In December of 2009, just shy of 12 years ago, Villa beat United 1-0 at Old Trafford. Since then, they’ve managed just four draws. In the previous decade? Three draws. One win in the last 45. Not a lot to hang your hat on.

Probabilistically, that’s a reason for optimism, though: Villa have to win sooner or later. Sooner would be preferable, because it’s like some kind of curse and it’s really getting old. But that doesn’t mean the stars will line up tomorrow at Old Trafford. There’s Mike Dean for one, never mind Ronaldo, Sancho, Fernandes, Pogba, and blah blah blah.

But history is only history. And the psychology of a club is mutable. Villa haven’t been this resilient in ages.

They’ve have clawed their way back into relevance, however tenuously at times. And the mindset behind that is one of ambition, expectation, and confidence. Last season, Villa finally landed some blows. Just not on United or City. The time will come. Two solid outings against the European Champions tell them they can make a fist of it.

Which is what they’ve got to do. Fight. Break the barrier. Stay smart.

Down to details, United have basically played 4-2-3-1 this season, a formation Dean Smith knows well. He’s got the knowledge and would have the personnel to match it, ideally. But he won’t have the players Saturday, meaning he’ll probably continue with 3-5-2 to start.

Let’s go out on a limb and expect Ronaldo up top. The bank of three? Let’s say Sancho, Fernandes, and Greenwood.

Sancho and Greenwood will be looking to exploit the space behind Matty Cash and Matt Targett. Cash and Targett will be looking to return the favor. Douglas Luiz has a big job, as he’ll nominally be trying to disrupt the link between Fernandes and Ronaldo. The two wide CBs have to be very switched on, and Luiz will need help. The coordination between Cash, John McGinn, Jacob Ramsey, and Targett will be everything, especially when it comes to cutbacks and overloads.

Obviously I expect McGinn and Ramsey to start. They’ll have to clog the middle and channels, because Villa will want to force the action wide, even though United will often hold the numerical advantage there. Villa would rather face crosses than get sliced apart in the middle. Konsa and Mings will find themselves on islands while Hause and Luiz hold the middle waiting for reinforcements in the channels. They’ve all got to be keenly aware of Pogba’s range. I’d rather see Mings or Konsa being more responsible for Ronaldo, but I’m guessing that if it is three at the back, Konsa and Mings will be tasked with holding the edges. Given Ronaldo’s tendencies, Konsa will probably be helping Hause with him more than Tyrone.

All to say it’s discipline and picking your moments. Villa won’t mind having space wide to play into, but if there are two forwards, they don’t want to get stretched too much. McGinn and Ramsey have to be smart about contesting, pressing, and joining the attack. You don’t want both of them caught upfield anymore than you can help it.

I think Villa have the legs and industry. There’s just not a lot of room for error. I wouldn’t mind going 4-2-3-1 if Bailey and Traoré/Buendia were available just to simplify things and make the matchups one on one. But they’re not. I should say, Traoré at least probably won’t be there be to start, nor Buendia, and Ghazi just played a very forgettable game. Which means Smith leaves Ings out, starts 4-2-3-1, then switches to 3-5-2 when Bertrand/Buendia and Ghazi tire.

Anyway, a fascinating match-up. I’ll look for Villa to try the quick, longer balls into space early to spring Watkins and/or Ings. Could be a feature throughout, but Dean likes that to start, anyway. United haven’t exactly been fast starters.

As always, fight will have more than a lot to do with it: winning challenges and second balls, creating turnovers, disrupting rhythm. All the standard stuff. You want to see Ronaldo isolated and pouting. Which reminds me: No cheap free kicks closer than 25 yards, please.

A guy’s gotta dream.

Over to you.

Comments 136

  1. Thanks JC- I read an article that said Ronaldo got to take a lot of free kicks to get the ones that are shown on tele, his hit rate it said wasn’t that great but he is ronaldo so gets to take them all. Apparently Between 2009 and 2018 he scored 33 free-kick goals in 444 attempts for Madrid. which equates to a conversion record of 7.3%. For Juventus, his record of one goal from 72 attempts equates to a 1.4% conversion rate, so give him loads just make sure your not sat behind the goal.

    No idea on formation or team, I think Smith has set his stall out with the matching up to Chelsea that he may be flexible against the top sides.

  2. Robbo- sorry no reply I was answering while expecting friends to take us to a concert in Oxford, so was getting the answers in a quick as poss 🙂

    My only vehicle is a van, the new electric (hybrid) vans are very limited and expensive for a sole trader like me. The range is pointless unless you just want to do the shopping or the job is ten miles away. I routinely am driving 60 miles each way virtually non of them would cover that distance on electric alone and if fully laden its much worse. As I get mileage off my tax the diesel cost is taken from my tax anyway.

    I think for one they will be superseded before to long, the batteries cause much pollution, are generally dug out the ground by poor people for peanuts and Afghanistan has the richest Lithium deposit in the world, good luck there. The CO2 savings on building the vehicle means it barely makes difference to driving a diesel. I like the less pollution aspect except its only less pollution in our country not some other poor buggers.

    As we are seeing already the chickens are coming home to roost for the Lockdowns with disrupted supply chains higher energy price’s etc and the fact Wind and solar are not reliable in reality. people are afraid of Nuclear which could be the answer but Our infrastructure is in no way geared up to supply everyone’s cars being charged plus all the air source and electric boilers they want to replace stuff with.

    I listened to Boris’s UN speech about Kermit the frog (sigh ) what a cock.

  3. This is the one game you just always know we are going to lose. The players are defeated before they walk out against united mentally anyway because of our record.

    Ronaldo unfortunately will bag 1 or 2.

    We will play Hause in place of Tuanzebe today. Smith will keep playing this 532 now and won’t change. Unfortunately he just doesn’t change formation. He didn’t last season and I think now he will just stick with this one.

    I’d like to see us go 4 at the back today and get Bidance wide but it won’t happen.

  4. Thanks for the write up JC. I grew up in a rugby household so don’t have an instinctive feel for formations so it’s really good to read your thoughts on that.
    I was lucky enough to be there last time we won at Old Trafford so know that it IS possible. The last twenty minutes lasted a lifetime though!

  5. We need to put some of these chances away. Frem they don’t look very bothered by the poor record so far when does the effect kick in? Make your mind up Smith only ever plays 433 except now he doesn’t but also doesn’t have the players available to play with wingers that would be better than this.

  6. Not sure Watkins and Ings are going to work.

    I said before on twitter and got stick but Watkins misses was to many easy chances.

    That chance today was an absolutely horrific miss and he has a lot of them

  7. Mark. We were found out in January last season and Smith changed nothing. 433 every week.

    Now he will just constantly play 532 even on a bad run.

  8. Frem the only mental blocks between your ears mate.

    what a great win, the 352 worked for us again and we absolutely deserved all three points. 6 points out of three games in the run of doom so far, hang your heads in shame you Smith doubters lol 🙂

  9. Robbo- Gloat while the Gloating’s there Gloat with, sure as hell if we were losing it would be unbearable. Talking of gloating Who’s that lad Ronaldo? very average.

    JC- yeah Mancs get a pen as per and fuck it up it could not have been sweeter 🙂

    Best thing is over half the FPL owners had Ronaldo as their captain today, yuk yuk, come on Salah smash a hat trick in for me and I’ll put the house on the lottery.

  10. Deano’s reaction to the goal. Also priceless.

    God that feels good. Brilliant way to go into the break.

    And watching the replay, the commentators and I agree that was a very harsh decision. Mike Dean did his best, Ole got his peno.

    As jbd says: Poetic f*cking justice.

  11. Martinez playing mind games with Bruno.

    Hause doesn’t do much wrong when he plays does he? Is he better than Mings?

    Watkins needs to become clinical.. He wastes to many chances and so far there hasn’t been any link between him and Ings.

    Mcginn was fantastic.

    I can’t wait for Bailey to come back and stay fit. We need to get him wide. He’s fantastic.

  12. I wish we will soon change to getting Bailey and Traore wide and still playing with this pressure and get 4 at the back.

    A major worry is still Luiz at DM. We need a powerful guy in there

  13. Robbo I have Ronaldo and Fernandez but the there is no way I can bring myself to captain a players against us, can’t wait until bailey is fit so I can bin another player, ollie let me down today should of scored.

  14. Frem the DM thing is becoming less and less a worry if we play three CB’s imo. I think we will change up for lesser teams but maybe not, as its deans job to get points to prevent pressure on him to be sacked he’ll do what’s best.

  15. One thing I have noticed among the FPL brigade is they were all looking at Villa as easy points for Manure etc I am waiting for the huge rush for Villa players, all I will go for is Martinez

  16. Whichever way we look at it, this result against our nemesis, even with their obligatory penalty, is a yardstick and pointer that something special is unfolding

  17. Plug,

    Absolutely. Huge psychological hurdle. After landing blows against Liverpool and Chelsea last year, this is such a massive step. The mentality of this side is outstanding.

  18. We won today without endless nose dives into the grass and sulking/screaming for free kicks. Hope SJM doesn’t maintain that tradition. Love the 3 big bully centre backs especially the no nonsense, no frills old school centre half that is K.Hause.

  19. I’ve just seen a video clip on twitter of Martinez doing a little shimmy for the Man Utd fans behind his goal after the penalty miss. Made me laugh out loud. . . You gotta love him!

  20. Yeah, he might well have saved it. That was the feeling I had, actually.

    I just refused to believe the injustice would continue and that United would be gifted a late equalizer from the spot.

  21. Mark, interesting comment about us potentially being better in Joe’s absence. If (a big if) the £100m was spent on those players because of his departure then I think there’s little doubt that we’re a better side because he’s gone.

  22. R0bb0,

    Yeah, Emi did the Ronaldo Superman pose to Man Ure crowd. Also classic b4 peno when Fernandes was holding the ball, Emi pointed at Ronaldo and said Ronaldo is a better peno taker. Such quality. Fernandes looked scared to take it!

  23. jbd,

    SJM is intense. Maguire should’ve been booked for pulling him back, but not even a call. So he went and kicked Fernandes instead.

    Which I didn’t mind a bit.

  24. Best I’ve seen SJM since championship. I also thought Luiz was great and Ramsey was tidy.

    Back 5 we’re all great, but especially Cash and Mings. Mings has a quality left peg.

  25. JC and VillaMD. . .I missed his other antics but you’re right he is a superb wind up merchant. You see keepers trying to distract penalty takers but he seems to know how to take the psychology up an extra notch.
    He’s a smart . . .and confident cookie

  26. Missed the game. Rats. But the result was great. Saw the hi-lights and boy, do Villa look good. Don’t worry about Watkins the goals will come. Hause has to be a fixture now.
    What a way to start the weekend. 🙂

  27. Great to see the coaching manifest itself on the pitch creating danger and goals
    Credit were it is due for villa to take the step into the elite everything has to be done exceptionally well from top to bottom within the club and the manager needs to be good enough to take the team to the next required levels
    Deano is unproven and also admitted that he is learning on the job at this level
    Delighted to see clear signs that deano can be the driver to take the club all the way

    Emi is hilarious got right in there heads there
    Thought Sanson looks proper quality in the last game think we have another fabulous player there if we can get him fit

  28. Several on here have praised Sanson’s performance whilst it lasted. Is the general consensus that there is a good player in there after all?

  29. There’s been plenty of concern about whether DS is the manager for the job, but most of it seems to revolve around him not having the experience and not having actually proven that he can do it.
    I’ve seen very little substantive analysis of where he’s actually not up to the job.
    He’s shown plenty of willingness to change formations and style of play so I think we can disregard that as a criticism.
    Last season I was one of those who criticised him for his lack of substitutions, but as Mark pointed out, he seems much less reluctant this season, now the squad has greater depth.
    He’s shown an ability to develop players and seems to have engendered a real team spirt within the squad. . . . . .and we know only too well how corrosive it can be to have a squad full of of cliques.
    He joined us when we were 16th in the championship and we all felt that there was a genuine possibility of us slipping further. We’re now in the top 10 having just played Everton Chelsea and Man Utd, and over the last two seasons have shown that on our day we’re able to mix it with any team in the Premiership.

    What else is there . . . . what’s he doing wrong?

  30. OGS, get a grip man and stop whinging. He was offside…. they crowded around our penalty taker…. and the ref. What a poor loser. Mike Dean GAVE you a freebie with the penalty in the first place. Everyone is sick and tired of Manure receiving favours from the refs. Especially us.

    In my book, Mike Dean’s latest gaff has moved him from “it’s all about me” to just another fraud. Don’t know how the EPL hope to retain any credibility employing these whistlers.

  31. r0bb0,

    Yeah, Sanson did look good. Much more assured, aggressive, fighting for the ball, intelligent..

    We’ll get him fit, and he’ll end up adding to what’s shaping up to be a tidy midfield.

  32. Watkins has to up his game or needs to be dropped. Archer should be close to getting a start alongside Ings. Ollie just hadn’t been up to standard yet. His hold up so far this season has been poor and his finishing is still mainly miss.

    Also Hause at some point has to start regularly? Maybe even over Mings!

    He said in the the interview after he wants to play. He certainly hasn’t let anyone down the last 18 months when called upon.

    He should be rewarded. If Mings was dropped he might cut his silly errors out his game

  33. I’d also love to see Sanson over Ramsey in this system.

    At home though against most teams we should move to 4 at the back. We need width at Villa Park.

  34. The other worry is will this style carry on? Even when we need to go 433/4231 I hope we carry on with this press we are doing.

    Can we play like we sre we Buendia, Traore and Bailey in a front 3 behind Watkins/ Ings? That’s what I want to see

    Also don’t forget first few months if last season we played a tempo and after December we just absolutely lost all quality and pace and tempo and become horrible to watch really. I hope Smith keeps this pressing game all season

  35. Re Ollie and Ings

    Strikers are selfish by nature and tend to think about getting as many attempts on goal as possible I notice Olllie in a great position to slip Ings in yesterday again for a free shot but he only had eyes for goal
    I think our strikers will need to start looking for each other more often to make it worth starting them both in most games

  36. runtings you’re right about striker mentality but Ollie is probably starting to feel a bit of pressure from not scoring lately. All strikers go through goal droughts from time to time and we’ve seen with him before it will only take one to go in for him to be right back on track again. Be great if it was next time out!
    We can trust Dean Smith to handle him in the right way. Some players will respond best to being dropped if they need a kick up the backside but I don’t sense that Ollie needs that as he gives all he can in every game anyway. . . . . . he just needs that bit of luck to get him back into the fearsome of mind where he ‘know’s that the ball is going in.

    Some players would become introspective if dropped and it would be the worst thing that could be done. It’s up to the manager to know what suits each player best. Some fans will of course just say drop a striker as soon as his scoring boots temporarily fail him. . . . . but that’s why they are just fans and the manager has the job he does.

  37. Still buzzing, Just like to point something out that has been missed by everyone.

    That starting 11 apart from Ings all played last season and excluded any of the wingers and Jack that we used or have bought since, yet looked a hugely competitive and creative force. To the point Ronaldo was eclipsed as a talking point.

    Think about that, we went to man utd and took the game to them and beat them at their place, and it should of been more. And we did it with a team that couldn’t tie their laces without Jack last season apparently and no wingers.

    There is no doubt now that Dean smith can coach players into being Better players, non whatsoever, No doubt that he is tactically astute either nor is he a one trick pony. No doubt that he knows how to build a team either, the best part? this is just the beginning.

  38. That’s a great observation Mark, and really encouraging.

    We know you’d have liked us to have more of a go in the Carabao cup, but the great thing is that even the ‘back up’ team that we did put out was good enough to compete well on the night. Having seen Emi M yesterday then yes, he may well have made the difference in the shootout although Jed has done really well for us in that department in the past so there are no guarantees that it would have made the difference.

    Following from your original point though, we’re looking a better side even ‘without’ most of the new signings, and of course we also have some really promising youth players coming through too.

    Smith Rowe is standing out for Arsenal this season so you can see why he was so heavily targeted and may well have progressed even faster in Villa’s set up but the key point is that our management team had done well again to identify a potentially really good addition to the squad.

    So . . . . .
    – our previous squad players are looking better than last year
    – our new recruits are looking good
    – our academy is bringing through genuine prospects
    – our recruitment team know how to identify good new players who can improve us still further
    – we have a manager who is developing players and a great team spirit
    – we have owners who have the means to invest in the future and are prepared to do so.

    and now I’ll go for a cold shower

  39. Robbo- Strange to me that you question Emi over Steer would of made a difference. What about in the game itself and the organising of the defence he brings? no question he is a different prospect to face in goal and has a mindset that screams of the will to win, steer is just not of that level.

    In fact to me he has not progressed beyond that season much at all in many aspects of his game, passing , coming out, dominating the area, his shop stopping is pretty much all he has. I’m not ungrateful for his part in that shoot out but if we want to win then some tough decisions will have to be made. I doubt that you would question that Bailey could of made a difference in both the Chelsea games or that he and Ings would of put their pens away. You could point out that its because Steer doesn’t play and lacks experience but then so did Emi at Arsenal, when he got his chance he grabbed it.

    If someone had said get rid of Jack, drop the wingers play Ramsey next season and we would look fantastic? imagine the reaction.

  40. That Brentford result is looking less and less a bad one and even then we should of won with a makeshift midfield in Young and Chuk, 3-3 against Liverpool is not to be sneezed at.

  41. Still buzzing too. Compass have been exceptional in finding the young guns, some of whom are going to make it and save the club millions.

    You know things are on the up when other team blogs start holding Villa up as an example of what their own outfits should be doing.

    I’m starting to think that Jack’s wish to leave has done us a favour.

  42. Frem,

    I expect horses for courses. It’s a long season, and we do have dangerous wide forwards.

    Smith knows 4-2-3-1/4-3-3. So many were begging him to change it. Now he has, and it not only suits having two strikers, but because we still have injuries and players getting up to speed.

    To MK’s point about who was on the pitch for Villa, it shows that Smith does know what he’s doing with development, management, tactics. It also does raise the question about how Joe may have skewed the side.

  43. Also, Smith has always had this team pressing. You can’t do it all 90 mins, you pick your places. When not actively pressing high, you go into a zonal press…a fancy way of saying just keeping your shape and blocking passing lanes. But it’s always been a feature, however well it was executed.

    Ramsey’s rapid maturation has helped, being more decisive and physical at 10, as has McGinn’s improved fitness, and Luiz back playing to his potential.

  44. The one thing to say about pressing is that it requires confidence and commitment from everyone. If you go running all over to close down, and then there’s always an easy outlet because others aren’t showing the same commitment (or confidence not to get beaten), then you’re going to stop because you’re just wasting your energy.

    When the press is on, everyone has to be aware and doing it.

  45. JC definitely, I think we always knew Jack skewed the team massively. At the time it served us but he was two legs of a 4 legged table. Whether it would all be different if he’d gone before Smiths arrival? I am pretty sure it would have and maybe things would of progressed quicker football wise , I don’t think we would of come up that 1st season though. Smith certainly knew how to get the best from him.

    All the elements have been there and the maturation of players part of the 5 year plan, as Plug said other teams will be glancing at the Villa way as I have been at the Brentford way etc.

  46. Mr Hause on the confidence of the team.

    The win against a previously unbeaten side may come as a surprise to those outside of the Villa camp, but Hause says the squad believed they could get the three points.

    He said: “It comes from the gaffer – he always gives us confidence and says we’re as good as any squad in this league.

    “We believe that as well and we showed it today.”

  47. Mark,
    Blimey, you could have a ding dong in an empty room.

    I agree with you that Martinez is our best goalkeeper and ‘might’ have made the difference against Chelsea. He’s probably one of the top 3 keepers in the division. If we’d had Ings and Ollie available then they ‘may’ also have scored both of the missed penalties too.

    My point at the start of the week was that I’d have done what Dean Smith chose to do: 1) I’d have used the cup games to give more of the squad game time (I’d have used a greater proportion of academy players though) 2) I’d have wanted to save my best players for the Man United game.

    You said that we should have done all that we could to win against Chelsea and then we could have reverted to playing academy and back up players in the next round had we got through. Yes we could have done that . . . . . all I was saying, is that it’s just not what I’d have done.

    The one bit of your argument that I think is flawed is the suggestion that if we’d got through that round we could have gone back to using back up players in the next round. As you go progress in the competition you inevitably strengthen your team as the lure as a trophy grows. . . . . not the other way round.

  48. Mark, that quote from Hause is fantastic. It may actually give an insight into why Dean Smith chose not to prioritise the cup game. It seems likely that (unlike us fans) he really believed that we could beat Man United. It seems likely that he believes that this squad can qualify for Europe too.

    More than that, I’ll bet he’s convincing the players they can do that too.

    There was pre-season talk from the club about us easing back our expectations a little after Joe’s departure but maybe that was just to try and temper fan expectations?

    I’m happy to be proven wrong, but I don’t remember any of us on this blog thinking that we were likely to qualify for Europe this year. I know that I went on record as saying we wouldn’t and I’m going to stick with that view . . . . . . . .for now .

  49. r0bb0,

    I think Smith really wanted the United game, with an eye on Spurs after. Now it’s only City we need to get one past. A statement win, a massive psychological hurdle, a no-excuses build-up focusing all the players on that being a priority.

    And yeah, you have to play progressively stronger sides to continue in a cup.

    The league is definitely the measuring stick, and after a couple stumbles to start, taking the points from two top-half sides is significant. Keeping a clean sheet at Old Trafford, nothing to sneeze at.

  50. Robbo- I’d have played Martinez who is a way more influential player than Steer what difference would that have made to the manure game? having a few on the bench to bring on would not have hurt either. Cash played and Hause and both had a great game against Manure. So what exactly would going a bit stronger have done to effect Saturday? You have said nothing to convince me so as far as having an argument in an empty room??

    It seems to me that its about steer being kept happy, I think we slipped up and I bet Smith feels the same if truth was known, I don’t think he expected Chelsea to go so light.

    One thing we have to do no matter who plays is put the chances away

  51. Mark,
    Tell your what. . .let’s try and read each other’s comments rather than trying to pick a fight where there isn’t one eh?
    There are plenty of things that we strongly disagree about which we can discuss so let’s stick with those eh?
    I’m actually agreeing with you!
    Martinez ‘may’ have made the difference in the cup game. Dean Smith was trying to give as many of the squad playing time as possible. . . so yes, he was trying to keep Steer happy.
    Dean Smith seems to value a strong team spirit and keeping everyone together and we’ve seen how divisive cliques and dissatisfaction in the squad can be.
    It’s a tough job and at time, compromises may be made.
    You wouldn’t have made the compromise and that may have been the better decision.
    Like Dean Smith, I would have made the compromise. . . .and may have been wrong.

  52. A lot of credit has to go to Deano for all he has done at the Villa but imo the most important factor in our success is our owners and the structure they have installed at the club
    For example they brought in JT and we went from conceding a goal from every other corner ect to one of the best defences in the prem
    They brought in a set piece coach and we have already scored most of our lge goals via set pieces

    The structure of Villa is now another level up from Brentford , Southampton ect so if a manager leaves we get at least as good , same goes for players and coaches

    And we deffo have the funniest player in Emi Martinez and the funniest fans in the land

  53. Robbo- that word “may” it doesn’t really fit with the most influential figure in the villa team now jacks gone. So sorry mate I’m not going to agree and play nice 🙂 your undecided I’m certain he would.

  54. Runtings- I thank the owner for backing us and identifying the right people then getting out of their way and backing them to do their job. Dean Smith is way more than a manager though he is the glue and conductor at Villa , all through his career he has built cultures to thrive in. JT? I don’t lay our defensive improvement at his feet. During the 1st lockdown when we looked down smith did what had at Walsall only he did it over Zoom and one on ones , JT was another person to look up to just as young is now and was there to learn as much as possible from Smith. Don’t forget he was here from smiths start and the defending remained awful even though the defenders Smith bought got much better. The coaches this time around were brought in with purpose JT was for other reasons than his ability to coach at that time. Don’t forget o Kelly was the attacking coach Smith a defender himself .

  55. boooom

    what a remarkable game footy is. All those pens utd have against us. the moaning this last week they dont have enough. given one in injury time for bruno who cheated a pen against us last season to sky it over. you couldnt bloody write it.

  56. but overall its looking bloody good. we are becoming god willing the deano ball we all i expected. High pressing along with possession.

    dougie luiz has been exceptional. and mcguinn being freed from a 2 man midfield.

    soooo excited

  57. Great win to shout about but has anyone noticed that Watkins rarely passes to Ings especially when both players are in the box? I have noticed that in the games against Chelsea, Everton and Man United. That is selfish from him but maybe they are taking time to understand each other.

  58. plug the stats are out there which seems to point to refs being influenced whether consciously or sub consciously to give the so called bigger clubs much pens than other clubs with man u being the main benefiters
    Funny to see the coverage on Emi re the pen due to Ollie having a strop about he lad being put off .. refs will now look at pens being delayed … Really ?

    One thing is for sure we won’t be getting to much backing from the media in our pursuit of smashing down the doors to the elite section of football

  59. Very true. In the immediate aftermath of our great result, the media was reporting a sensational goal at the death followed by a controversial penalty.

    In 2 days, the pressure groups and mouths have managed to turn it around into a controversial goal and unsporting behaviour from our keeper. All part of the ongoing agenda against any likely gate crashers to the top table. Time to shovel up all of the English refs and replace them with European ones who do not carry any allegiances. Oh, and I give Emi 10 out of 10 for physicing out Fernandes. They don’t like it up ’em do they?

  60. So Mystic Mark is ‘certain’ that Martinez would have saved a penalty in the Chelsea game.. . . . . he’s a witch . . .burn him!

    You’ve actually STILL not read (or understood) my point!

    We fans have the luxury of being able to pontificate on every little aspect of the squad, the players, the manager etc etc. We usually do these in isolation whereas the manager has to look at the impact of each of his decisions on both the short and long term success of the club.

    Dean Smith values team spirit and now has far more than just 11 players to keep happy. He knows that Martinez is our best keeper, but chose to play Steer because he wants to give as many players game time as possible. We ‘may’ have got a different result on the night if he’d selected some different players (Tuchel may also have responded by bringing on different substitutes earlier. . . .we’ll never know). The point is that DS chose not to do that.
    You’ve stated your support for Dean Smith but you think he got it wrong this time. Maybe in retrospect even Dean Smith think he got it wrong, but the fact remains that he decided to use the Carabao cup to rest players for Saturday and give more squad members game time. It was his choice. It happens to be the choice that I would personally have made too.

    It’s not the choice you’d have made and that’s fine.

  61. Robbo- No need for Mystical stuff mate when empirical evidence is enough. Using the power of my eyes and the data its simple enough. Where as you are deciding that Steer played for almost sentimental reasons. Could be that Martinez had a knock? a cold? jet lag? one or two of your maybe’s? After all Smith played Cash and Hause whom he knew would play at untied, why not the kids or maybe some women? probably as he wanted to win but unfortunately not enough.

    Tuchel actually subbed Mendy to bring the lad they had in goal on for a penalty shoot out in the super cup which they won, Now do you think he was worried about Mendys feelings? no he knew the other chap was better at penalties, weird that I have similar super mystic powers to Tuchel.

    Of course I understood your point? but you still seem to be under the illusion that having potentially the worlds best keeper in goal is not a help on penalties? just a matter of chance? or does non of the evidence of the last few months or even last weekend count?

    Now keeping Steer happy and the bomb squad, have you noticed what happens under Smith with players that may be a problem? they are no longer here or are out on Loan. Players that say they need time or demand time that Smith knows won’t get it are sent away. Conor was one so Smith let him go, fred is another.

    Steer? where do I begin? well he’s been here since 2013, that’s 8 years and he’s now 29 and the same age as Martinez and will never be Villa’s no 1, neither has he decided like Martinez that he’s going to leave to get playing time, why is that? loyal or knows he will not likely end up at a prem Club? also in a game against top opposition to whom he had already conceded 3 goals they were not likely to fear him. How many Keepers have we bought to play in front of him now?

    Well now we are out of the cup so maybe a job share with Martinez to boost moral? what about the kids they need experience in goal too.

    Villa now have the strongest squad in my living memory they should start using it to maximise the chance of winning something because if they get Europe this season it will only get harder, a little taster of that won’t hurt them.

    Martinez is off to Argentina again and will miss more games. That is why you would want Steer to get playing time. It might be so he doesn’t cry himself to sleep at night but I doubt it.

  62. U’23’s smashed Stoke U23’s 8-0 all the best players were in there and Chuks brother is really starting to stand out too along with his brother, bidace and Ramsey Junior.

  63. Interesting to see Idrissa Gueye scoring tonight. Wasn’t he brought in at the same time as Amavi and Veretout? It seems in retrospect that our scouting was pretty good back then but a toxic, cliquey culture prevented them from showing their best. A couple of overseas managers struggled to bring order and it wasn’t till Steve Bruce that things started to settle down a bit.

  64. R0bb0,

    Yeah, Gueye looks great. Veretout also a regular at Roma.

    Jack taken off tonight as he got worst ad the game went on. So must for setting the Champions League alight 🙂

    MK, yeah great win. I question the quality of u23 games since we gave a trial to a player. They seem more like pre-season friendly quality games

  65. H&V, If they can gain promotion from their current U23 league then the quality of opposition would step up and provide more of a challenge.
    At least then the players would be getting a taste of regular competitive football.
    The difficulty with loans is that players don’t always get the game time we or they would hope for. Take Louie Barry as an example. You’d find it hard to argue against Hause getting a good run of games and then would Tuanzebe get much game time from his loan move?
    The best ones get put into the senior squad but as you say, they only get to play ‘now and again’ if they’re lucky.
    I reckon the best bet is to take the u23 league seriously this year, aim to win it, gain automatic promotion and then pave the way for regular, reasonably competitive games next year.

  66. Villa MD, Yes it must have been tough for Joe when he was hoiked off last night. He’s getting a lot of stick online and there’s no doubt he had a tough time last night. It’s going to take time for him to adapt to have a very tightly defined role out there on the wing, relying on his team mates to bring him into the game when they see fit.
    He did cut a slightly disconsolate figure when he was hoiked off but even when he was playing he didn’t seem to have his usual impact on the game which pep clearly recognised. That could have been because he wasn’t getting his usual fouls going for him. The referee was looking beyond whether there was contact or not, and deciding who he thought had really created the contact. In our heart of hearts we all knew that Jack was a master at getting close to players and ‘inviting’ the foul. In England, referees tend to just look for contact and if it’s there, they assume it’s a foul. Last season, Fernandes stepping on Konsa was even deemed as a penalty offence by Konsa! In Europe the referees seem to have cottoned on to that and the game flows more freely as a result. There will be times that they get it wrong, and there were certainly some of those last night, but in principle I think this is one area where the European approach is probably better for the game.

  67. this article surprised me:
    It seems that many footballers are failing to get vaccinated which just seems astonishing.
    If I was a club owner I’d feel mighty pissed off to be paying for a player who missed several matches with covid and then perhaps struggled to get back up to full fitness afterwards. Not only that but of course they also have a greater risk of transmitting it to fellow players and other staff.
    Look back to how our previous season was affected by covid in the camp. It’s even more shocking if players and the club didn’t take basic steps to avoid it.

  68. R0bb0,

    Yeah, shocking that footballers are not taking the vaccine. You’d think they would want to if they have elderly relatives.

    H&V – I’m kind of looking at U23 games as just a bit better than a 90min training session. If you watch the Carney goal on Twitter where he runs past 3 to 4 standing players – if that was 12 year old defenders I’d be screaming at them.

    I think this is why DS has so many U23 players training with 1st team. I wonder what happened to the 16 year old winger we signed from Bournemouth, who had played a couple of times for them?

    Hope we don’t suffer a Spurs backlash on Sunday.

  69. Shame Kane finally got his eye in again yesterday.
    OK so they really should have won the game easily but it was the perfect scenario for Kane to ‘enjoy’ scoring and playing for Spurs again.

    Sunday could be interesting. . . . It’s certainly likely to be challenging and yesterday’s game must have given them a lift.

    Before the season started, we’d have been expected to lose a game like this so it wouldn’t say too much if we did, however, if we ‘were’ to win, after having bettered Chelsea for much of that game and beaten Man utd, it really would send a strong signal that we are a force to be reckoned with this season.

    The first half hour could be crucial. The confidence of Spurs fans is fragile right now and They have been known to get on the back of their team when things aren’t going well. If we could score first then their new stadium could go awfully quiet . . . . Apart from the noisy Villa away fans!

  70. General consensus seems to be that we should stick with the same team for Sunday.
    Hardly seems possible that we’d be feeling any optimism at all for a game against spurs with last year’s players minus Jack and plus only Ings.

  71. Could be a tough game but our lot are rested and the Spurs boys not looking their best. watched a video with a villa and a Spurs fan and the stats for spurs are some of the worst in the league particularly miles ran. The Spurs fan also said he was surprised that Smith wasn’t looked at for the spurs job considering how well he’s done at Villa, food for thought.

    I don’t blame the players for not getting jabbed nor anyone that chooses not to as there is pretty much a media blackout on the reported side effects and reported potential deaths. If the Vaccines are not up for any kind of discussion or criticism then what would any right minded person do? after all there are many Doctors and nurses etc in our own NHS and around the world that won’t take it. If you believe there is a somehow no potential for harm then more fool you. The amount of footballers not jabbed is about the same as the population on the whole and they are not robots.

    As the cases etc have gone up as the people have been jabbed over the summer vs last summer, and that around 80% that have died in the UK Aug to sept have had both jabs according to government statistics I think an investigation is in need before any more needless harm is done. Either that or they were going to die and did.

    This chap is a well known tennis player and has had very adverse effects. Same has happened to a young girl tennis star who’s name escapes me. No doubt he’ll be labelled a nut job etc.

  72. Yep the U23’s went on top draw 0-0 with wolves and didn’t look at there best, just show’s you the old adage that Kids can be inconsistent is accurate or that match ups between teams are not always logical processions that the odds predict.

  73. Mark, the Spurs players are rested too. Kane, Son ànd Moura came on for half an hour to win the game for them but that’s probably less effort than a normal training session, particularly once they’d gone ahead and could relax.

    It’s an interesting observation about other teams potentially looking at Dean Smith. I suspect (certainly hope) that he would be far less likely than the players to have his head turned (even players who are lifelong villa fans. . . naming no names)

    (I’ll let the vaccination point lie)

  74. Away again this weekend, dear old mother’s 80th.

    Most any club could do worse than hire Smith…Doesn’t have the cachet for the big names, I’m sure, but in all honesty, he’d do better than Ole.

    Thing I don’t know is whether Spurs, Arsenal, etc., can show the patience to let Smith do what he’s done at Villa, transform the culture, get the right set of players, etc.

    I don’t really envy managers coming into sides that have had a lot of coaching turnover, disjointed/incoherent transfer activity. Some messes take a while to clean up, and some of the owners wouldn’t be any fun to work with/for, I don’t think.

    All that glitters…


    Klopp says that 99% of his players are vaccinated. If its not the same at Villa and we have another season disrupting covid outbreak , I for one will be mightily pissed off!
    We know that being vaccinated won’t remove the risk of an outbreak but we also know that it will dramatically reduce it. It will also reduce severity in those that do contract it and reduce their recovery time. It is also probable (although not proven yet as far as I can see) that it will reduce any long term adverse effects from having contracted covid.

    With Dean Smith’s father having died from covid you would imagine that Villa is one of the clubs with a high vaccination rate. . . I do hope so.

    On this issue, Klopp is leading the way. It would be good to see other managers follow

  76. R0bb0 – agreed on vaccinations. Good on Klopp.

    Skipp will steady the Spurs ship a lot more than having Deli. I’m hoping our 3 at the back and CM can handle Kane and Son. Would love to see JR nick a goal.

    It’s the same team as last year with Ings for Jack, but SJM is now looking like a £50m player and JR is pure quality. I know folks say AR is a better prospect, but footballers don’t just mature at a linear rate. For me, JR is looking like a future captain if he keeps this up. Great interview of him on Twitter.

    Hopefully we get a result, even if a draw with International break coming up. You have to think that it’s only a matter of time before Ollie and Ings start firing

  77. Robbo- No Mate getting vaccinated does not reduce your chance of having Covid that is a fact, if you are old, Ill, Obese, generally in very poor shape it might prevent your death might not but 99.7% still don’t have bad outcomes. Mass hysteria is a bigger problem it seems and the waft of bullshit is getting unbearable.

    The 19-30 year old peoples normal death rate doubled this summer after vaccination of this group began, suspicious yes, conclusive of course not, in need of investigation you bet it is as Myocarditis affect this age group.

    Anyone fit or not, vaccinated or not can get pinged as having Covid, symptoms or not, it is a farce.

    I am amazed how gullible people are in the face of so much information to the contrary.

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