate. You used to message me now I know why you don’t perhaps.

    If we can see whats wrong Please tell me , other than we need a new manager.

  44. Looking very sad here.
    I have enjoyed this site for quite a long time, but it now seems that we are not allowed to criticise anything, as Villa have done exceptionally well to be where they are, and well ahead of where they expected to be.
    This is nonsense, as this is a blog, where fans are supposed to discuss, criticise, compliment or whatever about the team, the management and the club.
    Dean has done a fantastic job in getting the club back to where it is at the moment. Everyone would be happy if we had been told this is where we intended to be. What has happened, is that the team has managed to punch above its weight and until the end of December, enjoying a great spell. Since then there has been a decline, and the last time we were able to watch a really enjoyable game which Villa won comfortably, was against Crystal Palace, winning 3-0.
    That is not just my opinion but one of many others.
    We have managed to win and draw, picking up points still, but the level of entertaining football has fallen away, and we have struggled with covid, the system we play, and perhaps some of the team selections.
    Dean is aware of this. The team is aware of this, and it is not a crime to discuss it, or how we feel it could be improved. We still support the manager, the team and the club.
    JC, I think touched on it earlier, and I feel it too, the sense of humour no longer exists here, and you can often try to bring a little more to the site, but often it just gets ignored.

  45. PP,

    Yeah, I try. Like you say, it’s for all points of view…As I’ve said repeatedly, no orthodoxy from me, and I do wish others would send something in. There are a lot of good comments and alternate points of view that really do stand as their own leaders.

    As you can tell, I’ve not been terribly concerned about what’s going on since I think we’ve largely achieved what I was hoping for.

    But I do agree, everyone gets to have a say and that’s the whole point. Any suggestions on how I can encourage that, please let me know.

  46. (And I mean concerned about Villa)

    It is an interesting point you raise. As you can see from some of the comments, some stay away because of “negativity,” some don’t. Some engage (as I used to do with Frem all the time), some don’t.

    You can never please everyone, of course, but there should be a pretty big middle ground.

  47. Maybe, because of lockdown, and a lack of interaction and sensing the atmosphere at the game , and in the pub, we are all not quite the same at this moment in time.

    We need to lighten up, find a sense of humour and maybe even start to laugh. That is really what I was doing with Frem, as I could almost see his frustration and be amused at his outbursts, which is only what you would see at a match during those moments. I know I am very animated during matches and if the neighbours could hear me, would wonder what was afoot!!

    Did put some information about the origins of teams wearing claret and blue at the end of the last blog, an d was a little disappointed that there was no reaction, at least I thought someone might say where have you been for the last 25 years, we all already knew that!

  48. PP,

    Ha…well, yes. Humor is good, some of the very best medicine, and I think you’re right. People are stressed and tired, and while the football was giving us a very happy distraction earlier, it’s been less entertaining and fun of late. Banter is often not quite being taken the way it usually would/should be.

    I’ve found myself a bit snippy at times. I try to edit it down/out, but I think sometimes it comes through. I was going back and forth with Frem, as was MK, not much bothered, and then I was just hearing from so many that the volume and repetition was keeping them away, so I made a call. Right one? I dunno.

    And honestly, I offer screw up something like the claret-and-blue fun because I go and post a new article before a match.

    So, perhaps the thing to do is get a couple more lighthearted pieces up, and suggestions are welcome from everyone: First match, best match, favorite player, team, all the teams who’ve stolen our colors, biggest gaffe, favorite goal, our Villa stories, etc.

  49. PP- I think where it falls down is people want what they think/see to be accepted as the truth or they feel excluded if others don’t. Me I think what I think and find facts to defend it right or wrong, if all I did on here was kiss arse to appease then I wouldn’t bother. People like to criticise but not have it examined, for me thats the fun, others don’t like that.

    Frem can’t understand why a lot of people are patient with Smith and constantly criticises any aspect of his tenure even when there has been plenty to be happy with and still is. As he won’t except any of the good stuff any good points he makes are dismissed.

    The biggest stick is Jack who is credited with all Villas good fortune, what would things look like without him. The fact Smith has found a way to get the best from him is ignored. There is no manager that would not have built the team around Jack in the position we were in therefore when he’s not there we have a problem. Jack however buys us time and can eventually be the cherry not the cake. He is now a massive asset, he could of been sold for £25m.

    From a managers point of View Smith inherited Jack and McGinn both good players but unique in their approach which tied Smiths hands a little in what style to play imo, plus Tammy. We got promoted early and that has been both a help (money) and Hindrance (development).

    As we have been starved of anything decent for so long I think that as soon as it stops there is a void to fill and people revert to instant fix mentality forgetting that we have just begun to build. I suppose that better than having no success and where they took the club 🙂

    Me I have waited a long time to get a manager in that will build something, just a shame that its in the pressure cooker of the prem and wasn’t instigated 5 years ago. I have had dogs abuse for supporting the likes of Garde because I liked his track record of club building so for me Smith gets time and some do not like that approach, I get that.

    The current political climate/attitudes does not help anything its not just Covid. Some will read this and be gnashing their teeth I’m sure 🙂

  50. MK…..”Jack could have been sold for 25 million”.

    Yep he could. Fortunately for us, it was tight wallet Levy bidding and he only wanted to pay 15 million on the basis that we had a 6 million tax bill to pay and a further 9 million was more than enough grains of rice to throw at a club from the sticks. Or was the 9 million Josh Onomah?

    Duly insulted, Dr No No pulled a rabbit out of the hat and delivered Compass. Been so grateful ever since. Just look at Naarwich, Yam Yams and Wai Ayes for some frightening alternatives and there’s plenty more like them. Not to mention small heath who have half their hovel closed due to safety issues and in need of multi million pound repairs.

  51. Plug – yes mate be thankful for very large mercies mate. I cannot believe people moan about us being a one man team when that one man got us up and would of been gone if we had stayed down. Also imagine last seasons team buying without Jack at the club even if we got up, an ominous 13 players required.

  52. So there is nothing to discuss about the team, the manager, or the board.

    We can all just do something else, and wait for the next game. Everything Villa is perfect.

  53. Just popped back in and see I’ve missed some very interesting interchanges on here. . . always good to see.

    Have been away for a few days having given myself my third hernia of my life dammit.

    my first was in my mid twenties and was a result of sex in a shower; my most recent from gardening. . . . tells you everything really!

  54. JG, I see you think my comments lack class and you may be right.
    I assume you mean my replies to your comments on deducting our points from the first 4 games which lacked logic. . . . .so at least we’re equally lacking something.

  55. PP I don’t think even the most positive of us think everything is perfect by any means.
    It’s clear our form hasn’t been great lately and we haven’t got the results we’d have hoped for. We’ll all have our own thoughts as to what’s happening on match days and who’s at fault.
    Without Frem here (whose repetitious negativity just made this site an unpleasant place to be imho) we really ought to be able to discuss the negative aspects as we all see them.
    Maybe it’s my lack of confidence in my own views on the subject but I personally find it hard to cope with people apparently ‘knowing’ what the answers are. Opinions are fine but to my mind, anyone who ‘knows’ the answers is a charlatan.
    If it was that easy, football managers would be ten a penny and on minimum wage.

  56. PP, there’s plenty to discuss about the Villa. Not least Mourinho’s tactical meeting with his team ahead of the game last Sunday.

    “OK Tanganga, listen up. The game will be won and lost down your flank. If DS’s mind games result in Grealish playing, kick him hard on his injured right shin just below the kneecap. This chart shows which one is his right shin. If he doesn’t play, you must bomb forward and ignore El Ghaizi. The ball boys will take care of him”.

  57. Pp- sorry mate I am juggling my job, moving house amongst other time consuming and Less important things than what colour fluff is in jacks belly button this week 🙂

    Robbo- whenever someone kicks off about being questioned over their view point it rarely opens up conversations it just shuts it down, it gets to the point that you can’t say anything without someone complaining you won’t let them say something 🙂

  58. At present it’s the fans watching poor football without jack and concluding that Smith has had nothing to do with our success therefore we need to sack him and get someone that can sort it at least for 6 months.

    Giving Smith the time to sort it when he’s had two years and £250m is what fans base his sacking on.

    Nobody is thinking we have one of the worlds best footballers helping a rebuild to stay boyant and even progress . And that Smiths had little time without jack in the prem to work things out and it is maybe not possible at our present level of squad.

    And that’s without illnesses.

  59. Does anyone think we can beat Spurs by starting two out of El Gassy, Trez and Traore? I think we may get away with one of them but no more. Not on our current form.

  60. Is it time to bench SJM? He’s picked up 6 bookings since his slate was wiped clean. Tells me he’s struggling for pace at the moment.

    We need a Kante type runner in midfield. That guy is perpetual motion. Do we already have such a man on the books? Maybe Cash can do it. Then we would need a RB replacement like Freddie.

  61. I couldn’t see us scoring by midnight against Spurs. That we lost to 2 errors, one by Emi and one by the fraud Mike Dean is little comfort.

  62. Last rant. It’s Fulham next. I assume Lifers believe Fulham have a lesser team than Villa. I assume we believe they are behind our development curve. So it’s Deano v Parker. If this one goes tits up the thunder will get louder.

  63. Plug – Fulhams team have been together longer than ours if they still have the players they bought in the prem, which is nice. I would not be putting my house on us winning at home at the moment, you never know someone might connect with the cows arse with the banjo and surprise us.

  64. PP,

    On criticisms, I’d first focus on the squad. Smith pointing out that players are getting a chance to step up without Jack and not taking it is pretty blunt. As is saying it feels like some of them are waiting for Jack to come back.

    Neither Ghazi nor Trez has shown they can meaningfully impact games at this level consistently. That’s got to be problem #1. Or #1A.

    Problem #1B is the lack of a “#10”. Barkley can’t find his way out of a shed right now, Ramsey hasn’t shown he can impose himself on games, and Sanson was very likely not bought for that role. Probably more as competition to SJM/Luiz/Nakamba. He’s seemed pretty box-to-box, and I think he’s a cultured player, combative, though not very physical. He has a strong chance of coming good, I think, but needs these appearances and the summer to get to grips with the league.

    Problem #2 is that Traoré, at this moment, has a fairly one-dimensional game. He’s got a good football brain and skill on the ball, but very left-footed, and tends to try and do too much on his own. If you beat one or two men and don’t have an open shot, time to find a pass, not take on more. He’s more of a threat with support from Cash on overlaps, etc.

    Problem #4 was Luiz struggling for what appeared to be fitness. He’s seemed a bit more energetic of late, but still a little off the pace. That said, he’s got a lot to do if others around him are failing, and it’s easy to run yourself into the ground that way. Nakamba seemed to have escaped ill-effects, but isn’t as comfortable turning and taking the game upfield. But he is very good at reading and reacting on the defensive side and making sensible decisions.

  65. Tactical issues:

    Villa want to get at and beyond the back line quickly. Failing that, they want to quickly work that space between midfield and the back line when it’s there (ie, if the defense is sitting back). Win in high, have the numbers, get the goal.

    Ollie helps keep the defense honest and opens that gap in front of them. That’s part of why we keep trying to spring him from deep. The quality of ball hasn’t been that good, though, and if no one’s up supporting him, then it doesn’t come to much.

    Jack facilitates both kinds of attacks as well as the third (packed defense). He can either carry and bypass/break down the midfield and spring Ollie or another with a well-placed forward ball, or he can combine quickly in tighter spaces, draw defenders, and get other players open. It makes others better because they have less to do, get less attention. Jack gives you a wide forward, a winger, a #10, and a box-to-box midfielder all in one (even if he isn’t a terribly aggressive defender).

    Even with Jack, though, we’ve never been terribly good when teams are packed in, but you see much more skillful sides struggle there, too. Everyone wants to play in space.

    I was also hearing Danny Higginbotham, I think, saying that formation is fine, but that’s far less important than players imposing themselves, taking responsibility, and just making something happen. We don’t seem to have anyone else who can do that. I’m thinking here of some of those 40-60yd runs Jack’s made. He always breaks loose sooner or later and creates a genuine chance. It’s those 3-4 players (Ghazi, Trez, Traoré, Barkley, Ramsey, SJM, and now Sanson) that aren’t creating anything or taking the game by the scruff.

    So, calls for a change-up, I get it, because if something doesn’t appear to be working, you naturally think, “do something else.” Because we’re not creating much, 4-4-2 is a popular suggestion, getting Davis to work as a hold-up player, etc. Or, just getting him in Ollie’s spot, and letting Ollie get wide.

    Obviously all formations have pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses.

    Not in Dean’s head, so I can’t say why he’s not changing it up. What I’m guessing is that he doesn’t think we have the personnel to play 4-4-2 and doesn’t think Davis in the middle and Ollie wide is going to “create” more. Maybe he thinks it will slow us down, and he wants to stay quicker, or that it limits our press. Maybe he thinks Davis can’t cover enough ground defensively, or that we’d be too reliant on those two without the right supporting platform in the four behind/around them.

    I think this means that he’d rather have Ghazi/Trez/Traoré running into space opened up by a lone forward, and working with two of the central 3.

    Then he wants that middle three to force opposition attacks wide, instead of a middle two and the need for wingers to play further back. But. The problem right now is that leaving the pure DM aside, the other middle two aren’t helping with creativity.

    Anyway, people write whole books on this, and I’m certainly no expert on all the variations, so I’m just coming at it from an assumption that Dean knows what he’s doing and what he’s got, and doesn’t rate the other options. Then I try to figure out *why* he doesn’t rate them.

    I know he’s hearing it from all corners, there are a lot of people who aren’t happy, and there’s no way he isn’t aware of the alternatives. Which just means, in the end, that I don’t think he’s stubborn or bereft of ideas. I just think that with current personnel, Villa are very limited in terms of creativity, and neither Ollie nor Davis are true 4-4-2 strikers.

    That’s why I think the transfer business will be focused exactly where “critics” are pointing: Ghazi, Trez, Barkley, et al.

  66. Oh, and problem #5: SJM. He’s done the combative stuff fine, and I think he’s back, physically, but he simply can’t carry the load, and the other MFs (Barkley, Ramsey, Sanson, whoever) aren’t doing much to help. He’s much better at the more defensive duties (positioning, winning/fighting, holding) than the creative, atm.

    So, apart from simply missing Jack, we’re also missing what we thought we’d gotten when we brought Barkley in.

  67. JC- well done sir I agree. To much is placed on formations fixing problems, If Dean wants this team to play some variation of 433 4231 etc and see what her has without Jack why would he go 442 to try and seal a European spot? that is looking at results 1st over progression to me. This period is invaluable to him before the Summer as a true measure (or as good as it gets). aplenty of fans are calling for the youngsters to get a run in the hope one will spark something but that teaches the players we have nothing and its back to Steve Bruce dart board time.

  68. As for players taking the game by the scruff the ever unpopular Trez in all his vids looks like he can do that ( not in a jack style way) . At this level though he is reluctant or just plain not at this level. Even he with his Duracell reputation is looking down by 5-10% on annoyance value.

    To be honest there are very few players in the Prem I can think of who can run a game like Jack does, its very much a more team based effort from others. The dilemma of having a superstar eh.

  69. MK,

    Got lost in my numbering, but.

    There are very few players like Jack, absolutely. With Spurs, it was basically Lucas and Ndombele that were running the game for them, and Lucas the one causing problems the way Jack does.

    I think with the youth, we’re seeing a version of that, but with the senior squad. Smith’s giving them a chance, and they’re either playing their way into next season’s plans or not. Based on what I’m seeing, only finances or some psychological insights we’re not privy to would see Ghazi or Trez playing much of a role next year, if any. Same with Barkley (like maybe his problems are Covid-related, but no one’s talking).

    I can even see SJM fighting for a place, tbh.

    So, given these players are the biggest drag on the books, knowing where to go next is all about seeing whether you keep them or move on. And if you move on with new starters, then that’s where the youth come in: Are they ready to step up and be the backups so we can just sell the players who aren’t up to this level?

  70. For what it’s worth, this stretch has shown that, on their own, Ghazi and Trez aren’t good enough…Don’t disagree with Frem or any others there. Then again, I don’t think anyone really thought they were long-term answers.

    They were simply what we had and it wasn’t going to change until the next window. Without Jack, they’re showing they don’t have what it takes to make it through the summer, as far as I can see, and none of it’s hidden.

    Frem would get upset and no harm there, but good, bad, or terrible, there weren’t any alternatives, and at various times, they did do a job. Ghazi had a run of games with goals, for example.

    But Barkley being a bust certainly isn’t helping matters. I seriously doubt Smith had Ramsey in mind as the starting #10 for this season before Barkley became available. And the fact we pursued that option says as much.

  71. Vaguely remember Villa being in comfortable obscurity for a few seasons before they signed just ONE player then boom, they won the first division out of nowhere. Point I’m making, Villa might need a few seasons to solidify their team then that one special signing might just make all the difference.

    Peter Withe was obviously that player, even then he had just been a jobbing centre forward doing the rounds. Dropped into the right side, look what happened.

    Wonder if Ron Saunders would have won the league with today’s social media carping and over analysing everything. Think I’m feeling a bit grumpy!

  72. No JC Barkley has really crapped on the carpet. Trez I liked because he worked hard and performed a vital function in the press for us and defended well. I did think if those shots or at least some of them had gone in for him prior to injury we would of seen another player. Seems to wear his heart on his sleeve to much but even he must be thinking what must I do to score.

    Ultimately though we need better and its a shame Benrahma didn’t arrive who is more versatile and clever. Not getting much pitch time at Wet Spam though.

  73. jbd656 Ron Saunders had about 8 years to instantly win the league. No your not Grumpy just fed up to the back teeth with Lockdown like me I’d think.

  74. Talking of Psychological, A lot of players will not have seen there loved ones for months, I don’t know Trez’s family situation but if they are in Egypt or Turkey it can’t be great, ditto Luis etc with brazil .

  75. Plug thanks mate a great article. Smith is well aware having already said they have lost confidence and are waiting for Jack to come back.

    Christ it makes you wonder how it makes Jack feel although he seems outwardly to be very confident in his own ability and that is a big part of what makes him so good, and why Smith made him Captain.

    I remember distinctly the moments when I’d shoot and are almost surprised it doesn’t go in, then you second guess and lose self belief and for ages nothing goes in. It never effected the rest of my Game thankfully I was rock solid in my self belief but I remember well the misses and dips in scoring.

    Smith is trying to build a club that encompasses a feel good factor and I would be surprised if its a macho laden zone at BMH. I do think though that if we had had Crowds in last season we would not be in the prem now, and this season? very likely the Crowd would be on the team by now if not sooner.

    Fans are human too and the money involved gives us we feel the right to vent on our team or individuals, when it really is counter productive. The most belligerent players are likely to take a “I’ll show you attitude”, some will down tools I suspect and say f**k you, and others hide.

    Fans though are just as fearful of losses diminishing their perceived standing in the world.

  76. Aston Villa were the first to wear claret and sky blue. West Ham United, then called Thames Ironworks, permanently adopted claret and blue for home colours in the summer of 1899. Irons right-half Charlie Dove received the kit from his father William Dove, who was a professional sprinter of national repute, as well as being involved with the coaching at Thames Ironworks. Dove Sr. had been at a fair in Birmingham, close to Villa Park, the home ground of Aston Villa and was challenged to a race against four Villa players, who wagered money that one of them would win.

    Will Dove defeated them and, when they were unable to pay the bet, one of the Villa players who was responsible for washing the team’s kit offered a complete side’s ‘uniforms’ to Dove in payment. The Aston Villa player subsequently reported to his club that the kit was ‘missing’.

    Thames Ironworks, and later West Ham United, retained the claret yoke/blue sleeves design, but also continued to use their previously favoured colours for their away kits, and indeed, in recent years the club have committed to a dark blue-white-sky blue rotation for the away colours.

    Burnley FC simply adopted the colours from then league champions Aston Villa in 1910.

  77. Where’s JL when you need him? I think Villa’s colours started off as Chocolate and Blue before changing to Claret and Blue at a very early stage.

    Have Barca’s colours got anything to do with Villa? I think Scunnie adopted our colours too.

  78. Hope Ollie gets a run out tonight. Beaky reckons Kane needs pitch time management so the omens sound good. It’s about time an England No 9 scorer is also the Villa’s No 9.

  79. Yeah, I was under the impression it started off with brown/chocolate, as well. According to the almighty Wikipedia:

    “On Monday, 8 November 1886, an entry in the club’s official minute book states:

    (i) Proposed and seconded that the colours be chocolate and sky blue shirts and that we order two dozen. (ii) Proposed and seconded that Mr McGregor be requested to supply them at the lowest quotation.”

  80. bd656,

    Villa’s original colours for the first year were chocolate and sky blue, and then in 1887 they were changed to claret and blue, and the tale is that it was based on Hearts and Rangers colours, which with Mcgregor being a Scot, could well be true

  81. We donated a replica Villa strip to Crystal Palace at the turn of the Century, which is where they became a claret and blue club, and their first club secretary came from Aston Villa.
    Again, Scunthorpe United copied Aston Villa in 1910, after we won our sixth league championship, and still play in the same colours today.
    Trobzonspor, Turkey chose the Villa colours in 1967, in honour of Aston Villa’s heritage, after four Trabzon based clubs formed an alliance and made an agreement to choose opposing colours to their local rivals, Idmmanocagh. they became the first club outside of Istanbul to win the league title in 1976.

    Quite enjoy doing a bit of history!

  82. Enjoyable watching Wales last night, even though they lost. Young Harry Wilson was outstanding, as were several other of the Welsh lads. They played with a lot of spirit, and were somewhat unlucky, a stronger , more experienced keeper may have made a big difference, but considering the opposition, they were outstanding. I also saw some of the Irish game, and again it was good to see the spirit and endeavour. Nice seeing what can be achieved when you don’t give up o the ball. Shane Long being a terrier as usual.
    I do hope that England show the same endeavour tonight, and don’t just look on it as a stroll against San Marino, with hopefully, Ollie getting his debut.

  83. Plug
    Good article about Drewe Broughton and his coaching course.
    It brings back what I had mentioned i an earlier post about Jenny Truman when she was a good contributor to this site.
    She wrote about the need for football clubs to have mind coaches, and how she would have loved the role at Villa Park, as it was what she had become at the time, and runs a very good business now.
    I am not sure if Villa have anyone in the role at Villa Park now, but it would certainly make a difference, if we haven’t.

  84. JC
    Thanks for the link to the Villa kits , confirms a lot of things, and puts it all together in one place. Good to see JL get thanks for his contribution.

    Tonight will very much depend on who Gareth decides to make for his opening eleven.

    Wish I could correct my errors when I spot them afterwards, but it does not seem possible.
    May also be interesting to see how many people have viewed a comment and liked it, similar to how you can on Facebook.

  85. PP,

    I can do edits as administrator, so if there’s something substantial, you can let me know. Otherwise, no, folks can’t edit posts.

    I don’t think there’s a ‘view’ or ‘like’ function in this template. It’s pretty old, now. I’d like to update this summer, maybe, see what features can be added. Also, a couple things seem broken (which is why I haven’t been updating article images, for example), but that might just be me. A programmer I am not. Not that the back-end is actual ‘programming’, but it’s a bit opaque in places and it was Matt who selected and installed it, so he was much more familiar with it (and technically savvy).

  86. MK,

    I don’t know whether I’d enable that sort of functionality. Probably more like ways to share, better content presentation (recent articles, etc), and just an overall new back-end running on the latest version of WordPress.

    Probably also ways to put up short things, link to videos (AVFC content, like pre- and post-match pressers, etc.) or have them run directly on the site. Basically just more expansive, and better landing page organization/navigation.

    And if I set it up myself, I’ll have a much better idea how to change and fix things. Like avatars 🙂

  87. JC’s link to the shirts…..

    My old school was in Aston, a stone’s throw from Villa Park. As a member of the school football team, we played in Chocolate and Blue quartered shirts. Always wondered why we had those colours instead of Claret and blue, but now I finally realize.

    I still think the colours worn for the 1957 FA cup final was the best I’ve seen by a distance.

  88. JC,

    The point I was making about being able to see how many people actually view comments, where there are often many who do not wish to comment themselves, but like to read them. and if they wish, they can show that they like , or dislike the comment. It will then help those regular commenters know if they are making reasonable comments.
    It does not have to detract into a love/hate of comments, just a tool to assist in improving the content.
    On most sites you can edit your own comment, if you spot an error after you have posted it.

    Good piece on Ollie, I was lucky enough to have seen a similar one before that gave an in depth background to his progress.
    I still think we should have bought Benrahma with him. An extra £5million was a no brainer, over the cost of Traore. we would then have had a duo so tuned into each other, that it could have made a substantial difference to Villa.

  89. Well, looks like the ending of FFP, giving the Villa board much more freedom to do what they want in the future. Will this mean that they step up their plans for Villa becoming a top European team, and will they regret not doing more this season. If only they could have had the knowledge that this was going to happen!

    Rumours, and not me, questioning whether we knew enough about Sanson, and should we have bought him?

  90. Well done Ollie Watkins!!
    Made your England debut. Had about three touches of the ball, even though starved of service! From those you managed a great cross and scored your one opportunity!! Can’t fault that!
    Shame Mings picked up an unnecessary yellow card.

  91. Bl**dy hell!!
    McGinn has scored more goals in the last twelve months for Scotland than he has for Villa!!!
    Well done Super John….

    time to start performing for Villa after the break!!

  92. I rather like the look of the 1887/90 C&B quartered shirt. Would love to see Villa try a season in the 1957 FA cup stripes. Who knows, they might try that in 2057 to commemorate the last time they won the FA Cup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  93. PP- The Villa Blog uses a system called Discus with editing , likes, upvoting etc. I don’t think after the initial newness it took off or got used much re likes etc, you can upload with it but the slightest hint of the wrong word means it won’t get posted, there is no context measure .

    The conversations are fast and furious and you can see if someone is replying in real time or who has replied directly which saves confusion. It is way less sedate than this site though and not for the faint hearted. Not sure it would suit What JC wanted for this site but you never know could work.

    As for knowing which content is what we want to see? could drive people away as much as attract or end up stilted and talking to an echo chamber, JG was complaining about that the other day although I think that its just a perceived thing. We have always railed against outright negativity on here which can improve things but also Kill it dead.

  94. PP…..even the moths wouldn’t touch them!!

    Congratulations to Ollie on his first England goal. He’s over the moon. We are too. Also congratualtions to SJM on his overhead bike goal for Scotland.

    How did Trez get on with Egypt?

    San Marino obviously got a bollocking at half time because they came out 2nd half with an attitude. Tyro decided give some back.

  95. I see internationals as a chance for players to step up without the peer pressure of Club football, the shackles of day to day coaching and tactics is off to some extent. The opposition may have quality but not time together. McGinn seems to revel in playing for Scotland and I suspect he is given more freedom. At Villa it just shows where we are that he is used defensively more often than not.

    From Smiths point of view he has what he has and sometimes its can’t be ideal for every player until you have bought and sold for a few seasons. The lack of confidence shown without Jack by our players is a big factor and McGinn must feel like he’s on Holiday.

    Made up For Ollie, but what a miss Lingard is turning out to be, I was undecided when he was flagged up as a potential loan, always liked him but he had troubles. I think he is exactly the type of player we need unfortunately rather than Ross.

    As PP said Benrahma would of been good for us but I suspect Brentford are sick of DS, Ollie cost a lot and suspect they wanted similar for Benrahma, Moyes left it late and got him cheap.

    Benrahma and Lingard plus Jack ? that would be some line up.

  96. MK,
    very much in agreement with you today. Once again, Ollie scores with ball to feet, which I think is where he is more deadly, although he is capable of using his head, but he can do wonders in a small space in the box.
    I also agree with your comments on McGinn, and that he is better going forward, but his passes are still a little wayward.
    I take on board what you have said re the site. I am sure that JC has things in mind for his upgrade this summer.
    On Villa, I am so disappointed at Nakamba being left out. With him in the team, Villa have lost only once , rarely concede, and he makes all the difference in front of the defence.
    I think a 4-1-3-2 would be much better.
    Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Nakamba McGinn, Luiz, Sanson, Watkins, El Ghazi
    if Jack is not fit. You could also have Elmo rb, with Cash playing further forward.
    I am sure their are several combinations Dean could try, which may improve us.

    Times I do feel he becomes a bit of a Bruce lately, and is afraid to try anything different, and with his subs.

  97. MK,

    With that line-up we would now be at least where the Hammers are!!!

    It would also have been cheaper, if Barkley cost us £11million for his loan deal!!!

  98. PP- ain’t hindsight wonderful.

    Yes I think Marv has been hard done by but is limited in the passing department, that says something when Luis and Mcginn have been little better .

    Kesler is the new Darling after scoring in midweek, he is a RB but is really rapid, might be why when Elmo goes so will Fred potentially. Looks like we have 4 options at RB.

    I don’t think Smith has hit the lows of Mr Bruce yet. He is at least playing players in their positions for good or bad. He has the opportunity to play 4 RB’s for instance but has resisted 🙂 no putting on 6 strikers or CB’s up front yet either. And he does want us to attack even if we can’t successfully.

    I am afraid that people want wins above progression, yep he may have won a few more points by various means but learned nothing.

    The news FFP is likely to be dropped could change the owners plans all together, I hope not as the kids are looking very decent.

  99. MK,

    Plans may change a little, but I don’t think the recruitment and growth of our own players will so much. However, it will give more freedom if we find ourselves short through whatever cause.
    Good to see all the accolades for Watkins and McGinn after last night.

    Nice touch of the England squad to clap Ollie into the dressing room to make his debut that little bit special.

    Kessler being raved about after his display in the youth cup against Brighton on Wednesday. Must watch the highlights on Villa TV.

  100. MK,

    Remembering your comment about Remi Garde and how he could have made a big difference to Villa, and like you I was a supporter of him, I see that Amavi is creating interest from Leeds and WHU for his services this summer, as he is on a free from Marseilles. I also noted that he was injured against Man City in Remi’s first game, meaning he did not get the goalkeeper in that first January window that he wanted, and then he lost his best left back! Add to that he had the likes of Gabby poisoning the dressing room, he was on a hiding to nothing.

  101. PP- considering Remi had half the squad against him (don’t think jack was fond either) he did ok for a brief spell where we moved into the top 4 in Jan on form, They then denied him a couple of players that went to Sunderland who then stayed up. He got the best out of Ayew who was on fire until he got kicked at West ham and sent off, I don’t think we got another point after that. By the end of Jan though I think we had been more or less sold, remember Mervyn King was a director and they all got the shove and were not best pleased.

  102. Yes, sounds about right MK. I think the player problem stemmed from the fact that Sherwood instead of being a proper manager, liked being one of the boys. Player power then turned against Remi, which is sad, as the potential from Amavi, Ayew, Veretout, Idrissa Gueye, and Grealish could have made a difference, but failing to get him a goalkeeper was ridiculous.
    Guzan was ok, but never great.

  103. Gabby in his interview on the Claret & Blue podcast made it clear how much he loved Sherwood, and that they enjoyed partying, but that he hated Remi, as he expected too much from the players. i.e. training , etc.
    That interview really made it clear about Gabby, and I have had little time for him since, as I feel that as a senior player he should have had a very different attitude. It showed his love for himself, rather than the club.

  104. I think MON got the best out of Gabby. But if he thought pissing it up in Dubai was what his life was about, then he’s wasted some golden years. He may reflect on that when he gets older and see things differently.

  105. Plug- I think Mon also suggested he bulk up and it went to Gabbys head a bit as he put on size, started throwing himself about a bit, and the obvious it slowed him down a bit.

  106. Lifers already know I was never a fan of Spud. But he told Gabby he would not play until he lost several stones in weight. He also kicked McCormack into touch as he couldn’t be arsed to turn up for training. So he did get to work on draining the swamp and for that I’m grateful.

    Remi had my support. I could see some improvements from the French contingent but Lerner hung him out to dry whilst extracting anything of value from the club. Dr No No proved even worse and ended up selling car park land he was so brassic. Man, were we in the schitt.

  107. The Express has floated the idea that Spurs have a ready made replacement in Ollie for Kane should he leave Spurs at the end of this season. Couldn’t stop laughing. My sides hurt.

    Levy only takes the big money. He never pays it. What do you reckon Brentford have in Ollie’s sell on contract for any resale money? What do you reckon Ollie is now worth? We paid 28 million for a Championship player. He’s now a proven Premier League striker scoring for England. Let’s use Maguire for 85 million as a yardstick. And I start laughing again.

  108. Thanks for site feedback. I welcome all insights/suggestions.

    I don’t mind if things are more fast and furious…I’d started out on TVB, don’t know if it’s changed, but just used to be a lot of poo-flinging, Damien banning people left, right, and center whenever they didn’t agree.

    So, I guess “sedate” is fine, but doesn’t mean it needs to be a care home. I think what I like is that AVL is generally pretty respectful, if not always the most lively place on the web.

    And I’m thinking of ways that make it a little bit easier to keep things fresh/faster-moving given the limited time I often find myself with. Besides Matt and then me, there were obviously a number of other folks who would contribute, but I didn’t really have the direct contact with them, and various people went their ways for reasons I don’t know. Some wanted to do their own blogs, some just lose interest, get new jobs, whatever. It can be a slog when you don’t get paid. And I’d be happy to pay, but need to make the site generate some money to be able to do that with any regularity.

    As far as the format, the way the current theme was implemented means everything has to be a “co-equal” post (which are a bit unwieldy), and it would be nice to just be able to throw up quick snippets, thoughts, other content that doesn’t necessarily derail a conversation people are having on a given leader.

    So as I research different themes, I’ll see how they support multiple conversations, what the commenting platform does, etc., along with all the other bells and whistles that have become pretty standard. I can change this one round, add sidebars, etc., but I think I’d rather just start fresh with something where that’s easier to do. This one’s close to 10 years old, now, I think.

  109. jbd,

    I’ve wondered why we haven’t gone back to the stripes or quarters for a season. Of all the recent kits, I liked the Acorns one best, but we’ve been in a bit of rut, could have a little fun, even if it’s just the third shirt.

    That said, Spam have tried to have a little fun and it’s never turned out well.

  110. FFP…

    This is the big one, and probably deserves a separate write-up. First thoughts:

    1. I doubt Compass are surprised. I’m sure this has been an ongoing conversation, and they’re too minted to be left out of things.

    2. Based on Dean’s comments this last week, and previous ones since Compass took over, I think there’s basically been a so-called Five-Year Plan. Stay up, consolidate, then press on in years 3-5.

    3. Given how much of a hit so many clubs’ finances have taken, we could end up doing really well this summer. With ‘unlimited’ funds and perhaps some bargains to be had, we may really go for it. My guess is that Villa were a little bit restrained last summer given all the uncertainty heading into this season.

    4. Selling clubs will of course be looking to maximize returns. So, could be a cagey summer, as well.

    5. It does take the shackles off everyone with money, but I’m not really sure some clubs can actually find a way to spend more. They can’t really get that much better as ‘teams’. Stockpiling big names for big money doesn’t necessarily get you to the promised land, and you’ve got a bunch of highly paid, unhappy benchwarmers. But if the big clubs do go nuts, there’ll be some very good and acclimated players available.

    So, Villa could be well poised to come out of this as well as anyone.

  111. One more:

    Team-building really will be the trick more than just pure cash, and this is where we’ll see if Deano, Lange & Co have the nous to get in the right attitudes, physical attributes, and skill sets.

    Was always going to be a big summer, but it may have just gotten even bigger.

  112. Was watching a guy on You Tube today with his Anfield Agenda blog, which has over 50,000 followers doing his report on the Villa game at the beginning of the season. It is hilarious and will I am sure bring plenty of laughter to any Villa fan that watches it.

    If we could get that sort of following JC, your financial worries would be over!

  113. JC yes we have all seen unlimited spending before, inflated prices (like they could get worse) over rated players on massive wage bills (yes even bigger). Clubs ending up as young millionaire squabble fests. If a team could produce its own and progress it would be worth a bomb in such a market. Keeping your team together if you don’t join in is also precarious, we might just see why FFP was introduced and some big names go pop.

  114. PP- I watched the full version of that one, another lad was sat in his bedroom doing a similar thing and by 6 he could barely speak and it just kept going, good times.

  115. haha…Oh, yes. Priceless. Thought the bald guy was gonna cry there for a bit after the seventh.

    I know how the kid in the bedroom feels with the dog: Not now. f**k off.

  116. Plug- Frem is busy laughing at fans being happy because Wesley is going to play a game this week. He’s no better than Davis apparently (whom he wanted to start over Watkins) Also Watkins and McGinn scoring proves that Smith doesn’t know how to use them 🙂 Even the news about FFP hasn’t cheered him up.

  117. PP,

    Thanks for the link…Really was a good laugh.

    Unfortunately, I’m not terribly funny IRL, least not like that.

    I used make most anyone look like a saint when I was watching. Had to find ways to calm myself down.

  118. Know the feeling JC.
    I am scary when watching Villa!!
    I may watch the others another time, but the edited version was long enough for me!
    Wesley apparently had a good 45 minutes against West Bromwich in the friendly.

    Great win in tonight’s rugby against France, helping Wales to win the Championship. Would love to see that sort of determination to win from Villa after the international break!!

  119. Jc- Wesley something like 52 career goals and 20 assists, played in champs league etc vs Davis who is a similar age and has never quite done it when given the chance?

  120. MK,
    Thanks for giving the correct link. I thought I had, but didn’t check it properly. It was the full one that I had watched, and as we both said, it is hilarious.
    Let’s hope we get some good matches in the home nations games today, and that our Villa internationals shine again. Lots of our under 21’s playing as well.

  121. Yeah Savo bless him he wore his heart on his sleeve and to be honest I don’t blame him, the spitting thing in those days was a very European thing, not nice but if your going to continually niggle and abuse a player tough luck if they react, they are not robots.

  122. MK,

    Excellent video, and I agree that he was a shining light at Peterborough, and do not understand why clubs like Villa don’t pick up these players earlier, if only to loan them back, or to another club.
    However, after Guilbert and Bree, maybe they feel that it didn’t quite work for them.

    I could see us going for him in the summer though, if Brentford fail to win promotion, although we still may bid for him.

    What makes him look even better is the supply line he receives at Brentford which is superb.
    Mainly low balls, or balls to feet. I would say at least 70% were so. It was also the difference for Watkins, and the BMW combination of Mwebueno, Benrahma and Ollie. I fail to understand why Dean did not try harder to bring one of them with Ollie, especially when Wet Spam managed to get a loan deal for him.
    Whether you like Brady or not, she is a very good business woman.

  123. Plenty of games today.

    Villa Ladies v Chelsea 2.30pm BT Sport 3.

    England v Albania 5pm ITV

    Israel V Scotland 7.45pm Sky Sports Main Event

    Portugal V England 8.00pm (under 21’s) Sky Sports football

  124. PP- not so sure Dean Smith didn’t try mate, he is not entirely in charge and we don’t know hear the finances are at any one point. I cannot imagine we were quoted what West ham got him for though. Even that figure is likely to be £30m in real terms. £5m for the loan £20m more to make it permanent and £5m potentially in add on’s. so £18m for Traore? you can see why.

    Yes the way they play helps but Toney seems like a much more aware version of Kodjia in some ways, he has a radar to find players with back heels and flicks that’s unreal, It means he is able to look around him take it all in very quickly and act at the same time almost, not all players have that, certainly not many at Villa do bar Jack. Traore, Ross and maybe McGinn to lesser degrees, defence wise Konsa stands out.

  125. Reasonable England display, and Scotland survived and managed a draw. Villa ladies improving, but poor mistakes cost them, but they are getting better, and will hopefully be similar to the first team , and hang in at the end, avoiding relegation, with eight games left .

    I see that supposedly, Real Madrid offered us Eden Hazard as a part exchange for Grealish, but we turned it down because he is too old for our plans, and would be on too much money.

    I am sure that all the speculations about Villa signing players are wide of the mark. Villa ‘s policy will continue with buying young players with potential, and have proved themselves at a lower level, or elsewhere. I do not see us competing for top name players with huge wage demands.
    we have so many young players now who are close to breaking through, that we are really only looking for a few positions to bolster the squad.
    The ones that I can see are sensible, are the Michael Olise, Buendia, Rico Henry, and possibly Toney.

  126. Good display by England, and Wales played well too. Impressed with young Alex Scott, midfielder from Bristol City, looking like a young Grealish in style and build. Liam deLapp (Man City) scored a good penalty to give England the lead, and Carney Chukwuemeka scored a fine individual goal to cap off a good display on his debut.

  127. Adam Henshall, having left Doncaster Rovers, has agreed terms with Villa, and will be joining our recruitment team under Lange next month.

    Still lots of talk about the possibility of Tammy Abrahams coming to Villa in the close season.

  128. PP,

    The striker business will be interesting. We’ve got the club saying, “Look, Wes is back training!”, then reports saying we’ll be open to offers.

    Tammy…I dunno. Obviously the staff know him, so he’s low-risk. And his Chelsea future seems a bit bleak. Do we really have an interest, or is it just because he was with us and that makes for easy paper talk?

  129. PP….Sounds like a no brainer!!

    Pam Lard’s salary will be 4 pence ha’penny with the England U21’s. He will have earned more at Derby. Beaky’s post is a different prospect though.

  130. Beaky is a lucky man. Lewandowski is out of Poland game with damaged knee ligaments. Plus 4 other Poland players are down with Covid. The good new is there’s no Dire.

  131. Great result for Wales 1-0. Pleased for the team. Great cross from Bale with an equally great header from Dan James, Young Rodon outstanding in defence.

  132. After tonight, I’ve made my mind up about Beaky. He has to go. Our strength is in our attacking play which he has totally and utterly nullified. Instead, we play it back and forth across the back for most of the game using our back 4 players who are just not comfortable with the ball. They can’t give an accurate and quick pass so we are entirely predictable.

    All the opposition needs to do is press them. And don’t get me on my horse with his lack of substitutes. None until the 86th minute! FFS. Him, and his way of playing is destined to fail in the summer Euros. Rice says England fans are excited by the way we play. FFS. It’s garbage.

  133. Plug,
    I think the lack of substitutes tonight was more about letting the team help make up for Stone’s moment of indecision.
    I was very disappointed too, but he got a result in the end that was important to the team. Many players of course will be playing this weekend, so I was pleased at so many Man City players being involved for the whole match, as they have a huge squad to draw on.
    I am glad that the Villa players have no excuse when they play on Saturday, and Mcginn will be on fire having powered Scotland into another win with two great goals!
    He will be in the mood on Saturday!

  134. I didn’t have Stones error as a moment of indecision. I thought it was plain lack of control. Hell, I’ve seen more control in a riot.

    Surely Deano has to rest SJM on Sunday. Clarke has run him into the ground these last 6 days. He won’t be able to raise a canter.

  135. McGinn was really buzzing in his post match interview, especially now he is in double figures for Scottish goals!!
    He really is becoming a Scottish cult hero, and his stock must be rising.

  136. How times have changed in the space of two years, where Villa have a player like Ross Barkley on loan, not matching up to our players, and now Dele Alli is being touted as a potential Villa signing!!
    I am sure none of us dreamed then that this would be the position now!!

    Villa young Lions are on Villa TV against Wolves tomorrow at 3pm, and on 20th April at 6pm our girls have a huge game against West Ham ladies which will be instrumental in deciding on who is relegated from the WSL.

  137. Harry Johnson • 6 hours ago
    Scotland showing how to use mcginn.

    And yet Smith has no idea how to use him

    I wonder if Smith has learnt anything as we can’t score to save our life

    I doubt it…

    Smith will play him in the same role

  138. Unfortunately people that have made it their lifes mission to get rid of Smith don’t live in the real world. SJM gets two goals against the Faroe Islands?? wow, could of played in Goal against them.

  139. Cannot agree MK,

    McGinn’s goals against the Faroe Isles were excellent, and the Islanders were no mugs. They are only two of ten goals that McGinn has scored for Scotland, and in the Championship McGinn was a better player in a more attacking role, which is where the “We have got super JOHN McGinn ” came from.

  140. Some good points being made…

    I think with SJM, it’s clearly been about shipping fewer goals. You could play Luiz and Nakamba together, and get SJM further forward, but I’m guessing Smith likes the more progressive side of SJM’s game versus Nakamba’s, and feels like he isn’t giving up much defensively.

    And then the idea was obviously for Barkley to keep bringing what he did initially. Still puzzled by that whole situation.

    With Jack out, I’m guessing Smith figured the goals/chances would dry up, didn’t want to change much, also wanted to see what Ramsey could do. Once he didn’t have much impact, and Sanson had had a bit more time to acclimate, gave him a go. I’m also guessing that while Smith will be disappointed, he’s probably not terribly surprised at how it’s played out. I’m sure the Leeds game was what he hoped he’d see more of. But 1-0s, 1-1s, maybe a couple for us, depending on the opponent

    With Jack back…? With no one claiming that advanced spot, maybe we will see SJM there after his exploits, and perhaps Sanson paired with Luiz.

    But, McGinn has done a lot of running the last few days.

  141. And Smith maybe should’ve been a little more aggressive and had SJM further up…Not saying it was the only/right decision.

    It just makes more sense than saying, “Smith doesn’t know how to play McGinn.” I’m quite sure Deano knows a fair bit more about SJM than our Harry does.

  142. PP- yes he scored some nice goals, but lets not pretend Scotland and the Faroes going at it are the epitome of footballing excellence. As one bloke put it there are flats in Brum with bigger populations than the Faroes.

    While I think He probably is better going forward he has also been pretty poor this season in front of goal so far and he has had plenty of chances to take, some in an advanced role. When we have played one DM and two box to box we have struggled and changed back to two sitting with one breaking forward, certainly with and without Jack he has become less effective at that too with more attention (maybe because teams are not scared of us without Jack)

    I would suggest its just a form thing, might be that the entire team comes into some form as a whole after the Jan Covid/break in training etc. This might be masked by Jacks return but usually it takes him 5 games or so to get back to his best.

  143. JC- I think Smith wishes he had the options to push whomever he wants to forward. I think jacks absence shines a light on where we are (could just be the Break/form too). To me it just says that the next window should improve us significantly if its half a good as the last.

    Jack has been important to us for a long time and will no doubt be paramount in us catapulting the team into top 6 contention over the next few years hopefully and helping us build a legacy. If he moves on in the next two years then we will be in a very different place by then imo.

    Thinking we should be top six now is just a fear we will fall away as this is a weird season and therefore a unique chance. In that case its even more reason to progress slowly.

  144. Looks likely we are not changing our strategy.

    “Aston Villa have reportedly moved ahead of a number of Premier League rivals to sign 16-year-old wonderkid Ajani Burchall this summer.

    The Bermudan winger looks set to leave Bournemouth after rejecting the offer of a scholarship deal from the Championship side.

    Burchall became the third-youngest player in Cherries history earlier this season and manager Jason Tindall raved about the teenager.”

    “Purslow said earlier this season: “Our academy strategy is a constant and, for example, would not have altered if we had gone down.

    “The club are thrilled with the progress being made under (academy manager) Mark Harrison and, alongside (sporting director) Johan Lange, are developing key strategies such as facilitating six, seven academy players training with the first team.

    “The academy is a 365 days-a-year process and its success can only be judged after many years.”

  145. Yes MK,
    We may have wealthy owners, but the academy route will save huge sums of money, not just for the players fees, but the mounting costs of gents fees that have to be paid. That is why we have just signed Adam Henshall from Doncaster Rovers to assist with recruiting young talent, with Mile Jedinak to assist him looking after our loan players.

    Harry and Frem are really just there to represent a particular point of view, which is basically the frustration that exists in fans, and need to get it off their chest. At the end of the day, I know Frem will still love Villa, and attends more matches than most fans, and while he can’t, he frustrations boil to the surface.

  146. Aston Villa official site advertising this afternoon’s game as Wesley’s comeback against Wolves on Villa TV.
    Starts at 2.45pm with 3.00pm kick off for £1.99.

    Could be a good game to watch and assess young Wesley.

  147. PP- I plan to watch it.

    Frem was talking about travelling and with the Lockdowns etc must be exceedingly p*ssed off you’d think, he’s not the only one aiming stuff at Smith presently as seems to be the norm when form falters regardless of the context or circumstances.

    Unlike Mr Bruce who really should of got us promoted in 1st or 2nd all considered (even though he had to sort out the culture to some extent) Dean Smith has for a relatively inexperienced manager at champs and Prem level not put to many footsteps wrong yet, he ain’t perfect like me but he’ll do.

  148. Mr McGinn has started Scoring which has prompted those of the Smith out variety to claim its because he should be played further forward which just denies that any other dynamics exist at the club which might restrict this move.

    To me he just has not been in form for long periods, last goal bar the 7-2 was sept 2019 when we were all out attack. Also Broke his ankle and rushed back end of last season, to me these things take atoll and he just might be coming out of a long tunnel, I hope so he’s nice lad.

  149. MK,
    Don’t know if you have seen Dean’s press conference, but he admits to having to use SJM in a more defensive roll than before because of circumstances. I do think if the opportunity arises, that he will go back to a more ox to box role.

    I do think that maybe a lot of fans that are not able to release their energy as normal at the game, are suffering frustration, and pouring it out on social media. A good result against Fulham, and they will all be back in love with Dean!!

  150. well, hope you enjoyed the match MK, with Carney the go to magician with the ball and the play anywhere Kessler!
    Sad that Wesley could not even last the first 45 minutes without getting injured again, but our youngsters did themselves proud against a good Wolves side.

    Should really have been 5-0, but 4-0 will do!

    Lots of very good play by all the youngsters, and they all look so comfortable on the ball. I do think having Steer in goal made a big difference for them.

  151. PP- yes I have seen the presser an I thought it was very honest and accurate and close to my thinking.

    Yes poor old wes is very wary of that knee, he will be feeling pain that no longer there. Its a funny old trick the brain does of keeping the pathway open from an injury so it feels like it hurts when it really doesn’t. He did take a knock on it but I think he needs to get his head around it, A year out would give any player nightmares.

    The kids played great, thought the right Winger Charlie Farr played well and looks decent prospect, Barrys awareness, touch and Vision is beyond his years and he works so hard like Watkins.

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