A week after that desultory loss to Newcastle, Steven Gerrard has indeed made changes. Ollie Watkins makes way for Danny Ings.

And that’s it. Can’t imagine Morgan Sanson is very happy. If he can’t get a start after last week, you have to think his agent is already working the Rolodex.

For the rest, let’s hope they didn’t wear themselves out impressing the manager during the week.

For me, please don’t ruin the weekend, Villa.

Comments 179

  1. Just looked at the BBC site and it has a player rating page on which you can give your scores during the game. Interesting to see that the only player with a very low rating after 2 minutes is Mings. It seems that the racists have been let out again. Childish I know but I gave him a 10 . . . just to balance things up a bit.

  2. JC.

    Morgan strikes me as the sort of person who is rarely happy. Maybe he’s just a bad ‘un, which is hard to find out before you buy a player..

    I can’t imagine that both Smith and Gerrard would consistently ignore him if he had something useful to contribute

  3. It seems that Villa park is very quiet and with a tense atmosphere. . . . . not helpful eh?

    Hopefully not back to the days when there’s more pressure on the team when playing at Villa park than away from it

  4. Really really really fed up with seeing SJM at right back. Really fed up with the endless tippy tappy crap across the back line. Watford (or any other opponent) just wait for the mistake . Suspect Hodgson is a better manager than SG ‘cos he has got a collection of inferior players taking the piss out of our expensive superior players from almost day 1 of taking over.

  5. It’s frustrating, jbd. They’re packed in the middle, the flanks are wide open, as per. Feels like watching the same game every week.

    But, at least Phil’s seen a lot more of the ball, Buendia, too. Like to think there’s a moment there.

  6. Mark, no Mings isn’t the only black player on the pitch but he was very outspoken during the BLM campaign and came in for a lot of racist abuse as a result. Some racists still can’t forgive him for that It’s not the only reason he’s picked on. His apparently casual style of play which can lead him to make the occasional obvious error leaves him prone to criticism but anyone who can’t see or acknowledge that there is a racist element is almost certainly racist themselves.
    I don’t want to be misinterpreted. . . .I do recognise that you’ve not said that there is no racist element.

  7. I’ve never ever felt this way before about a new Villa manager so soon into his appointment except for RDM. SG looks just as much a vanity appointment as RDM. Name over substance. SG just seems as light weight as a manager as Villa are as a team. I think this project is heading for a firefighting managerial appointment. Money is not talking ATM. ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. That’s an interesting question JC. He must have incredibly mixed feelings and who could blame him.
    He’ll find it tough seeing his own club suffering (which we are) but must also be feeling a sense of “I told you so” or at least “serves you right”.

    And to some extent. . . . . . .it does.

  9. Didn’t see the game,only read sky report which had martinez our best player
    Didn’t want Gérard when Smith was rightly sacked,,and after last run of games plus his transfer dealing don’t want him now
    Purslow and lange will be coming under massive pressure, if sanson can’t get into our rubbish midfield he must be useless beundi sorry Norwich pulled
    our pants down completely, and then spending 25m replacing our better fullback utter madness
    As for Gérard saying last week he was going to make changes and all he was swap ings in for Watkins who didn’t get any service either
    Really passed of villa fan again

  10. H&v
    Not yet ,maybe do a Watford change manager three times in season,
    No excuses for Gérard his system is not working with our players and is he stupid enough to stick with it
    Cash can’t defend or cross,Luis doesn’t do anything, mcginn not far behind as for beundi ,that’s 4 regulars not contributing yet playing

  11. I know I should resist. . .but sod it. . . . . those who were shouting about how good Gerrard would be . . . . in the words of Delia Smith. . . “where are you?”

    ok. . . . .now I’ve got that out of the way. I do believe that Gerrard can still turn it round, but he needs to do what Dean Smith did. . . .take stock, admit that he’s getting it wrong (which can be hard to do) and see how he needs to change in order to use the many talents he has at his disposal to start winning some points. If it means some pragmatic football and eeking out some draws then so be it.

    Just do it.

  12. the bigger question is “why was Gerrard brought in, by whom, and what was his brief?”

    I went on record as saying that Dean Smith should have been given at least two more games. I could understand why the management decided to act early and in some ways respected their decisiveness however it isn’t currently working. It seems that they were looking for exciting attacking football and their recent recruitment seems to have been aimed at bolstering our attacking options.
    We did recruit two defenders in Chambers and Digne, but let’s face it, even he was recruited for his attacking capabilities as everyone recognised that Targett was the better defender. (Funnily enough, Newcastle fans are praising him for his attacking skills too)

    Ings, Bailey, Coutinho, Young, Buendia. . . . . .good players, but it doesn’t look like a balanced recruitment strategy to me. It might explain why we swapped managers for someone who seems to believe that attack is the best form of defence though?

  13. Yeah, SG has to change it. But it doesn’t sound like he will.

    Too narrow and clustered. Saw a heat map, and our positioning was nuts. Same plan every week, same weaknesses. All you have to do is pack the middle, then knock it long into acres of space. Having Phil and Buendia so close to each other is basically canceling them out, bottles up all the creativity where they’re easily marked.

    I really do think he needs to go more 4-2-3-1. Keep the FBs more at home, get wider up front. It’s too easy to keep picking off the crosses from the FBs, and we’re not moving it forward quickly enough.

    Even so…our approach is very transparent and telegraphed. Preparing for us must be a piece of cake. We only seem to look dangerous when someone just takes it on themselves (Ramsey, Phil, Buendia) to gather and carry.

  14. the one comment I’ve seen today that made me smile (wryly) was:

    “The one Villa player that I saw that showed any passion and commitment today was Targett”

    I don’t think it’s actually true but it’s a funny comment.

  15. And yes, Targett is a good defender, and showed it last year. He doesn’t have great pace, but he’d learned to read and anticipate, and was getting much closer. Some thumping tackles, and he overlapped very well with Jack.

    I wonder whether replacing him has backfired. Not in terms of who’s better, him or Digne, but in the message it sent to the squad.

    I keep seeing him getting criticized for not “fighting for his spot,” but he was clearly being replaced, end of. I’d likely have reacted much the same way: “You don’t think I fit your system, so you’re spending £25m on someone who isn’t going to be sat, and I’m going to sit and watch the second half of the season and be sold in the summer. There isn’t a place to fight for.”

    Leaving actually said to me that he backed himself and wants to play.

  16. Interesting points JC, particularly about Digne’s recruitment being potentially disruptive.
    I must admit I was very happy with Digne’s recruitment as I’ve been a fan of his at Everton but you can’t blame Targett for wanting to play. He was our player of the season, but that was when he was able to overlap Grealish. We have a squad with players that ‘could’ have used Targett in a similar way but that’s not the current game plan.

  17. r0bb0,

    No, not the current game plan and I think that’s part of what’s not working.

    Agree with Frem, we should go back to 4-2-3-1. Solidify the middle, a bit. Let the FBs overlap, but spread out that front line more and have the FBs not trying to be wingers.

    Or play three CBs in some variation. But this formation just isn’t working.

  18. I’ve been grumbling for a while about SJM frequently having to cover for Cash at right back. Watched clips of the game on MOTD a bit earlier and spotted Jacob Ramsey covering for Digne. Seems plain wonky to me. Think we should contract BFS to give SG some private tutoring about the facts of football life.

  19. A second weekend ruined. Shots on target rarer than rocking horse shit. Foster had the easiest of afternoons. Way too slow in thought and deed. Far too deliberate and predictable making it easy for the opposition to anticipate. Back to laboured passing across the back line. I’m seeing regression, not progression.

  20. As others mention, SG needs to rethink his set ups for the remaining games otherwise Heroes fears will be realised. Can’t see us making the top half come May. Substitutions yesterday were a disaster. Centre backs carrying the ball forward through the middle has ceased. Won’t name any players below acceptable, but they know who they are. Maybe not entirely their fault if they’re being asked to play different roles.

  21. I won’t have any part in booing at the end of a game. Poor as the footie served up was, booing is unhelpful. Heading for the exit early is a better choice when the team under performs badly. It lets the coaching staff know the score but I’m sure they already knew it. SG seemed short on ideas. No complaints from me about the final result. Our play never deserved anything from the game.

  22. Another problem we have is Cash and Dinge don’t get wide enough far enough up the pitch or quick enough

    So many times I was sat in my seat yesterday saying width width width when Coutinho or Buendia had the ball and t was just crying out for someone to be on the outside of them but nobod was

    Everything went backwards. Cash and Dinge need to get up the pitch so much quicker

    I don’t understand Ramsey and McGinn standing on the half way line either when we are in possession. These are very useful players going forward, we don’t want them standing half way line

  23. I think for now we need to have 2 sitters, have Countino in Cam, Bailey left and Buendia off the right but more narrow.

    Anyway, Gerrard should have been ruthless and dropped Luiz from the start.. He’s just absolutely hopeless. It’s certainly not looking good for Sanson

    100% Luiz doesn’t play next week so I think we might see mcginn and sanson/ Ingoram sitting

  24. Final point

    Is there any point in signing Dinge if he had nobody to cross to? Ings and Watkins won’t get on the end of crosses. They aren’t Calvert Lewin.

    Summer the two main positions will be CDM and striker.

    Ings and Watkins I think will both be sold.

    I think we will be scouting Europe for some striker with Archer as back up

    Watkins will definitely go and I Ings doesn’t have the running power for this system

    We need a big striker who can get on the end off crosses

    Davis maybe given a chance

  25. First Villa game that I have missed in a long while but result wise its not a shock to me as the stats over the last year suggests the current side isn’t good enough
    Surely it can’t be just deano or sg lacking ?

    Target left for guaranteed football

    It seems clear that do not have the right type of players required for sg system but I am not sure that the results would get much better if we just went direct even the most of the squad are used to a direct style

    Based on seeing brief highlights there is a familiar pattern of us attacking a fair amount but not being at all incisive while the opposition make fewer chances but tend to work our keeper with most of them

  26. Never mind that Watkins and ings can’t play together ,beundi and coutinho can’t either,add to mix sanson can’t get a look in,Freddie and target look better than our regular fullbacks the owners must be as mystified as me,what is lange role in all this,same midfield that nearly relegated us,Smith had 3 windows to improve midfield, Gérard already had 1 what is wrong

  27. SG could try Chambers as a holding MF and push Cash into midfield as well. His energy there would be useful. Needs Freddie back though.

  28. The problem SG is seeing- all the teams in EPL can win on their day unlike in Scotland where his only competition was Celtic. So he could get away with his flawed system.

    For next games I’d play two #6’s if Konsa is back (as he played #6 at Brentford)

    Young – Hause – Mings – Digne
    Konsa – Chambers
    Carney – Sanson – Ramsey

  29. SG had 18 day mini preseason to get players super fit and used to his style during New Year break. Outcome – one point from Leeds, Toon and Watford. 45 mins good 1st half vs Leeds. Otherwise, we went backwards

  30. I saw a comment online today which I thought was worth considering.
    Now put this in the context of me (like JG) being very strongly against Gerrard’s appointment. At the time, I think I said that In my top 4 choices for a new manager, Gerrard didn’t even come fifth.

    The comment I saw drew parallels with Arteta at Arsenal an how he started very shakily and fans wanted him out. It took him time to bring in players of his choice and to implement the style of play he wanted with the rest of the squad.

    We can’t keep changing managers, and before the international break we were all excited about the future, so we should guard against over-reacting now. Let’s give Gerrard and his team time to properly settle in and for the team to adapt. It may mean that this season is less exciting than we’d hoped but the alternative is that we talk ourselves into a spiral of misery and create an increasingly toxic environment at Villa park (and online)

  31. I very much doubt that this is what the owners had in mind. I imagine they saw Gerrard and his player recruitments pushing us forward into Europe this season. This now looks like our owner/management team’s first big mis-step. Sacking Smith and bringing in Gerrard may have actually put our progression back this season. I know there’ll be those that say Smith’s time was up, and they may be right but I still believe he would have turned things round. Of course nobody can prove or disprove my instinct so we’ll never know.
    The point is that Gerrard and his team must be given time, not just this season, but next season too. We’ve seen that he CAN get us playing exciting effective football, so let’s give him and the squad time to show that they can, in time, do this consistently.

  32. R0bb0,

    SG needed to make changes in midfield + Cash for Watford game. Instead he just dropped Watkins and then before the game said at a press conference- I said I’d make changes, but need to rely on players that performed over last few months. BS comments

  33. Also can see us losing all next 9 games under this management unless they wake up. No easy game coming up. We could be in relegation trouble come April

  34. The players arent good enough to play sg ball. its very brave and attacking…and when you give the ball away your punished and left open…which this lot do as they cant pass for toffee.

    does sg change his ways or ride it out until he gets his own players in.

    feels very similar to artetas early days when he was drilling his system

  35. did klopp change his style…remeber it took him a few years to be decent at pool. would pep change his philiosiphy.

    i want to see sg stick to his guns.

    just for once we could end up seeing a villa team being able to keep the ball and attack/

  36. We lack any sort of pace to cause teams any problems.

    We don’t have pace wide to run at teams and full backs or get in behind the back 4.

    Everything is to slow and backwards and sideways

    We need to go to 4231 and get Bailey and Traore wide

  37. I caught up with the 90 minutes on Villa Tv and must say I was expecting to see a performance similar to the very poor showing verses Newcastle but it was much better than that
    Watford set up to damage us on the break and it worked only because we didn’t quite get in right in the final 3rd ourselves …. he created plenty of opportunity to win this game
    We passed the ball a lot more was patient at times …but no matter the system you need you attacking players to produce the goods , non of the front 3 were on there game but put in the effort non the less … in fact non of our front 6 have shown form apart from courts who had an average games but I was still ooing at some of his turns .. still can’t believe courts is at the Villa
    Any if the lads keep showing the same approach and keep working they will get a few good results this season even though we don’t fully have all the right components for SG ball
    Maybe we should cut the manager and players a little bit of slack

  38. frem

    the whole team lack pace, strength and intelligence. Id have a complete clean sweep in the summer.

    if arsenal offer 30 odd for luiz, man utd could eaisly offer mad money for mcguinn id be selling.

  39. runtings

    yeah man i saw the game too, should of won it.

    we have lost 13 out of 24 this season and 19 out of 39 calender year.

    we have march coming up too…aston villa do not win matched in march!

  40. Some really interesting discussions. I even broke my rule, clenched my buttocks and decided to try reading Frem’s comments. Apart from the comment that Luiz is “just absolutely hopeless’ everything else was thoughtful and sensible. I didn’t agree with it all, but they were good discussion points.

    Where I disagree with Frem and some of the other posters is that we need wholesale change. We’ve spent a lot of money on some highly thought of players. We’ve all been excited by these players and I believe that pretty much all of them have shown glimpses of why we paid big bucks for them.

    If they’re not performing now, then it’s down to how they’re being managed.

    As far as I can see we therefore have three scenarios:

    1) the manager isn’t up the job and we’ll need to find a new one at some point

    2) the manager had hoped to be able to switch to a new system but is struggling to achieve that with some of the existing players and will therefore be forced into adapting his preferred formation and playing style to fit the players.

    3) the manager is determined to stick to his guns, switch to a new style, and is backed by the owners to put us through another ‘transition’ period.

    The third option means that the rest of this season could become a bit ‘seat of the pants’ and we’ll see significant player changes next summer while we bring in more ‘appropriate’ players to fit Gerrard’s style. I doubt this is what the owners thought they were signing up to but ‘we are where we are’ as an ex boss of mine used to say (but in French) so I hoe the fans are prepared to continue to support the team over the next few months to give us the best chance of achieving a comfortable mid table position from which we can move forwards next season.

  41. if we really are in a transition period, that still doesn’t signify that we need wholesale change. Yes, there will need to be ‘some’ changes, but most of the players we have ‘should’ be able to adapt and it should just be a few key positions where new physical and technical attributes will be needed.

  42. runtings, you say that the performance was better than you were expecting. It therefore only really needed a bit more sharpness and creativity up front for us to get a result. We all know that strikers thrive, possibly more than many other position, on confidence. We all know that Watkins and Ings can be high quality strikers but need both service and confidence. If they are able to adapt to the new playing style and confidence was to return to at least one of them, then despite all our current misgivings, we may only be a whisker away from some decent results.

  43. 100% convinced mass change is coming. its in the plan since we came up and also we have a new manager wanting his own players to suit his style.

    would not surprise me in the slightest to see cash, mcguinn, sanson, watkins, luiz, targett, troare, trez, el ghazi, ings out the door

  44. H&V. We’ve agreed on a lot lately but I couldn’t disagree more on your latest assessment. Our owners seem to have their heads screwed on so I simply cannot contemplate that they have spent all that money with the intention of discarding it and starting again. If they have then they are incompetent and we have to worry about the future of the club in their hands.

  45. H&V, Gerrard has stated how important McGinn is to his vision for the club. . . . . is even our new manager not in on the owners plans for top to bottom changes in the squad?

  46. SG did get some decent results when he came in. Unlike over the border, teams in this league and their coaching staff have been hired for big sums of money and that attracts the best. The best soon worked out how to deal with the “new” AV system.

    It’s now a question of whether SG and his coaching staff are savvy enough to counteract it and ultimately prevail. Time will tell.

  47. Put bluntly, I want SG to bloody stop playing Football Manager 2022 and f*****g properly manage the team in the real world. The last three opponent managers have pissed all over him with inferior players. It’s no good saying the players can’t play his system, he has got to organise them to play to their natural abilities.

  48. robbo

    im sure purslow said the plan was to build a team to stop up then another to challenge for europe.

    mcguinn will prob stay but just wouldnt surprise me with contract talks, how he may see things from now until end of season and cash in if utd pay silly money.

    theres no surprise a new manager wanting to bring in his own players.

    i remember big ron coming in and signing 8 or 9!

  49. Aston Villa winger Trezeguet has got off to a flying start on loan at Istanbul Basaksehir.

    He has two goals and an assist from only a couple of matches for the Turkish top tier side, whom he joined earlier this month until the end of the season.

  50. Mark, I spotted Trezeguet’s flying start too. It shows how naive it is to describe Premiership team players as useless, hopeless, inept etc. Odds are that they’re:

    – being asked to do a job they’re not suited for
    being placed in a formation they don’t feel comfortable with
    have been subject to inappropriate man management and have lost confidence

    If their face really doesn’t fit then they (or the manager) need to move on to somewhere that they’ll fit better.
    There are endless examples where fans have piled in on a player because they’ve been perceived to be failing for us and they’ve then gone on to succeed elsewhere.

  51. H&V, I’m sure you’re right that Gerrard will want to bring in his own players and that’s fair enough. I’d just find it surprising if our owners had intended to fund a complete squad change though. Were’t we all praising them for having a long term vision for the club and buying players and coaches throughout the club that would fit with this vision?

    We have seen signs in Gerrard’s game management and post match comments that he’s favoured his own recruits over existing players and hopefully he’ll stop doing that . . . .it’s bad for morale and creates cliques. We really want to see him making the most of as many of his current squad as possible whilst recognising that he will want ‘some’ changes next summer.

  52. Frem,

    “I don’t understand Ramsey and McGinn standing on the half way line either when we are in possession. These are very useful players going forward, we don’t want them standing half way line”

    This is the result of them having to cover Digne and Cash. We often end up with 4-5 players almost in a line up front. As you saw, most of the delivery comes from crosses. No overlaps, not many cutbacks.

    The space left behind that attacking 5 is large.

  53. I can see biggish turnover…and if the outgoings bring decent prices, then it shouldn’t trouble the finance end of NSWE’s commitment.

    As I’ve said, I do worry about reshaping everything for a manager who may well not be here long.

    But if they’re upgrades, maybe it doesn’t leave us in too much of a bind.

  54. I’ve got a brilliant idea. Drop SJM and Ramsey. Put any 2 wingers of your choice at fullback. Put Cash and Digne at left and right midfield. Simples.

  55. jbd,

    I’m largely of the same opinion. Then saw Michael Owen saying emphatically that he shouldn’t change the system, all about weeding out players, etc., Klopp did it that way.

    So, I dunno. I understand both approaches. If it works, it works. And if SG is emulating Klopp, then he probably won’t change. But, as it stands, we are underachieving, and there aren’t a lot of easy matches coming up.

    We also seemed to have forgotten about Beale, who is the tactician rather than SG.

  56. So Gerrard ‘suggested to the 4th official that we should have had a penalty when Ings went down in the box in the second minute.
    Apparently the 4th official said there wasn’t enough in it for a penalty, but agreed that it would have been given as a foul if committed outside the box.

    I rest my case m’lud

  57. I don’t know what the answer is now we decided not to give smith time to adjust after Jack it looks to me that SG has even further to go to adjust to his own system. If the answer is buy the equivalent of the Liverpool squad then we are fnucked. If the majority of this team are not fit for purpose then the mind boggles as to what the upgrade will cost as we we appear to be in a hurry.

    Chances of keeping Phil? we should get him for a tenner at this rate or he will piss off.

  58. JC, yes the outgoings should bring decent prices but they’ll bring much better prices if they are performing well and can be seen to be of value to their parent club. Take someone like Watkins. How much would Arsenal have paid for him last summer, and how much will they pay for him this year if he’s not performing and has been dropped from the side as a result? I would hazard a guess that it could lose us £10m in potential revenue. Multiply that across all the underperforming players and it will become a tidy sum.
    Now if money is no object in the short term because the playing strategy has changed and is deemed to be all important then that may make sense but I’d be astonished if that was the case.

  59. What seems to me to have happened is this (there’s a lot of speculation here):

    ‘Someone’ last year judged that Steven Gerrard would raise the profile of the club, attract more players, and move us towards Europe faster than Dean Smith.

    Dean Smith had less control over recruitment than he would have liked and players were brought in that he wasn’t necessarily on board with

    Dean Smith saw the writing on the wall, tried his best but lost a certain degree of his mojo and results slipped.

    SG was brought in and given more of a say in player recruitment

    The belief was that he would drive us towards Europe this season

    He expected to get more out of the players with the new playing style and indeed initially it seemed to be paying off

    We’ve now been worked out by opposing managers and if we want to continue with this style it’s dawning on everyone that we’ll need some changes of personnel.

    The owners now have a choice to make. Do they accept that the change is going to need to be greater than they’d anticipated or do they ask SG to adapt. . . . .or, I suppose. . . do they change managers again?!

    I don’t believe that SG was brought in with the expectation of wholesale change and a fight for survival in the interim but that seems to be where we’re at. I can however get on board with that if we are indeed moving towards something bigger and better next year after a big restructure in the summer. I think it’s an odd strategy but it can still work out in the long run.

  60. MK,

    I’m curious, obviously, about SG’s real thoughts. He’s praised McGinn, but he’s one who’s suffering. Likewise, Luiz. Cash is having problems with delivery.

    Seeing Rangers fans saying the DM/CDM is vital to the system. So, a change there.

    For me, SJM and Ramsey both look a bit lost on the defensive side. Guessing JJ has the athleticism, not sure about McGinn. Maybe it’s more coaching/time in, and the unlearning of years of positional habit.

    So, unless he’s going after the CBs, too, I’m thinking potentially 3 incomings to fit the system.

    Then we’d have the Ollie/Ings business to sort.

  61. The DM will likely cost the most…but flying ‘wingbacks’ like SG wants aren’t cheap, either.

    SJM could probably be replaced with someone who’s just a bit faster while being equally tenacious.

    But the 8s are also supposed to provide progressive passes from deeper-lying positions, so maybe that ends up being expensive, too.

    They’re also playing inverted right now, the 8s, but maybe that’s more philosophical. Maybe it’s just down to who’s at hand. It does affect their receiving and subsequent passing options, though.

  62. We would have to find a van Dijk for the system (one man defence) plus a DM, goals don’t have to come from the CF, Firminho isn’t prolific for pool, Salah and Mane are though. We also have to press from the front a lot and obviously better than we do which negates the lack of defenders. Problem is that’s not what SG’s systems about to my knowledge. Against this level of opposition it creates problems and negates players plus points, its to rigid.

  63. After scoring his hattrick for Barca Aubameyang names Mings as his toughest ever opponent
    I am not sure about wholesale changes but I think there will be a good amount of movement , the squad has not got a good average over the last year so we need to be realistic about how good we currently are
    Rome wasn’t built in a day it will take some bad results to get to consistent good ones when attempting to transform a squad from a direct to a possession based style
    Newcastle now targeting Gomez from pool at the end of the season this is were SG could show his worth as we have more chance of attracting such players even over the financial muscle of the toon

  64. Runtings isn’t it typical we have to now show patience after clearly not having patience after a very traumatic summer. Add covid shenanigan’s and jacks injury to last seasons end and the words of Mr Purslow look highly suspect. Maybe DS had run his course but this Januarys comings and goings may have worsened things. Yes of course we need patience but then that was always the case. Seems to me the hierarchy lost their cool and perspective.
    SG could end up isolating himself from the squad at this rate.

    There is no truth to the rumour that the 2.8 earthquake in Brum yesterday was another chat with the players.

  65. Villa podcast made a great point

    Did Gerrard really think our only problem was against Newcastle was Watkins?

    Because to drop him alone was insane. Luiz cash mcginn all needed dropping to

    To think the Newcastle performance was down to Watkins alone is absolutely shocking

  66. Hope Mr BFS has got his phone switched on and can still walk and talk. Yes I see SG and his Harlem Globetrotter team of coaching all stars as that much of a snafu.

  67. I have a confession to make. I went onto THE VILLA BLOG trying to identify any AVL alter egos. Someone came up with an interesting idea. TM3 for a trial as DM. Put Hause in at the back as the hard nose aerial superiority row z defensive stopper and put TM in front to shield the back line where any bloopers ( which happen because he tries to do too much!) won’t be so costly.

  68. Frem, You’re absolutely right that Watkins was certainly not the only problem against Newcastle. There was a lack of energy and confidence throughout the team that day. I do hope that he is able to pick himself up, work hard and (as he has done before) prove his worth to the club again before too long.

    I do worry however about picking out Cash, McGinn and Luiz and assuming that if we swap them for someone else then things will come right. These 3 players have reportedly all been valued at between £30m and £60m by other clubs in the past season (those journalist generated numbers may well have been somewhat inflated but the principle still stands) so they are not bad players. There are plenty of voices beyond yours saying that they are not performing at the moment but if not, then the first question has to surely be. . . .”why not?”

    If the problem is not with the players then what is it, and if we replace them with less highly valued players, aren’t the replacements likely to suffer from exactly the same problems but possibly be even less capable of adapting?

    Any replacements in these positions (e.g. Sanson, Iroegbunam) are at best, unknown quantities so we may find ourselves even worse off.

  69. What happened is SG wanted to put the frighteners on the team until he realised he has no real replacements for a fair few of the poor performers and back tracked to “well you have done ok in the past” stance and did the obvious, swap watkins for Ings, that is not even like for like as one operates high and the other drops off. Any other players that might offer something different or at least some enthusiasm or energy like Trez, bidace etc are out on loan.

  70. jbd656- on TVB most have already switched from saviour to get rid. Those that called out the fans that were cautious are conspicuous by their absence it seems 🙂

  71. I’d give phil a rest, play Beundia left and Bailey right, Watkins up top. I would also tell the FB’s to take it in turns to get forward. Bailey has to start simple as.

  72. robbo
    I think we’ve all seen TM having a romp down the left wing (and looking good) now and again and thought WTK is he doing. We’ve also seen him doing the odd surge through the middle which I presume is part of this new fangled “beating the press” thingy idea. Let’s not forget he started life as a left back which does entail an expectation of repeated overlapping. In short, I think he does have the mobility. Please don’t think I feel dogmatic about this idea. It wasn’t my idea but I have a fluffy warm feeling about it. Reckon TM would “love it, absolutely love it”.

    Groveling apologies Mr. Allardyce sir.

  73. MK
    I don’t have an alter ego on TVB. Just don’t feel the need to say good night to everyone every night or to do a running commentary on boxing or curling etc. Don’t even like them talking about football unless Villa are concerned.

  74. We can talk about players, for sure. We see the same strengths and shortcomings as under Smith.

    They are who they are, though they do seem to be valued elsewhere, as others have noted.

    Me, I’ll keep returning to the system. SG can certainly persist with it or he can adapt a little—or a lot.

    If you don’t have the players for it, that’s fine. But if you keep losing matches and getting dragged down toward the bottom because you refuse to change or want to find players out…That’s a risky move in a number of ways (confidence, momentum, summer transfers, player buy-in, etc).

    Don’t think we’re probably in danger of going down, but.

  75. I guess my take is that while I’m sure we will upgrade over the summer as we’ve always intended, I think the performances have less to do with heart and effort than with the stresses of the system, it’s vulnerabilities, etc., and the suitability of certain players to execute it.

    It can be very frustrating trying to adapt (say McGinn not following his central midfield instincts to play right back) and see that it’s not too hard for opponents to counter and exploit the narrowness, along with the inevitable confusion that’s going to happen regarding assignments, whether to go forward or hang back, etc.

  76. Frem, we’re all delighted that Barry and Archer are doing well but let’s not get it out of proportion. They are still young and are not yet ready for the premier league. Barry was not able to get into the starting line up (or off the bench come to that) of a league 1 club. Early signs are that he’s settling in brilliantly in a league 2 club and this could be exactly what he needs in order to build up to becoming a premier league player. he certainly took his goals well last night (albeit, not against a Mendy or a Schmeichel or a Martinez)
    Archer has started really strongly in a championship side (although he did miss a great opportunity last night which will be playing on his mind today)

    It’s not yet possible to say whether either of them will be better finishers than Watkins at some point in the future. Watkins is going through a lean spell and doesn’t seem himself at the moment. I don’t base that on the number of goals he’s scored because all strikers go through lean spells and let’s face it, but for a dodgy VAR decision he’d have scored a week ago. It’s his hold up play that bothers me more. It can be such a strong part of his game, but he just doesn’t seem to have quite the same level of. . . .ooomph. at the moment.

  77. JC- It was the same under Smith with 352, unless the players work the press well we got exposed and that was with 3 CB’s at the back not 2 and a DM. We now attack through the middle two things we have never proved good at so service is nil compared to previous high XG chances we created when on our game. It doesn’t matter at this level how good a finisher you are if you get 0 good chances, yes you get rusty or lose confidence but the cure is always plenty of quality chances/attempts. Comes back to using what you have in the best manner not the other way around.

  78. Mark, if we’re looking to finish the season as high up the table as possible then yes, I agree we should be using what we have in the best manner. What we don’t know is whether the club has accepted that we’ll see results slip in the short/medium term whilst a new style of play is implemented and the existing players either get used to it and adapt to it, or are replaced in the summer.
    Personally, I doubt that it was pre-planned like that. I suspect that realisation has dawned after the event and now a decision is having to be made on whether to stick on the new path, or deviate for a while back to the old one until new players can be brought in.

  79. could be worse Robbo, players have left or gone out on loan presumably to sell, players were brought in to fill a deficit, Phil for creativity and Digne for quality crosses. That has tipped the tight formation into a loose one and teams can see blood. All in all it hasn’t had the desired effect.

  80. Mark , true. . . . . .but why did it seem to be working when he first came in. We had some good results and some very good performances at the start

  81. It is funny how we all watch football and come out with differing opinions of why we are either good bad of indifferent
    My money is on SG to ram it down the doubters throats in the not too distant future
    I wasn’t happy with the last result but its clear to me that we are evolving the way this squad plays .. pass and move possession football is alien to players while playing for us in the last decade but as they say no pain no gain

    I certainly don’t want a manager to come in to implement a different playing culture only to give up after a few bad results .. we have had poor results for ages .. I liked the signs of how we are trying to play vs Watford we will get there

  82. Robbo- Surely its obvious? we played tight then now we have a wing back in Digne so less cover in defence and no Nakamba to boot. Phil is in too and he’s not exactly a man mountain. The games opened up vs back then and the team is to far apart. The reason Phul and Digne are here is to provide the invention that was lacking unfortunately its dialled down the defensive side. We have also lost Ramsey and McGinn to defensives duties and that has stifled the attack. Leeds play a chaotic game and its wide open so it suited Phil since then not so effective.

  83. runtings

    absoulutly…..sgs words saying ‘we WILL become a possession based team its finding out if the players can adapt’ rings through my head.

    i dont want him to change. and like you sg will get there. the mans driven at an elite level. this will be absoulty killing him make no mistake.

  84. Runtings- I’m sure he will get it right given time, most managers do. What’s obvious though is he is not happy with what he is seeing. So you have to assume he thinks that the players can and should be able to carry out his instructions. That means he is not being patient himself.

    Sure he’s said you can’t implement a new philosophy overnight and that’s true but he’s not backing the players just distancing himself from them imo. Seems to me that he has reached the conclusion that they won’t reach the standard required, the emphasis has switched to the player to improve himself on a personal level from the coaches improving them.

    The system he is using was one he adopted in Europe against better players so his team could compete. Obviously they were top dogs in Scotland not mid to bottom like us. I think its a new experience for him and his staff. Europe was the odd game this is relentless. He adapted then he will have to adapt now or the pass and move you want will just get swamped. Myself I think the likes of McGinn are not that type of player at all.

  85. Mark fair points

    personally I think the likes of SJM will adapt as will a good few others as they are intelligent players , in the case of SJM he does like to hold and shields the ball and will need to play quicker passes with his head up more but he deffo is a quality player
    Some of the player I don’t think will adapt though I don’t want to come on social media and call out names .. time will tell … papers suggesting some recent signings could be let go though I do think SG will be ruthless at the end of the season he won’t want to destroy his football reputation or managerial progression …. as stated SG will be far from amused with the current state of play and will seek to get things how he wants them at the earliest opportunity .. he has the backing to build something great under our owners which helps

  86. Runtings here’s Michael Owens take on it.

    “I go back to what Jurgen Klopp did at Liverpool,” Owen said during punditry duty for the streaming network DAZN.

    “He’s the best exponent at it, he came in and said ‘this is how we are going to play’.

    “Our full-backs are going to bomb forward, we are going to have a sitting midfielder and play three up front.

    “Did he think ‘We have conceded all the time so let’s put more defenders on’.

    “No he didn’t, it is the best thing in the world because it weeds out the weak.

    “The poor players get weeded out because they get exposed in a formation.”

    Now that’s all well and Good when you are Liverpool and a poor season is 8th while you tinker and build but for us it could limit the players we can attract and even our place in the league.

    You would think that it would be a similar approach for us but it could get very tight.

  87. Mk, runtings,

    Yeah, that bit from Michael Owen was what I was referencing further up.

    So, yeah, he can stick, and if the owners are fine with what happens (good or bad), then there you go.

    If it gets dodgy…?

  88. runtings,

    SG may well be far from amused. But this goes back to the age-old managerial dilemma about adapting, changing tactics to work with what you have, or insisting on drilling a system ’til you get the players doing it your way.

    Of course I hope they can get it, but.

    The funny thing is that moving to 4-2-3-1 is not a radical departure that betrays footballing principles.

    The question for me is whether his system works in the Prem. Don’t study Liverpool too closely, but for one thing, they do look wider up top, if memory serves, and Firmino is often more of a false nine. Could be wrong, though.

  89. JC I would say pool and citeh play with false 9’s Chelski look better without a real 9

    In term of SG adapting his style of play to suit the players its not going to happen SG is seeing which current players can adapt to his philosophy

    It’s not just about the shape which is important its edging towards possession play .. changing the shape alone won’t make us a good side imo

  90. runtings,

    Oh, I understand where he wants to get. It just ain’t happening with these players in this system.

    And I do understand about seeing who can cut it…why I referenced Owen earlier.

    He’s just working with fine margins now.

    I refer back to earlier arguments about Smith being “inflexible” (when I think he actually showed more flexibility than SG has/will). Smith got blamed then, players getting blamed now.

    I was more likely to blame the players, their skill levels, decision-making, etc., and more likely to defend Smith, working with what he had. Smith played Luiz, had Targett, still managed 15 clean sheets.

    Long story short, new manager/tactics hasn’t really changed that much after the bounce.

  91. One thing I did notice about Liverpool tonight in trying to see where Villa are falling short was how much quicker they are to get to the ball and apply pressure (which is not a new observation), and how much more comfortable they were with being fluid in positioning.

    Naturally, better players in a system longer. Did see Salah in a RB position, for example.

    Like I say, all for it working out for SG, bear him no ill will at all, and only want Villa moving forward. If what SG is doing gets us there, fantastic.

    But I think he’s also going to have more say about who comes in, and I’m not at all sure we wouldn’t be right about where we are had Smith stayed.

    To quote an infamous American football coach, Barry Switzer: There’s no magic playbook. We just out-athlete people.

  92. Mark, in response to my questions about why we started well under SG before it started to go wrong you said: “Surely its obvious? we played tight then now we have a wing back in Digne so less cover in defence and no Nakamba to boot. Phil is in too and he’s not exactly a man mountain.”

    I sure I remember after the first few good games that we had under SG that JC said that the formation and the way we were playing was no different than under Smith but the players were just doing it a bit better (or words to that effect)

    I remember the players playing with a bit more energy in those first few games (new manager bounce) but also starting to play pleasing little triangles (training ground drills), and it was working.

    It very nearly turned me from a strong SG sceptic into a firm believer.

    As Mark infers then, did the recruitment of Digne and Coutinho give SG the confidence to push his preferred, more fluid (and more open) playing style?

  93. As runtings said: “In term of SG adapting his style of play to suit the players its not going to happen SG is seeing which current players can adapt to his philosophy” and that may well be right, but if it is, then there may be a few clenched buttocks before the end of the season because it’s starting to get a bit tight at the bottom of the table.

    As we saw when SG first came in, this group of players is capable of playing winning football. The squad has been improved a bit since then but the results (and some of the performances) have gone backwards.

    We seem to be reaching a consensus that the playing style has changed (not a lot. . . .but it has changed). The players are struggling to adapt to it and some of them probably won’t make it.

    In other words, our current disappointing results are not down to the players, they lie firmly with the manager and the way he is asking them to play. That’s not a criticism, its just an observation and conclusion that most on here seem to have come to. TV pundits seem to be coming to a similar conclusion even if they don’t put it quite so bluntly.

    If runtings is right and SG won’t change then we’d better hope that the players start adapting to it pretty quickly. he also said that having watched the game the next day that “it wasn’t as bad as he’d feared” so maybe things are starting to click and we will see the steady improvement we’re all looking for.

    I’m taking the whole family to the Arsenal game at Villa park so it’d be nice if it clicks by then!

    I’m not at all sure we wouldn’t be right about where we are had Smith stayed.

  94. This all leaves me with one slight nagging worry that maybe this is all part of a Purslow / Gerrard master plan to turn Villa into a feeder club for Liverpool ready for when they both go back there.

    One of my reasons for not wanting Gerrard in the first place was that his results in Scotland gave us no real indication that he’d succeed at Villa, but the one guarantee that we did have was that if he did succeed he’d quickly be off to Liverpool. It could be even worse than that though because he’d have also groomed his Villa squad to play ‘the Liverpool way’ and they’d be off with him.

  95. That last comment is all a bit ‘conspiracy theory-ish’ but suddenly doesn’t feel totally fanciful. Would it be too big a price to pay if Villa became successful at playing exciting football in the process?

  96. Just one last thought that JC threw into the mix last night. “I’m not at all sure we wouldn’t be right about where we are had Smith stayed.”
    I agree with this. I do believe that Smith would eventually have turned things round, and when he did we’d probably have gone on a good run, as we’ve all seen before.
    But hey, that’s my belief and we’ll never know now. What matters is that the players adapt to what SG wants (Nakamba returning would help that) and we edge away from the danger zone.

    Can’t you just picture it now. . . . . . the last game of the season . . . .Man City are 3 points ahead of Liverpool with a goal difference advantage of 2 . . . . the Liverpool game has finished, with Liverpool winning 2.0 . . . . the Villa game has 6 minutes of extra time and is still playing . . . . . . . and in the dying moments . . . Coutinho scores the winning goal to snatch the game, and the title from Man City . . . . . . . . . . . . the Liverpool feeder club snatches the title for Liverpool!!

  97. Can’t see us becoming anyone’s feeder club with our owners they are looking to get there feet under to top 6 table
    If SG does well the perfect scenario for me would be for SG to do so well that pool want after changing our football culture and attracting some seriously quality players with Potter then coming in to work with a very talent group of players

    I think we would be where we are now under Deano there is no magic formula to make this group of players top 6 or 7
    Interesting 2 players Deano was heavily linked with are at Norwich .. Cantwell shipped out and Rashida not as good as any of our current attackers

  98. The reason why some fans had reservations about SG’s appointment was because he’d only coached in the SPL which is basically a two horse race each year. The reason why other fans were excited by the appointment was the belief/hope that he’d bring the Liverpool way to Villa and instil a different winning mentality and knowhow.

    He’s only been here 3 months, not even Pep can build a team in that time. We’ll need to wait and see where we are this time next year. Between now and the end of the season, he’ll need to keep one eye over his shoulder in case the chasing pack catch up. We still need points and he may have to adapt his preferred style in the short term to achieve it.

    Hear Bielsa told his players at half time that they needed to change from all out attack to a more compact set up as he feared a thrashing. He still got a thrashing. Think he’ll walk at the end of this season.

  99. imagine just how amazing we would have to be for liverpool..who along with man city are the best club teams in the world have to be for them even to consider any of our players or manager.

    highly unlikely to me when they can pick anyone in world footy

  100. Well lads lets have look at this situation.

    SG is seeing who fits his style of play to then mount a foray into the upper reaches of the league? Most teams do this by buying or finding better players than the other teams and maybe a more astute manager (they don’t seem to last long though). Not many do it by taking poor players and making them elite, you can’t polish poo, talent plus athleticism is required but it takes time.

    The problem I see SG having is if he looks at our squad and thinks I have half a team and maybe 5 back ups, We then need an entire overhaul to even be competitive. Our owners have money but there are constraints and we must be getting near them considering our income at this point, we have a ceiling that the top 6 don’t. Even then it does not mean you will succeed (see Everton).

    The conundrum is we have players that have begun to be linked to Man utd , Arsenal, City etc so they cannot all be useless, what is so special about SG’s way? I would not put Liverpool in the Man city school of possession football either. Plus if you glance back to Jack being here we absolutely spanked some top sides and there was no way in hell we would lose to Newcastle.

    I agree we passed the ball about nicely against Watford who sat in and hit us on the break creating far better chances. I can look at that and say it bodes well like Runtings but then we have done exactly the same under Smith when teams sit in, the only difference I see is we are more fragile and we don’t try to get in behind anymore and we create less good chances.

  101. I only have one point to pick you up on in your last posting Mark.

    When you say “we create less good chances”, do you mean we create ‘fewer’ good chances, or we create a similar number of chances but they are less good ones? 🙂

  102. Just read a Keith Wyness comment when replying to Xia about Footballers should know 100 different scenarios when confronted by an opponent . He said you have to remember Tony Jack Grealish can’t even remember his name.

  103. I didn’t want to get teknikul Robbo. What I meant was low XG chances vs High. we rarely get above 1 xg in a game these days, we used to clock up 2+ xg. Smith and Brentford work on creating chances in the most scored from areas which are High XG. One on ones are not High XG nor shots from distance, we had 20 shots and about 1 xg, Watford had something like 1.5 xg.
    Some chance are gooderer than others.

  104. just a reminder

    Speaking in November, Purslow was asked the following double-loaded question: just how big a job has Steven got on his hands here? What do you want him to achieve, realistically?

    Purslow’s telling response was as follows: “Well, we were quite clear when Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens acquired the club three years ago, we were sitting somewhere near the middle of the Championship and we initially set about a five-year plan.

    “The mantra of that plan and the constant theme is that we must be improving. Improving our performances, improving our results, improving finishing position.

    “We’re just over three years into that journey and I think Steven’s arrival will reignite the club, push us forward.

    “We have made no secret of the fact that this club is one of a tiny number of British clubs that has won the European Cup.

    “That stage, playing in Europe, is something that’s an exciting dream for our fans. When that happens, we shall see.

    “But what we expect and what Steven has promised to deliver is continuous improvement in our team and I’m certain he’ll do that.”

    Now that was in November the tune has apparently changed 😉

    Just last week, Gerrard himself was asked about the task of reaching dizzy new heights with Villa with European qualification a clear objective of his.

    Gerrard told BirminghamLive : “Look, I think it’s obvious there is a gap. You know that, I know that, the owners know that.

    “Everyone looking at Villa from the inside and the outside knows there’s a gap.

    “That is the long-term ambition and the long-term goal.

    “How quickly we can close that gap, how quickly we can achieve that ambition, time will tell.

    “But we have to focus on the now and the reality and the reality is we are 13th in the Premier League and to finish in the European places there is a gap.

  105. With Watford, I remember somewhere I said, This is looking better. And it was.

    Like MK said, we just couldn’t break them down. And you see this all the time, City grinding out 1-0s against lesser teams sitting in. With all that quality, it just feels inevitable that they’ll get the goal.

    There aren’t that many ‘complete’ teams, though. Different clubs play to different strengths. Brighton, lovely football, can’t score regularly enough, for example. Spurs, so heavily reliant on Kane and Son, Conte basically throwing up his hands.

    West Ham, of all the challengers to the monopoly have clearly this season come the closest to having enough quality at every position. They defend, win it back, score.

  106. r0bb0,

    Way back to your question of why did it work well when SG came in? I think there was the inevitable bounce, and it just took a few games for teams to suss us out.

    Because we haven’t shown much flexibility, the same weaknesses are there to exploit each game, so prep isn’t hard.

    In the long term, the system may well work. Ironically, playing ‘lesser’ teams can be a bogey for us, atm, because we are going to get sucked up and will be very vulnerable on the counter/switch.

    Watched Pool with an eye toward seeing how they execute differently, and a lot was down to pressing (no surprise), but also having Sane and Salah and a higher level of supporting cast. Also said further up there was much greater fluidity in players taking on different roles.

    So, there’s drilling, there’s quality. There’s work rate, athleticism, and decision-making (which is eased by everyone being able to execute the system and make the necessary stops, receptions and passes). Basically a lot of what we’ve been saying Villa lack. Like I say, I think the heart and effort are largely there, just not the same quality (and resulting cohesion).

    With the current squad, SG can work on the drilling part. But after that, it’s down to whether the players can execute. And it has gotten frustrating to watch.

  107. Three points coming up, not because I think we will get 3 points but because we have to. There is also the small matter of having 5 players from Villa and Brighton in my fantasy team this week due to Arsenal and Liverpool not playing so the wankers better score loads, I’m hoping for 10-9.

  108. Well nobody bit on Mr Purslows words that this appointment was about progression. We got bounce for sure, and once in a blue moon we got neat triangles of passing in a training ground stylee. what we haven’t seen is a goal threat and now that’s been joined by not having a defence in pursuit of goals.

    The answer SG and coaches came up with to the lack of Jack was a pill of Phil ( no applause please) pretty much a super star 14 in 1 tool fix.

    The reason we can’t defend is now a lack of Marv the once bench sitting DM that loved a clanger. SG’s system doesn’t work without a top quality DM don’t you know (there’s a disconnect there somewhere, can you spot it?). kind of same as Smiths team didn’t work without Jack isn’t it?

    So Smith was reliant on Jack but could also defend (15 clean sheets) when needed without Marv and created just as many if not more quality chances.

    Then up in Scotland we have the new Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst who has pretty much carried on winning and has just beaten Dortmund over two legs in the Europa League. He has a better points per match record than SG so far, not by much granted but then its similar to other Rangers managers in the two horse race.

    When SG arrived the players hailed the changes in training etc as some sort of huge leap in quality yet I am not seeing any player including Martinez improving. Ramsey? maybe but he was already showing signs of that and is very young.

    Maybe I am missing something and triangle passing is where its at? eventually we will mesmerise teams who were expecting square passing?

    This might seem like a why did we sack Smith moan and I suppose it is because we know the answer, Progression.

  109. Worth a read about Rangers new manager, he is according to this chap a man manager that is not obsessed with Tactics nor one formation/style. He does according to Rangers fans like a more attacking style and the mids are used more effectively, all tweaks they were calling for under Gerrard. He won the title and cup in the Dutch league with unfancied Feyenoord.


  110. I didn’t intend to write what looks like a hit piece on Gerrard but we do now at least have some idea of what to expect. From what I have looked at so far his time at Rangers was far from flawless and h spent big for the league in comparison to others and didn’t do much developing of players. This video on what to expect from Giovanni highlights some of the Gerrard reigns/tactics down sides which we are seeing here at present. Not to say he cannot turn it around or improve us but it does look eerily similar. His Rangers side began to show the same foibles Villa are, poor goal conversion from shots taken and Goal keepers conceding way more due to quality of chances given away. listen through to the end its an eye opener.

    Funny enough Giovanni looks closer to Smiths way of playing would of been a great fit for Villa.


  111. For me,we have too many big name players not performing for either Smith or Gérard
    Beundi finally getting some stick in the media,yet mcginn goes unnoticed how poor he has been,
    Hoping sanson gets a run today

  112. The one change that has to happen today is Luiz. He’s absolutely awful and playing like someone who knows he’s going.

    I’d also drop mcginn today

    Play sanson and Ingoram

  113. Might be that there are many of them thinking they are off either because of the attention they previously got and international call ups or they thing SG doesn’t rate them. Jack going set out firmly where the clubs presently at. Still think there is a better team than we are seeing in there.

  114. Jack glossed over a lot players weakness,or maybe they shone with him in the team
    Watched Shane long last week for soon,Watkins could do worse that study the offside rule

  115. Mark
    That Harry Kane finish was insane. World class.

    I’m the only one who rates Leeds! There mobile and energetic. Granted they have issues defending lately!! But think they’ve done ok! No cooper, Philips or bamford though is a killer

  116. We get excited if we have one kid playing for us. Leeds this season have had a stream of teenagers playing due to insane long term injuries. If Biesla keeps them up this season will be a hell of a job

  117. H&V- well you seem to have selective Bielsa glasses on mate, Smith had just as a bad an injury list this and last season and to his new signings and got sacked. Spurs who just lost to Burnley conte or not. We on the other hand should of battered Leeds and failed.

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