#AVL #avfc

That was quite a ride, wasn’t it? The European Super League’s short, abominable, and controversial life lasted about 48 hours. It ended in an ignominious and rather churlish fashion in the face of widespread outrage, condemnation, and fan unity.

Which doesn’t mean these same people won’t come back to us with Round 3 now that they’ve probed the perimeter and assessed the defenses. John Henry’s crocodile tears and claims of naïveté were a bit rich and insulting. Managing to make your mouth form the word “sorry” insincerely…Not sure how much that’s going to count for in the Kop.

How serious was this particular foray? Hard to tell. I’m sure they wanted what they were asking for, but the shambolic withdrawal seems to say it wasn’t necessarily a full-on assault, ie, something everyone’s hearts were fully committed to. In the end, it seemed a bit like trench warfare: rush no-man’s land, get met with artillery barrage, and sneak back to your lines. Nothing has really changed besides learning what you’re up against. One assumes they might not have expected universal condemnation and anger, but that seems more than just dense.

However, the statement of continued intent to change things does pretty strongly indicate it wasn’t just a lark.

There are things about football that are broken, yes. The ESL wasn’t really meant to address any of them. So while we await the inevitable follow-up attack, the Premier League, UEFA, and FIFA have a chance to get their acts together and do something proactively good for the game to eliminate this sort of needless distress, and enact guarantees that will make it impossible for them to try this again.

Sadly, perhaps the most important part will be negotiations over the next television contract for the PL.

And of course, we all remember Round 1, when these same clubs tried to take over the Premier League last year. Both times, the pretext was the good of the game, financial health for all, blah, blah, blah. Transparently self-serving, and utterly shameless. I’m not sure what they expected, but can these clowns really misjudge things so badly again and again?

Anyway, a victory for the supporters, if nothing else, and a reminder that they aren’t going to hand over their clubs without a fight.

Tonight, of course, an undermanned Villa will host one of the more tepid traitors, the Sky Blue Manchester Team. I read Chelsea seemed to be going through the motions while all this was swirling round, and as I write, Spurs are trailing The Saints 0-1 at the half.

City, on the other hand, may not be sheepish or subdued. Even though the players had no say, they could very well want to prove they are indeed a super club at the first time of asking following this debacle.

So Villa have a tough task on hand. City on the hunt down the stretch are a big ask already. I’m going to go out on a limb here and repeat myself again, saying Villa will try to nick a goal with every intention of riding it out. I’m sure we’d be quite happy with 0-0, as well.

At the same time, we’ll see how motivated our squad is by not being considered a big club. This would obviously be my focus in the pregame: go out, leave absolutely everything on the pitch, and show them you’re not cowed.

The trick is doing it over the apparently ridiculously overlong period of 90 minutes and after everyone under 30 will have tuned out.

Trez’s energy and effort will be a big miss tonight. No idea whether Ross gets another chance to redeem himself, and even less confidence he can. I’d expect Emi will need to make at least a couple world-class saves. And we may well see at least one kid on the bench, given Trez’s absence.

I’d also think we’ll see Nakamba and Luiz with McGinn further forward to start. But maybe Ramsey gets the call and SJM sits further back with Douglas. We don’t exactly have a lot of options at this point. Can Ghazi do anything? It would help if he didn’t insist on running into cul-de-sacs. Don’t mind seeing him drive into box, we’ll want to see that if he starts, but he doesn’t quite have Jack’s guile and skill.

All of this presumes, of course, that Deano doesn’t change things up by somehow getting Davis on the pitch to start. I just don’t see it, but we’ll know by the time I’ve got this posted.

Anyway, not expecting much, but I’d like to see some pride, fight, and desperation out there tonight.

Over to you.

Comments 167

  1. Young Ramsey being asked to play lw? But he’s made up with that.

    It really doesn’t have to be like this. Watched Brighton last night at Chelsea. Kept the bloody ball. Passed moved and looked comfy doing it.

  2. John

    We have no idea how to keep the ball. There’s 0 passing, movement. It’s all slow and been like it all season. City could have 9 men and we won’t lay a glove on them. It’s doing my head in.

  3. H&v we have a city player in Luis and even he insists on passing to the opposition, it’s baffling.

    Jc we are formed up to defend but not committed to it , I’m not convinced they really understand yet what there doing kind of 1/2 way there .

  4. Understand, H&V.

    This is exactly where Jack makes all the difference. You get it to him, and he’ll keep it, get fouled, etc.

    But, for the players out there now, they’ve got to do more. Too much hesitation, and you can see nerves in how their underweighting and misplacing the passes they are trying to make.

  5. Yeah, MK. It’s lacking the commitment.

    Was fine for a little bit, but players aren’t getting at their man, not tracking runners, getting caught in no-man’s land, easily passed around.

  6. Every week super John mcguinn just gives balls away! Simple passes. I love him but prob best to stick him number 10 out the bloody way and let him buzz about cause he invites trouble deeper. Deffo a red card and Ramsey got taken out by walker

  7. I suspect we have trained since the last game to sit back and hit them over the top but facing the real thing is way different.

    Might actually be a game for ElGahzi , Traore a bit maargh but options wise who makes way?

  8. I know it’s city. And we could play great and we would still loose. But I’ve seen city play all season and this is as easy a game as they’ve been given. It’s the whole manner of our play. You just have to be able to play as a unit in shape up and down the pitch. That first half was school boy

  9. Cannot believe how any times McGinn has given the ball away, as well as Luis and others, it is criminal. Martinez doesn’t seem to be having any communication with Konsa and Mings either.
    no one is communicating at the back.
    Peter Banks is a bloody awful ref, with three wrong decisions involving Ramsey. The last one should not have needed VAR to tell him, it was obvious.

  10. Well, entirely forgettable.

    Not sure Luis or Nakamba have a real future after that. The others we’ve already talked about, but so much ball watching and hesitation.

  11. I’ll go easier on Nakamba having had so few minutes, but they looked lost. Overall, the team looked they didn’t know each other. One guy thinking one thing, the other not picking up on it.

    Traoré offered next to nothing, obviously, and Ghazi even less, though it was short.

    Not sure what to say about SJM. Loved the goal, but he’s still struggling with giveaways.

  12. Really baffling, has he lost the dressing room? they all look so disjointed, city just move the ball smoothly while we take 2 seconds to control it, 2 seconds to look up and 1 second to give it away. and the pressing was more like the okey kokey

  13. Disgraceful, we cant even string two passes together, and the level of ability isn’t good enough for the Championship, never mind the Premier league.
    We have a whole bunch of one footed players, who cannot pass, tackle or run.

    Tonight’s game is the worst I have watched for a long time. It is as if McGinn scored in 21 seconds and then the game was over. Ollie Watkins had his worst game this season, and never really looked like doing anything.
    City made us look like a bunch of schoolboys.
    Matty Cash I knew would get sent off, once he had his first yellow, but I didn’t expect it to happen as quickly as it did.
    Are we still going to blame covid. The only plus tonight, was seeing how skilful Foden is, and know that he will one of the first on the England team sheet.

  14. MK,

    Don’t think he’s lost the dressing room…? Can’t see any reason why he would’ve.

    Me, I saw a number of players showing why the summer’s a big one.

    That said, I don’t know what the instructions were. But I can’t imagine they were “jog into a space but don’t press the man; overcommit one way or another instead of staying between man and goal; don’t be first to the ball; let the guy you were just marking run past you into space, while the others leave their man so he has someone to pass to.”

    He did not look happy, nor should he have.

  15. Oh, and then there was “when getting back, please don’t hit top gear, they’re just going to run beyond you anyway.”

    It’s fine staying tight, keeping your shape, etc. It’s another to keep getting dragged out of it for no reason. One man left a space, they ran into it. I’d have surely thought everyone would know that’s pretty much where the next City player, and pass, was going.

  16. MK,

    Thinking on the dressing room, it could well be the case that some have gone on holiday with Jack gone and Europe, too.

    Some may also know their time is up.

  17. PP,

    On the Covid front, I do think it had an effect. Should/would it still? Dunno.

    Luis…not jumping on it like he was, though he did seem to have more energy. Nakamba had looked fine and improved, simply looked lost. Wasn’t much Ollie could do, but still running fine. Konsa and Mings look alright, Cash had energy, but not a good game. Targett we know had it, and he seemed alright.

    Apart from Cash’s stupidity/rashness, it seems we’re really lacking in that middle three, and don’t have a truly dependable wide man who’s always a threat.

    What I saw that was worrying in terms of numbers for next year was Luis, Nakamba, and McGinn. We already knew about Ghazi and Trez (though Trez’s injury makes for one less potential backup on the books as we move in new starters), and have seen that Traoré doesn’t make things happen on his own.

    Would Sanson have made any difference today? Just haven’t seen enough to have any idea. He couldn’t have been much worse, though.

  18. I should say, I thought Luis and Barkley were the ones who looked most likely to have been affected, but we have seen a lot of games where we just don’t seem to have what we had.

    I hate to say it, but let’s say we’re over covid. There’s every chance this is the Grealish domino effect. We don’t have anyone else who can take on that responsibility, and the others rise or fall depending on whether he’s playing. I thought we’d be more combative today, but I didn’t expect us to win. And though I was half-joking at the time, I certainly didn’t think we’d hold them off for 89 mins.

  19. The slump continues and our wonderful leader still has no idea how to stop it…..well i have…. Smith must go…..the guy hasn,t got the ability to take us any further in actual fact he,s taking us backwards…..its been rubbish since Xmas and surely that inept showing tonight has to be the last straw……hoof ball may be fine for Walsall and Brentford but not in the Premier …its becoming embarrassing…tic toc Deano tic toc

  20. Dean feeling we had a lesson in football, and that Matty Cash was reckless and foolish for his second yellow.
    Lots of pundits feeling a great deal of sympathy for Matty Cash after the run around he was given by Phil Foden.
    McGinn feeling that it was the best team Villa had played against this season, or was it that Villa really struggled against them this time.

  21. Our biggest problem these days is getting the ball out from the back, and missing the distribution from Martinez, and the back four. They have totally lost the ability, apart from an odd rare moment, which usually helps us to score!

  22. PP,

    That’s why I’m looking at that middle three, and to some extent the wingers.

    As H&V pointed out, players are taking too long and telegraphing their passes, neither Nakamba or Luis really want to take it and turn. McGinn, it just isn’t happening, and he’s much more comfortable/effective, or at least was, when it isn’t supposed to go through him and he gets to make free runs.

    City were also much more relentless in their pressure all over the pitch. I’m sure Deano didn’t want us committing up to a high press (see their first goal), but they had no problem.

    And, again, taking covid off the table, it may well be many have hit the wall, regardless. You see late surges and collapses in any season, and it’s not a deep squad in terms of numbers or real quality.

  23. And Martinez’s distribution tonight was poor.

    He defo shouldn’t have come out on their second, but that’s the risk a keeper like that will take. Could still have been beaten far post, but he’d have more of a chance.

  24. No complaints about the result. The difference was light years but that’s the level we must aspire to. No idea what Guardiola was ranting about. A flying tackle on the knee cap is a red every time. This is how players spend a year out of the game.

    The decision to sub Davis at half time was sound. Deano couldn’t foresee Cash getting sent off so soon after when he got pissed off with being the monkey up the stick and the organ grinder running rings round him.

  25. Lack of effort is a problem. Citeh were mobile all night, passing and moving. Slick.

    We can’t pass a simple ball from point A to B which begs the question why? Our FB’s keep moving inside and leave any team we play with the freedom of the wings. I saw Southampton earlier struggle with Spurs but at least they can pass and move. We can’t. Coaching?

    We don’t look fit. The GPS results will show massive differences between the teams in distances run and average speeds.

  26. The commentators and pundits were having orgasms over Foden. Well I think at the Euros he will look very average when he comes up against real defending and nous.

  27. embarrassing last night.

    ramsey lw and still perservering with 433 and no jack.

    Its the basics that alarm me. Brian clough would go mental watching us. we pass it a yard behind the player, slowly and then theres no movement. 250 mill spent and we. I watched pretty much every football match and I don’t see a team that plays worse footy. I have a huge worry about staying up next season. The teams coming up wont be cannon fodder and im starting to fail to see 3 teams worse than us. weve been in relegation form since xmas

  28. Perhaps the biggest problem last night was Cash, and Dean should have done something about his struggles against Foden, who was at the heart of everything. Maybe, the greater experience of Elmo would have faired better, and didn’t agree with Nkamba being replaced, as we got seriously worse without him. He is better than Luiz at defending and protecting the back four.

    I saw the sense in giving Davis a chance , but we rarely got a decent ball to him. We hardly won a corner, let alone got any shots on target.

    From Birmingham Live’s interview with Pep last night, it looks like Luiz will return to City, probably along with Jack, replace their aging stars.

    Tammy Abraham is top of Leicester’s shopping list to replace Vardy, and he will know that he will be guaranteed a regular spot with Brendan Rogers.
    Sadly it is looking like Villa will have another huge rebuilding job on their hands, as Konsa is just as likely to be poached by Spurs, his local club.
    Just how many players we hang on to at the end of this season is difficult to forecast, if Jack does go.
    I see Mings, Martinez, Cash, Targett, Nkamba, McGinn, Sanson, El Ghazi, and maybe Watkins staying out of the present first team at the moment.

  29. Rangers and Celtic to join the Premier League, would that not cause the collapse of Scottish Football?

    There is going to be some interesting goings on in football this summer!!

  30. COVID?

    Is it having an effect? did it have an effect? was it having an effect?

    For me its more of a case that yes we had it and it definitely has health lowering effects. Even asymptomatic people can show internal damage without knowing they had it.

    Now is it still hurting some players? possibly, long Covid happens.

    What is more likely is we had ill players missing two weeks of training and 20 days of no games. That lowers fitness levels and therefore recovery ability. We then played 6 games in 18 days looking increasingly lethargic and less potent going forward. We came out like a rocket against Burnley but that was likely the team being hyped up when they returned, not good for recovery either to be running on adrenaline.

    Being less able to recover means more injuries and maybe even that period where jack was visibly being caught by players that tried to man mark him caused his injury. Certainly a few have happened during that time.

    We noticeably became more defensive with the full backs sitting in during that period and the Midfield stopped operating and sat in too. The only player that looked not out of sorts was Watkins. Goal creation stopped.

    For me the net result of the virus plus down time led to a less fit team, injuries, the loss of Jack even.

    The loss of form with Jack, the loss of Jack, the dream of Europe fading all would cause loss of confidence and I believe that is where we are and what led us there.

  31. Anyone noticed we have stopped smashing the ball up field so much lately? Mings played a quick ball over the top for the Goal and we had to clear a lot last night but generally we are back to trying to play out, the mids though at least against city and the pool were not up to it.

  32. We came up against real footballing class last night and I think when you spend a billion on a squad you would expect some amazing returns

    On our part I dont want to be to harsh but also cant avoid the one thing I have been hoping we could improve on the most at Vila which is our passing and movement as it really isnt progressive at all and Jack being out has just exposed how poor we are at manipulating a football

    Obviously if we bring in better class of players the football will also get better but i do scratch my head at what we do in training in terms of possession football
    Our defence is at a really high level but we need the other sides of the game to be as good if we are to become a top side

  33. MK,
    Of course Man City are a class act, but last night they did not have to make a huge effort, they just took their time and got their result, and the only mishap they had was losing Stone.
    They could done a lot more to Villa, but they didn’t need to, they have another important game at the weekend.

    I do not agree that the defence is at a really high level now. It certainly was a while ago, but the cohesion between Konsa, Mings and Martinez, just does not seem to be there. They also keep putting the ball back to Martinez, and it almost seems obvious that he does not really want it.
    Only once last night did McGinn make it plain that he was ready to receive the ball, amd Martinez rolled it out to him.
    When Martinez was finding players, and throwing the ball to them it was working really well, but balls out of the defence these days are ending up with the opposition eight times out of ten.
    I am not sure that there is a happy dressing room at Villa, maybe players are blaming each other, or maybe they are not happy playing 4-3-3, or as you have said, maybe they lack confidence, in which case where is the manager, and what is he doing about it.
    Dean is really going to need to get a positive result on Saturday against Palace.

  34. runtings,

    You can train and train, but players only have what they have. I think that’s the issue, and why we’ll see some bigger signings, higher quality.

    And I’d be shocked if Villa don’t do most of the same types of drills as any other club.

    Those passes falling short or behind, the lazy quick ones, players not showing for the ball…There’s fatigue compounding the lack of individual quality.

    The lack of quality is part of why Smith has us set up the way he does. He wants us getting into space quickly where the players have less to do as far as beating men, playing tika taka, etc.

  35. PP,

    Having thought about it more, a lot of what we’ve been seeing does fall into the energy/fatigue category. Movement, recovery/reaction, pressing, weight of passing, close control, cohesion (ie, someone decides to play a one-touch or knock-on, and the other isn’t reading/expecting or moving quickly enough to get it and make the next pass/move).

    My favorite insight from when I was playing (we did have round balls back then) is that “fatigue breeds cowards.” (My own!)

    You don’t go for the 50/50 because you’re afraid you won’t get there.
    You do go for the 50/50, don’t win it, and you’ve been beaten, leaving a hole.
    You don’t make the run because you’re afraid you won’t get back and you’re trying to conserve.
    You tend to stay home and deny a space rather than come out and really get on someone and then chase them down.
    Players committing to pressing and chasing don’t get backed up by the other outlets getting closed down/harrassed.
    You don’t really want the ball because you know the guy(s) closing you down are going to require fight, bursts, shielding, hold-up you don’t have in you.

    Just goes on and on, and is the simplest unifying explanation. When the opponent’s on fire, full of energy, everything to play for, and capable of passing through any team in the world, it can make for a very long night.

    Villa were trying to deny areas as a result, moreso than disrupt City playing. City were pressing pretty relentlessly, we weren’t. City were making runs and moving, we weren’t.

  36. PP its obvious there is nothing connecting the defence to the Forwards at present and nobody comes for the ball either.

    3rd best defence in the league vs 19th last season?that says to me that we have improved drastically. What’s stopped is the incredible amount of chances created and high XG goal numbers, that stopped after Covid before jacks injury Burnley was the last biggy. Ironically last nights XG was higher than the game after Covid for us and way less for city.

  37. I know when I was really tired, or when I was older playing against much younger players, I looked just like Villa did last night. Try to stay goal-side, limit the distance I had to cover, etc.

    When I was fit and up for it, I played like a Milner. Just pretty relentless, running players down over 20-40 yards when we’d been exposed, etc., finding that extra gear to fight through the burn and get back upfield, putting in hard tackles. I was skillful enough to beat a man in space, play a nice 20-yard pass, etc. But no Maradonna, me, and my biggest strengths were reading the game, knowing where everyone was, taking responsibility, and hating to lose.

    I remember playing with a guy who really had almost no skill on the ball at all. But he was truly relentless, could run all day. It was a real lift knowing he’d chase everything down or die trying.

  38. Spot on Runts.

    JC, I despaired last night watching Citeh pass and move. Every time they pass (and find their own player) they move. Then we passed (often to them) and stood still. Even throw ins became a problem due to lack of any movement.

    Mark, you’ll still be blaming Covid this time next year 🙂

  39. JC – yes cities passing was two thirds higher than ours and to do that you have to move a lot, Foden was everywhere as were others so I don’t buy the City didn’t have to try schtick. I bet there running is off the charts too.

    Fatigue either physical or mental seems the logical conclusion to me too.

    The Davis solution took a nose dive last night as he did not know where to start the ball was moving around so quick, he’s a big lad and by the time he began to move it had gone, same for players closing down, to late and no anticipation and cohesive pressing. Trez the much maligned one led the press with Ollie in most of our really good games.

  40. Plug,

    What’s really hard is knowing that there’s not much to be done to change it, atm.

    I don’t think Mark’s too far off the mark (ha), as I’ve written. It’s just too stark, the before and after.

    Then you take out Jack, and it really compounds things. If you don’t have the same quality, you have to just stop them playing. We didn’t have the legs or confidence for that, haven’t for a while. When you do win it back, and others are running and pressing with you, suddenly you’re in space and it gets much easier and looks much better. Like our goal.

  41. MK,

    Agreed. That’s why Davis doesn’t play more, imo. He’s a battering ram, not at all suited to a full-team press and all the tracking back it requires.

    He’s fine if you’re winning it higher up the pitch, getting the back line forward, and keeping it their half. We saw that with Fulham.

    But Fulham were bereft of confidence, and the subs came on to spend all the energy they had in 20mins. Once we equalized, they fell back, lost all cohesion, and the next two goals almost seemed inevitable.

  42. Plug your right I will because it is probably right 🙂

    I would not be surprised that at the season end Smith says as much. Bruce has told the whole world because he likes to excuse himself, Smith to his credit is not doing likewise.

    Its a big fat confidence sapping snowball from Covid break to jack injury onward.

    Surprisingly we still have not gone more than two games without getting a point or winning. That was Our 1st one this year and against the leagues best two teams.

  43. Don’t be forgetting that Ross was very likely plan B for Smith. A great foil; and like mind for Jack but if Jack was injured then he plays ten and we adapt. When ross was out Jack played ten and we adapted. When both are buggered we look shite.

  44. MK,

    Ross has really hurt us. First time we give Jack someone to link up with who could hold, move, pass, score…? We were pretty rampant.

    That’s going to be top of the shopping list unless we move Jack to the middle, and then it’s two wide men.

  45. Totally agree JC, but the Ross situe might have an explanation beyond lazy. Just seems like he is dragging a sledge behind him.

    “The lack of symptoms yet suffering the apparent effects of coronavirus is probably the most frightening aspect of the condition. A well-known northwest athlete had experience of this. Both his parents were admitted to hospital in November suffering from Covid-19. As he had been in contact with them, and although he had no symptoms, he decided to get a Covid-19 test which returned a positive result.

    Sadly, he lost both his parents while sitting out the mandatory 14 days self-isolation, again without any symptoms, and returned to his daily training. However, some four weeks or so later he started to feel a general loss of energy and an elevated heart rate when he attempted any exercise. He wisely consulted his doctor who arranged various heart scans which thankfully showed no damage, and after resting from training for a few weeks he has now returned to his daily workouts, albeit at a much slower pace.”

    https://www.irishnews.com/sport/athletics/2021/02/06/news/long-term-effects-of-covid-on-athletes-beginning-to-emerge-2211812/

  46. Oh, and I’d forgotten this moment, when Mings was angry and laying into someone. Wondered who and why at the time. Thanks to a replay on Twitter:

    “You should be f*cking arsed. F*ck off, Ross. F*ck off, man.”

  47. From the British medical journal.

    What is already known?
    COVID-19 is currently characterised by influenza-like symptoms and respiratory troubles; in some cases, multiorgan failure may occur and especially cardiac injury. The main difficulty is that symptoms of COVID-19 vary among individuals, and athletes may be affected by no apparent sign of the disease. This could be a real danger for athletes when returning to their usual training and play.

    Isolation could have a significant impact on the physical and mental state of the athletes leading to detraining. A reduction in aerobic capacities, muscular power and flexibility and a diminution of muscle mass are expected.

    Combined effect of detraining and COVID-19 symptoms may influence the arousal of post-viral fatigue syndrome, thus influencing the capacities of athletes to perform exercise and increasing the risk of injury.

    What are the findings
    COVID-19 may lead to multiorgan failure, and especially cardiac and vascular injuries. Allowing athletes to return to practice on the sole basis of cardiac assessment may underestimate risks. To have a more global assessment and insights about the severity of the disease, blood- and urine-specific biomarkers are recommended.

    Since COVID-19 is associated with pulmonary complication, athletes could experience a reduction in aerobic exercise capacity. VO2 evaluation is thus recommended to help athletes to improve return to training.

    COVID-19 can have a potential effect of the central nervous system and the motor drive. Electromyography, twitch interpolation and evoked potentials may be implemented in athletes who have a history of severe COVID-19 infection and/or demonstrate a slow recovery of force/power production capacity.

  48. Weird that, I present some evidence that Covid and isolation may be partially to blame for players loss of fitness and power/speed and it all goes quiet 🙂

  49. MK,
    You can come with a load of theories about the effects of covid, but if it were true, I am sure that the medical staff involved with Premier league clubs, would have spoken about it, and checks would be in place to ensure that the players health was not being put at risk.
    Villa have an amazing medical team and facilities, and I am sure that players would also be pleading their case.
    Dean was livid with Cash throwing away Villa’s chance yesterday of possibly winning, or at least drawing yesterday. This should not happen happen if you have a properly disciplined team, but this does not appear to be the case anymore, or how else can players put in the sort of performances that Traore and Barkley did yesterday.
    If Mings turned on Barkley after the game it shows that their is a lack of togetherness, and we all have to accept that there is something not quite right at Villa at the moment.
    Time to drop some from the squad, and promote a couple of our outstanding youngsters.

  50. PP- totally disagree that the staff, players or anyone would be talking about it. Dean Smith banned them from playing Fantasy league because it revealed Jack was injured. Do you think he would encourage teams by revealing the team isn’t quite at their best because of Covid? or that it wrecked January and threw it all out of whack? not on your Nelly.

    The players do not have to be on their death beds to be under par anywhere from 2-3% down would be significant in elite circles.

    It was during the game Mings swore at Ross to my recollection.

    There is no way that we could be this bad because someone is not getting on, it just does not make sense.

    The most interesting part of that last article is the diminishment in power output and recovery, basically it would effect speed to some degree.

  51. What Mings yelling tells me is that he cares, and doesn’t see it in Ross. Nothing more, nothing less.

    He also had that head-butt thing with Ghazi when he wasn’t tracking back.

    Question is really about Ross. What’s the story? Why can’t or won’t he put in a shift when Dean keeps giving him chances? Why does Dean keep giving him chances?

  52. By the way, if you could not perform as you want to and cannot get fit you would get a little pee’d off, I have not seen Ross Barkley really sprint since he came back, not once. I can understand players if they just are not at their best getting fed up. It may not be the only reason but it may have been the catalyst.

  53. MK, PP

    The Covid angle is probably always going to sound like making excuses. Me, I find it plausible.

    When I see players like Konsa signing contract extensions, it doesn’t lead me to believe Smith’s lost the dressing room, so I rule that out.

    When we’ve seen Luis moving much more quickly and aggressively before, it makes me wonder. He was the biggest difference in Restart, and started the season very well.

  54. With Matty, he was having a torrid time with Foden, who was on fire, and Traoré was no help at all.

    He had a poor touch, gave the ball away, knew a break was on, wanted to atone, but lost his head. It was a stupid thing to do, but he was obviously in the red mist and not thinking situationally.

    You see it all the time. I like the passion, just wish he hadn’t already been on a yellow. He fights like a maniac for 90 minutes.

  55. Going back to Luis, think about his situation…He knows City are weighing whether to take him back. Even if he doesn’t want to be at Villa, he’d still be playing to the top of his game to stay in Pep’s plans. I don’t think downing tools would be the smartest thing to do, atm.

  56. JC- He benched him for a few games so it cannot be he has to play, so I can only conclude there is something not quite right with him, if it was blatantly attitude I don’t think he’s make the bench even.

  57. And going back to Covid…(bit addled today):

    Let’s take that off the table, like I said back upthread, and consider whether players have simply hit the wall. It’s a long season, those 6 games came in 18 days after three weeks without training. They could be mentally and physically knackered, regardless. Not a deep team, especially in midfield and the wide forwards, where we’re seeing the biggest problems.

    The strange thing is that watching them, what I’m not feeling is a lack of effort or desire to win (apart from Ross). It’s more like the mind is willing and the body is weak.

    Traoré and Ghazi I think it’s not fitness related. They’re both just defensive liabilities by nature. Traoré’s been doing more running, but he’s very lightweight, and looks rather disinterested in actually getting stuck in and stopping players. When he does, or fights for 50-50s, he almost always comes off second best.

    Ghazi, you just forget he’s out there. Offensively, he works well with Grealish. They’ve combined to pretty good effect. On his own? He doesn’t offer much at either end.

  58. MK,

    Luis? If so, yeah, he’s not quite right, but Smith clearly prefers him to Nakamba, and last night you could see why.

    Ross, I’ve been wondering about a deeper issue for a while. You wouldn’t think Smith would keep giving him chances if it’s attitude (unless it’s about trying to get something in return for his wages, or someone’s telling him not to give up on him).

    But. After Mings’ outburst, I may be having second thoughts there. He’s around him, sees Ross in training. He’d clearly know if something more is going on.

  59. I think being able to pass move and transition is something we should easily have for the spend so far … there are too many teams that cost a lot less than our squad that can play as a team much better than us

    Arteta for example has taken a struggling squad and win lose or draw they are getting better and better at using the ball and it is clear were the style of play is heading … to me any way ….. so it can be done Brighton , Southampton wouldn’t take too many of there players but they are coached to play a more controlled style of play even though we do have better players

    I have heard it said on here that Jack may not fit into such a style but I would suggest he would go up another level again in such systems of play

  60. We all knew Villa were thin once they got past the first eleven. I remember that being a topic at the beginning of the season. To be assured of the next season 40 points pretty much guarantees that. We were all thinking mid table at the start of August and regardless of the performances lately Villa is a couple of wins from a solid 9th spot which in my mind is heady stuff considering the comments at the start of the season. Every team in the Prem has had a shit run. Villa’s just happens to be now. The 4 wins on a trot to start the season really messed everyone up. Hitting 4th place for a moment and all sensible thought left the fans. Any drop in form was and has been hit with scathing reviews and in actuality this is where we predicted them to be. We have been expecting too much at what is the first year of building a team. Players we love are going to be replaced soon. The best are being signed to long term contracts—a win for Villa.
    If this season was reversed we’d all be in seventh heaven at the resurrection of form. We can’t predict the future but we certainly have 20/20 hindsight.
    There’s a big picture and that includes future seasons and we all tend to focus our attention down to the last game and then usually to parts of the game. Not really big picture thinking. There are plenty of teams who have screwed themselves over by thinking of the present only, MU,Arsenal, and Chelsea always. Chelsea are the only ones who can buy with impunity the others in big debt. Villa are doing it right, from here where I sit, it certainly looks like it’s from the bottom up. Doing a good job as teams are looking at pillaging Villa’s academy. Villa have a couple of sharp characters for owners. Willing to invest in the team, the academy, behind the scenes personnel, and training grounds. They aren’t in this like Lerner or Xia. Nor are they like Doug, Mr Cheap, selling off as soon as things looked good financially. Their eyes are open and are committed to Villa’s future. What’s happening on the pitch right now is frustrating but not unexpected. Next season should see a big difference in performance with a caveat toward any possible injury to top players.

  61. runtings agree with your posts.

    Worrying thing is we have spent nearly 200mill and stil cant pass and move.

    I am concerned deano may not be able to take us further and we will wait until we are struggling to make a change. I must admit to having it cross my mind with us going to spend another near 100mill in the summer…let someone else spend it?!

  62. but it is what it is. Positives and big picture. We have improved and deano and the team have all said what i’m worried about. have to pass quicker and sharper and be better playing through the middle. Young team and just want to see the youth involved now. cash out so lets play Keslar for a game please.

  63. Ian

    I understand the point about quality players and then playing better footy. But I look at Norwich, Fulham, brighton haven’t been blessed with spending lots but the managers have got them playing good footy. I 100% expected a better style after being hyped getting deano ball from Brentford.

  64. Good read. Much appreciating the comments here too. My two cents on Villa is that we have to play some of the youngsters now. Barkley looks to be bereft of confidence. It could be because of Covid, we will never know.
    Villa should have given some players longer breaks to recover, just like Newcastle did with Saint Maximin. It is bearing fruits for them as thanks to him, they are on the cusp of surival.
    We have Kesler, Philogene Bidace and Chhukwuemeka seriously knocking on the door. The latter in particular has caught the attention of the national press……https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/apr/22/manchester-united-and-city-tracking-aston-villa-carney-chukwuemeka

  65. they’ve all been training with the first team most the season Jackvilla. 0 Excuse to not at the minimum give them 30mins off the bench.

    Like sunday Elmo who is gone in the summer or Keslar! No brainer but we know deano will play elmo.

  66. Thanks for the link JC. It lays out the whole sordid chronology of events since the end of last week. If there’s one thing I dislike more than a greedy bastard, it’s a lying greedy bastard.

  67. Heroes, Jack, I too would like to see one of kids out there against the Yam Yams for a cameo. Remember 2015? Away to Sunderland. After we went 0-4 up, Benteke was hooked and on came Rushian Hepburn Murphy. He chased everything whilst he was on. A young gun running his nuts off. Would love to see something like that against the Yam Yams. Chuk maybe?

  68. I would like to defend our defence though we have had a few dodgy performances they are still brilliant
    The game against citeh was pretty much played in our final 3rd a lot of defences would have shipped a lot of goals having to defend so much against a citeh side in fine form on the night

    We have the 3rd best defensive record albeit with a lot lacking ahead of them at times , they rarely have an easy quite game

    Not sure about throwing kids in ahead of senior players we still have to try and win the remaining games and I think we need a more well oiled machine before throwing the kids in so they don’t get swallowed up and lose confidence before they even start , plus if they are putting senior players on the bench it will devalue the senior boys and we don’t want to create any more bomb squads
    When I think how poor our defending was last season its an amazing turn around and awaiting the same thing to happen in the mid and attacking areas , if we do that we will be some side

  69. H&V,

    When I wrote my treatise (or dissertation) on the £235m, it doesn’t really add up to much per player, £13m-something per player, with still only three signed for over £20m. It was the number required that left us with players who need replacing. And obviously Suso’s market analysis didn’t end up sitting well with Compass and Purslow.

    It is a big total number over two seasons, but I’m encouraged by last summer’s business. I think we’ll be bringing in more speed and quality on the ball. The players will all be runners, too, I’m sure, like Cash and Watkins.

    It just takes a bit of time, but I think we’ll get there.

  70. H&V,

    Yes, we need four or five. Given FFP’s demise, and Villa debt-free and worth three times what they bought the club for, I’m expecting Compass to jump on this window. Also, with the amount of financial distress, we should be able to get reasonable value.

    Edens will want to keep and build around Jack, that’s his MO in Milwaukee.

  71. runtings,

    I share the same concern about youth and the senior players. My guess is they train in the summer, make a case. Then we’ll do the loan dance, etc.

    I’d expect a couple-three to make real challenges to get into the 25. They start getting cameos next year, and would then be expected to make serious cases for the matchday squad or even starting XI the next season. Kessler will probably have a shot at being backup for Cash after this summer.

    That’s the sort of timeline I think we’re looking at. But you never know.

  72. Does make me laugh when we talk about playing the kids, the teams average age is something like 24.5. For me the kids are a good year away in physically maturing enough, thats not bad because they are very young.

    The rest of the squad are maturing still so we have plenty of room to grow yet. Yeah the passing and movement could be way better but as the aim this season was mid-table in order to add more quality this summer then making the defence a priority was a sound investment. With a fit 1st 11 we can give any team a shock.

    Its ok looking at other teams playing nice football but where are they? struggling to survive or were relegated last season, we found a way with Jack to rack up chance after chance and win, we can cruise until the summer if we like because of that (I hope we won’t) Even Arsenal who have some very good players are only two points ahead of us and we have a game in hand.

    Covid, its not about running out of steam its more like having no steam, lacking reactions etc.

  73. Deano’s presser, he was asked about Covid he said it halted our momentum, The Isolation, some players had it, and then 6 games in 18 days was his reply. That as I said snowballed into poor recovery and injuries.

    Said he doesn’t want to make it into an Excuse which I knew he wouldn’t and that we have good running stats, you have to question that a little lately remembering he said Ross’s running stats were good Yikes, good for an old git like me maybe 🙂

    https://video.avfc.co.uk/video/dm9kJTdDMF80cWNyeHB3bSU3QyUyRnNlY3Rpb24lM0ZzbHVnJTNEaG9tZSU3Q2hvbWUlMkZoZXJvX2Nhcm91c2Vs?lang=en

  74. And, I don’t think it’s bad for the kids to get 10-20mins at the end of games, if the situation’s good.

    I’m just not sure about starts. Ramsey’s a good player, no doubt, but he’s generally been largely anonymous. I’m assuming he’s got a good head on his shoulders, and so they’re not worried about it setting him back.

  75. Course I’d probably do my hamstring in about the same time it took Ross. Or see straight red for a very late, lunging tackle with the ball 10yds past me.

    That said, I probably wouldn’t get close enough to anyone for a tackle to even be on the cards. But I’d still beat Ross’s running stats even if I was all over the shop. Give the crowd a laugh. We could use it.

  76. Looks like Wes might make the Bench, be great if he can get back to where he was, Wes, Watkins, maybe Tammy? send Davis out on loan for the season lad needs to play and score.

    JC- I can’t run forwards anymore and I still think I could beat him in a sprint.

  77. Mark I agree that you can not discount the effects covid had on our momentum , And I do have sympathy and overstanding with the team being effected …. But without being over critical which I do not want to be passing a football from one player to another with the same shirt has been a Villa problem for ages . so I don’t feel it is out of place to been looking for improvement as these guys get paid a decent sum to perform in there trade

    Yes teams like Southampton and Brighton are below us but they do not have the kind of board or investment that we are blessed with and very few of there player could make our first team .. and there you have the power of mastering passing a football between a team with a view to attack

    I took a bet with my bestie a gooner about 3 months ago that we would finish above them as they were behind us awaiting a window to shift half of there squad which they did do and slowly i have seen them outplay most teams even when they haven’t won .. this is down purely to the coaching there player are now receiving
    For me you can’t sustain strong attacking football without playing a certain way ..but this is just my belief re the game

    Looks like the self proclaimed big 6 owners are going to be made very unfordable for however much longer they stay

  78. Runtings- Arsenal have way more depth and have been playing a semblance of decent football for years, for them its not a massive change IMO. While I don’t think its impossible to get our lot playing that way I think you have to be pretty good to beat the big boys at it. Using Jack and counter is a way to maintain our status while we build, if we have tried to play pass and move stuff immediately I think we would be down the bottom again. The likes of Brighton have spent a lot, as much as we have and been together longer same with Southampton who also have two England internationals. I don’t think for one minute that we won’t evolve its just where we are while we add 5-6 players a season. As JC said earlier we are adding players more suited to running 90 mins with good technique, cities team are full of them.

  79. Arsenal were in a pretty bad place football wise a the beginning of the season there football has progressed massively under Mikel imo
    I do hear that its not all about ticker taker but please string 7 or 8 passes together ending with an attempt on goal would be nice

    Not saying Deano cant produce that because his Brentford played us off the park a few times

  80. Runtings- I think peoples memories are short bud we were pretty good for the 1st half of the season and pinned some teams in with good passing to break them down and some slick moves on the break. The level of passing we are seeing now is very poor, I don’t know why.

    Arsenal have a problem, the fans are pissed off, they have debt and have fell out of the Chumps league cycle Their best players are all the wrong side of 27 bars a couple like Sako. We will see what Arteta can do my friend.

  81. JC Apart form the drug and alcohol problem for Jack comments we have the complaints about Smith not Knowing the exact minute he will recover, the fact Smith is letting the Season peter out (eh like he’s not trying) the fact he’s to stubborn to use the kids (despite having spent Umpteen pounds on players to develop that would loose value if binned) The fact he has never changed tactics/formation/subs (also poo) And that he can’t teach them to pass, it just goes on and on and on.

    Me I see a poor patch and interruption started by the covid break and injuries to vital players again. I also see the chance to find out what we have while we are under no pressure whatsoever of going down. This gives us months of prep time to gauge our moves and what is needed for the next step.

    Fans might be disappointed that the season has dipped but context is everything.

  82. JC- obviously the Covid break gave him time to really hit the good stuff , perhaps he was asking Gareth at the city game what drugs are allowed at the Euro’s

  83. Is it plausible?
    Villa to sell Grealish to Man City for around £95miliion, replacing him with Tod Cantwell from Norwich City for £30million.

    From Jack’s point of view it makes good sense. He has been kicked around enough as a Villa player, but at City he will get the protection of playing in a team of great players, and will no longer be a target for the opposition, but the deal will only go ahead if he is 100% fit medically, which is why he has not played, and will not, until he is deemed fully fit and recovered.
    From Villa’s point of view it is the time of them to maximise his value, and have a more evenly talented team.

    Barkley didn’t work out, and they know they need at least four or five players who will fit Dean’s plans.

  84. PP- sounds a lot like Jack Grealish is injured and we want him recovered, there is no way he would not play because of the Euro’s, would we risk him and ruin his chance of going? I cannot see it being because we are selling him. Of course we could sell him but that is not why he’s not playing unless he had a word with Gareth last game and said I am off to city so you can pick me now.

  85. We need the likes of Cantwell to compliment Jack anyway is that not become very obvious lately? £30m is nothing. When we came up Smith said there was a 5 year plan, so this is year two.

    They might spend a lot this window if FFP is out of the window anyway or they might not, I would think a similar spend and quality of player is required to push on, 3-5 Ollie level players will do nicely.

    My only worry at the present is how much of this present dip in form is due to the effects felt by Covid and the aftermath? will the likes of McGinn, Traore and luis recover there zip for next season because that could be a bigger problem, If there is permanent blunting of fitness and prowess levels then they are worth a lot less for a start. More than enough reason for the club to stay shtum .

  86. Here’s a little story, My girlfriend says Michael Heseltine the ex Tory MP is in her care home, he’s recuperating from surgery or a minor illness and they charge £2000 a week. Now Michael has a bob or two (£200m+) and picked the room he wanted. The room however does not have a shaving mirror and they cannot get one until Tuesday. So guess who’s not going to be shaving this week until she brings my mirror back? how much should I charge him? 🙂

  87. Villa may well lose Douglas Luiz as well, considering that Pep is very impressed with him, and is going to make a decision on the buy back clause at the end of the season.
    I have a feeling that Villa could be involved with several deals involving Man City, which may result in some players coming to Villa, with Raheem Sterling being one of them.
    Pep and Dean may well already have had several discussions over the future, and Dean knows that City would be the perfect move for Jack. He knows that Jack deserves to be playing in the Champions League, and we as Villa fans have to wake up and accept that with him at this stage of his career. It will place him perfectly for the World Cup and to be a leader, and may even take us to our first win since 1966.
    Remember, that is the final conclusion of Jack’s dream!!

  88. PP- that’s an awful lot of knowing there mate. If pepe was watching Luis in the last game I wonder if he was impressed, if he was I might get a game.

    Sterling to Villa? not a chance in hell on that one. He’s valued at £90m

  89. Mark Mikel has a huge job on his hands as there club isn’t being run like ours were the structure in in harmony from top to bottom .. our owner have been amazing gooners currently saying the opposite about there’s

    Hopefully we can get a result today , could be a chance to get back towards some better form for the last bit of the season ..and also showing that we can do well without Jack playing

  90. I see Perez is still in denial about the €$£. Says he holds binding contracts with all the teams. I can only conclude that Real are in Real shit.

    Why am I worried about the yam yams tonight? COYVB.

  91. Runtings yes mate I hope so too but the breath is not being held 🙂

    Ian sent me this so I’d thought I’d post it, might give a little insight into our January and what has followed and also how these very wealthy teams are unlikely to be telling the players put your feet up and the players themselves will be just as likely to be demanding of themselves if not as capable.

    Also saw that prior to Xmas injury was up in the prem by 42% yikes, maybe because of the ridiculous schedule couple with some teams playing no football for over 5 months with little time training together. Might be along with the lack of Crowds why this season is so weird in many ways.

    https://theprovince.com/sports/hockey/nhl/vancouver-canucks/covid-canuck-thatcher-demkos-fatigue-a-sign-of-the-hard-road-ahead

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