Deadline day has come and gone without further signings, leading to disbelief, despair, and criticism from some quarters. Business as usual, of course, but let’s take a breath and have a think.

I thought we’d be in for one more signing, and I thought it would probably be a big, mean defensive midfielder. Clearly I was wrong. I’m also an optimist. Thought Jack would give it another year (or that Compass would refuse to sell), as well. Who knew.

I’ll also confess to having no idea where FFP stands at the moment. Yes, Villa are debt-free, but the Compass have pumped in a lot of cash to make it so, and as of now, Villa still have one year of Championship turnover on their books. Guessing it’s not a pressing issue with the Smith Rowe and Ward-Prowse pursuits.

We Had the Money, Didn’t We?
Yes, we have plenty, and probably could’ve spent a lot more. Yet, depending on who’s doing the math, Villa came out of the window £5m–£7m ahead, despite signing three £30m players.

That’s what’s freaking out a number of fans. Can’t speak for everyone, but you’d be excused for thinking we’d spend the Grealish money and then go on with what we’d have spent otherwise. That’s how you climb up the table, right, spending money?

Thing is, Jack leaving clearly changed the math and maybe the Europe timeline. We spent virtually all the £100m on Buendia, Bailey and Ings. Having already brought in Sanson (touted as a target for this summer who was available on the cheap last January), we also brought Ash and Axel back. Given Sanson has played fewer minutes for Villa than Danny Ings, let’s call it six new signings.

So when you stop and think about it, five or six is probably enough for any window. Yes, we did let Engels, Guilbert, Hourihane, and Wesley all leave (and Davis would have, too), so you could say we were only filling holes. But each hole was filled with an upgrade. Maybe not like-for-like in Guilbert’s case, but close enough.

But Villa Didn’t Address All Their Needs
Going into the summer, I figured all the attention would be lavished on the attack and central midfield. Turns out, the attention was mostly on attack, which was largely a response to the Grealish hole, but we also needed these players if Grealish had stayed. I’d also said that with the number of clean sheets and decent defensive performances last season, the club were probably happy with the back four and defensive midfield.

Most will say where Villa fall short is controlling the midfield. I can’t say I disagree. And after the first half at Watford, I thought we were probably crying out for an enforcer, if nothing else. Who knows, maybe Tuanzebe can do it when needed. But, no recognized enforcer, and, apart from Sanson, and Buendia in some systems, the club didn’t make moves in the middle.

Madness? Maybe, but probably not.

What Are the Actual Needs?
Midfield control depends on quality and strength on the ball, the ability to win it back, energy levels, grit, and reading of the game. It also depends on how attacking moves end or stall, and what that means in a given system.

Villa don’t necessarily give it away cheaply in midfield. Unless it’s from not being strong enough on the ball, or the misplaced/cut-out through-ball (which happens to everyone). The thing to consider is that we often give it away cheaply in attack and we throw numbers forward. I think Buendia, Bailey and Ings will help with that. As the side gels and everyone becomes available, I’ll expect Villa’s attacking moves to result in more corners, goal kicks, deep throw-ins, or fouls.

In other words, I’ll expect fewer moves to result in instant counters when the side is sucked up.

I also expect Luiz to keep improving, McGinn to show greater fitness and impact, and Jacob Ramsey to step forward. Sanson remains an unknown quantity. But his record says he’s tenacious. Buendia is, too, and he showed it against Brentford. So while Villa’s middle may not be physically intimidating, we have battlers and I think we’ll have enough quality to keep it ticking over. Physical strength is perhaps a shortcoming. But neither Kalvin Phillips nor Declan Rice are particularly intimidating in terms of size and pure physicality. Neither is Ngolo Kanté, for that matter.

Will this haunt us on set-pieces, flick-ons, and some one-on-one battles? At times, yes. But no more than last year.

The Kids, Boss, the Kids!
We’ve also seen what so many have been crying out for, and that’s an apparent commitment to our most promising academy products. Jacob Ramsey’s obviously the prime example, but Jaden Philogene-Bidace and Carney Chukwuemeka are now in the frame, and Cameron Archer suddenly has found himself in it, too. None of those three are the finished article yet, but they’re already getting some minutes, which is what it takes. The rest have gone out on loan, which is what they need.

They just have to get up to speed and be brought along right.

Where Does That Leave Us?
At the back, I don’t expect us to be any worse. Mings, Konsa, Hause and Tuanzebe are a very decent set of CBs. Targett had a rough half on opening day, but we know he’s better than that. Cash is just fine, too.

Up front, we’re definitely better. With Watkins, Ings, Bailey, Buendia and Traoré to call on, there’s guile and goals. Certainly grit and graft when it comes to Watkins, Ings, and Buendia. I’m thinking we’ll see better from Traoré now he’s had the surgery he apparently needed.

In the middle? Well, that, to me, remains the only question. But with listed midfielders, we have Buendia, Ramsey, McGinn, Luiz, Sanson, Nakamba, and Chukwuemeka all fighting for two or three spots, depending on formation. Of those, only Buendia and Sanson are labeled attacking midfielders by the club.

Speaking of Formations
This is the big question, and we still have no idea what Smith has in mind in terms of accommodating Watkins and Ings. All the dominoes fall from there.

Missing a number of players against Brentford, Smith opted for a 4-5-1. Apart from one breakdown, it worked pretty well, then we saw subs and a 4-3-3 that shored up the defense and added a striker. Most seem to think 4-3-3 will be our best look, rather than Smith’s tendency toward 4-2-3-1. For me, the enforcer seemed necessary if we look to play 4-4-2 regularly. But I was also already thinking that because of Ings, then reacting to a bad half in the first game.

What I think will happen is that Villans will finally see horses for courses. Smith now has enough talent to change things round. Ghazi and Trez will almost certainly be 2nd and 3rd choice, respectively, for example. Unless we hit a winning streak, I don’t think we’ll know what a healthy starting XI looks like in any given match.

Final Thought(s)
It was a rough summer with all the interruptions, and it came after a rough, interrupted season. Grealish’s situation wasn’t resolved until after the Euros. The other signings and arrival dates (Plan B), injuries, and covid have delayed Smith having a full squad to train with, let alone choose from. Managers will always come under criticism, but fans need to calm down about Smith. Do we really think Moyes is that much smarter? Arteta? Rodgers? I don’t.

Patience, in other words. Meltdowns over four points from the opening three, well…It’s going to happen, but me, I don’t think it’s warranted. The upcoming fixtures aren’t kind, and I suspect Villa may have to set up cautiously looking to simply tread water against Chelsea and United given the timing. Spurs, Wolves, Arsenal, and West Ham? Nothing easy there, but I think based on last season, Villa will play to win.

When you look at the league overall, though, there are no ‘easy’ matches. The league keeps getting harder and harder top to bottom. Money will do that.

The main thing is that Villa are improved. There’s more balance, and if we don’t have a world-beater to run everything through, we do have a deeper squad with more danger men. Might take a bit to see it come together.

But in the end, what I’ve seen so far is about what I expected. Maybe we look for no more than staying steady, or climbing to 7th or 8th. Regardless, if Compass are okay, I’m okay. We’ll see changes if they’re not happy, and they won’t be shortsighted or knee-jerk.

Bottom line, I trust NSWE and Smith. If the five-year plan was premised on Grealish, well, yeah, things have changed. And it’s okay to work on building and integrating a new squad—we’ve been forced to.

The points haul might not be great in the coming weeks. It may look like we’re regressing and will be drawn into a relegation battle. It may seem to some that Smith is incompetent.

But we aren’t, we won’t, and he isn’t. It looks to have been a good window to me, cagey yet assertive. Let’s just give everyone a little time. I think they’ve more than earned it.

Over to you.

Comments 132

  1. nice one John

    Like you say the interesting part will be to see what deano picks when everyone (god willing) is finally fit and available.

    More than happy with the kids gettin game time, seeing an identity playing style wise and not getting involved with the bottom 6

  2. Quality JC

    Lot of points covered personally I think we have had a very good market and could be a much better balanced side than last season
    Shakespeare has urged the club to stop buying players as he says he hasn’t seen this many young talents in one place during his career and said it is key that there career path at villa isn’t blocked

    What I would like to see improve greatly this season is our patterns of attacking play which has a lot of room for improvement and it looks like the club is seeking to address this issue with the latest coaching appointment

    It is a worry for me when the likes of Brentford have a more together way of playing than Villa , there high press was very well drilled and caused us lots of trouble forcing mistakes from us time after time .. credit to them

    if we can improve in our playing style maybe we can kick on another level and our young players can hopefully flourish

    Looks like the Emi’s may miss more games than agreed with the club hopefully not true it would be a little disrespectful to Villa if there manager goes against the agreement with the club

  3. Top script JC. It covers the issues in depth.

    To quote you – “Midfield control depends on quality and strength on the ball, the ability to win it back, energy levels, grit, and reading of the game”. Those Lifers that have played the game at any level understand midfield is the battle that must be won to win a game in the large majority of cases. The attributes you list are exactly what we need but the last one is so important as reading the game is hard to coach into players and relies more on players possessing the natural instinct. Seeing danger and dealing with it or spotting a strikers run and feeding him is priceless. Buendia and hopefully Sanson fit this particular mould.

    Hope Emi and Emi squared are not misused by an intransigent national coach.

  4. runtings,

    A lot of truth in what you’re saying.

    There for a minute last season, you could see what it was about, but Ross’s and Jack’s absences destroyed any sort of flow.

    So now, I think we’ll probably see more passing than carrying to progress the ball, and it will end up looking more like some other teams’ systems we admire. Do still think Deano will try to hit Watkins and Ings from deep, but we should also be able to pass through the middle.

    Danks’ appointment is a good one at the right time while bedding in players and becoming a post-Grealish side. Kind of think Terry was probably a bit superfluous once the back four had established themselves, and figure O’Kelly was a bit extra, as well. Deano’s got a true #2 now, and truly technical, developmental coaches in support.

  5. Do not understand this Argentina business at all. Villa have been cool, Scaloni apparently is taking the piss.

    If it’s all the way we understand it, the players are in a hard spot. “Sorry, gaffer, would love to play but I have to go.” I can’t see the Villa hierarchy being pleased. One match I could understand since Emi’s become so important and Buendia is expected to.

    But with covid, a national team coach gazzumping the club’s wishes and apparent agreement, well…Villa need to get a full side available and playing together at some point, and Everton would be a good place to start.

  6. Plug,

    Yeah, reading the game, especially at DM is everything. I think Luiz has shown he has it. Just fitness and consistency there. Been a steep learning curve for him, and the position is a big ask of anyone.

    It was the biggest difference in Targett between his first and second season. And against Brentford, he started showing it again, reading the wide/long balls, cutting them out, etc., back in the right positions, allowing him to get tight if he wasn’t going to get there first.

    Like you say, very curious to see what Sanson and Buendia will bring in this area. Real shame Sanson’s been sidelined so long.

  7. H&V,

    I’ve been skeptical about where some of the kids are at, but I think there’s enough around them now that we can afford to ease them in. And there’s probably something to the outside interest potentially forcing Villa’s hand a bit.

    To runting’s point, though, there may have been a bit of a recalibration of goal’s after Jack’s departure, taking the pressure off a bit in terms of making room for them.

    Archer is really interesting for me, seems like he’s nudged ahead of Barry. I’m guessing it’s as much down to body type/physical maturity as natural goal-scoring ability. It was only Barrow, but those were all very good finishes for anyone.

  8. Thanks John, it’s always nice to read something with meat in the article. It’s something the media and politicians lack.
    Villa have an embarrassment of talent, but no Kane, Lukaku, Ronaldo, or him who won’t be mentioned. Villa doesn’t need a star like that. It warps the team and starves players of time on the pitch and then when injured the team breaks down. When you look at the depth now, more players will get time on the pitch, become more involved in the play and improve quicker all due to the absence of him. It hurt but it will be for the good.
    Villa most likely have a 10 goal man on the bench in El Ghazi and loaned out 3 very good players. It shows the improvement in the team. The number of youth players that lower league teams want to borrow is eye opening. The number of transfer deals that will be made in the future will be few and far between.
    Villa are just about to jump into the driver’s seat going for top 6. Let’s get all the ducks in a row before the big push starts.

    And giving the armband to Mings is perfect. A guy who is admired by Forbes magazine as one of the 20 up ad coming young people in Europe, a guy who doesn’t suffer fools, and someone who glues the back line together with his competitiveness and organization. Expect the same from Bailey who also didn’t have the best time when younger.

  9. Thanks JC very thorough and on the money.

    You made the point about the Forwards keeping the ball better, I think that this is an underrated quality. Jack did that for us but also because he was inevitably fouled and Free kick given or not that was where the breakdown was and the counter on. Not because others didn’t lose it too but because players did not move enough to receive it. We will also win the ball back a lot more.

    so having a forward line that keeps and wins the ball does what? it gives the midfield more time and less aggro and freedom to make runs etc, which in turn gives the defence less aggro. Teams might resort to route one but we deal with that quite well. So maybe Sanson and less pressure expected is why no Mid came in.

    With Kids you don’t know when they will mature but these few have done so over the summer, with a little help from the weight room. Takes a while to learn to carry the extra poundage but they should be more powerful and keep their pace up.

    I agree with Ian, as much as it pains me to see Jack elsewhere it opens doors for Villa at this point in our development. I do think Bailey has the potential to be a focal point but with Watkins and Ings in there he does like to provide. Bidace though of all the lads could be the closest thing to Jack but with a real turn of speed and from what I have seen as good or better awareness and vision.

    On the back burner, Young, Archer and Barry are as good as finishers that I have seen.

  10. Looks like Jacks decision to leave was a lot about playing for England in the big games, felt that he had to play Champs league etc to do that. One more reason for us to hate Beaky then.

  11. No flies on Jack he starts tonight against Hungary, Beaky said his stats are to good to ignore, getting a the odd goal or assist in routine 5-0 drubbings is the highest conformation that Jack is ready to make the next step, his Bank balance has particularly been impressive since moving to city

  12. Yep, Beaky’s veil has slipped and revealed what every Villa supporter already knew. He has his favourites. And Citeh is one of them. He preferred Trippier over Jack in the Euro’s but a couple of games with Guardiola changes everything.

    My dislike of him as our national coach has only hardened.

  13. So Pep has improved Grealish so much in 3 games that now he’s good enough to start for England. What a load of tosh
    It’s clear that playing for England really mattered to Jack and you can’t blame him for that. I did wonder towards the end of last season if he was excused from playing Villa games in order to ensure he was fully fit and able to maximise his chances of being able to turn out for England.
    It appears that we are now being very accommodating towards our Argentinian players and as a player it’s what I would hope for from my club. It does however need to be reciprocated by the players and international coaches and if it isn’t then we will have to change our approach. . . which would be a shame for everyone concerned.

  14. Some really interesting thoughts in your intro JC. I had seen some of the negative sentiments from some villa ‘fans’ but to be honest, I think most of them were from internet attention seekers and easily ignored.
    As you say, the next few weeks could be a little tough, particularly with key players missing, but our owners and manager have earned the right to some patience from fans. You can guarantee that some silly online attention seekers won’t see it that way.

  15. A really interesting observation from runtings about Shakespeare, pointing out the quality of our youth and warning the club not to thwart their opportunities.
    I’m 100% behind this. . . .even if it does mean that we need to show a little more patience whilst those players mature.

  16. So Beaky drops Trippier for Jack in a much more attacking set up. What a surprise, 0-4 in a hostile environment. Perhaps he’s thinking the unthinkable. That our attacking players are dangerous after all like so many people have said.

  17. Villa can’t stop their international players going full stop. Only injured players I believe can be stopped even the then the country accesses them.

    Jc yes jack should shut up but has no off switch and the comment that he has been off since the Spurs offer confirmed it .

    Magically just the chance of playing in the champs league gets you a starting role, you don’t even need to play in it and you’ve improved 🙂

  18. gold on twitter at the mo.

    Brum mail reporter has put a column out dissing jack saying he is coming across a bit crass and lacking class re villa. jack or his pr team (brand JG10) has responded!

  19. Jacks version.

    This is the worst and most one sided article I’ve ever seen.. Classless? Jealous? Couldn’t wait to get out? Arrogance? How exactly? I’ve been a villa fan my whole life and still am. The thing is you don’t understand what goes on in the real football world.

    Sorry but you could not have worded the interview much worse Jack, there was no need and it was thoughtless so suck it up.

  20. Mark, you say that Villa can’t stop their players from turning out for the national sides but:

    “On Monday the Egypt FA revealed it had received a letter from Liverpool explaining why Mohamed Salah would not be released for the World Cup qualifier against Angola in Cairo next week. Liverpool have also informed the Brazilian FA that Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino would not be released for their World Cup qualifiers against Chile, Argentina and Peru as they, and Salah, would need to quarantine for 10 days on their return. Manchester City had adopted the same stance with Ederson and Gabriel Jesus.”

    Watford, Wolves and Newcastle have not released their players either. . . . .in fact it seems to me that it’s only Villa and Spurs who have!

    Some international bodies are now calling for players that refused international duty to be banned from playing domestic games and that would be only fair, but if it does happen, then it must include the period of quarantine too, or those clubs (Spurs and Villa0 who played by the rules will still be discriminated against. . . . for doing the right thing!

    It did also ‘appear’ that Jack was allowed extra time off for Villa last season in order to give him the best chance to be fit for England so hopefully players who are passionate about playing for the National sides will at least see which clubs are likely to put the player’s wishes first

  21. I’m sure that Jack has a real affection for Villa. He clearly doesn’t ‘love’ the club, because you don’t walk out on someone or something you love but he’s been a close supporter all his life and that is unlikely to leave him.

    He (or more likely his agent) ‘appear’ to have been quite cynical with the way they have spoken about the club since he left however. Now that could well be a calculated move to convince his new club of his ‘love’ for them and their fans and you couldn’t blame him for that. If he wants to maximise his royalty earnings then ‘brand Grealish’ needs Man City customers to buy shirts with his name on and a little spat with his ex club won’t do him any harm in that regard.

    He won’t ever be loved by Man City fans in the way he could have been at Villa because he’s just another player in that club. . . .a very good player. . . . but just one of many. Not only that, but a half full Etihad shows that most City fans ‘love’ for the club is only skin deep.

    When Villa are challenging right at the top, we will attract many more fans and many of those will also be the ‘here today gone tomorrow’ kind so I guess we shouldn’t be too disparaging of the plastic City fans now and I guess we should applaud then FA and EUFA for making the Premiership and Champion’s league so popular all around the world.

    Jack’s self-interested shenanigans of the past 2/3 years are a largely inevitable consequence of this popularity and the consequent lure of fame and riches that playing for the top clubs right now provides, but they do however leave a slightly bitter taste in the mouth and a residual sadness of what could have been if Jack’s first instinct had been to stay and help the club back to where it should be.

  22. For me Jack did more for Villa than any other player that I remember, and then handed us £100m. I don’t believe most of what’s written in the papers.

    Glad Chukwuemeka is getting recognition. The boy will hopefully have a great season along with Bidace.

    Not sure why Argi’s insist on keeping Buendia for their 3 games when he’s not in match day squad. That’s bad form. I’m really hoping Sanson is the real deal. There was a lot of hype about him being one of the most creative players in France, so hopefully he has now adjusted

  23. Robbo- Its FIFA’s rules those clubs are breaking and are Egypt likely to turn their backs on Salah? no, likewise Jesus won’t be ostracised by Brazil.. The two Emi’s are new to their national sides and therefore won’t rock the boat. Its not an even playing field whichever way you look at it.

    VillaMD- watch the interview then its pretty accurate, Jack has been looking to go since he was 16 when manure tapped him up, could of gone to spurs way before he did anything for the club, then nearly went to Manure again and then inserted the clause, so while I agree he ultimately did a lot it was more because he was here than a want to take Villa into the higher realms.

    It looks very much like its about Jack which was not what he portrayed to fans. Ming’s for instance does not appear to play those games. Jack became the identity of the club and could of done an awful lot if his love for Villa and his home town was that great, it ultimately was not and more about the legend that is Jack Grealish (in his head). Do I blame him or dislike him for it? no its his life, am I disappointed? yep but that is life these days, should be used to it, no ethics, he made a lot of money from being the hometown Boy, don’t forget that.

    In one part of the interview he says DeBruyne is only just hitting his best at 30 and that he has 5 years until then, so another season at Villa would not have killed him. It was about England and how he felt he had no chance unless he was at a City level club. That’s crap as Philips, Rice and Pickford are not and start every game. I hope Mings corners him in the England camp.

  24. You only hope that Jack leaving and comments don’t start an exodus. We need to start looking the part and get the kids through, ultimately Jack departure will very likely help but his comments do not. I would be nailing them up on the dressing room wall in a frame.

  25. Mark, I’m with you on almost all your comments about Jack and his motivations. The one area I’m not so sure about is his likelihood of playing for England under Southgate whilst he was still at Villa. You’re right that Southgate has been picking players outside the greedy 6 but that doesn’t preclude him from holding some sort of a grudge against Villa.
    He did after all leave under something of a cloud when he stated that Villa were lacking ambition (probably true) but then went to Middlesborough!
    As someone so capable with words, he does sometimes contradict himself which leaves you questioning the real reasons behind some of his decisions.

  26. rOBb0, I too am convinced that Beaky has an axe to grind with Villa. Whether he was shafted at some point by Herbert, I don’t know but his departure from VP didn’t seem amicable at the time.

    He may still be unforgiving. But on the here and now, he surely has to put his entire second string out against Andorra which should be more than capable of collecting 3 points. Our best 11 needs to be rested and ready for Poland.

  27. Robbo/Plug – I think the Beaky having an agenda with Villa is very unlikely, Mings is there isn’t he? and he’s injured. Makes no sense that he’d have a beef with our new owners, in two years he may have some incredible players to choose from coming through, to do his job as England manager and hate Villa he would have to cut off many of the players in England’s U 18/19/21 squads, makes no sense whatsoever.

    His problem I believe was in the way Jack played for Villa, freedom of the park, not tightly regimented. Now Jacks at City in Pepes much more rigid style (comparatively) and not seeing the amount of ball he would at Villa he can see how he looks in a tippy tappy me to you style he prefers.

    I noticed that Jack himself has toned down his runs for England, most of the time he’s watching the others passing incessantly and occasionally wandering over the other side to do similar. His main job seems to be to put Shaw through on the overlap.

    If he has learned anything at city its that in a team full of ego’s and talent you won’t see the ball much and its ultimately more team based ironically.

    Compare that to our give it to Jack style of recent seasons. At this moment he is somewhere in the top 30 for big chances created in the prem even Anwars on par with him. In every aspect he is bog average compared to the top players so far and what’s also telling is his big chances missed is zero.

    Funny thing is pep said the same as smith you have to get your goals and assists up.

  28. Funny enough Villa may have profited by Jacks obsession with getting his stats up to get into England and or a move. Might also of held us back if his actual intentions were not known by the club who bent over backward to please him.

  29. Robbo- I saw that a study was done on masks in Bangladesh and has been hailed as absolute proof that they work in the populace, its a piss poor study riddled with problems yet held up as truth and fact whereas the Danish study that was done correctly showing the opposite was ignored. You have to wonder what is going on in science these days, has it become more political than the politicians? or just being used by them. Boris is set to totally ignore the science and inject the kids now, About time we stopped throwing money at testing and vaccines and put it back into real care.

  30. Mark, you may be right that Southgate has no gripes with Villa but genuinely thought that Jack needed to play regularly with more talented players to learn how to be just one part of an orchestra rather than the soloist. If that’s true then it’s also almost certain that he was telling him exactly that and was at least partly instrumental in him leaving. At the time, his stated reasons for leaving Jack out were inconsistent and untrue so he was clearly feeling the need to conceal the real reason.. . . . we can all conjecture exactly what that was.

  31. Mark, You can’t denyJack’s occasional brilliance and it was on show in flashes again against Hungary. There were also times when he looked frustrated and lost, waving for the ball whilst the game seemed to be passing him by.
    In the last two seasons, having built our team around him we have suffered disproportionately when he’s taken long absences through injury. It’s still raw right now, but there is every chance that in the medium term, Villa will benefit from having an orchestra rather than a soloist with supporting players; England will benefit from having a talented player who fits into their manager’s style of playing; and Jack will benefit from playing earlier at the highest level sooner than he would have done at Villa (albeit without the adulation he’d have received at Villa).
    Villa will also benefit from not falling apart for 10 games when Jack’s shins Next splinter!

  32. Robbo- yeah we can but a beef with villa over a clearly very talented player? Stretching it a bit for me.

    I see that Brazil have waved the 14 day quarantine for the Argies from the uk, now why can’t our government do the same considering that football is tightly run with regular testing etc? It’s a right load of tosh.

  33. Mark, That Bangladesh study probably was flawed. Let’s face it, it’s hard to construct rigorous tests at the best of times, but particularly difficult with something like covid in large fluid populations.
    It is however human nature to gravitate towards evidence that supports our existing preconceptions. Ask yourself honestly. . . . might you have been tempted to gloss over the flaws if the results had been the opposite and had supported your existing beliefs?
    (PS. . . . that’s the sort of ‘test’ question that is inserted into employee recruitment questionnaires to see if the candidate is being truly open and honest)

  34. Mark,
    You may find it hard to believe, but I do actually read what you write, and try to do some further checking myself where it differs from my own views . . . . . yes, believe it not sometimes we hold opposing views! 😉

    An example of that is your comments on climate change just being part of a natural cycle and unaffected by man. I’m still seeking out articles on that topic because I’ve found plenty of stuff that I hadn’t previously read, and a lot of it is fascinating. I knew that the planet has at various times in the past been significantly hotter or colder than it is now. What I had thought was exceptional was the ‘rate’ of current change. The current rapid increase in global temperatures is indeed extremely unusual. . . . but not unprecedented! There appears to have been at least one shift in global temperatures in the past which was both greater, and faster than the current one. I didn’t gain any reassurance from this though as it simply emphasised that there are various environmental ‘tripwires’ which can trigger rapid and uncontrolled shifts in climate. We know some of these such as melting permafrost releasing huge amounts of methane, or switching ocean current such as the Gulf Stream, plunging Northern Europe into permanent winter, but the real worry is the ‘unknown unknowns’ which may unexpectedly happen at ay time.
    Whether we needed a new midfield enforcer or not will look somewhat less important if one of those happens.

  35. It seems that the Brazilian authorities are saying the the two Emis (along with two Spurs players) have broken their quarantine rules and will be prohibited from playing in Brazil for Argentina. As they say. . . . you couldn’t make it up!

  36. robbo- while I might appear to be a conspiracy theorist hell bent on saying the opposite to what the mainstream offers I’m actually not. There is so much contradictory evidence out there and mudsling done I remain sceptical. Time and again mankind’s ideas of what’s fact fall short which is fine as long as your not betting the house on it being right.

    When I see the record this and that comments thrown about only to find that they are actually not (and in the last 100 years in many cases ) I have to question the motives. I do think if I did not throw up these things nobody else would bother and off we would go into zero CO2 land and all it entails.

    I’d like to think I would not just put stuff up to prove a point but more to say there is more than one perspective and view point in the scientific world, Covid has been a huge magnifier of this. For instance, Israel is the most vaccinated yet has the 5th most infections and the vaccinations wane over 4-5 months, where is the discourse? they are just ploughing on and taking no notice of new evidence that is available.

    I like Tony Hellers historical view of climate change, just shows you that the world is a dangerous place my friend and always was and will be.

  37. Hi Mark,
    You’re right of course that there’s always been bad weather. The trouble with our media is that once they have the public’s attention on a topic they look for more ‘similar’ stories to feed the fear. This inevitably leads to scepticism when some of these overblown stories are shown to be just that.

    I’ll look at the other two links a bit later but have just listened to the first one and whilst there was a point to be made I found his approach puerile and condescending. Just taking one of his points:His graph showing that
    climate change agreements have had no effect on CO2 levels was just unscientific and silly. Compare it with your previous Bangladesh link which made some valid points about their lack of scientific rigour . . . . . this one had no base line, or control and didn’t even try to demonstrate what the graph might have looked like without those agreements.
    Basically, he was an unreliable witness for the prosecution.

  38. On your point about Israel and covid cases:
    I’d normally check what I was going to say first so take this with a bit of caution. . . .I’ll check it later and own up if I have it wrong.

    I think . . . . .that Israel has a much younger population than us and although they were quicker than us to immunise older age groups their overall immunisation levels are lower than ours and well below what might be considered enough to provide herd immunity. (I’ll come back to that)

    It also seems that levels of vaccine immunity are declining in time, particularly with the Pfizer jab. (I don’t know which jab Israel used mind you)

    Bearing in mind these two factors and that Israel then opened up, it perhaps isn’t surprising that the Delta variant (assuming this is the one causing the problem) is getting a free run at things.

    Going back to herd immunity, it’s beginning to look like a pipe dream. Our best hope seems to be that we gain enough immunity through vaccination of the old and acquired immunity via infection of the young that it becomes just another disease that we have to live with, and sadly sometimes die from. The unvaccinated old in this scenario will die in much higher numbers than they needed to and (unless they were advised not to for health reasons, I find it hard to feel sympathy for their ignorant and selfish attitudes.

    Vaccination of 12 to 16 year olds is a really tough one. The balance of risk between vaccine induced heart disease and serious illness from covid is very finely balanced in this age group. Society as a whole would benefit from them being vaccinated because it would move us closer to herd immunity, and reduce infections and deaths in the older age groups (particularly the silly anti-vaxxers).

    In an authoritarian society it may be made compulsory to vaccinate as many people as possible but that won’t happen here. . . . . there will just be strong encouragement. Even someone like Boris will have to tread carefully because the TV cameras won’t treat him kindly when they have the grieving mother of a vaccinated 14 year old who was unlucky enough to be the 1 in a million who suffers a seriously adverse reaction.

  39. Robbo- Clearly as the CO2 is still rising they have had little effect on persuading countries to do much about it have they? not to the level required, plenty is said and of course all the changing to electric cars etc all involve a lot of industry that pumps out CO2 so I don’t suppose its changed much. We can’t know if it would be any different if we hadn’t can we? the percentages apart from ours are minute really and more than swamped by the increase from others.

    As for his approach he has been hounded himself and so I suspect its a reaction that. I was more interested in the historical storms, temps, etc than a graph that took place at much lower CO2 levels.

  40. You couldn’t make it up. Our 2 Emi’s plus the 2 Spurs players for the Argies have been detained by the police and health officials during the first half of the Brazil v Argentina world cup qualifier for not quarantining when arriving from UK.

    The Argies have walked off the pitch. What a train wreck. Guess our 2 boys will be home in 10 days time then. Then another quarantine period this end. Perhaps we’ll see them by Guy Fawkes night. Meanwhile, at FIFA HQ in Switzerland, the suits continue to draw massive salaries and bonuses for doing such a splendid job. Piss ups and breweries come to mind.

  41. Mark. The fact that CO2 is still rising ‘despite’ the various actions that have been taken (or in too many cases. . .’talked about but NOT yet taken’) shows how much still has to be done. However, CO2 is rising more slowly than would otherwise have been the case. The upward trajectory was incredibly fast but now is just really really fast. It will take considerable action on behalf of governments, companies and individuals to turn it around and it’s debatable whether enough of us have the will to do it. The guy on that you tube video just wanted to make his political point and wasn’t interested in the truth or scientific rigour.
    It’s perfectly reasonable. . . .in fact important, that we continue to question the facts. It does anger me though when people deliberately try to hoodwink people by knowingly talking total bollocks. I’m assuming that’s what that guy was doing. But it’s just possible that he’s just thick as shit and didn’t realise it (I think the former is more likely).
    I may be wrong, and climate change is not man made (the fact that global temperatures are rising is not a debating point, its a fact).
    I’ve mentioned before though that, I strongly believe that it isn’t and my business partner and I have invested over £100,000 over the past 2 months alone in reducing carbon emissions to make our own business carbon negative and we’ll carry on doing this until we find out, either that we’re wrong, or until we just can’t afford to keep on doing it.

  42. Not sure what Argentina FA were playing at thinking they could bypass covid isolation restrictions. The law is the law for everyone, even mega rich football players. I bet Brazil let the game start so the can get 3-0 win for Argi’s fielding illegal players

  43. VillaMD. It does feel rather contrived that they decided to try and arrest the players on the pitch rather than at the airport, or in their hotels, or as they arrived at the ground. Brazil’s covid response has been haphazard to say the least so maybe someone was trying to send a signal, but you could be right, and in a football mad country it was all about trying to gain a, unsporting, sporting advantage

  44. Robbo- vaccination doesn’t move us closer to herd immunity those that have had Covid do with x6.72 greater immunity, the immunity is multi factorial in the infected. Add the reports of the vaccinated producing more of the virus and spreading it (I suppose that might hasten herd immunity of some kind) and catching it more readily . There are many complications and deaths that have occurred from the vaccines a halt might be prudent. Two athletes died after having the Jab, apparently intense exercise after the jab magnifies the heart problems it can produce in the younger population.

    Selfish? does that not cut both ways? no more selfish than Eating and drinking and smoking yourself to ill health. I for one wish I had not bothered. Lockdowns are a known killer yet people want to see them employed.

    You seem to think the science is in on their efficiency and long term effects (which are yet to be determined ) let alone that they were warned that vaccination in a pandemic drives variants and here we are.

  45. Oh Robbo apparently the double Jabbed when they get Covid now add sneezing to the symptoms, not found in the unvaccinated. Pretty much reckon I have had this in August.

  46. Mark, if you’re talking about pausing inoculation of children under 16 then you may have a point. . . . . there’s a fine balance between risk and reward for that age group, unless they have certain underlying conditions in which cases it makes sense for them still to have it.
    As for older age groups, particularly those over 40 the evidence is extremely clear. The vaccination dramatically reduces their risk of infection and more importantly serious illness.
    If you have any doubts, take a look at the graphs of infection v hospitalisation and deaths now and earlier in the year.

  47. Mark, yes I saw that piece about changing symptoms too. It seems that when vaccinated, covid can appear more like the common cold. It’d be nice to think that could be the end point for this virus . . . . here’s hoping

  48. Robbo- That was definitely peer reviewed by Hitler 🙂
    You are supposed to be given the information so you can make an informed choice yet all the side effects barely mentioned other than that getting Covid is somehow worse than the Jabs side effects massively comforting. Also by international law you do have a choice apparently just like the choice to kill yourself with any other method of body destruction, and coercion is not allowed. So I have no sympathy, I think those that take it are probably just want everyone to get ill if they have fucked themselves, all for one eh.

    “While the COVID injections have been characterized as being somewhere around 95% effective against SARS-CoV-2 infection, this is the relative risk reduction, which tells you very little about its usefulness. The absolute risk reduction is only around 1% for all currently available COVID shots”

    Best to arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can before making potential life changing choices. And yeah I know Mercola and Dr. Sucharit Bhakdihas been declared public enemy number one and two which in itself is laughable .

    Still all this for something that 99.7% of us won’t die from or even notice. Some are very willing to use kids to protect the very old with many health challenges, think that says enough about where at today.

  49. Mark, In 1952, cases of polio in the US peaked at 57,000 cases with just over 3,000 children dying. Covid has killed over 200 times more people and yet polio vaccines have been taken as a matter of course in order to eradicate the disease in many countries despite the risk of side effects for those with allergies for example.
    Vaccines work. They may not be 100% effective and they may have side effects but they reduce disease and reduce deaths. I find the resistance to taking them puzzling.

  50. Robbo- that’s simple, they are an experimental vaccine and the companies involved have no liability if they harm or kill people.

    As the medical fraternity are supposed to 1st do no harm I find it amazing that people are prepared to look the other way.

    Let me put it like this, if someone dies or becomes very ill who would not have without taking the vaccine in the pursuit of preventing very old and infirm people dying is that worth it to you? if it is then the why was it not acceptable to let nature take its course in the 1st place?

    we have no idea if the Vaccine is benign long term and this is a corona Vaccine not polio or a single disease, we have never eradicated a flu type virus and very likely will not or just plain cannot , we have always lived with them and their consequences.

    If you listen to Dr. Sucharit Bhakdihas you will get an idea why its not just another vaccine. This bloke has worked on them for years so not anti vax.

  51. Robbo and the word “children” the ones adults are supposed to look after might have something to do with the polio vaccine vs mostly over 80’s with illnesses.

  52. Just learned something very interesting about Polio. Apparently the advent of sanitation prevented new borns from coming into contact with it in the 1st 30 days of birth. During that time (30 days)the mothers antibodies which would trigger a response and teach the kids body to expel polio, after that they waned. As we got cleaner that didn’t happen and so an exposure at an older age occurred with no protection.

    Hence the Vaccine, which also caused outbreaks itself at times with a death rate of 5-15%

  53. Mark,
    It’s is not an ‘experimental’ vaccine any more than any other vaccine is. Every year the flu vaccine changes according to the perceived most risky flu viruses within that year but we don’t have the same online debates about it.
    Yes there’s a chance that there are long term effects from the vaccine although its unlikely. We do know that many people are suffering long term adverse effects from covid though but don’t know if there could be even worse ones further down the line.
    We’re not vaccinating children. There are discussions about whether it is in the best interest of 12 to 16 year olds for them to be vaccinated but it’s a line call because the known risks are quite evenly balanced for most in that age group. If someone in that age group suffers an adverse effect. . .and some will, then that is horrible but there will be a similar number who die or suffer long term ill effects from Covid.
    There are plenty of unvaccinated who have now gone on record (just before they die) saying that they wish they’d been vaccinated and urging their family to do so.
    If you choose not to take the booster that’s up to you . . .it’ll be your choice. I’ll be taking mine. No 12 to 16 year old (or any other age come to that) is going to be forced to take one

  54. Robbo- yes it is an experiment normal precautions have been suspended or pushed through expediently. And it’s a new delivery method trialled with aids vaccines etc. It doesn’t remain in the site it was injected in and can begin producing spike proteins all over the place which is why we are seeing problems. You appear to have no idea of the real risk to the healthy which is not a lot. The unvaccinated become the scapegoats.

    Meanwhile the wuhan lab and the Chinese government gets off Scott free and our government decides what level of risk we can take in our lives. Massive dept and more state control which they don’t look like releasing only end up one way and it’s not happy ever after.

  55. Mark, The real risk is from covid . . . . with approaching 5,000,000 now being dead because of it. Most of those would not have died if they’d been vaccinated.
    How many have died directly from receiving the vaccine? A vanishingly small number by comparison. I find it hard to understand why we’re even having that discussion.

    I ‘do’ understand the reason for discussions about certain groups of the population and whether they should receive the vaccine.

    Vaccines can have side effects. So does taking aspirin and just about every other medicines and you always have to balance the comparative benefits and risks. For example, our son developed a scary fever shortly after receiving his first does of the meningitis B vaccination. There was no direct evidence that the two things were linked but we were advised for him not to have the booster jabs. . . . advice which we obviously followed.

    If all foods had to go through the same rigorous testing that the covid vaccine has then we’d almost certainly see a lot of foods banned. Alcohol would be right out of the window, but probably so would potatoes because of the risk of solanine poisoning if they’re not grown or stored properly.

    The balance of risk v benefit of the covid jab is extremely heavily weighted in favour of the jab for older age groups, heavily weighted for most other adults but becomes marginal for younger adults and probably ill advised for younger children. The question is exactly where that line should be drawn. I imagine we’re in the same camp when we feel that the younger age groups shouldn’t be put at the small risk of adverse vaccine effects in order to protect the older age groups although I can understand why others would argue otherwise.

  56. Mark, I may have misunderstood the point you were making about the vaccine not remaining ‘in the site it was injected in’. If it stayed in the arm then it couldn’t do its job. It only works because it spreads through the body and is ready to spring into action when it detects infection.

  57. What’s all most of the above got to do with Aston Villa Football Club? As far as this site is concerned, this is all spam junk mail. There’s facebook and twatter for all that.

  58. Robbo and Mark make some interesting points, but I can see where you’re coming from, jbd656. Some exchange of viewpoints on wider world issues is fine, I reckon, but there does seem a danger of this site becoming ‘Covid Life’…….
    Let’s try and keep to football matters as much as possible, please?

  59. Yeah, let’s please leave it to football, Brum, where people live now, favorites curries, etc.

    I’m all for ‘free speech’, but really only want to deal with football here. Get enough of the world everywhere else I turn.

    There are plenty of folks with great insights and opinions, and again I implore any and everyone to send something along for a leader.

    I can’t provide the same volume of (usually meaningless) content found some other places, always love someone pitching in their own thoughts. Some of the comments would stand quite well as starter points for discussion.

  60. As far as the Argentina fiasco goes, I really have no idea what the Argentinians were thinking. Absolutely stupid. How was that ever going to work given the very well-known restrictions?

    Villa were very accommodating to the two Emis. Then we had the “they’re playing all three matches,” even though Beundia was left out of the first matchday squad.

    Then it turned into a Python sketch on the field (truly ludicrous theater), which I suppose was more interesting than someone phoning the Argentinians and saying, “Sorry, the guys coming from England are supposed to be in quarantine and can’t play.”

    Now we’ve surely gained a lot of goodwill with our Emis, but the accommodation turned out to be pointless, and they still remain ineligible for Chelsea.

  61. Robbo- one last try mate as the natives are restless.

    Covid has not killed 5 mil, we have had a huge amount of “with” etc to contend with plus collateral damage from our actions, to find out the exact amount will never happen, Spanish Flu goes from estimates of 10m to 50m to this day. Estimates of 14,000 deaths involving the vaccine in America alone plus hundreds of thousands of illnesses thrown up is hardly minimal but hey. Also the Pandemic spans not one season but several by now so if you would like to add up all the flu deaths feel free. Plus the actual tests used are pretty hit and miss.

    A few points, Covid, a flu like disease that can be deadly to mainly over 80’s with co morbidities won’t kill 99.7% of us. Also very likely a gain of function man made Virus. The spike protein is the bad part that cause problems.

    The vaccine known effects. The vaccine decreases the severity of symptoms, doesn’t stop you getting it, doesn’t stop you spreading it, helps some of those who may of died but not all (80’s with co morbidities are prone to dying around 60-70% with vaccine still do ) Makes the body produce spike proteins (you know the bad part)

    Possible problems, Makes the body produce spike proteins. The vaccine lowers symptoms meaning that those that would of stayed in bed don’t, so continue to spread Covid, those vaccinated have up to 250% more viruses in there noses and that’s probably why they sneeze, a very good way of getting it out there. Vaccine is also very likely to blame for variants and pushing the rate of change. Brazil, SA, UK, India all places where trials and roll outs were done and all places variants have arisen that seem dominant and problematic. Does not last for long.

    So take Israel, recently had the most amount of cases in a week than anywhere else, has the most vaccinated. The people that had the Jab 1st (presumably the most vulnerable) have now the least immunity as it fades over 5-6 months, sets up the scenario that unless they get jabbed pronto a huge wave could hit them.

    After effects of Covid feeling tired and other covid type symptoms.

    Side effects of these types of Vaccine, Death, shingles, herpes, all the Covid symptoms and the worst (bar dying) I have seen is an increased chance of Parkinson’s and getting it when you would likely not of.

  62. In other news:

    Jaden Philogene-Bidace is in a boot.

    Supporters increasingly unhappy with Grealish as he seems to be growing more arrogant and dismissive of Villa by the day. Other supporters telling them to let it go.

    Other fans doing the obligatory “Smith’s not good enough.” Not sure what the overlap is with the anti-Grealish group.

    Supporters supporting Smith respond to the anti-Smith faction.

    And of course, coming in at No 1, three games at City, and Jack is now an England essential.

  63. Yeah JC a slow news week bar crap news.

    This is worth a look at. Leon bailey Phoenix FC a youth team in Jamaica have been in England this week and have beaten all comers. Beat our under 18’s 7-4 after being 4-2 down at half time. Not quite our FA cup winning side they are all on loan or with the 1st . We are apparently partnering with Phoenix, sounds like it could work well and help a lot of kids.

  64. JC, If anyone wants to write a script for a new thread, we need to know how to forward it to you for possible inclusion. Perhaps you could provide instructions or an email address for this purpose?

  65. Amazing, one of the lads said the main difference was that the teams they played in Europe and the UK could not keep up with them in speed and fitness. You would think that would not have been a problem.

  66. Hope SJM has got some legs left for Chelsea this weekend. He looked exhausted at the end of Scotland’s game tonight. Fortunately for us, he missed their first game of the three due to Covid but then played two in quick succession.

  67. Why does Beaky keep picking Trippier? A RB playing LB with no left foot. What’s wrong with Chilwell or Targett as cover for Shaw? Trippier failed miserably against the powerhouse Andorra team, as did Alexander Arnold. All TAA managed to achieve was keeping the ball boys busy in Row Z.

    Mings was solid and for sure, after 3 games at Citeh, we will NEVER see Jack come on as a sub again and then be substituted. Wonder what England’s second string thought when Beaky said it was their opportunity. What opportunity? Back on the bench against Poland however good performances were against Andorra.

  68. DS invented a special 5-4-2 formation away to big 6 Chelski?

    According to one of my ever reliable Newsnow Aston Villa feeds, Tuanzebe is loving life back at VP and is eyeing a big money move back to us. Wonder who has the greater potential, Konsa or Tuanzebe? Could they both play in a back 5 employing Target and Cash as out and out rampaging wing backs. Could one of them be the brick wall DM that we all crave?

    Is having 2 specialist wingers on the pitch a luxury when you have 2 strikers (yes please) on the field. Is Watkins big enough to be a Withe type. Ings is the Shaw type. Could Bailey out Morley Morley?

    Hard to make comments on other people’s football opinions when I already agree with them!

    Think the heat and humidity is causing me delirium. How do I stop these labyrinthine football meanderings? Was Bill Shankly misquoted out of context. The Agony! Arghhhhh stop it. SPAMSPAMSPAMSPAM.

  69. jbd656 have a look at some Covid stats that will sort you out 😉

    I find it hard to contemplate much about Villa when we haven’t had them on the pitch yet, frustrating.

    Oh well at least Smith is unlikely to be sacked for not being good enough in an international break.

  70. Ian- last time out Smith had Konsa at RB with Mings and Hause central. went 4231 . Both Traore and ElGhazi started and scored jack at 10.

    question for me is do we play Ramsey at 10 or Ings?

    could play Bailey and Traore or push Ings wide right

    The mids? Luis will likely play whereas last time it was Nakamba and McGinn. will he trust Nakamba and will McGinn be fit?

    We have 4 new players available plus the kids, good luck Smith.

  71. Saw this comment in the Phoenix video

    “I was lucky enough to train in hot country’s at high altitude off season. Massive gains come start of the season. I hope villa take the opportunity to send some of their players to Jamaica for fitness training. UTV”

  72. Mark, in deference to jbd, I’ll let you have the last word. . . .yes it’s nearly killing me 🙂

    In other news. . . . .All last season I enjoyed telling my Chelsea supporting mate how rubbish Werner was. My worst case scenario would be Lukaku injured and Werner coming in to score a hat trick.

  73. Beaky is managing expectations. He says Poland have some dangerous players and that keeping possession will be vitaly important.

    This means we are going to see England pass the ball endlessly across the back line tonight. FFS let’s attack them and they can worry about our extremely dangerous players.

  74. Havertz is touch and go for the weekend. Plus, hopefully Mount plays the whole game tonight. Whatever midfield Chelsea field, we are going to need to stay very compact and keep shape for the whole game.

  75. Robbo- I bet 🙂
    I forgot to point out that since being jabbed I have had two cold sores which I have not had for about 20 years since changing diets etc. And a relation in Texas got taken into Hospital with suspected ruptured spleen, turned out to be Epstein Bar virus another gift associated with the jabs, he’s had two, no covid, is in his 40’s .

  76. Latest anti smith stuff is that he has been forced to take random coaching staff. This is despite him having a long playing association with Shakespeare ( who some think is after Smiths job along with Young) that he tried to get 1st season up and a history of employing progressive coaches at Brentford.

  77. Unless Mings is selected, I couldn’t give a toss about England. I think the endless playing across the back line is the fault of John Gregory when he managed NEC Southgate. Much as I think MoN was a prat playing central defenders and midfielders at RB, he put Dunne and Collins at CH to stop that pissy playing across the back line crap.

    In addition to the heat and humidity dementing me , I’ve got a scrofulous, dripping snivelling cold………….

  78. Idle speculation. Just done a Harry Johnston check on the AVFC blog. Seems to me that a few of the glitterati on this blog may have an alter ego on the other site.

  79. Mark. . . . .that’s another final word from you. . . .boy you’re testing my resolve! 🙂
    I see the Brazilian FA are putting their foot down and insisting the Premiership Brazilians who didn’t turn up for their international team be prevented from playing this weekend. Don’t think that helps us does it?

  80. Haha jbd. I’ve just taken a look at the other blog and I see what you mean.

    There’s no safe place for you now!

    Ps. . . . .I’m none of those people, as I was banned from that site for disagreeing with the owner on a couple of points. In fairness to him, he was eventually proven right on one point of disagreement (but misguided on the other one) 🙂

  81. Robbo glad to be of service I haven’t even scratched the surface on the subject 🙂

    Did you see that Joe Rogan Got the lurgy and hasn’t been vaxxed? he did his own protocol including Ivermectin and the Media went nuts. The reporting of Vaccine incidents is being brushed off with a nothing to see here. 200,000 people with reported after effects were binned off of Facebook, so much being depressed and all it does is feed the Anti vaxxers, such a shame that free speech is the biggest casualty and no real opposition or discussion is allowed on the subject even by luminaries in the field, leaves us wide open I am afraid. The MRNA vaccine is not the problem but the Spike protein approach is the chap who invented it has said as much and is getting slammed.

  82. JBD never been called that before 🙂 it can be a laugh on there and some are knowledgeable and some are not but you usually get a reply which I can’t say is always the fact on here, like waiting for a Bus.

  83. JBD- you might have enjoyed the cricket talk on there this week, a slow news week and you got real time cricket updates, you think talking about Covid is bad.

  84. Please, enough with covid. Love your footballing knowledge and sense of humor, of course, MK. But let’s leave the ‘arguments’ elsewhere. God knows there are enough of them.

    (I do, however, consider the intersection of covid and football fair game.)

  85. I wonder if Lord Damien will ever block glitterati alter egos for bringing up none AVFC topics. It’s often very difficult to reply to most AVFC comments on this site because I think we are all mostly on the same page. Not often any one comes up with something the rest of us haven’t thought of. This site is very good for considered analysis of things AVFC. Every now and again someone comes up with a bit of history that explains something I didn’t realise. Still don’t fully understand the mass exodus of coaching staff and players to Muddlesboro (????) all those aeons ago.

    I scan that other blog now and again but stop at the first bitch slapping squabble (doesn’t take long).

  86. Beaky is solely responsible for the late goal England shipped tonight. It was plain for all to see that the players were tiring, some more than others. In the final 10 minutes Kane couldn’t raise a jog, Sterling was legless and the midfield was struggling against a team reinvigorated by their numerous substitutions.

    Not one sub made Beaky. The siege was always coming at the death. Fresh legs were desperately needed. Even when the added time board went up, he made no attempt to bring on subs to run down the clock. A poor coach indeed.

  87. I think DS will go defensive vs Chelski. I predict:
    Steer + usual back 4
    El G – SJM – Luiz – JR – Ashley

    I’d prefer:
    Steer + usual back 4
    Bailey – SJM – Luiz – P Bidace
    Ings – Ashley

  88. JC- Fair enough mate, you might consider a name change for the site to “Aston Villa” and leave the “Life” bit out as it appears football is able to exist in a bubble of its own and god knows its a miserable one at the best of times, was a time the chat was way more diverse and salty but people are delicate flowers 🙂

  89. JBD- Damian couldn’t give a toss as long as it doesn’t get abusive, lives in Sweden so might have different view of things. People get banned from time to time but pop back up in other disguises. He also gets paid for the advertising etc and clicks so more the merrier.

    JC gets sod all and I have always looked at this site as more of a community of friends my Bad.

  90. No worries, MK.

    You know I don’t mind all the usual banter and digressions. Like you say, a community of friends, and there’ve been some wonderful digressions.

    Maybe it’s only natural, looking back, for people to disagree so vehemently about an array of issues (elsewhere; it’s been polite here, as have you, r0bb0 and others). And, like I say, where politics and things like covid intersect with football (attendance policies, club performance both physical and financial, Argentinian fiascos, etc), it’s certainly part of the game.

    Where I’m coming from: People look to football as a bit of a refuge from many parts of life, and we all live in a sea of commentary, coverage, information (both valid and false) and high emotions (bordering on violence) surrounding the virus, among other things. There’s just so much of it already, and I don’t want it to tear at the fabric of community we share here.

    Me, I’ve got very strong opinions on almost everything, as I’m sure most of us do, but I don’t want to subject everyone to them. AVL may be an insignificant backwater of the ocean that is the internet, but I feel a certain responsibility. I don’t want to force my views on anyone. I’m just exhausted by all of it, and I’m probably not the only one.

  91. And you’re right, MK, Damien doesn’t care about much besides clicks. I’ve never met him, think Matt traded some notes with him at one point, but before everyone took to Twitter, etc., it was the home of that same sort of poo-flinging, as well as regular banning for disagreeing with Damien.

    The more arguments, ginned-up ‘controversy’, etc., the more page views.

    Maybe it’s changed.

    But Matt got sick of it, and I did, too. So he started this up, I volunteered to help, and just took up the torch when he’d run his race. Like you say, I make sod all.

    Now, I could try and do YouTube videos, make a bit there. Could have more advertising spots. Could post a lot of recycled rubbish. Could do polls, all of that. Could jump into the podcast game, as have so many. Could be much more ‘outrageous’ just for the sake of driving traffic. But that was never the idea.

    (Matt and I actually did a few podcasts way back in the day, actually, but it was just for fun.)

  92. He’d also set up a Twitter account back in 2011, I think, which I didn’t want much of anything to do with. But, I set up an account myself, and then ignored it for years.

    Over the last 4-5 months, I decided to go on there (especially when the Grealish saga was playing out) to catch ‘breaking’ news, and see what people were saying on a variety of topics. It is a fascinating thing. And I do find lots of content (about film, art, music) that leads down enjoyable rabbit holes.

    When it comes to Villa, me, I find the signal-to-noise ratio is very poor. The most interesting thing all summer was the guy with his phone filming the London training session when Jack returned from the Euros. And I’ve caught a couple other good threads.

    In the main, I found lots of people wanting to talk without saying much in the end, get attention, build ‘brands’. I don’t really see anything we haven’t discussed here, long ago, and in more depth. They just want to be on there all the time gathering up likes and followers. I could post a picture of John McGinn for 300 likes. Or ask who’s the player of the month.

    Now, I did get the keys to the AVL account. So when I put a new leader up, I am tweeting that as a bit of an experiment since AVL did have a decent number of followers. I noticed a spike in traffic after the tweet for this one, so it does drive traffic. I suppose that would matter more if I were trying to monetize the site to the tune of more than 6p of ad revenue a month. (I don’t even think the ads on here work anymore.)

    But I confess to a certain hesitancy, because I’m not sure I want to drive 150 new commenters onto here saying nothing more than “He’s crap,” “Get over it,” “You’re deluded,” and all the rest.


  93. Plug,

    Sorry, never answered your question.

    If anyone wants to submit anything, just send me a message via the site. I’d post my personal email here, but if you message through the site, I’ll get that and we’ll go from there.

    I can work with Word docs, RTF, PDFs most easily. I’ll naturally check for spelling, typos and the like. Might touch up the formatting a bit, change a little wording for clarity, etc.

    But, as a lifelong editor, I don’t change the views or substance. Just try to make everyone look good. 🙂 Ask Ian, he can tell you how it goes.

    I could certainly use an editor myself. Another pair of eyes is always invaluable.

  94. What did Tyrone do to get banned?

    Poland’s team played like Italy did a couple months ago. Bigger players pushing their weight around. It eels to work. It’s what I would like to see on Saturday. Villa using their bigger players to be a bruising challenge to Chelsea. A heavier shoulder, more contact, even an elbow in the ear 🙂
    Make them earn possession. Make them think about physical contact.

  95. Ian,

    Yeah, Poland definitely threw their weight around, kept England at bay, then used it to keep England from getting a second.

    And Gareth, well…He could’ve put some fresh legs on, couldn’t he?

  96. Ian, he picked up a booking against Andorra which was his second in the competition and leads to a 1 match ban.

    I didn’t think much of the ref last night. He was a real homer. Gave everything to Poland. The Poles realized they could therefore increase the rough stuff and the game became feisty. The flashpoint at half time was caused by the ref’s handling of the game.

    Would love to see Villa level the playing field with Chelsea by introducing some roughing. Alas, I’m sure SJM and Tyro will be carded if they do. The ref on Saturday is Stuart Attwell.

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