So, Phillippe Coutinho is in France getting his work permit, and Lucas Digne is seemingly reasonably likely to join him at Villa Park in what’s been a rather surprising and eventful January window for so far. Fans are borderline delirious over the former, and generally well pleased over the latter. We’d been told something exciting was in the offing, and it appears that wasn’t an exaggeration.

Most are interpreting these moves as signs Villa’s owners have shifted gears and it’s hard to argue against that. The business seems to be a rather strong statement of intent regarding progression, and serious backing for Steven Gerrard. But, as we’ve discussed ad nauseam, it could simply be a release of funds withheld over the summer, which doesn’t mean these aren’t big moves, but perhaps a little more calculated in advance. Not saying anyone knew Coutinho would be available, and that Gerrard would come in and convince him to take a chance, but that NSWE were always going to spend in January if the right targets were available.

On the face of it, both moves make sense. Coutinho’s creativity, skill, and style go a long way toward filling the hole left by Grealish and balancing out the side (which could obviously be quite the understatement). Likewise, Digne would seem to fit the left back profile that Gerrard’s system requires. Both are experienced internationals, and both would bring a different mentality to the side and the dressing room.

While Digne’s not a done deal, I perhaps feel a bit more comfortable with his signing if it does come off. Standard transfer: Fee, contract, commitment.

With Coutinho, while he’s unarguably world class, there will be concerns over form and fitness and what happens after his loan ends. Yes, there’s an option to buy, and the purported price tag entirely reasonable. Could well turn out to be a serious bargain and coup all at the same time. But that’s only if it works.

Now, you’d back Gerrard’s personal relationship with Little Phil to get the best out of him. But there’s not a lot of time for him to make an impact. He shouldn’t have much trouble settling back in England, but you never know how long it will take to get him integrated and comfortable on the pitch. And right now, we don’t know how well he’ll hold up, or how quickly he can be given 60-90 minutes of starting time. On paper, he walks straight in, and again, you’d have to trust Gerrard to believe that such a high-profile move stands a good chance of fairly instant success.

But, we have no way of knowing what the definition of success is. Is it top 10? Top eight? A spot in one of the two Europa flavors? With exactly half the season gone for Villa, there are currently 11 points to make up to climb from 13th to 7th, which is about where you need to be for the outside chance assuming FA and League Cup outcomes. Of course, should Villa go on to win the FA Cup, they’d book a spot in the UEFA League group stages. The direct League Cup pathway to the Europa Conference has obviously come and gone.

And then we have to look at the player himself. If Villa don’t jump up the table, and there’s certainly stiff competition in the way, will he want to stay? Will Villa shell out to keep him if he does? On the first, hard to say. Guess it depends on how close we get and how much he’s enjoying his football. On the second, you’d think it depends on what he shows.

And even if Villa can snatch a Europa League spot, does Coutinho see himself playing in the second-tier European competition after stints at Liverpool, Bayern Munich, and Barcelona?

So, while I’m keen like everyone else, I can’t help myself looking down the road and wondering whether we’ll be looking for a Coutinho replacement in the summer. I’m not worried about the deal itself: It’s a fair roll of the dice. It’s more about whether this is ultimately a short-term solution centered on this season only. And if it doesn’t all work out, what does that mean for Gerrard, his ambition, the owners’ backing, and all the rest going forward in the summer?

In short, seems like there’s a fair amount riding on this and no certainty that ‘success’ still doesn’t leave us with another big hole to fill.

Interesting times to be sure, made all the more so because tonight Villa will be looking for back-to-back victories over United at Old Trafford to keep the FA Cup dream alive.

United are clearly in disarray. Given all the reports of unrest, you’d think it’s a good time to play them. Given United sit 7th and just lost to Wolves, you’d think they’ll be looking for a response. Given we’d play Middlesbrough if we do knock out United, you’d think the Villa squad might have the right focus, and that the transfer activity will give everyone a kick up the arse.

Villa will clearly be playing their best available squad tonight. And then hoping to finish the treble over United in terms of the table. But tonight might end up being the more important match. Should Villa fail, though, they will really have to approach Saturday’s reprise as sort of a do-or-die affair. We’d be assuming right now that Coutinho will be available for that one. A favorable stretch follows that will pretty much tell us all we need to know about this experiment and the season: Everton, Leeds, Newcastle, Watford, Brighton, and Southampton.

So it’s a rather interesting third-round match with all sorts of implications, and arguably the most important match we’ve played since Restart. The latest round has had its share of upsets, and there’s no real reason Villa can’t reasonably expect to clear this hurdle. If they do, you never know.

Over to you.

Comments 231

  1. Thanks JC it does appear SG is a fan of experience and that 28 plus bracket of player. It could just be that he wants players that understand the Scouse accent? We might only ever sign ex Liverpool and Everton players until he leaves.

    Not sure when Phils available and also when Digne will start. If its almost immediately then its a massive two fingers up to the current players, not that they helped themselves with the Brentford showing. It does leave me a bit baffled about intentions particularly if we go big on another couple of players, Steer has already been replaced too so it suggests we will be fighting for every point to do what? I am intrigued to know whether this Jan splurge means no summer splurge?

    On the game, united have few out and a few back, we have Ollie back and Mings but I think McGinn is out and no Trez, Phil, Traore, Bailey. Could mean Elghazi gets a chance or its back to Ollie and Ings. We will have to be very good tonight that’s for sure but whatever happens I don’t want to see another plucky loser display.

  2. MK,

    Coutinho, don’t think any of the players can argue with that. All the speculation around a LB, well…It is a bit harsh on Targett.

    That said, we know Targett isn’t really the kind of FB SG wants, which isn’t a comment on him as a player in general.

    Overall, don’t know how secure I’d be feeling around Bodymoor. One thing to know you’re auditioning for a new manager, little bit different thinking, “He’s got a system that means I’m going to be on the bench or looking for a new team.”

    We know this is kind of how it rolls now, though. Obviously, I’m in agreement about what our aims are, what’s achievable, and what benefit we’re really going to reap from Coutinho, as magical as he may still be. Not sure I like the idea of him leaving at the end of the season to take a step back up. Signing him is making a lot of supporters feel good, and giving off the big club vibes, but losing him straight away (if he isn’t a disappointment) is only going to make us look that little bit smaller after all.

  3. I suppose if I’m Bailey, I’m thinking WTF does this mean?

    Have no idea whether he was mismanaged in rehabbing, wasn’t completely straight about his progress, or it was just bad luck…Hard to say whether he can have any real complaints since we’ve gotten nothing out of him.

    But overall, I guess, yeah, curious about promises made (both to and by SG), expectations from NSWE, all of that. However it’s come about, there does seem to have been a shift.

  4. And I figure we probably do need some of that experience…losing from winning positions, etc., no real outfield leader besides Mings, no one who really can take a game over. I’m guessing/hoping it will strengthen the mentality all round.

  5. So, no surprises on the lineup:

    Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey, Buendia, Ings, Watkins

    Interesting on the bench:

    Hause and Sanson, but also Chuk, JPB, Archer, and Iroegbunam

  6. Strong team and it looks like McGinns yellow ban doesn’t count in the cup unless I’m going nuts. Think it’s the same side that beat them in the league bar more or less.

  7. H&V are you kidding we have Watkins and ings and there’s no way to keep both happy , same with mings and konsa if fit they play , mcGinn ? Who’s his replacement? You can only truly have a lot of quality if you can give them games, Europe’s key to that.

  8. Shocking start.

    Targett playing like he knows he’s being replaced

    Why did Mings step up?

    Watkins and Ings don’t pass to each other

  9. We need Digne, Bousima and Countinio in this team

    And i can see why Gerrard would want another striker

    Ings doesn’t suit this system and Watkins isn’t great

  10. The most unlike utd in years and per usual we give them a easy goal and miss our chances
    What happened to our set piece coach because Luis is shocking at them as he is all over

  11. Get Sanson on for Ramsey

    Our midfield needs huge money spent on it

    Luiz isn’t good enough, Ramsey very hot and cold

    Get Bissouma in.

  12. Watkins and Ings just don’t work together. Never.

    It’s a massive problem

    Cash and Targett are massive problems. Not good enough

    Luiz as a DM is a massive problem

    You can see why we are linked with full Digne and a DM

    Apparently we also want Ramsey from Juve. You can see why

  13. Arggggh Utd struggling and classic villa, there you go have a early lead. Jesus Christ.

    Recovered well though and don’t deserve to be behind.

    But I have sgs words in my ear when he took over. We will become a possession based team and its to see if there good enough to play it…

  14. Well, mixed half. Some good movement and pressure, some dodgy moments and miscommunication.

    Spacing isn’t always right. Shame about the goal. That’s one Mings virtually always gets.

    Agree that Watkins and Ings don’t really work well together.

  15. You can see why smith wanted JWP , Digne and PC will bring some quality deliveries.

    For me when fit it’s Ollie up top with Bailey and PC up top where that leaves Beundia I don’t know in this system

  16. Yeah, Buendia’s fine. You can see him asking for the quick ball all the time, doesn’t usually come. Should be much more on the same wavelength with someone like Phil.

  17. Real shame about the goal because we’ve looked good for so much of the game. Luiz has done some really good work and has won balls he’s had no right to win. It’s been nice to see the midfield fighting, competing strongly and coming away with the ball more frequently than we’ve been used to.

  18. Still not seeing much interplay between Ings and Watkins but apart from that, there’s some nice understanding building between players and possession is improving as a result

  19. What the . . . . .
    If they’re going to rule out goals whenever anyone is blocked in the penalty area no set piece goal will ever be given
    That decision is truly ridiculous

  20. Seems they were looking for any possible reason to disallow that first goal
    They couldn’t justify their first two reasons so had to look for something else

  21. There are so many reasons that goal should not have been disallowed . . . we all know it so its tough to go out because of it.
    JG, you’re so right about extra time too. It took them 4 minutes just to decide on the goal. The 30 seconds for every substitution takes it over 6 minutes already.

  22. JG. Yes it’s interesting about Sanson. He’s been looking half decent when he’s played but there’s something about him that managers aren’t keen on.
    I’d also have started with the three midfield starters that we did but it is a bit surprising that he didn’t come on as a sub
    Maybe it’s because we needed more creative players whereas he’s more of a ‘steady- eddy’ player?

  23. I know it looks different on the pitch, but so many quick passes not seen or made, some sloppy passages. The players are making it hard on themselves to play out.

    And then some very neat stuff, and Ollie very unlucky not to score. Ings offside, Cavani ‘blocked’ (is Jacob just supposed to move from a position he’s established?).

  24. No, H&V. Think Archer should’ve come on for Ings, and Buendia stays in. He’s the only consistent one-touch player out there. Even when it doesn’t come off, he knows where the player is and what he’s trying to do.

    Ghazi…well, he’s hearing all the talk, sure he wanted to score there at the end, but he should’ve tried getting it across to Ings.

  25. Haha poor frem

    Don’t worry mate change will come re fullbacks.

    Targett I love but bloody hell that was terrible and should of been screaming I’m your number 1 lb.

    Trying to play sime lovely stuff but still those brain dead passes. Just need that extra quality and calmness.

    Welcome phil

  26. What difference in what ramsay done or Shaw hand in konsa face
    So they ate saying now ramsay was offside interfering with play,so anymore just run at an offside player and goal be disallowed

  27. Yes JG. . . we’re too nice.
    Mings wants to behave reasonably and I’d normally praise that but sadly, referees ARE swayed by what players say and how they behave and he needs to show he’s fucking pissed off with ludicrous decision making

  28. Going to disagree with both JC and JG here. I thought Buendia was excellent today but I thought his influence waned as the game went on so I would have substituted him too.

  29. Well done, JC, and good riddance to Frem. Two ‘yellows’ should equal a ‘red’, in this case a permanent ban. He’s driving everyone nuts on here. In under two hours from kick-off, he’s posted 35 fucking times, saying the same things over and over. Tonight he’s managed to slag off Watkins 12 times, Targett 9, Ings 6, Luiz 6, Cash 5, Ramsey 4, El Ghazi 3, Mings 2 and Buendia 2 – count ’em!
    That’s 49 moans, one every 2.4 minutes, about the team you claim to SUPPORT? Do me a favour!

  30. Well what a disgraceful game from VAR. How much do Man Utd put into the referee’s convalescence fund.
    Even if there was only 6 minutes left, the delays, etc within the time should have become at least another 8 minutes.
    Apart from the goal, the effort put in by the team was first class, and yes there were slips mistakes, and a lack of clinical decisions, but the team did themselves proud. On another day we could have come away clear winners.
    Is the threat of new players coming in, having some effect on the squad, one will never really know.
    Just hope that all the big name signings do not have the wrong effect, as it has at United.

  31. Haha vivavilla . . . I can’t say I’m glad that Frem’s been banned because I’ve been avoiding his posts, but if I’d read that many anti Villa posts I’m sure I’d have been agreeing wholeheartedly with you.

  32. I’ve just gone back to the top and read your posting JC. Some really interesting points, particularly about Coutinho.
    We’re all getting very excited about such a high profile signing but as you point out it’s not yet quite as clear cut as we’re assuming.
    I saw a report earlier that Spurs have some sort of purchase option so as you say, the danger is that if he is indeed a success there is a risk that we’ll then lose him.

  33. I’m not usually one for conspiracy theories, so i prefer to think that referees and the FA are not deliberately biased but that there may be some subconscious bias where they are swayed by the crowd. But. . . do the FA sell the rights to FA cup games and do they therefore benefit financially from Man United staying in the cup?

  34. r0bb0,

    I think basically they benefit from United staying in the cup by viewership. Worldwide plastic fans equal more worldwide ‘dollars’.

    I’m not one to buy into conspiracies, but as I see the reaction from more neutral sources, it tends to confirm the idea of bias.

    What I hate, and everyone has said this, is that you celebrate a goal you see nothing wrong with, then pause, realize it’s under review, and know that if there’s anything possible they’ll reverse it. When you’re Villa playing a big club, especially United. Not a compelling narrative, yet, Villa equalizing.

    For me, I didn’t realize Ramsey was obligated to vacate a space he was occupying to let Cavani through. Extremely poor manners.

  35. There’s been lots of discussion about the rules of the game and you can see how it’s possible to judge that Ramsey impeded Cavani having started in an offside position and therefore Ramsey could be judged to have interfered with the movement of Cavani towards the ball. It should however only be judged to be offside “if it impacts on the ability of the opponent to play or challenge for the ball”. Credit to Shearer and Micah Richards on this one as they both saw that the key point as far as the strict letter of the law is concerned is that Cavani was not going to be able to reach the ball. Cavani running into Ramsey therefore didn’t impact on Cavani’s ability to challenge for the ball.

    You can see however that it then becomes subjective because the referee then has to judge whether Cavani could in fact have challenged for the ball if he hadn’t collided with Ramsey and this leaves it open for Oliver to change his mind. . . .except. . . .that it’s difficult to judge whether Cavani ‘might’ have been able to reach the ball (both Shearer and Richards thought he wouldn’t). That’s where the VAR rules, if properly applied would have let the goal stand because they state that the referee had to have made a “clear and obvious error”. It cannot possibly be ‘clear and obvious’ that Cavani could have challenged for the ball, in fact, in real time, Oliver presumably thought he couldn’t. Cavani even remonstrated with Michael Oliver asking for a foul to be given because of his collision with Ramsey and Oliver, considered it, and waved him away.

    In the heat of the game it’s easy to get carried away in the emotion and cry foul (or no foul) and then in the cold light of day think. . .yeah ok maybe it was. In this case though it’s clear and obvious that they came to the wrong decision and the only question that’s then left is. . . . . why?

  36. Last comment on this (at the risk of appearing to be obsessed by it!). JG pointed out that now all a player needs to do is run at another player to have goals ruled out.
    They set a dangerous precedent last night where this could be the outcome. Teams often have players coming back from an offside position at set pieces so defending players just need to collide with one of them to have any subsequent goal ruled out. You can see set piece coaches up and down the country now deciding which of their defenders to designate to run into an attacker coming back from an offside position and then run up to and remonstrate with the referee.

  37. Ok. . . no more comment on the disallowed goal, but why was a foul not given against Shaw for bloodying Konsa’s nose in the area. The rules of the game say a penalty should have been awarded “if a player commits any of the following offences against an opponent in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force”

    One of the ‘following offences’ in the above rules is:
    “strikes or attempts to strike”. . . . . Shaw undeniably did strike Konsa.

    ‘Careless’ in the above rule is defined as:
    “when a player shows a lack of attention or consideration when making a challenge or acts without precaution”. . . . There’s no doubt that Shaw was careless (let’s say it was an accident rather than deliberate as that would have involved further sanction. . . .and we can’t have that can we??)

    I don’t see what I’m missing here. It should have been a penalty. . . . or at least they should have taken 3 minutes and 36 seconds to consider whether it should have been!

  38. Cavani’s eyes are in the air looking at the ball he cannot reach, maybe he would of recovered enough to have fouled or leaned on Konsa restricting the chance, how then would that be any different to Ramsey stepping toward him slightly? he does not have to move and if he’d stayed still they could not rule the goal out.

    Have to chuckle at the realisation that its no conspiracy that people in power are swayed by bodies with large amounts of money, welcome to the real world 🙂

  39. You have to ask why VAR is employed in a competition that most clubs in it don’t have it? ditto goal line tech. Might be the same reason the big six can try and form a new league and then carry on with next to no sanctions? money.

  40. Fucking cheats. The morning after and I’m still raging. Michael Oliver, hang your head in shame and more importantly, Darren English on VAR duty should be immediately dismissed.

    The only way we are going to get a level playing field is by appointment of continental officials and VAR controllers who are unbiased, to replace the current lot who clearly have allegiances at play. PP, ManUre and the Referee Convalescent Fund, don’t make me laugh. Personal bank accounts need investigating.

    I always knew Law 11 (a) states that ManUre shall be awarded a penalty at Old Trafford. Oliver got that one wrong. I also knew that Law 11(b) states that the opposition at Old Trafford shall not be awarded a penalty. Oliver got that one right. But I didn’t realise there was a Law 11(c) that states VAR shall have unlimited time to determine any excuse that can be used to disallow an opposition goal. Oliver got that one right.

  41. Six minutes added on. Another fucking cheat. It took more than 3 and a half minutes for VAR to wipe out our goal. It took another 1 and a half minutes for Konsa’s bloody nose. And it took 1 minute for Fernandes to amble off when he was subbed. What about the other injuries and substitutions? Had ManUre been losing, we’d have seen 10 minutes minimum go up, no bother.

  42. Oliver books Ramsey after a few minutes for something I didn’t notice. But I did notice the amount of filthy challenges put in by Shaw. He’s a dirty bastard. Anybody else, at any other ground, would have got a second yellow by half time for his contributions.

  43. Apart from my previous gripes, we lost because our two centre backs stood ball watching when the ball came over instead of watching the opponents. A school boy error and the same happened last week.

    For the second week running, the best team lost. Plenty of comments about where our needs currently lie concerning playing staff, but our CB’s should be nervous. Maybe a powerful DM would help them, but last night’s goal would probably still have happened.

  44. Frem, I share your annoyance at what happened last night. It’s big stress when the officials are carrying another agenda. See you again soon.

  45. haha nice to see you all feel the same this morning…fuming!

    There is no doubt in my mind its corrupt.

    if thats utd its a goal. corrupt.

    hopefully will add to the atmosphere sat at vp i want it bouncing

  46. overall though we played very very well. Love watching sg ball take shape. but since nakamba has been out and prob having watkins and ings play together i think our shape hasnt been the same.

    the distances in mid and the fluidity from the foxes, palace, brighton game isnt the same. which is entirely understandable as a proper 6 is everything.

    Overall i know we are on the right track when mates, work colleagues and social media praise you. been getting alot of good reviews lately.

  47. he should of scored but i though watkins last night was immense. the man did not stop running and pressing. his hold up play and lay offs are improving massively. can see what theyve been working on in training clear as day.

  48. Dermot Gallagher on sky sports taking as long as var to explain why the decision was correct,then when presenter mentioned West ham goal said both goals should either have been given or disallowed, bent corrupt officials

  49. I hope stevie g has been given licence to buy and sell anyone he wants for me martinez is only one at top 4 level,if target is considered weak link how does cash escape critismfor, we need to buy some strong nasty type players,ones that can bully a ref,last night we had not enough leaders

  50. Forget VAR we didn’t lose because of it, we were cheated for certain but we lost that ourselves.

    Frem I am afraid has a point, yes its the same one he’s had forever but at this moment we are a team in transition from post Jack and an attacking manager to one that stays tight and counters mostly. Yeah ok we don’t have the players to Dominate but this is how SG operated in Europe.

    Last night became the 5th loss in 9 and the subs were both poor and late, we didn’t see anything new attempted to upset Manure and we had 5 subs to use. Yes SG isn’t playing with a full deck just as DS didn’t have that luxury and I am sure it would look different again but it seems he see’s the answers in the transfer market not on his bench. Dean had more skin in the game as he was here when they were signed, made promises and very likely had ambition for these young players, Were they all likely to make it?

    What hasn’t changed on the pitch since his arrival is giving away stupid goals, before it was the three at the back and high fullbacks that caused it apparently except now we are sitting in and still doing it. We have always had that element, it was counterbalanced by the sheer amount of chances we created last season and now we have both mistakes and less chances.

    We struggle to keep shape when attacking and a fair few didn’t put the hard yards in. The honeymoons over unless courtinho can be the new Jack and with targets looming SG is about to head down that road imo. Maybe it lasts until June and we get 8th maybe not but it seems there are a lot that will head out either way and that was always the case, for how much is crucial, hopefully for decent profits, hope that prem badge counts for something.

    So forget VAR, as some wag put in a meme “checking club badge”

  51. mark

    yep agree mostly. like sg said we had ourselves to blame. When sg came in he wanted us to stop conceeding. he deployed nakamba who wasnt used under smith and we kept some clean sheets and looked alot more solid and our shape was very good. like i said above though since nakamba out we look a bit more loose in mid. the shape isnt the same. think it comes from the front too and when everyone is fit i dont see ings and watkins playing together.

  52. james

    yes this is a very exciting/interesting stage. the owners want europe. sg is elite and will demand the best. You know hes been promised buy purslow theyll be money.

    Can we get that next level of player in? what does sg see needs improving? the next few transfer windows is going to be very interesting.

    i just want a number 6 in for my own sanity and can stop banging on about it!

  53. i feel cash gets away with alot more than targett. because he smashes into challenges. but for a guy who was meant to be a winger, christ almighty.

    ive said last season, he never looks like he has the ball under control to me. its not fluis at all. he takes 4 or 5 touches before he does anything else.

    for me in the transfer market and im sg x2 full backs and a cdm is urgent

  54. H&V yeah no doubt SG’s defensive stance suits Nakamba, less chaos for him to work in. Under Smith he couldn’t pass water and invariably would pass to players under pressure etc so he has to look at himself for the reason Luis was preferred, More to do with attacking imo, Under SG that’s been reeled in.

    Last night players were passing to static players and sometimes within two yards of themselves and fucking up. at the back Mings can do similar, he will pass to Targett in some very poor positions, gets it back immediately then gives it across our box to Konsa who is under pressure. Maybe Digne will solve some of that if he comes, his defensive stats are not as good as Targett’s though.

  55. mark

    yeah i wouldnt be surprised to see kessler starting you know.

    for me nakamba looked so much better was sg simplified his game. was the lone 6 instead of being in a 2. was tasked to sit and give the ball. looked so much better. just our bloomin luck he gets out for the season!

    no issue with the passing out though at times it was great. overall perfromace was really good apart from the mindless pass 2 or 3 times.

    i saw dignes stats def was better!

  56. JG- Beundia was one of the players that continually looked to get in the box and did so and got shots off, ok they are not going in for him but take glance at Manure and the level of players they have, not exactly on fire are they? Our XG was .77 manures 1.36, we don’t create enough good chances. Last season with Jack playing it was over 2 for many games so even much maligned players like Elghazi, Traore and Trez scored and its those goals we miss plus ollie has 5 but not at the level he was in chances per game. McGinn has 3 so far and he’s had 3 the last 2 seasons, ramsey 2 and he’s never scored before its his 1st real season so no worse than normal.

  57. james

    yeah mcguinn can escape critiscm

    allthough i feel his new position under sg suits him alot more. been happy with him. again i see mcguiin approving 10 fold with a class 6.

    i just cant stress enough how important it is.

    i got pool mates who support one of the best in the land and they stress out when fabinho is out!

    we dont even have a 6!

  58. H&V Digne stats are good until the defence bit where he is 20th in the prem this season for FB’s, compared to ATA who has both sides to his game still can’t be greedy.

    If I was a manager I’d press our left hand side when we play out and get players to cut off the route to konsa or look to get to the inevitable pass across our box. Manure employed width to stop our FB’s venturing forward last night, Beundia and Ramsey carried the ball forward well instead particularly Ramsey.

  59. The word ‘corrupt’ is being bandied around a lot today and it’s hard not to at least ponder whether it may be true

    Refereeing is a tough job to do consistently well and it’s not one I’d choose as a profession. I imagine they feel pretty beleaguered at times but the answer lies in their own hands. Every time theres a contentious decision, the referees club pulls together and explains why they got it right. Nobody nobody nobody gets every decision right every time. They need to grow up, be honest with themselves and the public and admit when mistakes have been made. . . . or at the very least say that they can understand why their decision was contentious, explain why they made the decision they did and admit that there was room for doubt.
    If they can’t ever accept they were wrong they will never improve and right now it doesn’t seem that they are prepared to do that.

  60. Sanson has to play on Saturday as McGinn is suspended you would think with Ollie up top and PC who’s over his Covid should start you’d think for Ings.

  61. mark

    yeah i dont think we should be starting ings and watkins now.

    im prepared to say th ings signing was a complete blind panic. doesnt fit in and a waste of money.

    but hey cant get them all right.

  62. mark is that trent?

    see this is where i struggle with stats. trent for me is a complete liabilty in his own third! the amount of times he gets done or looses his man is mad. but he has a hell of a right peg.

    its like the xg stats. they aint for me. last night i saw with my own eyes villa have enough chances good ones at that to win 2 games and were the much better side playing some great footy.

    that move where ramsey got taken out at the end was amazing. but xg says utd were the threat!

  63. Mark, you can’t just say forget VAR. And you said it twice in the same post. VAR cannot be forgotten. Otherwise, we are all guilty of accepting the corrupt decisions meted out. They must be challenged and far from forgetting them, Darren English and Michael Oliver should be hauled in front of the cameras for cross examination. They have to know there will be consequences for the shit they dish out.

    Hiding behind the Referee’s Club where they all stick together, is the only consistency we ever see. It has to change for the sake of the sport.

  64. H&V the XG chances are only chances if they are not off side ruled out for a foul etc, so your left with shots on goal saves and goals then players that fluff their lines like Ollie hitting the bar. Its about probability so if they were easier or harder to score from, Manures goal was gift from 4 yards high XG, Ings goal line tap in would of been too. Its not that goals from outside the area don’t happen its just they don’t go in 9 times out of ten or probably even less.

    Myself I watched and thought we played ok but wouldn’t score in a month of Sundays, 1st half they did enough and relaxed.

  65. Plug you’ll have to forgive me for not giving a crap about VAR, far more blatant corruption going on in the world today that most don’t blink at imo.

    What you are saying is right but its only important to football, just a microcosm of the world today. The only difference is there isn’t anyone coming after your for disagreeing lol 🙂

  66. Mark, You’re right, governments find it just about impossible to accept that the’ve got something wrong. Scientists on the other hand largely exist to ‘prove’ that their previous theory was wrong. . . . . and come up with a better one.
    Just like conspiracy theorists I’m sure 🙂

  67. Yesterday should be no surprise to any of the older Villans. Bach when Ian Ure kicked us black and blue and we got nothing, to a league cup final where a United player pulls down the pants of our player and wins the resulting free kick. United have won corruptly for so long now it’s accepted as the norm.
    Sorry Frem, but you never learn, this has always been my favourite site, but I get driven away all the time by such negativity and its always the same drivel, at least come up with something original if JC ever lets you back on!!

  68. Here’s an interesting interview with Mark Schwarzer about Coutinho which echoes some of the concerns which JC mentioned in the intro piece here:
    There were a few points that particularly caught my eye. The first was that he struggled in Germany because he seemed to feel that he needed to do something special with the ball each time he received it. In other words, he may have been weighed down by the level of expectation. This is just what seemed to go wrong for Buendia although it seems that he’s finally getting over that and his contribution is improving every game as a result.
    One other was the question of where he plays and who will he play with and who misses out
    Finally the question of his workrate. The whole team benefits from the efforts of Ings and Watkins and if Coutinho is less hard working, who will pick up the slack?

  69. Mark, Scientists will often come to a consensus. . . . .agreeing that a particular theory is considered ‘the most likely’ explanation for something. The consensus is always there to be questioned though. Right now the consensus amongst Villa fans seems to be that Coutinho is a wonderful signing and hopefully the consensus view proves to be the correct one!

  70. There certainly appears to be a bias towards the big 6 when penalties are handed out against or awarded to a team. I think this has always been the case, some games more so than others. It would be interesting to compare games between mid table teams to see it there is favouritism even if it might be subconscious.
    The uproar grew when VAR was introduced to the game. It took away the ref’s ability to judge whether a play or infraction was intended or not. Whether the infraction had an impact on the game. It took away his ability to actually “referee”. It turned the game into a series of black and white scenarios like the board game checkers. The subtleties of the game have or will go missing and players will start to play the rule book instead of achieving a smart play.
    Whether a player has a good game or a bad game, all becomes part of the “game”. It’s what makes football the spectacle it is. It’s the same for referees. They aren’t 100% perfect not even on their birthday. Never have never will. But, that is part of the game. Referee means to referee the game, using instinct, digression, and a clear understanding of the game at hand. Not a see everything set of video cameras around the pitch regardless of intent or not.
    The rule book needs to be revamped and VAR needs to have a set number of uses. Obviously offside and goal line tech. Not to search the pitch for any infraction regardless of it’s severity. Severity should be left up the referee on the field, his decision regardless of the rules set in place. Like I mentioned earlier, players will play to create penalties not play to score or defend.
    I think honour on the pitch has gone out the window. Intimidation and VAR are the culprits.

  71. Yep courtinho could play 8 or 10, he could find it hard going, he could find it even harder with players below his standard and possibly below any team he’s ever played in and one finding its feet this season. You could also say SG’s 433 with two 10’s isn’t what he played at Liverpool with Mane and Salah out wide and Firminho up top. add an attacking FB in Digne and we could be worse at the back but hey.

    You could also add SG has never had a player like him to call on, he clearly is not to impressed with some of ours though, the whole thing is a gamble bring it on.

  72. Ian no doubt the officials favour the big clubs on pens particularly so no surprise that when given a tool that should/could equalise things they choose to use it to be even more biased. The array of rules that have come up since its arrival is amazing as I very much doubt refs see rule 34 c. flash into their head when making decisions in real time. Why we expected VAR to improve things I’ll never know.

    here’s an ex referee actually talking some sense:
    1) have VAR at all ties or none
    2) let us hear the discussion between the on pitch referee and the VAR adjudicator.
    These two points seem just so obvious that they shouldn’t even be under discussion.

    Ian , you say that VAR should only be applied in a limited number of pre-defined circumstances. Isn’t that already the case? It can be used for offsides and therefore could have been used to judge whether Ramsey was offside or not and that’s what they are saying it was used for. The question is, how far back can they go to try and find an offence? (it’s a separate point, but the ‘consensus’ is that they were justified in using VAR but they used it to come to the wrong conclusion last night)

    Mark, you ask why we expected VAR to improve things. Despite last night’s debacle (and previous ones) I am still a strong supporter of VAR. It has been correctly used many times but inevitably we will focus on the times when it’s been badly used (particularly when it affects out own team)

  74. Oooh burnleys wood going toon. That’s huge for Burnley.


    The coutinho transfer is the least gamble I’ve ever seen. Instantly has raised the profile of the club. Will help attract other players too. Hopefully. And it’s a loan with no mandatory buy which we did well to negotiate. So if it doesn’t suite he goes.

  75. rObbo, I’m not nervous about Digne. If he joins us, fine. If not, we’ll find another LB.

    Heroes, the Wood move to the Wai Ayes does surprise me. I would have thought Burnley would not wish to lose him until the season’s end. Especially to one of their 3 from 4 relegation teams.

    Mark, I saw Trez was substituted after 57 minutes……

  76. According to reports trez is available for transfer,yesterday’s result performance won’t help us with transfer fee,as long as we can sell players as new ones come in be no new bo.b squad

  77. E ghazi off to everton.

    i wish him nothing but well. shant see a bigger goal for the villa than that scored at wembley. and scored some other belters.

    a purple patch player who may suit it at toffees under rafa ball.

    good luck ghazi

  78. H&V,

    Would be amazing if Bissouma also comes in. Liverpool fans saying we’re also in for Firmino. That would be a statement to get all 4 in.

    Toon after Wood. So much for having billions

  79. I hope that El Ghazi gets his move to Everton, if it is what he wants. Sad that so many so-called Villa fans forget what an important player he has been, and instrumental in the play off final.

    Trezeguet will probably go out ion loan now, and hopefully find himself a new home, unless he suddenly manages to do something amazing for Egypt.

  80. Woods will give Newcastle some umph up front with Max and Wilson sniffing and it weakens a rival.

    Courtinho will be gutted if Trez goes its the only reason he signed. You would think Phils a no brainer but this is Villa. I think it will go one of two ways, he’ll either be fantastic or pants, can’t see him being average. £7m in Fantasy is he worth a punt?

  81. Mark
    Yeah Howe going Bruce ball. Trippier cross to woods head.

    Breaking from the telegraph. Villa interested in 40mill boussoma. Like I called lunch time 🙂

    Thank god they recognise the need for a 6.

  82. Looks like chuck could be going. Not budging with contract talks.

    Remember saying last season he should of played more when we had nothing to play for. But it does sound like his agents got to him. Unsure it would of made a difference

  83. It’s now six league losses on the spin for Deano. In those games, Naarwich have shipped 16 goals and scored zero. Think Deano was somewhat premature jumping into that hot seat.

  84. Plug

    Strange for me they sacked farke. Knows the championship and the club. What’s the point of replacing him unless they thought Deano could really keep them up.

    Remember when we wanted raschica!!

  85. ive been lazy wanting bissouma. youtubed him and he scores some belters. very creative and turns out hes a 8 and nor really a 6!!

    yeah paul will be intersting to see if we can get any other business done.

    digne and phil is just insane. cant really belive it

  86. Nice to see that Guilbert and Sanson have welcomed Lucas Digne, as a fellow brother to the cause, giving an impression that they will all be re-united at Villa. Maybe Frederick will get a fresh slate with Stevie, and he could be an excellent challenge to Matty Cash!

  87. Guilbert is one who I rate. There have been plenty of players cast aside who have shown their talent after they left. It’s too bad that circumstance wouldn’t let them develop with Villa. The ones who have left would make a good core for the team.

  88. Yeah, of all the players who didn’t really stick for Dean, Guilbert’s the only one I really wondered about.

    Obviously buying Cash was a clear decision point there and Fred didn’t want to be a backup, but I’m not sure there’s a huge difference, and Guilbert did seem more aggressive/strong in the tackle.

    Will indeed be interesting if he gets a look-in under SG.

  89. Lucas Digne eh welcome,

    Looks like SG really does like the older players and this is a strange one because optimal age for a wingback is 24ish , after that the loss in pace and fitness can make that position very tough. Maybe SG has a plan for that and maybe its for his deliveries. That brings up another question though who is it he will crossing to? no offence to Ings and Ollie but neither are Dominic Calvert-Lewin. At one point we were in the top 4 teams for crossing but I can’t remember us scoring many from them.

    Totally insane January though as we appear to be going hell bent to spend the whole of Jacks money, you really don’t do that in Jan on a whim, we saw Sanson come in last Jan and crash and burn when he was supposed to be coming in early and getting settled for the season ahead. I’d really like to know the reasoning for the spend now? maybe its just that the competition is less?

  90. In the scheme of things and in this modern age £25m is not a lot, his wage though is being touted in the Circa 130,000 a week level or at least it was at Everton. That really makes me wonder what others are on? or will be on.

  91. Transfer fees ,so now an average player is going for 20 plus million where will it end
    Our promotion side was built with players averaging 10 to 12m,now we are looking at probably double inside 2 years so our owners look like they mean business
    And isn’t a great time to be a villa fan

  92. Mark,
    I had the same question in mind . . . Who will Digne be crossing to?
    It’s not clear yet how all the new pieces will fit together but presumably Gerrard has a plan in mind

  93. I’m guessing that Villa is at the beginning of the next stage toward Europe. They are now buying players who are a little past their prime or might be damaged goods, a scratch and dent buy if you will. These players are definitely a step above the current crop but have passed their moment to be picked up by the big 6. Also, they are too expensive for the mid table to lower teams in the Premier League.
    Enjoy the players that Villa have been employing the last few years as they will soon be gone. (El Ghazi is the first to go) A few more not quite prime time players and an influx of the best of the academy is going to be the way forward for the next year or so. Then, with Europa in their grasp you’ll see a buy or two that will be the real game changer.
    Everything is transient except the team. It has taken me a while to come to grips with that and not get too attached to any one particular player. Not that I don’t appreciate what they bring to the team.
    As an aside, who do you fancy for the next manager once Gerrard’s era comes to an end?

  94. Ian,

    Yeah, we need experience to add to the current crop to get to 6-8 positions. Digne probably at his peak. A few podcasts were saying Coutinho faced an uphill battle at Barca with everything going thru Messi. Let’s hope he starts off well.

    Also signed a 17 year old defender, Kerr Smith, that has played for Dundee U this season

    Fair well to El Ghazi. Did sooo much for Villa

    Looking forward to Man Ure revenge

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