Aston Villa were away to promoted Watford on opening day, and found themselves on the wrong side of a 3-2 scoreline. It was an underwhelming start to the season that had Dean Smith fuming at halftime, and a lot of Villans shaking their heads.

As I’d guessed, Dean went with his usual 4-2-3-1, which wasn’t the worst idea. The more familiarity the better for starting out after so much change and a disjointed preseason. However, the team sheet did surprise me a bit with Ashley Young on the left flank and El Ghazi wide right.

No surprise in Ings up top, or Buendia at 10. No surprises in McGinn and Nakamba behind.

So what happened?

The Good
Bailey and Traoré made an impact. Ramsey looked stronger and more assured. Villa did close out better and clawed a couple back, but Watford had a three-goal lead to lean on. Nice finish from John McGinn to help salvage a little pride. Not an easy chance, and assist number one for Leon Bailey.

The Bad
Villa lost the midfield battle pretty comprehensively. Targett and Young were not in sync keeping tabs on Sarr. Buendia was rather ineffective. The middle three were very lightweight. Ghazi was invisible. Villa played into Watford’s hands.

The Ugly
Watching Matt Targett trying to keep up with Sarr, followed closely by Villa not playing to the whistle on Watford’s third.

The Long Version
Watford are big, strong, and fast, a side built to defend and counter—and counter effectively. They know what they’re about and were well up for it. The early goal got Watford’s tails up, and then obviously Villa were chasing.

A lot of praise will deservedly fall on Ismaila Sarr, and he had quite a day. Or half, anyway. But I’d have thought Young was supposed to help Targett counter that threat, and he didn’t really. Targett got the hook, Young dropped back, then generally stayed home. Not sure why Targett wasn’t played that way to begin with, seemed a bit unfair to him to come off. Maybe he was carrying a strain, maybe Smith just wanted to spare his confidence.

But it wasn’t all Sarr. He was as much a symptom of other failings as anything else.

To start the match, Villa were staying back and trying to get in behind a tough Hornets defense with longer balls that didn’t come off. It’s not a bad approach, one Dean uses frequently at the outset and often to good effect. Ings feeds off those kinds of chances in space. But it can be low percentage, and it wasn’t doing much. As Villa switched and tried to move to more possession-oriented buildups and attacks, the team naturally got sucked forward, and the spaces to exploit were there when moves broke down.

Villa moved it slowly, turned it over, got beat in midfield trying to regain possession or blunt the counter: All of that essentially plays into a counter-attacking team’s hands. Something we’ve seen before.

At the end of the day, Villa were simply outmanned in midfield. Buendia was ineffective, but didn’t really see all that much of the ball. We weren’t really playing through him consistently. McGinn and Nakamba did some nice things going forward, at times, but basically just weren’t big enough, fast enough, or strong enough on the ball. As a midfield three, they were physically overmatched. We couldn’t wrest control there, which meant the counters were on.

Smith was more than a little unhappy at the lack of grit and urgency, comparing Villa’s effort to that of an international friendly. And I can’t disagree as far as getting up and really pressing and fighting. But for me, Buendia, McGinn, Luiz, Sanson, Nakamba, Hourihane…Well, none of the available choices are terribly imposing.

Second half, Smith introduced Ramsey for Targett and Young dropped back. Ramsey showed a bit more strength and combativeness than Buendia. Then Bailey’s and Traoré’s introductions gave Villa a lot more threat. But 0-3 is a big mountain to climb.

To be fair, though, Watford did have a bit of luck. Not that they didn’t deserve goals for the quality of the chances, but the rebound from Martinez’s save fell kindly, Sarr’s strike got a world-class deflection, and Villa didn’t play to the whistle when Mike Dean played the advantage that led to Watford’s third.

Other things we learned were that apart from getting overrun in midfield, Danny Ings doesn’t have Ollie Watkins’ pace or legs, which undermines high pressure, and he couldn’t be all over the pitch the way Ollie usually is. Bailey could be the real deal. Buendia, it might take a while to settle him as Villa’s 10. Maybe you can change it up with Ramsey in the middle and Buendia wide right, but I don’t think that was the original idea. Then again, the original idea was to have Grealish in the side, too. Traoré had a lot of pop and verve and seemed stronger than last season. Perhaps the groin issue had something to do with him looking lightweight previously. Anyway, I think there’s a way to have these players on the pitch together, but it’ll take a little work.

Final Verdict
Any one match is only one match. I thought it might take a little time for things to gel. Watford are a settled and confident side who know what they’re about. Villa, while not quite starting from scratch, are trying to turn into something different, and a disjointed preseason with all the changes and uncertainty can’t have helped. Today’s deficiencies were plain to see, but not all teams are built like Watford. Bailey will probably be starting from here on out if he’s got the fitness, and El Ghazi has probably seen his last start, barring injuries.

With the window still open, I’ll point back to my thoughts in the previous thread about why I would think Villa are still in for a DM like Anguissa or Doucoure. We simply need more strength, pace, and ball-winning ability in the middle. If we thought our business was done, then perhaps today changed that thinking. If we’re going to be an attacking side, we need a little bit more to fall back on.

In terms of tactics, I’d have preferred Villa to stay back longer, be more patient, and not fall into a fairly obvious trap. 1-0 would’ve been just fine, and players like Sarr and Sema are much less dangerous when they don’t have acres to run into. Villa should’ve invited them forward, clogged things up, and tried to exploit space themselves. Reminds me of going toe-to-toe with Leeds in the first meeting last season, and playing very differently the second.

Anyway, the team’s identity has yet to emerge, and it’ll be interesting to see what the reaction is to the loss. Bailey will be a big addition, we know Buendia’s a quality player on the ball. Traoré looked up for it. And it turns out that Ollie actually does an awful lot besides score, doesn’t he? Finding the balance with all of them and Ings may take a little bit, but there’s no need to panic just yet.

Over to you.

Comments 90

  1. Thanks JC- can’t argue with that, been a weird preseason with many pieces missing and as it turns out we lost Jack. With the best will in the world it was a big ask, the lack of urgency though was unacceptable and Smith quite rightly bollocked them.

  2. More bad and ugly JC, and not much good. We were under prepared. I’m staggered we didn’t have a plan to nullify Sarr, or if we did, it failed abysmally. Team selection was also flawed. Time will tell whether a trend develops or if this was a one off.

    There is another flyer due next week in the form of Saint Maximin. I trust this time we’ll be prepared.

  3. Plug

    Not sure targett has kicked a ball in pre season. Not ready and never should of strategy.

    Young could be very useful but I don’t want to see him and el ghazi starting as our wingers!

  4. Almiron and Maxima can have a field day next week if we are not set up properly.

    Only seen MOTD highlights of yesterday, but not looking good. Can understand why JG wanted to move on. We have stayed in the £20-£30 million recruitment bracket of potential players, and when you look at the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, and the two Mancs, we are just light years away. They have been building solidly for years. It is going to be hard to each their standards.

    Maybe we should be grabbing Lingard now that United are only looking for around £20million!

    MK was going to say earlier, do you still think that Daniel Farke is riding on Dean Smith’s coat tails.
    Is the reason Terry and ROK have suddenly left Villa, that they have not agreed with the progress, and may have ad an influence in Jack moving, one way r another. I am sure there has been some conflict somewhere, just like when O’neill walked out.

  5. PP- when did I ever say he was ? he’s the Norwich manager 🙂 If you mean the Brentford Manager I still didn’t say that. Smith had the last say on employing him is all I said and if he had not left then he may still be in charge there. Beating Arsenal isn’t exactly that hard these days after all Smith did it twice last season. Fair play to them I like the way they do Business, so do our owners.

    Your a right old gossip mate lol 🙂

  6. Plug,

    Yeah, I thought the Young–Ghazi choice was odd, but Traoré is coming off that groin surgery, and Bailey had only just arrived.

    Those are clearly going to be our two main ‘wingers’ going forward.

    I think the question up front, as I’ve had time to reflect, will be whether Emi will really work in the 10 role, and like I say, going back to the previous thread, finding the system/rotation that puts the best balance out there.

  7. I don’t wish Jack ill. but I’m sure all football fans (that aren’t city supporters) will have been pleased to see City lose today.

    Jack did show a bit of petulance towards the end when he was booked after tripping a player and getting in his face, perhaps saying . . “hey mate. . . .it’s my job to dive not yours”

  8. As far as upcoming matches go, we’ve faced the other big, pacey wingers before.

    You can dissect it a number of different ways, but as always, it’s about some combination of denying them the ball, not letting them have a lot of space when they do, and/or sitting the whole side back a bit to just sort of ‘absorb’ them in more constrained areas.

    Yesterday, we couldn’t deny them the ball, they had space to run, and Villa got sucked up. A bit “naive,” you could say, but it’s not like counterattacking doesn’t work this way. I’d imagine some lessons have been learned.

  9. Before the Watford game, I couldn’t fathom out what Deano’s team selection or set up was going to be from the jigsaw pieces available. I was way out on his selection.

    And I’m in exactly the same place for our next game. Haven’t a scoobie who or what he’ll select/set up. There is some hope though. I can’t recall Spud ever beating Deano so here’s hoping that holds up next weekend.

  10. MK,
    It seems my dementia is getting worse….LOL..!!

    Was impressed today with Nuno’s Tottenham. What a different team, getting in City’s face, and not allowing them time on the ball, exactly what Villa should be doing. We seem to be needing to start over again.
    Some impressive results on the first day, especially with the fans back, and a vast improvement to refereeing and VAR!!

  11. VAR needed binning PP. Our lot haven’t got a clue how to use it. It needed the Europeans to show how it should be used. And being used in this correct way didn’t stop Spud moaning about the ‘Ammers penalty not being referred to VAR. Guess he’s feeling some cabbages coming on already.

  12. PP,

    I think what we’re all hoping, Lange as much as anyone else, is that we can recruit some pretty good talent in that £30m-£40m range. We did get a world-class keeper for £20m, after all, and not long ago Wes was our record transfer. Now we’re looking to regularly spend more.

    It’s only me, but I’m not sure the gulf in talent is as big as the gulf in fees paid. Ollie’s already got eyes on him from the top, year three, same types of additions.

    So, I’m guessing it wasn’t that far off to say Villa are about 18mos behind Grealish’s curve. Jack leaving maybe sets us back a year, hard to say. But I think the gap is surmountable, and we know how injuries or a big, misplaced bet or two on a player can catch up with any club.

    I’m maybe a little optimistic, but I like the idea that in a year or two, £30m will be a bench player for us.

  13. Plug,

    You should’ve looked at the last write-up for what Dean was going to do! 😉

    Got the formation right, knew Ghazi would play, but didn’t see him being on the right with Young left. Ten out of 11, could’ve been worse.

    Based on what I saw at the end, and I’m guessing this will be down to fitness, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Bailey and Traoré start next weekend. If fit, Ollie will come in for Ings.

    I’m guessing he’ll persist with Buendia at 10 for a while, got to give him a chance there if that’s the plan. No idea how wedded to that vision he is, though. Ramsey did make a difference coming on, and Buendia’s familiar wide right. Question there is him and Cash dealing with Saint-Maximin, and then how we want to handle Willock & Co down the middle. Ramsey might be the better choice in the middle, atm.

    Will be a very interesting week in training.

  14. deano wants 4231

    But we dont have 2cms to play that way.

    Its like he just cant get his way of playing across. will have to be forced to go 433 again like before as we leave to much space and concede too many shots.

    He needs to find his best 11

    This calender year villa have the 3rd worst defence. if he doesnt find a way to control the game it wont get better

  15. H&V,

    We’ve played a lot of 4-2-3-1 using Luiz/Nakamba and McGinn. Ross, Ramsey, etc., featured as the 10 at the top, SJM and Luiz trading off, but Luiz/Nakamba mainly staying at home. Nakamba was getting a lot further forward than we normally see that holding/DM.

    Against Watford’s midfield, not a good matchup in combination with Buendia as the 10. And Ings can’t do the same work as the lone striker that Ollie can. Why I’d like to see someone who can really dominate back there on their own, good option to have.

    Both Luiz and Nakamba have their strong points…Luiz was off the pace after the covid break, but prior, he was covering a lot of ground, intercepting, breaking things up. A bit more assured than Nakamba, but Marvelous looked brighter after the covid break.

    But, none of these three is big and physical. So when we play certain sides, we probably want a more dominant ball-winner as an option.

  16. I still like 3-5-2.

    House, Konsa, Mings

    Cash, Buendia, Sanson, SJM, Bailey

    Danny, Ollie

    Or 3-5-1-1 if one striker prefers to operate behind the other one. Axel covering the back 3. Traore, Dougie, Naka, Targett covering the midfield.

  17. I told you Young would play 🙂 bragging over, it could be that a lot of the problems we saw on Saturday were a lack of Watkins, with him out we have to reshuffle, I wonder if Wes could play there instead of Ings allowing Ings to drop in the pocket and Beundia to come deeper or out Right where he’s effective( if Ollies out), receiving the ball on the edge of the box is just not how he plays and no9 is not how Ings plays.

    Throws up a dilemma of having got rid of the one man team tag we are now another one man team if we want to play how Smith wants with Ings and Ollie?

    For me we start with Ollie and Ings at ten Beundia right and allowed to drift with Bailey left. Tough on Traore but Reundia needs to get up to speed and find his rhythm.

  18. Plug,

    Maybe? If he’s quick enough (hips, feet, etc) to play fullback, he can probably handle himself in space. Dunno how much he’s ever done it, how long to bring him along (whole different read on the game than playing CB/FB).

  19. MK,

    Yeah, for me it’s just tricky to see what fits where. Like I say, reason I wasn’t convinced by Abraham.

    I don’t know if it’s going to be about rotation, going 4-4-2 (of a sort). I’m sure Smith has his ideas, but they’re going to have get some basics ironed out, and I’m not sure he wants to put so much on going through the middle. I’m guessing Bailey, Buendia, Traoré would be preferred, but that doesn’t accommodate Ollie and Ings at the same time.

    Not sure Wes has a future at Villa, but we’ll soon find out.

  20. well JC its clear Ings is not the answer either at 9. pointless crossing endless balls to him, if they are not cut back or threaded through there is no chance. Beundias game is to drop off and pass or run from deep, Ings is to link up and play in the pocket.

  21. Laporta says Barca’s debt currently stands at £1.15 million and their annual wage bill amounts to 103% of income. They are unable to register some of their latest players with La Liga until they remove other players from the wage bill.

    What a basket case.

  22. Villa second string played a Liverpool 11 at Anfield on sunday losing 4-1, Traore scored but went off injured, could be 3-4 weeks out with a hamstring problem.

  23. MK,

    Yeah, he’s certainly not a 9 like Ollie. With Traoré hurt, I guess we’ll see if Buendia does go wide and Ings tucks in there if Ollie’s fit. Don’t know that we’ll try the 4-2-3-1 again with him.

  24. H&V,

    I still have a hard time believing we’re done unless there wasn’t anyone else we really wanted besides the suspects already being talked about. I suppose there are still some outgoings that may be happening (Wes sold or on loan, Conor, etc).

  25. I think we’re done as far as incomings are concerned. There may be some outgoings between now and the end of the month but it depends if anyone wants them or can afford them.

    Now it’s down to Deano to make our 330 million quid squad work. Mid table ain’t going to be tolerated by Compass.

    On the plus side, I’m looking forward to a full house at VP against the Wai Ayes. I hope the team can get it rocking.

  26. How many seasons now have we had predictions of what Compass will not tolerate only to find they have been very reasonable and respectful of the real world realities that befall in a season? Right now we are behind in our prep for sure with a staggered, disjointed pre-season and players returning late from hols and summer exertion, that I am afraid has never boded well for any team. Add the loss of a mainstay and restructure to some degree we are on the back foot a little.

  27. Mark, it stands without saying that predictions of what Compass will not tolerate are based on sub standard performance. They didn’t mess around with Spud, all it took was 1 cabbage. They didn’t mess around with Bignot either.

    So far Deano has provided the necessary upward projection from the time he took over. If we finish 6th – 8th then we are still progressing. But….supporters are mindful we’ve lost Jack, supporters are mindful the team that Deano built cost £330 million of Compass’s money and supporters are mindful that Watford’s team also contained some new additions this season and cost less than £100 million in total.

    OK, we went into the first game undercooked. If we get up to speed relatively quickly and move up the table, then happy days. If we don’t, Deano will come under pressure.

  28. Plug- Watford were building when they went down, kept most of their players and came back up, already had a good few years of building a side in the prem so fair play to them consistency counts. Also haven’t lost at home all last season, not that much of a surprise they were up for it more of a surprise that we were not 1st half.

    Tales of Compass won’t stand blah blah have not materialised so far despite the amount spent, lets face it to get somewhere they have had to spend and in real terms dropping £30m on a player these days is nothing. Strictly speaking they have just made £100m back so its its still not £330m spent and the average squad these days is around that in worth, top clubs are into the £500m-800m worth now.

    Its not peanuts and losing to a club that’s worth less happens, we beat a few of them worth 2-3 times ours last season in fact thrashed one. Of course he will come under scrutiny yet again if we don’t show something but it won’t be a knee jerk reaction from the owners after one or two games considering what just happened, I am more amazed they gave Steve Bruce 13 games going on his previous team building wastefulness at various clubs.

    Yes it could be Deans OK corral this season and it might not, losing one game? bit premature mate.

  29. According to Pep’s accounting methods, we’ve only spent £230m. 😉

    Far as Smith, pressure, expectations, I think it has to come down to what degree Compass will adjust based on Grealish leaving.

    They’ll know the team will require some gelling.

  30. JC they have shown a lot of understanding so far that it won’t just happen, indeed if it did it would more than likely be fleeting and they are very much about now and forever.

    Plug there’s nothing for it, we will have to have Sweepstakes 🙂

  31. Far as the spending goes:

    £130m to buy an entirely new squad (12 players, I think?)
    £50m+ for Ollie and Martinez, £45m-£50m for Traoré, Cash, Sanson
    £95m for Buendia, Bailey, and Ings

    So, we’ve still only got four £30m+ players in the team, which isn’t actually that many, and it was three-for-one on the Grealish money.

    £330m worth of incomings sounds like a lot, but of that initial £130m, you’ve only got Mings, Konsa, and Targett who are true PL starting quality, maybe Hause, too. Nakamba and Luiz, the jury is still out, but not bad buys, and one potential bust in Wes, at £22m. Well, I guess maybe two, with Engels. I’m guessing everyone understood Ghazi and Trezeguet were value-based punts, Ghazi being the known quantity with potential. Jota, cheap depth, the trade with small heath. Heaton was a necessity.

    So, basically, I’d look at that spend simply as the cost of staying up.

    The other £200m is the cost to progress, perhaps top 6 or 7, while also replacing a £100m player.

  32. Seems to me that Deano is under serious pressure at the club .its now come out that his trusted long standing number 2 was demoted to work with the kids but instead chose to leave the club
    JT possibly a similar story I am sure that info will also come to light at some point
    I clearly remember that when compass took over they put it out there that they were going to get a new manager but due to an outcry from a large part of the fan base they back tracked and waited for him to mess up rather than cause upset amongst the fan base at that time

    It seems like he is being set up to fail with his support network now gone and strangely no replacement as yet

    I read into this its do or die time with the board wanting more than what they are seeing

  33. runtings,

    Obviously don’t know them, but seems like a very circuitous route for Compass to take.

    I suppose they could engineer fan outrage, and maybe it gives them cover with the players if he remains popular. But seems like it unnecessarily risks demoralizing the side and hampering the project (players wanting out, etc).

    I’d also think that if Smith felt sabotaged, there’d have been some rows about it, maybe a line drawn in the sand. Maybe he loves Villa too much to walk, but if he thought that’s what the owners wanted in the first place? Maybe he wants to prove them wrong?

    I’d mentioned before that I wasn’t necessarily convinced O’Kelly was contributing much, but I’ve got nothing to go on there. JT, no idea.

  34. In general, there’s always massive pressure on managers. Some clubs/owners are more ruthless/less patient than others.

    Internally, maybe Smith’s more ruthless, wanted better staff. If that were the case, maybe he angled for O’Kelly to work with the youth as a favor, and he simply said, No thanks.

    Likewise, Shakespeare’s growing influence might’ve played a factor in doors being closed, or people (JT, maybe) being cut out.

    Not saying it isn’t a bid odd, but could be read a couple different ways.

  35. The okelly being offered U23’s smells of shite to me, Smith went on record saying it was O’kellys choice and Okelly had said Villa had hit that level of progression for him to get out the way. Now you don’t say that about your long time friend if its not true.

    Also there is nothing stopping JT or Okelly from spilling the beans if they have been badly treated. If indeed they are trying to get rid of Smith its a very cowardly way to do it that does not fit the owners profile either. A case of 2+2 makes whatever number you feel like. If he was offered U23’s I suspect it was because he said he wants a new challenge and Dean wanted to keep him around I’d think.

  36. Also there is no way the fans would be upset if Dean went, look at the stick he gets on here, I’d say its 50/50 with plenty blaming him for everything from the plumbing to the choice of sandwich’s.

  37. A failing championship team saved.
    Stayed up with a bog standard team.
    Went to mid table with a sprinkling of talent that was savaged with Covid and injuries.
    One game flat with out of sorts players and injury? NSWE aren’t even thinking of punting Dean. If he left he wouldn’t even get his feet up in front of the fire before someone snapped him up.

  38. I wouldn’t have thought compass would be underhand or unfair in changing a manager if they are gearing up to do and all people effected by any change would likely know what compass are thinking

    And yes Deano has done a good job but so did Frank at Chelski but they found an even better manager that had an immediate impact on that squad

    The question is do compass think they can do better in this department at the moment or not

  39. I just knew it. That fucking sandwich I bought from Greggs yesterday that went through me like a dose of salts and had me running for the toilet plumbing was all Smiths fault. Get rid.

  40. Agree Runts, Compass will not change coach until it becomes necessary, which isn’t now. And if they think anyone can do better, that person will need to be available.

    Looking forward to game this weekend and really hoping we stay above the Gunners.

  41. Runtings I agree there would have to be someone pretty special at this point. it will depend where we end up vs expectations which must have surely taken a knock with Jacks departure.

    Nobody can guarantee that XYZ players will gel and work immediately. Chelsea had been building on top of quality for years so for them ditching Frank was not the worst, we are not in that ball park yet. We have also stated we are looking for coaches not a manager in our system to maintain continuity.

    Its Deans to lose and rarely have I seen Villa fans appreciate their own manager.

  42. Well I appreciate Deano big time. As Ian lays out the manager’s track record with us above, I don’t think I’m alone. Our progress has been brilliant. Top people, Deano and Compass.

    None of which should stifle criticism. Most of the criticism on this blog is constructive. Gripes about selection, systems and substitutions is why we all contribute. Nobody is perfect and going to get these things right everytime so it’s only human to point out our thoughts as we see them.

    When we win I’m stoked. When we lose I’m gutted. This weekend I need to be stoked after Watford.

  43. I don’t think they are trying too hard to sell Hourihane. He played the friendly against Liverpool. Traore was bad luck. Dean needs him ATM so wanted more minutes under his belt. Bad luck. And I don’t think it’s a bad knock.

  44. You have to wonder where we would be now if we had took another manager instead of Dean? would we even of gone up? would Jack have stayed ? would we have got a lot less if he’d gone earlier (yes) would we have Mings , Konsa, Watkins? who knows could look very different and be better, worse, or the same.

  45. Dean is safe with Compass until they feel they have a manager available that will take Villa to another level. Dean is at least as good as Lampard was, but does he have the tenacity of a Thomas Tuchel? We will have to see.

    Good to see Andre Green is in the squad for Slovan Bratislava tonight for their European game!

  46. watkins and bert out. Again saying business is prob done. I have some serious bad vibes for the first time in ages.

    I cant believe they dont see the cdm as a massive hole and not replacing jack on the lw.

    jack was our lifeblood and soul and to not replace him will be mental

  47. Plug- miles probably planets mate, what explains ollie and Ings on the same pitch? 🙂

    PP- if Tuchel came to Villa he would still have his work cut out, good manager and all that but if we binned Smith now who would we get that’s of a better standard that would be a coach?

    It will either come to Smith growing with the team or the team getting much better and doing what he wants or a new manager eventually that much is obvious, its not a charity neither is it as easy as many think.

  48. MK
    That was really my point. The board will only consider replacing Smith, if they feel they have a better man to do the job, and they would struggle to find one at present, but I am sure they will be casting their net as the season progresses, if Villa do not make a reasonably healthy start to the season.
    Sadly it appears that a lot is against us at the moment. Let’s hope that there is a rapid rise in our fortunes in the coming weeks.

    We need to have a good solid start at home tomorrow, and all being well, I will be there UTV!

  49. PP I think the owners have been very good at seeing what’s Smiths and what’s circumstances fault so I am not worried for him just yet.

    Herse an interesting statement for Smith about another coach and it shows he’s looking to progress and not afraid.

    “When asked about whether to expect a European coach after his Frank appointment at Brentford, Smith replied: “Yeah, pretty much. When I was at Brentford with Richard O’Kelly, I wanted someone who would be different to myself and Richard. Someone who can add to what we knew anyway, and that will certainly be the criteria again.”

  50. I will get a review up, and hope everyone that has managed to get to Villa Park has a great time. Going to be an interesting match, team will need everyone behind them.

  51. Good win. Two bits of fortune, but much better work-rate and combativeness.

    Ramsey growing in confidence. Young really does still have it, very good pickup so far.

  52. My report comes with a caveat. Three points, yep. Just what we needed. A good open game although few shots on target from either side. Ings goal worth the money alone.

    However, Wilson missed a sitter 5 minutes in. Ings goal was last kick of the half. Didn’t see the hand ball but guess our penalty was given for preventing a certain goal? Lucky break from VAR for once. Then Emi has a brain fart and demolishes Wilson. Just about agreed with the yellow, some refs might have given a red. And VAR rescues us again to rub out their pen for offside. So the result was a bit fortunate.

  53. Overall a much better performance. SJM had a good game and so did Ramsey. Dougie did OK too. El Gassy was anonymous again as usual and Deano game him the whole game. But there is no better penalty taker. He hits either corner. Buendia can thread a needle too.

    Young had a good game too, as did Cash. Tyro did have a mistake in him but won the fight with Wilson. The Wai Ayes are quite dirty really.

  54. Hey Plug. I do envy you being there but your report does seem to be trying to make a sows ear out of a silk purse 🙂

    If Danny misery face Murphy is reluctantly admitting that VAR decisions in villa’s favour were correct then it’s a nailed on certainty that they were. Also I’d have been mighty pissed off if Wilson had scored from that 1 on 1 with Martinez after the way McGinn was taken out earlier in the build up.

    It may not have been a great performance and Dean Smith was very honest about that, but it was an improvement, and when you consider that Jack has gone and we were without Bailey, Traore and Ollie it starts to feel like more than a half decent result.

  55. It will be interesting to see what team we put out on Wednesday and has the potential to look pretty strong despite ringing the changes.
    How about:

    Guilbert, Hause, Tuanzebe, Targett
    Hourihane, Sanson, Nakamba
    Philogene-Bidace, Chukwuemeka

    That’s assuming that none of Watkins, Traore, Bailey or Trezeguet are coming back and need the run out.

  56. Not bad all considered yesterday, I think that as we have a half fit squad with Bailey, Traore, Trez, Targett, Sanson, Watkins to come into contention I’d say that we are looking quite healthy. The kids are becoming viable players too so I can understand the reluctance to buy more at this point.

    Raiky went out on loan and I am hoping for big things from him, Think its Stockport county.

    U23’s won 2-1 and I think it was U18’s got a 10-0 win against Norwich.

  57. Oh and Smith mentioned the new set piece coach, 1st goal from a throw routine, Cash to Mings flick on to Ings and the second a corner routine to get the pen.

  58. Barrow say all tickets for Tuesday night’s game are sold out. It’s also live on Sky. I’m not expecting any traumas, a comfortable win no doubt in front of the Aston boys who travel near and far.

  59. It begins to look as if Moyes might have finally found his new niche.
    It seems that it’s not guaranteed that a good manager will automatically perform well with any club he’s recruited by but that the culture and squad mix of some clubs will be more suited than others. West Ham and Moyes seem to be such a match.

  60. robbo

    yeah west ham look very good. Talk of the rules changing a bit too to suit more physical play could change the game a bit.

    keeping an eye out for potter and brighton too this season, see if he can improve them. they were very good against watford. stopped that counter which we got wrong.

  61. The Dildo Bros (or Brady Bunch) will be delighted with West ‘Aaamm. Having flogged the real estate, moved into rented accommodation and pocketed the loot, they will be actively looking to sell the club for one last big killing. Optimum time to sell when said team is top. It’s only been 2 games mind.

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