Have to confess, never thought I’d be looking to this match as a supposed make-or-break affair for Dean Smith. But on the heels of four losses that find Villa in 15th with 10 matches played, here we are. According to some, anyway.

The reporting and rumors have been varied, from Dean’s safe to he’ll be gone if Villa lose tonight. We’ve seen the departures of John Terry and Richard O’Kelly blamed. We’ve heard (repeatedly) that Smith doesn’t know how to win without Grealish. That Villa have no identity. We’ve perhaps more to the point heard about the inadequacies of Villa’s midfield, the formations employed, or the players selected. Why we brought in Danny Ings instead of a midfield destroyer.

For my part, I don’t really think JT or ROK should make any difference at all in terms of coaching. I can’t imagine everyone’s forgotten what they may have learned. Whether their departures have affected training or the dressing room? Who knows.

I also don’t think Smith’s in over his head. As for “identity,” I’ve gone on at length as to what I think Smith’s football is about. But it clearly is a time of transition translating that into a side without Grealish, and that transition has been hampered in no small part by injuries, a disjointed preseason, international duties, and the like. Smith has hardly had available what we’d imagine a preferred starting XI might look like, never mind the chance to drill them all together with anywhere near enough regularity.

Take all of this, and I think that’s why we’ve seen 3-5-2. And I think it’s why someone like Buendia has struggled.

But football doesn’t seem to care. I’ve seen it said elsewhere, and I’ll agree about a culture of “instant gratification,” or, perhaps more accurately, unreasonable expectations.

Yes, there was as five-year plan, and we’re in Year Three. Losing the focal point of the club and a generational talent might set that back a bit. And while it may seem more like a relegation battle already, Villa could very well come storming back once everyone is fit, available, and Smith can pick his sides and system to make the most of what he has.

So, I’ve no idea what tonight really means for Smith and Villa. What I’d like to see, just like any other time Villa take the field, is commitment and the bigger desire to win.

With all the swirling talk, Smith will pick a side that may be his last. The players will know it. Whether he takes risks and places his future in the hands of lesser-known quantities like Morgan Sanson rather than John McGinn….Well, we’ll just have to see.

As Deano said in his presser yesterday, there are things we control and things we don’t. Me, I’ll be rooting for Villa and Smith. If it doesn’t go well and Compass decide to make a change, I’ll have faith they get it right.

Over to you.


Comments 192

  1. Already seeing ” I hope WE lose so WE can ditch Smith” comments sliming out of the Villaverse. I’m sure there is no one so rantingly moronic and ignorant on this, the most cultured of Villa fansites on the internet. Is there?

  2. While no one has switched me off yet, let me present you with a small musing. Could we have overchieved last season because Ross Barkley had a fabulous start and inspired us (and young Jack) to those incredible wins over Liverpool, Arsenal and Leicester. Then he was injured in the first minute (can’t remember which game) and never came back. I would suggest Barkley brought out the best in Grealish and got us all into a winning groove. We could have (prematurely) got into Europe dream land with a fit Barkley. Might still have Grealish now and be playing 2 games a week and struggling with player burnout. Just saying!

  3. Its a weird time to be a villan of course we want to win the title and champions lge and there is a clear split with fan opinions regarding what’s best for the club and how it achieves such aims .

    There seems to be a large section that support the manager even though we play some of the least attractive or winning football in the prem
    Unfortunately I don’t see how 3 years of developing a squad so far is leading to any where the required levels for success

    I would love the more educated football minds to explain why they think we are on course for success and seeing the last Wolves performance only reinforced to me that we have outgrown our manager
    This is meant as a realistic view rather than any insult as the manager has done fab to take us out of the championship but going forwards football we play is more Wimbledon that Citeh

    So win lose or draw and we should defiantly be winning this one I cant see how we are going to do any better than mid table unless I am missing something

  4. jbd,

    That was all very much in play: We’d seemingly found the right player to connect with Jack, give us more balance, and a presence/threat from the middle. When people ask what Smith is about, I’d point to that stretch. It’s generally about the players, in other words.

    But, yeah, Barkley got hurt and never found his way, Grealish left. Barkley stays fit, Grealish not hurt down the stretch. Could have been very different, and we probably would’ve been unprepared.

  5. John, Thanks for the write up and like you I’ll be rooting for Villa tonight. I cannot contemplate ever, under any circumstances wanting Villa to lose. My ingrained emotions just wouldn’t allow it.
    Jbd says he’s seen people claiming to be villa fans wanting us to lose.
    They are not Villa fans
    It’s a simple as that.
    If you’ve grown up loving Villa and feeling the team in your guts all your life you cannot want them to lose. . . . . if you do, you’re not a real fan, you are someone who likes Villa and tells your friends you’re a villa fan, that’s all..
    If you want too argue the point. . .don’t bother, just accept that you’re not a real Villa fan

  6. Just re fans wanting us to lose

    I get it certain fans will feel very strongly that we need a new direction and it doesn’t mean they love the club any less tan anyone posting here it simply means they feel the sooner we change the better as we then start to be a better side .. it could be the difference between a well recovered season or a poor one

  7. runtings,

    Fair questions/stance, as always.

    I don’t pretend to be an expert on other squads…just not enough time. Football, either, for that matter. But I recall Wolves playing very good football previously, and, I think, largely on the back of the recruitment pipeline they had.

    For me, with Dean, I don’t think he’s ever had a proper squad to work with, tbh. The patched-together one after promotion speaks for itself (does anyone think Ghazi or Trez is the required standard?), and the nature of last season make it hard for me to judge.

    This season, again…We hear things like Ings was Purselow’s doing. True? Dunno. But I’ve outlined all the reasons I see for the underwhelming start, and I don’t think Smith has control over a lot of them. But maybe I’m cutting him too much slack.

    He may not get the time, but I’d like to see what Villa would look like with Bailey, Traoré, Buendia and Sanson all fit and available at the same time. What decisions, what formation, what understandings, etc.

    I’d feel a lot more certain judging Smith with a decent PL-quality roster to choose from. Before all this discontinuity, I’d have thought top-half was achievable, despite replacing Jack, though I’d have always thought it would take a little bit to integrate three new starters in such crucial positions and change what the others had relied on (Jack, and how to play with him).

    As it stands, I think mid-table is acceptable for the season, especially if we finish strong. Then we add one or two who could push us over the top.

    But like I say, the basic thing is I think there’s been a lot of change, discontinuity, disruption, etc., ever since we came up, really, and I think a lot of it has been out of Smith’s control.

  8. JC
    I do like studying systems of play and have come to realise the most powerful thing at a club is the manager and its the ones that being a footballing culture to the club
    For me every club will mostly always have players missing but Deano has been given more recourses than most managers in the world in his time at villa , its been serious investment into ever aspect of the club and the footy being served up just doesn’t match all of that
    the majority of clubs are above us after 10 games

    just look at Viera’s impact as an example we didn’t notice Zaha being injured because the most powerful thing about the club is the system of play and he has been there 5 minutes
    Liverpool would not do such things without Klopp’s system he doesn’t need the best players to win the title or champs lge the midfield is nothing to write home about SJM would be amazing in his system for example

  9. And then I always see how things work generally with managers. Brendan being questioned, Nuno was amazing then fired twice. Bielsa off to a slow start. Chris Wilder…Even Arteta at Arsenal. It’s a funny business, and a lot of these managers have a deeper, more solid base to work from.

    I don’t think Dean’s wrong pointing to fine margins, and at times, we do look good. Others, not so much. You know me, I look to players and in-game decision-making as much as anything.

  10. runtings,

    I hear you, and don’t disagree managers have to bring a culture.

    I guess my perspective is that Villa didn’t have a culture for years, and creating one from nothing can take time. Between Lerner and Xia, huge hole to get out of. Investment has been there, and the overall set-up will come good.

    Whether or not Smith’s the man…Well, we’ll see what happens. But I understand where you’re coming from.

  11. Yes JC
    And with all due respect to him if we can’t see a style of play running through the veins of the club after 3 years we will never see it .. culture first players later .. there are a number of new managers in the league at the moment showing just how quickly you can change the culture of a club

  12. Martinez, Cash, Tuanzebe, Mings, Targett, Nakamba, McGinn, Buendia, El Ghazi, Bailey, Waktins

    Chukwuemeka, J Ramsey, Archer, Steer, Hause, A Ramsey, Young, Davis, Philogene-Bidace

    Guess Sanson didn’t have enough gas in the tank…?

  13. Oh dear.El Ghazi.Please let me be in the wrong and we get three points,but…he is and has been anonymous,no end product apart from pens.
    This is not a rant by any means,that is a powder puff midfield.Come on Villa 3 points.

  14. Runtings, I do understand that some genuine fans may believe that we’d do better with a different manager. I supported Steve Bruce for longer than I probably should have done, but in my defence I couldn’t see who we’d be able to replace him with that would be better, and didn’t believe that Dean Smith would come to us at that time.
    That’s different from wanting your team to lose I stand 100% behind what I said before. If you can watch us and want us to lose that game you ate NOT a true Villa fan.

  15. Well there’s a stat. . . .
    We haven’t won any of our last 13 away games played on Friday
    Apparently, our last away win on a Friday was a 4-1 win against Charlton Athletic in 1950.

    So that’s the end of the unlucky 13 run. . . . And time for a win!

  16. How did elgastly make half time has smith not learned we can’t play with 10 ,the ref should have sent him off,even commentators where saying sub him off

  17. Villa end the first half on a slightly less dim note. They have improved from terrible to very poor. Martinez and Cash have kept us hanging on.

  18. Surely Hause should have been playing in the back four rather than Tuanzebe, who could be just in front of the defence, giving us much better protection. Ramsey and McGinn as midfield, and thenwe may stand a better chance.
    El Ghazi will surely be replaced during the break.

  19. Tough watch.

    Villa trying to play too quickly (which is the risk-reward part), and Saints pressing really well, winning it back quickly.

    McGinn and Nakamba aren’t working well together. In transition, McGinn’s completely passed by.

    Ghazi clearly needs to come off. I can see switching Bailey left, Buendia right, and Ramsey, if he can really go, coming on. And I’d probably be looking to give Chuk a shot.

  20. bit harsh to slate the players as they are following the managers blueprint and putting a lot of effort into , we have better players but its clear to see Southampton are coached much better

    patterns of play

  21. Think most fans know smith is toast,5 defeats in row( if this stays ) can’t be glossed over,the manner of defeats ,all stats can’t run can’t tackle can’t defend ,his team selections his subs how much more is wrong tonight again mcginn and Watkins play the 90 mins yet better performing are off,his keeping elgastly on when he was past warnings for a red card ,his fall out with sanson and Freddy and then to top it of he puts Davies on

  22. A better effort second half, but still not able to be a threat in the box.
    The board have a lot to consider over the next few days. Did the boys do enough to save Dean and Craig second half…

  23. Thanks for everything thing Dean.An honest dignified Villa fanNo,you are not a clown or an idiot,you hit a brick wall and did your best.It happens to us all thanks for your efforts,all the best.

  24. Oh dear. It’s just so so bad. I was like a parrot in the summer. We have to string passes together and control a game. We just can’t do it!!

    Worringly we just look lost. No identity at all. Second half was just desperate with 0 quality

  25. I am happy to give Dean until the end of November, and will wait to see what he can do against BHA and Crystal Palace, and I think the board will do the same.
    The players fought for him second half, which made a difference, but if it had turned into a 3 or 4-0 defeat, then he would be gone.
    He really is in the last chance saloon.
    I am sure a lot of the fans will do the same. We need to have a fully fit team.

  26. Performance was worth one point maximum. First attack and they score. Only against the Villa can this happen. Totally lost in first half, better in second.

    Once again the subs mystify me. Nakamba hooked? He was one of the better midfielders. Davis on with Archer? Who is supplying the chances? Did their keeper have a save to make? Is Cash wasted at RB? His energy would be much more productive in midfield. It has now been confirmed to me….Sanson is an apparition. Why no Chuk, Bidace? So many questions.

    We never look comfortable on the ball. Somebody has to say it, SJM and Targett are slow at this level. A slick, well oiled machine, we ain’t.

    Gutted once again.

  27. Tough one. Are the players still with Deano, second half showing yes. Are we injury hit, yes.

    But like frems stats say it’s been bad for a while. And there is 0 sign of Dean ball.

    We will see what nswe are about soon

  28. Hopefully,
    Leicester will beat Leeds, Chelsea will beat Burnley, and Arsenal will beat Watford, then our position will not be any worse until the international break is over.

  29. If I was the owners I wouldn’t be happy with the recruitment at all. Players signed on a whim and no thought about what there fitting in to and style. Ings was just a signing to keep us happy at the time. Such a odd signing when we are crying out for a mid

  30. Plug

    It was just Bruce ball second half. Desperate 424. Just helter skelter stuff with 0 quality.

    I saw saints there. For 2 min spells just knock the ball about take sting out of game, one touch stuff. I literally never see villa play like it!

  31. Bidace should definitely have started over El G. Not sure why we play Tuanzebe- no confidence and lacks match fitness.

    Sanson really is a mystery. He’ll be off in Jan. Definitely need a #6 in Jan.

    I think every Villa fan wanted DS to succeed. And he did to a certain extent. Brought us up and kept us up. I love DS for that. He also seems like a really great bloke. Unfortunately the time has come to move on. Now is ideal with international break. We need the new manager bump

  32. On the Whisky now….
    Should I burn my Cazoo shirt???

    Perhaps it is unlucky…but I did like the black version, and Villa did win when they wore it.
    Don’t think the blue one has been.

  33. Martinez back to his best, now he has got over flying back and forwards to see his dad in Argentina.
    Cash also did well without help.
    Nkamba had a good game too. Mings back to form, the rest were not up to the mark.

  34. Nakamba was ok, one ball volleyed out wide was insane. Bailey was blowing out of his ass and buendia second half looked the player we want. Targett and mcguinn were utterly dire.

    Worrying times. I’m not sure I’m confident of beating anyone again. Seriously

  35. JC and PP,

    Yeah, whiskey is quality. I didn’t appreciate it until my 40’s.

    JC – I get the left/right footed CB combination if you have a wealth of talent. However, ax Hause played on Sunday then surely with match time under him, he deserved to play again and get a run

  36. Slept on it.

    Sad to say Deano should go. Not the only one too. Recruitment team shocking. We’ve spent money. We look a mess. No identity and lost 18 games in 2021, worst in league. Do it now before things go ugly

  37. H&V, like you I just can’t get a taste for whisky (even after last night). It goes back to the day I finished my finals exams and celebrated all night with my flatmates with Whisky Macs. I remember having to get the train back to Birmingham the day after. I was on the platform of Liverpool Lime Street station, sitting on my rucksack with my head in my hands as Leeds fans arriving for that afternoon’s game walked round me and bumped into me and I just wanted to die. For years after that, even the smell of whisky made me feel ill.

  38. In the cold light of the morning after, I’m left asking myself whether DS has already decided to await the pay off day which must be on the horizon or closer.

    Changing coaches is always a risk. For the money spent, the returns we are currently obtaining is unacceptable. We are in a relegation battle. I’m not saying it will last the rest of the season, but for now, we are in one.

    If Compass think like me and plenty of other Villa fans, that the sum of our parts are greater than achievements to date then the risks must be taken. We cut Deano some slack after he picked up Spud’s mess and got us promoted. We stuck with him first season up when it looked like a swift return to the Championship. And we cut him more slack last season when finishing mid table despite many thinking we under achieved. I think he’s run out of slack.

    Out there somewhere in the better European leagues is a young coach good enough to move us to the next level. If Purslow is not aware of any, then he’s failed miserably.

  39. Yet again last night, I watched the opposition have a field day with 2 players down our right flank. Cash always had 2 players coming at him. Like he did against West Ham. Like he did against the Arse. How many times must it happen before that particular door is bolted?

  40. Less than five mins in last Southampton targeted matt target and hit him a thump don’t see our sides doing the same, instead of writing notes surely smith and his green army should be able to react to cash having two men to pick up,this happening since game v Watford

  41. Burnley and Norwich picking up points, while Callum O’Hare has led his ten man team to a 3-2 victory….!!! Coventry could make the play-offs….

    Not good enough for Villa……like Robinson …and many other of our home grown players.
    Meanwhile, we have spent millions on Wesley, Samatta, Sanson, and many others.
    Safest bet to me, if Dean has to go, then bring Terry back, as the results with him were better, he had the dressing room, and the players respect him, and our defending was good!

  42. Pug,
    “If Compass think like me and plenty of other Villa fans, that the sum of our parts are greater than achievements to date then the risks must be taken. We cut Deano some slack after he picked up Spud’s mess and got us promoted. We stuck with him first season up when it looked like a swift return to the Championship. And we cut him more slack last season when finishing mid table despite many thinking we under achieved. I think he’s run out of slack.”

    Sorry to do this, but. . .what the fucking hell sort of nonsense is that?

    We “cut him slack” when he delivered the biggest rise in places of all but one manager in all 4 leagues?

    I may have just made a fool of myself . . . . were you being sarcastic and pointing out how ridiculous some of the other comments have been?

  43. JG, have to agree with you on Axel’s performance last night.

    I saw Targett give a really raw and heartfelt interview, piling the responsibility onto the players and taking his own fair share.

    They did step up in the second half and they just have to start the next game that way unless they want to lose the manager (which I feel from his interview is not what they want. . . . .can’t speak for Sanson in that analysis mind you)

  44. by the way. . . . .please don’t misinterpret my comments to mean that I will stand behind Dean Smith ‘whatever’ the results. If we don’t see some improvement in the next two games I’m afraid we will have to make a change. . . .and I hate saying that. I still believe that he can be the best man for Villa, and not just because he’s vila through and through. He’s shown in previous jobs that he is a very good manager but for whatever reason he’s finding it difficult now to meld all the pieces together and to motivate them for 90 minutes
    He’s also shown that he’s adaptable and I sincerely hope that he’s able to rise above the pressures that he must be feeling right now and bring the squad together for a couple of great, intense performances after the international break.
    . . . .do that and the confidence will flow back and we’ll see players performing at the level that we know they can

  45. Norwich sack Farke.

    We are 5 points off them

    What the hell are we waiting for!

    It’s disgusting if we wait for Brighton to beat us to sack him

    Use these two weeks

  46. rOBBo, No, I am not being sarcastic and if I thought it was nonsense, I wouldn’t have stated it. Four EPL clubs have already pulled the trigger cutting their guys no slack whatsoever. How much “good will” should Deano expect?

    Our fall down the table is alarming. In the most recent game, it was almost like El Gassy was looking to be sent off. After picking up a booking, he repeated the trick soon after and then took a blatant dive in the area. He should have got a red card. Are these the actions of someone right behind his coach? When Billings did the same thing down VP, Howe hooked him at half time to keep 11 on the pitch. But we left our man on.

    325 Million quid spent. There are clubs above us who ain’t got a pot to piss in. I’m still waiting to see us play some slick passing football. And if you are only willing to “cut Deano some slack” for just 2 more games, it seems to me that you are pretty much in agreement.

  47. I want change but can see why the owners may hold off. He has lost jack and have been injury ravaged.

    Where the hell is troure by the way!


    Saw the targett interview, very raw and honest

  48. Plug,
    If you’re referring to us ‘cutting him some slack’ this season because of previous successes then I could understand and yes we’d be in agreement. You referred to us cutting him some slack in previous seasons though. . . . . . which we didn’t need to as he’d done well and the vast majority of fans were happy and optimistic for the future.

  49. I hope we are doing what Levy does and are already talking to managers and has one all but sorted.

    I think Purslow will go all out for Gerrard, if not then Lampard.

    I think he will want a big name English manager.

    I think Lampard would be awfull.

    I’d like Gerrard.

    But I want Fonseca.

  50. robB0,

    When Deano got us promoted, everyone was delighted. Then reality set in and the word around me on the Holte End started expressing doubts about whether Deano was good enough at the highest level. I remember hearing complaints about the poor use of our substitutions. Those defending him rightly pointed out he didn’t have a bench to play with. It was about this time that I also heard objections about his formations. Miraculously, we survived.

    Last season started with a bang and raised supporters expectations. High profile wins lit the fire and the future looked bright. But we slipped back and even though we now possessed a better bench, its usage was minimal. With empty terraces, it was in work where the debate continued about Deano possibly holding us back and not the man for a shift to the next level. The same complaints, poor subs, lack of passing football, formations and selections. It went unnoticed due to the lack of supporters at grounds, but the under current was there.

    This season has been a disaster. More than a quarter of it gone and some tougher games on the horizon. Same complaints, lack of a passing game, formations awry, selections wrong, substitutions poor. I don’t know of one Villa supporter who is prepared to accept mediocrity.

  51. Plug, right now I am pretty confident that most Villa fans are wondering whether Dean Smith can still come good but very much hoping that he will. The majority opinion on twitter is still supportive, but also increasingly questioning. There are of course those that have already made up their minds and they do tend to see things in black and white with little nuance. This confidence in their own belief tends to make them more vociferous (I’m trying to put it as kindly as I can here!)
    I think it’s perfectly fair to question him and if results don’t improve soon then very sadly, the board would have to take the tough decision to look elsewhere but if we do that it would be grossly unfair to then re-write history and underplay the fantastic job he’s done up to this point.
    When a player goes off the boil (as all players do from time to time) then they are benched for a while until the manager sees fit to bring them back, hopefully champing at the bit to re-prove themselves. We seem to believe that managers will be immune from such temporary lapses but of course they’re not. Dean Smith strikes me as a deep thinking manager who is still feeling his way with a very different squad from last year. I don’t want to use this as an excuse, but he has also been unlucky with the number of disruptions, of which we’re all aware, which have made it difficult for him to settle on a first 11, a system and a style of play which he is comfortable will best suit them.
    If we were to have a largely fit first 11 and win our next two games I suspect the confidence would quickly flow back to both players and fans. I’m sure that’s what most fans are wishing for even if right now they can’t bring themselves to believe it will happen.

  52. I hear that Sanson is out because he’s suffering from covid. We know what an impact that had on our season last year. I don’t know if he was vaccinated or not but we do know that a lot of footballers aren’t. I’d best leave it there.. . . . . . .

  53. Well I’m really sad to hear that Dean Smith has gone and I just want to say how grateful I am for the great times he’s given us over the past few years. He rekindled ‘hope’ and in some ways it’s that hope which has brought him down now as we’ve failed to live up to the raised expectations.

    Having said that, the owners have been decisive and now we have to see what they have been planning behind the scenes. The next decision will be absolutely pivotal.

  54. Yes r0bb0,

    Sky Sports confirm Dean’s dismissal. A club statement will follow shortly.

    I have very mixed feelings, as Dean has done a wonderful job in getting Villa back to the Premier league, but I wonder just how much say he had in the recruitment of players, and whether they were all his choice, or were they foisted on him.
    I am sure that certainly some were not his choice.

  55. I was expecting it but still gutted to hear the news. He brought back joy and togetherness to the club, it’s a sad day to lose one of our own. Time will tell if it was the right decision, wishing him the very best. UTV

  56. Villalore and Paul P, all Vila fans will be wishing him the best and I’m sure he’ll get a rousing welcome back at Villa park next time he’s there

  57. JC. . . . .your headline was prescient. Seems Dean Smith lost that referendum of yours. Now will it be like the Scottish (once in a lifetime) referendum where some of us will be immediately campaigning for the next one, or the `Brexit referendum where everything afterwards has been wonderful . . . . .errrrr. . . . let me check my notes

  58. It will at least wake up the players. No more favourites now. Will be interesting to see if Sanson and the youth can prosper. I’m especially interested to see if Bidace can get a run

    I’m watching Everton vs Spurs. Two very poor teams. Terrible football

  59. It is a very sad day. Can’t be surprised. The investment spent and lack of identity and results this year just not good enough. Gutted to of never seen the Deano ball which imagined.

    He’s one of us though and has done a very good job.

  60. Like Robbo says. Next manager very very important and intriguing what nswe go for.

    Said it after the game, the wolves defeat pivotal. Results like that are insane and can define you. Win that prob all good!

  61. Well, sad day for me. Think John Gregory put it best:

    “Dean Smith gave Aston Villa Football Club the kiss of life when the Club was an embarrassment to Villa fans and he rekindled the love and passion and success on the field where so many others had failed hopelessly.

    Dean you will be forever remembered at VP. Thank you”

  62. r0bb0,

    Didn’t want to be “prescient,” but as we’ve seen here and elsewhere, a feeling of inevitability had started to set in. You could hear it in Targett’s post-match, too, putting the blame on himself and the other players.

    I’ve not been saying much because I figured an announcement would come today or tomorrow. The “Give him Brighton” thinking didn’t seem to make much sense. Compass were either going to stick to the end (or maybe Christmas), or make a change quickly.

    And while I do have faith in them, it also feels to me like Dean’s largely been a victim of circumstance. Seems apparent that’s how he sees it, too.

    But, it’s hard to argue that something’s been off, at least since the Wolves’ collapse, and I’m having a hard time understanding, for example, how going back to a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1, players would look lost since the ones who’ve been around know it so well.

    Buendia starting to settle, and you can understand him being a bit lost to start. Bailey, like Traoré, needing to get up to PL speed in the quality and his responsibilities. But everyone else out there to start against Soton knew the deal.

  63. Leading contenders Ralph Hassenhutl and Stevie G, but don’t see him giving up on Rangers yet.
    Terry also a big contender with the bookies as well.
    Foreign managers top of the list are Lucien Favre, ex Borussia Dortmund, Paulo Fonseca, and Kasper Hjulmand, the Danish coach, who again seems unlikely to leave just before the world cup.

    So probably Fonseca, Terry or possibly Ralph Hassenhutl.

    Shakespeare has gone too.

  64. PP,

    Yeah, those seem to be the names, atm.

    I’ll write up a post-mortem, but obviously Shakespeare and the rest will be out sooner or later. Might’ve thought Craig would be kept on in the interim. So I’m curious as to whether he walked of his own accord.

  65. The new manager will not have as easy of time as smith did starting out,smith replaced the 2 ND most unpopular manager of my and most villa fans lifetime spud

  66. Brighton now becomes very important points wise , hopefully we have new man in and the favourites become dropable
    Mcginn and Watkins have been awful so far I would go for 451 v Brighton
    Martinez cash Konsa ming’s target Luis Marv sansom beundi traore and ings

  67. Good luck to Dean and Craig.
    Villa had put together a new coaching staff
    Lost Jack
    The stupidity of international football
    Trying to bed in several players
    Trying to find best 11–again
    And to top it off attempting to reach European football, perhaps a bit too difficult ATM. This season wasn’t any different that the first season back in the Premier League. A big upheaval within the team.
    Unfortunately football is a “what have you done lately” environment. The fans of the game have been conditioned to expect nothing but all the trophies and winning the season as the goal for the team. Expecting the unobtainable is the rule or heads will roll.
    It was to be expected though. A manager’s job is to expect the chop at any moment. I’m sure there was a tear shed when he was told but by now Smith is fielding phone calls from other teams who were waiting for the sacking.

  68. H&V,

    Yeah, as I’m sitting here and looking back at it all…There are things I wasn’t necessarily bothered about at the time, but do seem to be of a piece with the idea that Compass had lost confidence. People had been saying it. But it didn’t seem to comport with a 3-5 year project given all the caveats.

    And I’m curious as to the role Purslow has played, signings, ROK, JT, not spending anything more than the Grealish money last summer…In other words, had there been some ‘conflict’ between Dean and the hierarchy, is Smith a bit of a scapegoat for Purslow, and was this run the excuse they/he were looking for, some cover with the fans?

    Don’t know that Shakespeare had anything to do with things not being right…But who knows.

    Certain assumptions I and others held, well…

  69. Congratulations to our rival Claret and Blue team for beating the Bindippers! Also to a great servant of the Premier league game, David Moyes, a British Manager. He was as solid as rock, when he was Everton’s manager, and I am sure with a better rub of the green, Dean Smith could have become the same, but results count.

    It shows just how good they are, and how good we needed to be to beat them. A team that has been built steadily over the years.

  70. JG,

    Depends who the manager is…If results and performances suddenly improve, clearly goes easier. My guess is that if it doesn’t change and the fans turn on anyone, it will be Purslow and Compass, to be honest. The new man will probably have virtually the full side to choose from when he comes in.

    So yes, he can certainly change up some players if they’re available. Assume Sanson will be over covid, Luiz back from his knock. Ings…You’d think he’ll be available. And obviously, a new manager is freed from any shackles regarding players and their expectations, for a while at least.

    If there was a ‘favorite’ that didn’t help Smith’s case, to my mind it’s McGinn. And if we talk about him and Luiz both being better further up, then we continue to ask why a DM wasn’t brought in.

    With Watkins, I think we’re seeing a couple things: Confidence being low due to Ings coming in, maybe a bit of second-season syndrome, and also the understandings with Ings and Buendia taking a while. Ings is likely much more accustomed to making the sorts of runs that work with Buendia’s game, whereas Ollie doesn’t seem to be yet.

    I’d find it unfathomable, though, to think that wasn’t being worked on in training, especially if the new coach was all about patterns and drilling. Did he do more harm than good? Was he even Smith’s choice? It’s not hard to look at film of Buendia’s strengths and see why he and Pukki clicked so well. And Smith did rely on analysis, player input, etc.

  71. PP,

    “A team that has been built steadily over the years.” Exactly right. And they were in the thick of that relegation fight with us for quite a while.

  72. I feel sad,I’ve seen gaffers come and go since I set foot in VP in 1971,this one really hurts,even though it is unsuprising.Pro sport is ruthless.Good Luck Dean.

  73. Deano brought his boyhood club from the brink and that can’t be taken away and was a very important step for the club

    The next appointment is ultra important .. like what I read about the Denmark manager this is the required type of appointment if the club wants to each the next levels

  74. Several things happened on the way to Dean leaving.
    Returning to the Prem a year early.
    Hitting the limits of FFP first year and a huge clear out.
    Hitting the limits again in year 2 and relying on Jack and praying Barkley comes good.
    Taking one year off The goal for Europe left Dean with an all or nothing start to this season. This season? See previous post.

  75. Someone mentioned west ham ,there recruiting has been spot on ,where they lucky maybe,but that where smith and our recruiting has fallen down ,we signed far too many what I call wimps,cash target Luis Marv beundi elgastly trez bailey beundi sansom ,we get bullied all over the park

  76. Another of excuses laid out was no pre season, cov19 ,injuries so has every other side but we are bottom in nearly every stat, running tackling shooting winning second ball and for me that is unforgivable, can’t blame nanny McPhee ,or other new coaches for that

  77. I wish Deano and his team the very best going forward. His record with Villa has been good and in no way a failure.

    We have owners who are very ambitious and who have backed that ambition with mega sums of money. They were never going to settle for a solid place in the EPL and Deano knew this.

    The pressure now moves onto Purslow’s shoulders. Get the next appointment wrong and he’ll be the next casualty.

  78. Smith gave me the best day being a Villa fan beating Derby.

    He will always be held in high regards by Villa fans.

    Unfortunately he just wasn’t good enough to get us to the next level now.

    I do worry about Purslow though.

    I hope he doesn’t go for Nuno.

    I hope we get Gerrard or Fonesca

  79. I think Gerrard would command instant respect.

    He’s going to be a very good manager.

    Fonesca plays great football. I was listening to a Roma fan tall about him and he thinks he’s brilliant.

    Has to be one of those 2

    Don’t want the Danish manager

  80. Kasper Hjulmand … Fonseca or Lucien Favre for me all have great experience but more importantly they come with a footballing philosophy non of the others mentioned do and Stevie G is managing at championship level and getting shredded by the minnows of Europe he is a pal of Purslow and hiring him we would be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire

  81. David Moyes was great at Everton and West Ham but failed at United and Real Sociedad
    Villas Boas was superb at Porto but failed at Chelsea. He initially did well at Spurs but they then sold Bale and although the proceeds were spent on Lamella and Eriksen, their form drifted and he was sacked.
    Louis Van Gaal went to United with a great CV but failed there.
    Benitez has had great success but now seems to be struggling at Everton.

    Anyone know exactly why, in any of these case? no. . .thought not

    Really. . . . . it’s possible to go on all day listing managers who’ve succeeded at one club but failed at another, but my point is we can all speculate and pretend we know who would be best for us to choose as our next manager but there are so many variables that we’d be kidding ourselves if we think we’re really in any position to make the decision.

    I could add my own thoughts and I wouldn’t disagree with anything runtings said above for example, but none of us know our owners future investment intentions or whether they want a bigger focus on youth or if they have other backroom staff already lined up for example.

    In summary, it’s fine for us to speculate but let’s not pretend that we really have any clue about who is, or isn’t right for us just now. Anyone who pretends that they do know is a fool (in my opinion)
    Anyone who expresses a confident opinion that they know who our next manager should, or shouldn’t be, is an arrogant fool.

    Ps. I will probably still be unable to prevent myself from expressing my own ignorance based opinions when the time comes! 🙂

  82. Very good points r0bb0,
    The points I would look at are, yes Moyes failed at United, but he was setup to fail. No-one was going to survive after Fergie, and he was going to be questioning every move. In fact OLe, Like Dean has been the only success since Fergie, and his job hangs by a thread all the time, but he, like Dean, is loved, because he is one of their own.
    I wonder how he would have done at Villa if he had been offered proper backing, instead of too many constraints, so he got back on the plane.
    I also wonder if there have been too many similar constraints on Dean, with the insistence on young players, getting rid of good servants, perhaps a little too soon, not having enough time to bed new players in. Some of this stuff will be hidden for years, if it ever comes out at all.
    United and Villa are very poisoned chalices, and who is going to be brave enough to take them in the future, and it is the same for players, fearing to tread home turf, in case they get hounded by the crowd.
    What a wonderful career some of our players have had away from Villa Park, but there are still fans who will say they were not good enough for the mighty Villa!

  83. yeah its a tough one. we are all saying moyes is the man now but before he was a laughing stock and we would of said hell no to appointing him!

    Footy is a fickle world.

    whover it is just hopefully is the perfect fit!

  84. recruitment recruitment recruitment

    like said above we was on a par with hammers few years ago.

    remember me and frem crying out to sign bowen and benrahma…both went west ham…

    we got tuanazabe back on loan and they go and buy zouma

    smiths head shouldnt be the only one that rolls

  85. H&V, it’s not just who we recruit is it though. . . .it’s how they fit into the culture and playing style of a club. That’s what makes recruitment an interesting topic for us bystanders to discuss but we can’t pretend that we have enough of the facts to be confident that we’re right. Imagine trying to chose a player for Bielsa. I imagine their recovery rates would have to be off the chart to survive the rigours of playing for him. You can bet that some Spurs players are now going to struggle under the intense regime Conte will impose whereas others may now thrive.
    Every club would want Jack Grealish in their squad, but he was on the bench this weekend and there are plenty of City fans who are already labelling him an expensive flop.
    I agree with you that the right recruitment is essential, but it has to be round pegs for round holes. You can bet there are plenty of really good square pegs out there!

  86. H&V, you’ve been critical of McGinn lately and you’re right he’s not been at his best for us. He’s been doing well for Scotland though and maybe that’s down to the role he’s playing and who’s around him. . . . . and maybe confidence too?
    I’ll bet you there’d be plenty of fans of other clubs who would be excited to be linked with him though and there’s every chance he’d go to them and perform really well.
    Seeing that a player or manager has performed well for one club is no guarantee that they’ll perform well for us

  87. Cant help feeling really sad about Dean Smith still today. Hopefully the outpouring of sorrow and gratitude from Villa fans is softening the blow to some extent at least.

    Football management is such a tough gig. I can’t help thinking back to my own business management and knowing that in the bad years, if I’d been a football manager, I’d have been for the chop. It’s all very well that I knew why we were having a tough time and in several instances had anticipated the problems and were putting solutions in place. . . .but some of those solutions took time to make a difference and one thing football fans and owners don’t offer is time.

  88. r0bb0,

    Well said once again.

    Doing the rounds of speculation and fallout as I’m sure everyone’s been. Makes for interesting though often head-scratching reading.

    I’m 100% with you on the next appointment. Was talking to Mr. Turvey yesterday about it yesterday, and I said I have no idea who’s guaranteed to come in, click with the players, the “plan,” and the culture the club were building.

    Everything about the set-up had a good feel about it. Now as this has all settled, I’m wondering more and more about Purslow, and really can’t argue with Smith pointing out a basic fact like the “three-pronged” Grealish solution has only spent 35 minutes on the pitch together.

    Also can’t disagree with those pointing out Smith’s dealt with over 50 different players and two or arguably three different teams in his short tenure.

    Probably the biggest concern this has brought to my mind is that instead of being a money guy and a face man for Villa, it seems Purslow likes getting involved in the footballing side of things. If he’s driven more decisions than we thought, and promising or expecting more than he had a right to, then he’s certainly got a vested interest if it doesn’t look like they’re paying off.

  89. If CP has been more involved in player acquisition than at least I thought he did, that would have an obvious knock-on effect with what Smith’s had to work with and why.

    No idea whether that’s actually the case, not in the inner circle. But it’s not hard to re-read things and come away with a new appraisal of how things have played out.

    Just one example would be if Ings was a Purslow buy Smith didn’t necessarily want, and then had to play him. Criticize 3-5-2 all you like, but based on what we’ve seen of Smith, we know it’s not his preferred formation.

    Me, being generous, assumed it primarily had to be down to injuries to wide players and, yes, getting both Watkins and Ings on the pitch at the same time without a lot of other goal-scoring threats. Smith had clearly established Watkins as his central striker, and was rewarded with a very good return for a young player doing it for the first time at this level. Being forced to play him wide in a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 was not something he was keen to do. Ings was a solution to a problem we didn’t have. There was a depth issue, but not a new starting striker issue almost demanding a new formation.

  90. Can’t help thinking DS got the Sherwood treatment. Did he really ask for Wesley, Trez, Traore, Sanson, Ings, Bailey, Tuanzebe etc or were they just dumped on him and was told to get on with it. I can believe he chose Mings, Konsa and Watkins. No grumbles if Martinez or Cash were just dumped on him!

    How many games will the new manager get before a few of our brethren use him as a personal issue venting device?

    Gone to the dark side again and read some Birmingham Mail clickbait on Twatter. It lead to some Talksport utterances from Simon Jordan. Seems to talk sense and have a soft spot for Villa. Would I be perverted in wanting him for Villa CEO. Just asking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  91. robbo

    yeah i put buying players to fit your system under recruitment.

    Like the ings signing, just odd.

    super john for scotland i dont tend to take notice of, its usually against somone like cycprus!

    I think i want deano back 🙁

  92. Well I for one am truly disappointment to see Dean’o get fired, not surprised but disappointed. I really wanted him to be successful as a Great Barr lad myself. However as much as I hate to admit the Frem’s of the world have the loudest voices and in this case the facts to back them up. Ever since last Christmas we have not been the same team. With a fit Jack and Ross we were hitting well above our weight but then Ross went off the boil and then we had Jack’s injury. The lesson not learned “how to play without Jack” was is the reason for me. We did have time to sort it but never did, and I think losing the ROK has had a much bigger affect than people thought it would. its a sad day when we let one of our own go but I thank Dean for the immense fun ride he gave us back up from extinction. To be fair I do not have a clue who I want in next just hope the board get it right first time!!!

  93. Canadian,

    Question for me was with that squad, could you really expect to win much without Jack? The club itself said we needed three £30m players to replace the one.

    With nothing else addressed. And those three played a total of 35 minutes together.

    It was always going to be an iterative process, building, integrating, getting the depth and balance. How much different would Villa look with Jack and £90m spent around him? That’s what the expectations we currently have were built around.

  94. JC, really interesting speculation about what may or may not have been going on behind the scenes. I had wondered whether the shift in formation had been proposed as a result of some data analysis which had shown that it had the potential to work well. Dean Smith would then have been tasked with making it work for Villa. It’s probably not the case and your proposal about ‘having’ to find a way to use both Ings and Watkins sounds more plausible.
    Of course it’s also very possible that Dean Smith had come up with it himself but just couldn’t get it to work!
    There is a danger now of course that our sympathy for DS leads us to find excuses for him with everything that happened and turn on the club instead. That wouldn’t do any of us any good.

  95. You do make a very fair observation about the 3 replacements for Jack only having had 35 minutes on the pitch together. Assuming that it was always felt that we needed those 3 players to replace Jack, then it shouldn’t be forgotten that we have also had a number of injuries and disruption from Internationals. You could therefore argue that the squad has been weaker than last year for most of this season.
    We shouldn’t forget however just how important confidence and momentum is in football, as in all sport. Others have pointed to the turnaround against Wolves as being a pivotal point and it does rather feel that way. Confidence was pretty high at that point and if we’d hung on to win then it’s easy to imagine that our performances would have been better in the last couple of games.

  96. JG, where do you get to see those stats? They would indeed suggest that the problems ran deeper than we’ve mostly been admitting to ourselves.

  97. Just watched the Wolves game again, and really you can see all the flaws there.
    McGinn played his heart out, scoring a goal, providing the assist for Ings, who apart from his goal did very little, and has that been part of the problem, that he does not contribute a lot.
    The defence was awful with its failings of trying to pas out from the back all the time, with the number of times poor balls sold short to Watkins, its also a wonder he doesn’t get more injuries.
    Still don’t think Ramsey needed to come on for Buendia, maybe he should have replaced Ings, when we were winning, and needed more possession.
    At the end with four minutes to go Mings is losing the ball in the final third, and then Ramsey gives away a stupid free kick when he did not need to. Martinez is also not exempt, as he could have held the ball and slowed the game towards the end.
    One of the worst things is the waste of free kicks, corner kicks and throw ins, we have gone back to bad habits.

    After that game we only seemed to get worse.

  98. r0bb0, JG.

    Yes, the stats have been out there…Seen them on Twitter, think they’re for real.

    Could be anything/everything: the cumulative result of poor 1-half performances, low confidence (not challenging and pressing as hard, playing it safe).

    Certainly not a feature of Smith’s sides so far. If it’s down to fitness, again not something he’s known for.

  99. r0bb0,

    There’s always that risk, sympathy clouding judgment.

    Me, I don’t know whether he’d have turned it around. I tend to believe he would’ve, because it’s not a relegation side, and I think the players brought in, once settled and fit, would’ve been enough, and would’ve suited four at the back.

    Was the string of performances poor? Yes.

  100. JG,

    As far as the stats vs reasons/excuses…

    I think the disruptions speak for themselves. The side was not right after three weeks out last season, then coming back and dragging around during the thick run of fixtures to make up the schedule. You add in Jack being injured for a third of the season down at the business end, the big Barkley loan having gone wrong, and you get the first half of the “he’s only won x in 2021.”

    The second half of it seems fairly explainable, as well. We get Buendia in early, but we’ve got the Euros and Jack. Didn’t know we were losing Jack (as far we know, anyway) until after the Euros. We’d have thought there was a plan, but there doesn’t really seem to have been. Then comes the Ings signing out of nowhere, followed by Bailey. Follow that up with various injuries, international breaks, etc., all culminating in the 35 mins of Ings, Bailey, and Buendia playing together. Sanson, Traoré, etc. hardly featuring and being injured, again.

    Still, we were all feeling reasonably good through the Chelsea matches, Everton and United. The poor and sloppy Spurs game was a setback, but maybe a hangover, then we looked good against Wolves for 70-75mins (bossing the first half), and collapsed.

    So, it had seemed to me up through that game that we had managed, were getting grounded, and had more to look forward to. It went the other way, instead.

  101. On the stats side, I’d need to look at the full listing, see exactly how far off the pace we’d fallen. Sometimes the numbers are truly damning, sometimes, like the table, the difference in places can be very slim, especially early on.

  102. And if you think about the passing stat…An incoherent start and new players/system will probably lead to some poor passing. And if the passing’s poor, well, a lot goes downhill from there.

    I think we’ve all agreed about midfield weakness. I’ve had questions about SJM for a while. Don’t favor Nakamba over Luiz. Ramsey is still learning, though he’d looked much better. But it’s not a “tough” midfield, not a lot of strong ball-winners.

    So, when we spent the Grealish money on attacking players and nothing else, especially on Ings, it makes me wonder a little bit. I’m getting the sense that not as many of the players as we might have thought were actual Smith buys.

  103. But at the end of the day, Smith’s gone. So whether he deserved it, could’ve turned it round, was in over his head…all moot.

    My concern at the moment is exactly what’s going on, and in particular, how much sway Purslow has and whether he should.

    The new manager will have a lot to take on, but should have in hand what Smith didn’t so far. If we end up going on the carousel again…well, it’s pretty crucial that this was a good call and that the hire is a) better and b) truly invested.

  104. John, based on your speculation about whether the players were Smith buys or not, can I add a third requirement for the new recruit to work?
    They need:
    a) to be better
    b) to be truly invested
    c) given authority to manage their own destiny.

  105. Thomas Francke is also now being bandied about for the job. Perhaps he and Dean can do a job swap….

    In my mind, it will be from Gerrard, Terry and Martinez on the information at the moment, which would also mean they would have a reasonable knowledge of the job, and the players.

  106. r0bb0,

    “c” is big one, indeed. I’d had certain assumptions about the set up. And may well have been wrong. Couple articles from back when circulating again.

    For example, Purslow giving Hodgson a list of players he wanted sold in the summer. Hodgson said no. Purslow’s still hated in Liverpool, appears to be a bit of a star-f*cker. Maybe these all went round when he was appointed and I missed them. But, if there’s any truth to them, let’s say it’s got me wondering.

    The new man also has to fit into the remit of developing youth and maintaining the culture that was growing up round Bodymoor. We can talk about all sorts of managers, but are we in fact starting over in more ways than one?

  107. So apparently Gerrard is number 1 target.

    I get why we want him.
    I’d rather him than Lampard, Martinez, Terry, Ralf etc

    Only question is will he come?

  108. Manager hunts seem to create even more of a media fest than the normal transfer windows and with just as much nonsense spouted. Just taking a look at each of the mooted managers for us you can also find a whole slew of articles confidently predicting, for example, what they’ll do in their first few months at Newcastle.
    In other words there’ll be a load of nonsense talked and little of it backed up by fact.

    Like JC, I can’t see Martinez switching just before a World Cup although he’d probably be my first choice. I guess, with big tournaments coming round at least once every two years, there will always be a reason for an International manager not to move on so maybe he would after all.

    He followed David Moyes at Everton which was always going to be a tough call and took them into Europe, he worked wonders at Wigan and took a country 5 times smaller than England to be ranked number one footballing nation in the world. He also likes his teams to play exciting attacking football.

    Areas where I’m not sure he’s so great are the development of young players and the skill in recruiting new players but I guess it’s like buying a house. . . you make your list of requirements and then when the time comes you decide on which ones you’re prepared to compromise. When we were choosing a new house we were determined to be within walking distance of a pub, but finally settled on a house that’s barely within walking distance of our nearest neighbour!. . . but we’re really happy with our final choice!

  109. ok. . . I’ve changed my mind already. If we could get Graham Potter. . . .
    It’s hard to imagine him moving from Brighton right now, but then I hadn’t expected Dean Smith to move from Brentford and he did!

  110. A quick comment on Steven Gerrard as he seems to be the current favourite.
    He doesn’t have Premiership experience so it’s a gamble, but it’s one that ‘may’ pay off. He’s done well at Rangers and although that is nowhere near the test of the Premiership, you can’t deny that he’s done all that’s been asked of him so far.
    The problem is that if he fails, then we fail, if he succeeds then he’ll be off to Liverpool. . . . is a 2-3 year ‘potential’ success worth the risk?

  111. Just seen that the odds on one betting site for the next Norwich manager have Dean Smith as third favourite.
    Can’t see him taking another job that quickly tbh but if he did can you imagine the outpouring of emotion on April 30th when they visit Villa park!?

  112. It’s really starting to grate on the lack of a clear successor and the quality of names being suggested (admittedly by the media). It looks like it was Purslow’s decision to sack DS, and if he doesnt get his first choice of Stevie G (someone he been angling for) or Martinez, are we actually getting an upgrade? I thought there would be better planning behind the decision and unless they spring a surprise quality signing, this may eventually backfire for Purslow. Not optimistic about our season at the moment.

  113. Has Pep been signed up yet? If not, ten Hag or Simeone? Surely Mancini can job share Villa with his Italian post until the World Cup?

    Of the names mentioned in the mediafest, I’m with roBbO on Potter. He is intelligent, has a passing system, plays attacking footie and uses subs to good effect. Your call Purslow.

  114. Gerrard is a no no for me.The media is hyping him up and Villa will be his stepping stone to Anfield. If i were the board, i would be looking at Bo Svensson. He currently manages Mainz and he is the next big thing in management. I watch a lot of European football and i am convinced. Plus he is Danish, just like Lange.

  115. Robbo
    The stats where everywhere last week,frem posted them on here,19 th out of 20th in metres covered a disgrace for me in a team struggling,but what I noticed not only have we a new Gaby (Watkins) we also have new Hutton God help us (cash) how many times he is caught up the field with no end product

  116. Similarities in Watford game aresnal game west ham and Southampton games we got over run in first half and smith didn’t try to change anything before ht,soton manager reacted and made subs quickly in second half to stop our momentum something never seen smith doing

  117. Villalore,

    It is a big moment. And yes, it seems like Purslow has a lot of latitude or say, more than I might’ve expected.

    So, off into the unknown, again. I think the team is good enough to avoid relegation, and I’d have thought that with Smith staying. As anyone might guess.

    The way it’s playing out, I hope Purslow’s apparent adoration of Gerrard is also good for the club.

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