If anyone were to ask what the most significant fixture of this season was, pretty sure a number of us would point to the collapse in the reverse fixture in October. So, in some ways, sitting a place and 10 points behind Wolves, who blew a 2-0 lead themselves against Leeds to lose 3-2 in their last outing, this match might be some kind of a measuring stick. Might mean nothing.

But with seven left to play and five clubs level or within three points of Villa, the goal of a top-half finish ought to lend some importance to the outcome.

Returning from the break which saw Ollie and Tyrone score for England, McGinn for Scotland and Bailey for Jamaica, you’d think the players will be in a good place. While the two Emis were sidelined due to Argentina’s earlier covid shenanigans, Phil, Matty, Leon, and Bertrand all made appearances for their countries. Don’t know about you, but that two weeks felt like an eternity.

Today, Steven Gerrard is changing things up a bit, bringing Ezri Konsa back in, giving Morgan Sanson the rarest of starts, and slotting Bailey in for Ings/Buendia. Not sure what that heralds formation wise, but I’d think that means Coutinho and Bailey playing the 10s in Gerrard’s 4-3-3, rather than the 4-3-1-2/4-4-2 we saw with Ings and Watkins. It would appear that a bit of evaluation is at hand for Bailey and Sanson.

So, interesting game. Without Jimenez and Nevez, you have to like Villa’s chances, but this has not been an easy fixture of late. Although Wolves have been stuttering a bit, it’s been a fine season for Bruno Lage, and I’m not expecting them to give anything away cheaply today. Will be interesting to see who gets minutes off the bench, as it’s not a bad assortment.

Starting XI
Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne, Ramsey, Sanson, McGinn, Coutinho, Watkins, Bailey

Iroegbunam, Traoré, Chambers, Buendia, Luiz, Chukwuemeka, Olsen, Young

Over to you.


Comments 220

  1. Good job we are up against a defensive wolves side. No need for Mcginn to try and beat four players even though he slipped. Whatever he’s teaching them it’s not composure.

  2. Sanson is definitely not a DM but he is decent and mobile, he is leaving us wide open on the counter though. Bailey looks class when he gets the ball but needs players on his wavelength which you would think should come in time.

  3. Sounds like Wolves should be winning at least 4-0 and Villa are gifting the game!!

    Once again SG plans are definitely not working, and his recruits are not able to step up to the mark.

  4. How did Phil start he was off for Brazil apparently after playing at altitude. I cancelled having all my teeth pulled out for this and I’m beginning to think it was a mistake.

  5. Been very strange. One, no idea with the boots.

    Started comfortably, disaster, confusion. Got ourselves settled, then the second. Could see Young slipping, as well, but he was already on the wrong side, then produces an incredible finish.

    Could well be four for them. Sa’s save on Bailey’s shot was pretty huge.

    But at times we look complete strangers.

  6. Same old. John mcguinn passes a crap ball straight to the other team. They fly down the other end and score.

    It’s not isolated. They struggle to complete basics like passing to feet every game. Don’t matter about tactics, formation, managers.

  7. Young really has been abysmal. Phil having to come much deeper to get on the ball.

    I get the break, etc., but I just don’t think this formation is right. We’ve been better with Phil more central. He just needs to be on the ball more.

  8. Jc I agree not playing to the strengths of what we have, not even to the main player SG brought in. Start like this next season he’s toast .

  9. Must say one on one I’m never confident with Ollie!

    Yeah man this team know how too loose!

    Physicality, stature, experience fixes this. And players who can pass each other the ball!

    Now we are safe I don’t mind this to be honest. Sharpen the mings for the summer

  10. Yep JC if that’s what over half a season of improved and intensive training can do we are fnucked. If Phil starts over Beundia next match it will make a mockery of ” if you play well you keep your place”.

  11. Think Buendia brought some fight to the team and Luiz brought a (tiny) bit of composure. Seems to me that Coutinho seems to be a homer whereas Buendia does it home and away. I prefer Buendia toughness to Coutinho (supposed) class (home only).

  12. Mcguinn seems to have some hold over managers and never gets axed. Sg gave me hope while ago by hooking him early but since another mainstay when prob deserves resting. Rather see sanson given a run.

  13. Like I mentioned up top, I suppose the idea was to get good looks at Bailey and Sanson. Which didn’t really produce a lot.

    Like MK said, Morgan looked quick and lively and he is combative.

    But I really don’t like this formation/responsibilities. I could see more than one player frustrated (Phil, notably). They just seemed to be all over the shop going forward, and off the ball, the front three are just largely chasing shadows for no real reason.

    Yet, as bad as it looked, Sa had to make 2-3 big saves, and those chances could’ve changed the game.

    Don’t know what it would’ve looked like had we had some confidence and momentum.

  14. jbd,

    Yeah, Buendia’s a really good player, has fire and fight. Phil’s confidence issues persist. I really understand wanting to give him the games, keep that trust with him. But I’ve no idea if there’s really any point.

    Big wages if he stays, and unless he can really find himself in top form week in, week out, Buendia will give us every bit as much.

  15. H&V,

    Agreed on McGinn. I’m sure he’s beloved, kind of talismanic in terms of attitude and grit.

    And he was good defensively. But he’s been much more of a liability going forward than he has been an asset.

  16. Young needs to retire.
    Sanson needs to start.
    Buendia needs to start.

    McGinn needs to b3 dropped and Ramsey.

    Watkins can’t finsih

    I not even angry anymore

    We just have to many crap players

    Get to the summer please

  17. Hope the SG big summer revolution doesn’t bring in some big name (last big pay day) players. We went down this route with MoN and could only hit a 6th place glass ceiling. I’m really not comfortable with the fit of team SG at Villa Park. Got a dread of our owners getting impatient and doing too much chopping and changing then pulling out.

  18. But we go full circle. The fact that all the money was spent and not recruiting proper number 6s is utter neglect. It’s a proper key position. Like highly important. We’ve put luiz there and meh. Today tried mcguinn. It’s madness.

    Go and finally put it right sg else you’ll prob go the same way as Deano.

  19. I back sg. I rate him highly. I think the longer he is here the better we will become.

    He’s 41 cutting his teeth though. Mistakes will have to be learned from

    Be more pro active. Used to do my head in with Deano sitting on his hands too long. Need to be seeing more of buendia too.

  20. Look how many times we are countered on. Caught wide open. No protection. Look how we struggle controlling A game. Glaring issues that haven’t been addressed. Guess what fixes it. A 6

  21. I sincerely hope our owners have more than purslow advising them
    Smith had to go,he should have left himself when his man Richard o Kelly was demoted from coaching,Smith had taken us as far as he could recruitment last summer was horrific along with sanson no joined up thinking
    As for Gérard I never wanted him and apart from been able to attract coutinho his transfers have not worked or needed bar Chambers.
    Didn’t watch the game today but by all accounts sanson was our best midfielder yet subbed for Luis when 2 nil down absolutely shocking,traore last year scored or assisted 14/5 goals yet not a look in,mcginn who was rubbish from most of what I read again played full match again,digne injured again how did he pass medical

  22. My thoughts;

    Targett is better than Digne. Not sure why we paid 25m for someone that’s at most equal and seems injury prone

    Sanson is quality at 8, he’s not a 6

    SJM and Ramsey need a rest. They look like headless chickens. Play Tim and Carney

    Bailey needs a run of games

    Phil has some nice touches, but it’s playing with 10 players. If SG puts a personal relationship ahead of the club I’d say let him go. Seems like SG should get players organized and hyped up before games

  23. I think we are probably on the beach. Someone pointed out few interviews last week with players saying we have progressed well becoming a mid table team. They know. Manager knows, prob itching to get to the summer. Is what it is, 7 games to run down. Players who are going will know by now. Massive summer and pre season.

  24. Unsure about chuck though. We just don’t know what’s going on behind scenes. They may know he’s off. But then why put him on bench? The contract is sadly dominating him at the mo.

  25. Yeah Ramsey looked like he needs a rest to me too.

    Sgs pretty much told them there playing for there future. Stop being a 45 minute team! How long have we been saying that!

    I don’t think we need a clear out though. There a talented bunch individually but our balance is all wrong. Go and buy a spine and make em quality, leaders, experience, physicality.

  26. This is why I’m backing sg. Zone out and don’t over react about some mid table defeat that’s meaningless. Sg is bringing an elite winning mentality. Change or your out. I love it.

    Sure it’s going to upset a few now, boo hoo. But as a club in a few years time. ….we won’t be moaning about dumb ass mistakes and wondering if we will turn up for 90 mins

  27. H&V,

    Agreed with most comments. However on Stevie G making Villa a top 4 team within 2years, which is our short term goal – I can’t see it. I’m hoping he does something for remainder of the season, but at this point I’ve completely lost trust in him.

    We’re playing with 10 men with Coutinho. He does nothing defensively. Buendia and Carney so much better

  28. H&V,

    “Players who are going will know by now.”

    I think there’s a lot of truth to this. Target knew he’d never start again if Digne was healthy.

    Now, not saying Digne isn’t more suited to SG’s system, but I don’t think SG has great interpersonal skills, has made his thoughts obvious. And I would guess Target’s experience hit home for a number of players.

  29. H&V, you’re right that we shouldn’t get too upset about one “meaningless mid table defeat” and I hope you’re right that SG is bringing “an elite winning mentality” but he doesn’t seem to be instilling it so far.
    We’re getting close in lots of games in fact I think I read that under SG we’ve not lost by more than 1 goal. . . . that stat seemed really surprising so I went back and checked it and in fact of the 9 games lost under SG, all bar one (the 3-1 loss to Chelsea) were indeed by just the 1 goal.
    You’re right then that he needs to install that “elite winning mentality” because if we keep losing by just that one goal, it seems it’s exactly that winning mentality that we’re lacking. We’re not even managing to turn those losses into draws as no team in the premiership has drawn fewer games than us.
    It seems that when we get on top in a game the confidence surges and we are able to win well. In fact, in contrast to our losses which tend to be by the odd goal, only 2 of our 6 wins have been by just the one goal.
    You’re right to highlight the need for a winning mentality because that’s exactly what we’re lacking. Heck. . . when we play teams above us in the table, even a drawing mentality would be nice.

  30. VillaMD,

    Agreed. Villa will not crack the top 4 in the next two years.

    I will say, though, that with Phil, it’s the narrow 4-3-3 that’s making him a luxury. He needs to be central, not up chasing shadows. And if he’s going to be here, we need to prioritize play through him.

    Even then, I think Buendia can basically do the job to the same net effect.

  31. r0bb0,

    Yeah. Not seeing an “elite winning mentality” at all. I’ve honestly seen no improvement overall from Smith.

    Not sold on SG at all. Doesn’t mean he can’t do it, but on balance, I’ve seen no real improvement yet.

  32. On Phil, mentioned earlier, but he was visibly frustrated with the way the system had him running around for no reason, because in this system the front-line set-up is too easy to bypass.

  33. I’m not sure where top 4 in 2 years has come from but that’s impossible! Christ above we are prob never going to catch them! Europe is top 8? My goal is to get very close to being top 8 and knocking on the top 6 door. That will be bloody hard enough!

    Light years from it

  34. Robbo

    Man I saw a stat today we have only drawn 18 times out of 116 games. Sums us up. We have no grind.

    No coincidence at all our best little run under smith was no crowds. Martinez said it in his interview with foster….oh I see you. Now crowds are back your not making forward runs or shouting for the ball off me.

    Not exactly mentality monsters!

  35. Sg took over a team on its ass 16th and 2 points off relegation.

    8 to go no relegation worries, sat 10th with a team that’s not his walking through the door in December.

    Ain’t too bad you know

  36. It does stagger me the dissing of Phil. If he is a prob there’s tons more in this team then him.

    The man who was finished, been here 3 Month. 4 goals 6 assists, back in Brazil team. Will undoubtably be making other team mates buzzing and making potential transfer targets think hang on they have Phil! Yet we choose to diss him. It really boggles my brain when it’s the one of many positives.

    The pressing issue x1000 is team mentality, a complete failure to of fixed our midfield! Not if a Brazilian number 10s work rate isn’t up to scratch!

  37. Percy saying we want Phillips and Biusoma

    That’s the level of player er need in our midfield

    Luiz is simply useless.. Mcginn hss been awful all season and is getting worse and worse. Ramsey shouldn’t be starting every game

    I’d say Phillip, Biusoma, Countino and a top striker will be top of the list

    Sell Luiz and Watkins to get same cash.

    Both are shite

  38. Another depressing weekend. I’ve had too many of them over the last 15 months. I know it is no more than an irritation compared to what’s happening in Ukraine, but sorting the right players into the right formation for differing opponents is paramount.

    Liked the idea of starting Sanson and Bailey even though Bailey was one of the distance travellers last week. I wouldn’t have started Couts or SJM as the engine room would suffer from too much exhaustion.

    It’s now the scrap of our lives to finish in the top 10. Position is vital, there is big money on each place higher in the division. The jury is still out on SG for me.

  39. 20 games for Gérard, 10 defeats ,seriously not good enough,neither is the fact we still have no clue what a Gérard team is supposed to resemble, look like ,all I see is a chaotic mess full backs playing as wingers,mings playing as a Yankee style quarter back,Watkins sulking,konsa gone from MR reliable to our new lescott,our midfield where Gérard and mcallaister where 2 of the best shameful,mcginn plays every full match yet can’t pass tackle score goals,Luis still wasteful at setpieces,sanson not getting minutes and when he does play looks better than the rest yet gets subbed every time,traore involved in goals galore last season doesn’t get a look in,our youth so much talk yet young is getting regular minutes what do we learn from that
    Purslow has made a massive mistake and he will probably pay with his job

  40. Wolves manager has had extra few months ,also having taken over a side on a downward spell yet look at them,hard to beat well drilled without having to spend millions

  41. The thing with Phil is it makes others take a back seat, Like Jack they have to find phil rather than take the game by the scruff themselves. Seen it with Ramsey, once he gets a run at players and has some success he sparks up, Watkins spends all game on his lonesome, when he gets a goal he takes off like a rocket and looks 10x better. McGinn the same, needs to express himself. SG’s system is very regimented and tight, he complains that players are not doing what’s asked but then they are also not doing what comes naturally to them either, they seem stuck between the two and in the end do very little to influence the game.

    Beundia was just starting to settle and produce when Phil rocked up and other players took more responsibility I thought. I think maybe there is something in the SG’s persona being unapproachable( he might not mean to be), watch his pressers, while he has the odd laugh with the press he’s very quick to shoot them down when they try to get info he doesn’t want to give, he goes on the offensive rather than dealing with it as say Smith did. Might be a clue that he is not really a man manager more of a commands respect for his achievement’s in the game type which people being people can wear thin if he doesn’t give much respect back and is seen to favour some players.

  42. A stat I have just heard, we have gone behind within ten minutes 7 times this season. Does that not suggest a flaw in how we approach games form the off?

  43. I have always been supportive of the Villa manager. . . . probably too supportive sometimes. I even gave McLeish and Lambert the benefit of the doubt until both the results and football just became too dire to justify it.
    I am therefore finding it quite tricky at the moment. Gerrard is the first manager where in advance of his appointment I have come out and said he would be my least favoured choice of the options available.
    My reasoning was that he hadn’t yet proven that he had what it takes but if he DID prove to be a good manager he would quickly be off to replace Klopp.
    When he was appointed I tried to convince myself that it could be a good thing because if he works out then it would improve our profile in the short term and also move us one step closer to where we want to be.
    After our initial bounce (albeit against teams in the bottom half of the table) I was close to being convinced but since then I’m really not sure what to think.
    One thing I haven’t liked lately is the calling out of the players, particularly after yesterday’s game. I hope it’s not showing that he is losing confidence in himself as he really needs to show now that he he really does have what it takes to get things back on track and he really should be doing it with the very good players that we already have at the club.

  44. Whats frustrating is our players are better than most of the teams around us as individuals but as an organised unit like wolves we are nowhere near. People moan that we can’t pass? well that is ridiculous as every player can do that, its the shape and movement that lets us down. Smith was sacrificed because the team is obviously talented and was being mismanaged, SG is telling the team that if they don’t perform he’ll get some players that will so what gives? We have several players that gone on to play for their countries since joining us and perform well for those countries so what is it about Villa??

  45. The talent is there. The management team need to find a way to utilise and motivate it. . . .It’s their job.
    Unless. . . .there has been a complete change of tack and the club have decided that we are going to have to go for a complete overhaul which surely can’t be the case?

  46. Mark
    The passing stats are clear,we get out passed in majority of matches even ones we win
    The stat about conceding early we are in top 3 for that,like why was cash nowhere to be seen for 1st goal it was only 8 mins in,

  47. JG Passing is really all about how you play, if you drop off and look to counter your passing stats will be low. You could pass it a round at the back and improve passing stats. If Mings smashes the ball over the top or as young did for Watkins it can result in a goal, passing can mean a lot or nothing. Early on under SG we stayed tight and passed in triangles until the cows come home but didn’t create Jack. Brighton are a great example of lovely passing with Next to zero penetration. I’d like to see a happy medium and the ability to keep the ball when needed but most of all I want to see High grade chances created and Watkins having 5-6 to go at not the usual 1-2 he gets if he’s lucky.

  48. Yeah said last night we don’t have bad players but the balance and blend is totally wrong to create a team. A team who can grind, control a match and turn those blooming defeats into draws! We’re just such a nice team, can’t get into people’s faces, won’t kick a team off the pitch, won’t intimidate you as we are mostly midgets. Full of nice pretty ballers.

    With no midfield

  49. James

    We are a countering team. They can’t keep the ball for more then 5 mins and don’t look comfy with it.

    Trouble is sg wants to be possession based!

    Will be fixed in the summer. He said day one. We will become a possession based team and it remains to be seen if the players can adapt

  50. Frem

    Yeaaaah boy. I saw that from Percy at the telegraph too. Has the inside track on villa,

    Phillips and bissouma. Man it would be madness. The main thing is he will fix the mid and realises it’s priority even if it’s not them we will get

  51. West Ham are the absolute go too too what we need next. They have the little ballers like us, Bowen, benrahma, lanzini that will create. But they have what we don’t, the nasty experienced, physical side. A hard spine. Dawson, the war horse, the big lump what’s he called alongside rice who wins every second ball and 50 50 then rice! And tony running non stop up top

  52. I’m backing sg as he’s saying everything that I’m seeing. I back him to fix it. I mean how often over the years have we been calling for a 90 min performance! He called it out last night, fair enough cause they are a 45 min team

    It won’t be a overnight process. 2 summer transfer windows but this window and pre season a massive stamp needs to be printed on the team else I’ll be even more isolated in my support of him!

  53. Last night as well listening to Steve I was sat there saying yes! Damn right. He said teams don’t have to do an awful lot to score against us but we really have to work for our goals

  54. I think the summer transfer window wasn’t complete with our main target being JWP, we clearly wanted someone to improve midfield but not just anyone so we went with what we had again as the previous season they had been good at least for half a season, which is reasonable. What wasn’t reasonable was the amount of injuries sustained and no width in the team to play as we had previously hence 352 and wingbacks, now we have wide players and don’t use them.

  55. Mk
    Jwp wasn’t or is isn’t the answer to our problems,our recruitment team had long enough to get a decent midfielder not one sanson that neither manager rates

  56. How do you know he wouldn’t have improved the midfield? we were not after him for a laugh, he’s Saints captain can pass tackle and takes amazing free kicks, we employed and still employ a set piece specialist, also ditched Connor our only set piece taker. Sanson is like Ramsey and McGinn better in an attacking role SWP can pull the strings in midfield and link up with Beundia and the front three.

  57. Ah man bentancour. Whet a rolls Royce. Everything we need in a cdm. 20 odd mill! Bargain of the century.

    Yeah love prowse but not whet this midfield need. I’d take him over mcguinn or luiz though for sure

  58. Mk
    You are clutching at straws,ditching conor,who isn’t even a regular for Sheffield utd,
    Jwp is a good player but we were told beundi was too look how he has worked out flatters and shines like fools goal no end product worth,
    jwp is not a defensive player so like the signings we did make it would have been more square pegs for round holes

  59. We lose again and according to social media it was all mings fault,yet the 2 goals I seen that we conceded it was a mistake from mcginn followed by 2 from konsa ,with cash missing from the picture completely, I guess cash is following his managers orders where he plays so that falls back on Gérard again ,not blaming players for not turning up

  60. James

    Talk of prowse…it’s actually his mate next to him at saints Romau that we need! Utterly obsessed with number 8 types was Deano. It’s why our blend and balance all wrong. Too many of the buggers.

    That’s what I mean about passing, the mcguinn ball to conceded happenes all the time. Brain dead. Someone will do a lazy sloppy pass and we will e in trouble. Every single time! And with no 6 we are wide open and exposed.

  61. Heroes
    It’s crazy a bissomu type player and we are immediately a much better side ,playing a 4231 formation it’s only city and pool can play 433 that Gérard wants,the 2 could be bissomu and Luis,the 3 then different games different players use the squad,5 subs next season means no need to flog players for 90 mins in continuing games

  62. Yeah man I hear you on the loan 6. They are pivotal to it all is why pool and city recruited them so well. Is there anyone else that plays a loan 6?

    I think it will be 433 though! Be interesting to see how we shape up. The 6 and a 8 will be bought in no doubt at all. With a CB and st.

  63. Blimey lads have you not watched us enough to know even with a six we have been full of cock ups? the only time its worked has been when the entire team has defended when SG had Nakamba fit. If they all pissed off up field with two high wing backs I can guarantee your 6 will not cope. Most teams use two and they are not just defensive types at all. JWP can defend and attack so I can’t understand what JG’s on about because every stat site I see has him with no real weaknesses. Just buying a 6 will not make this team magically work. Offensively we are still not there either, someone that can control the middle and spray the ball about would fix a lot. As JC has said Phil needs to be central he’s to easy to isolate but can be untouchable and he doesn’t have to tackle everyone in sight to be effective. So far this team hasn’t had a real ball playing mid in that 6 role which was how Smith played at Brentford. Maybe because we had McGinn, Ramsey, Jack the urgency was on buying in other positions once we had luis and Nakamba. JWP was the kind of player to make Smiths system work.

    Connor was the only decent dead ball specialist we had just not good enough unless he was given licence to get forward which he rarely was. When he was bought he was an attacking mid and hardly ever was used properly.

  64. Mark

    Yeah man a 6 is proper fundamental in a 433. Vital. Will improve ten fold with that one position boosted.

    Nakamba wasn’t sloppy at all under sg. Was used to his best position, lone 6 and his role was simple.

    He was better for it and we was as a team too.

  65. Unfortunately most of mates are pool fans. They will have a right melt down if Fabinho doesn’t play. He is critical to everything. And that’s pool one of the best teams in the world!

    A class 6 in a 433 lets fullbacks fly and 2 8s roam.

  66. Nakamba played the lone 6 and was dire too hence him being in and out of the team. The back four was considered solid last season, one of our best features. Now we are back to comedy hour. SG’s answer is the players need to fix it.

    Spurs next and I have no hope whatsoever of even a point.

  67. mark yeah man spurs are on fire. so so good. do not leave a high line else they will murder you.

    i can see another loose pass and being undone on the turnover!

    the new manager has got us away from the relegation zone though!

  68. I am going to break the mould here and say that I am happy with what SG is doing … we continue to pass the ball and rarely hoof it which is vital for any real progress and its getting better slowly but surely
    We lost a game not because of poor tactics or set up but just simple mistakes something no manager can be held responsible for ,,, Wolves are a lovely passing side which a good amount of players that will go on to bigger and better things
    Marv should be back next game that should give us some much needed balance that just hasn’t been there since he got inquired

  69. Think we ended up with more possession away to wanderers and if Ollie had taken to 2 clear cut one on one chances he had it could have been a very different post match conversation

  70. runtings

    yeah man, theres not many of us backing sg!

    At the end of the day a switch in style takes time. hes here without his own players for 4 month. its not a overnight fix but like you especially when nakamba was playing we were moving a lot different. could really see a difference.

    unfortunalty this villa team is the gift that keeps giving. we are our own worst enemies most of the time. a massive soft under belly and mentality that needs to be fixed.

  71. I wouldn’t say I’m *not* backing SG. I am saying I’m not convinced. Maybe that’s the same thing, maybe it’s fence sitting.

    Under Smith or SG, there are some players we’d have wanted to replace, regardless.

    My main concern is the set-up. We just don’t have the players for SG’s narrow approach. I welcomed seeing an adjustment getting Phil central, and playing more of a diamond using Ings and Watkins in a 4-4-2. Or 4-3-1-2 as some want to call it. I’m not at all sure tactically that SG’s approach is right for the PL. Maybe it is with different players, more time.

    Also read something last night talking about a potential shake-up with Lange/recruiting, more manager input with DOF. Could be good, could be a knee-jerk reaction. Depends on who made some of the final calls on certain players and why.

    I think my other concern, and it’s started to bubble up in conversations, is that SG is not necessarily a ‘warm’ person/good man manager. Could be bollocks, might be irrelevant.

    But, if the story doing the rounds a while back about SG forming instant opinions about players is accurate, could well mean that a number don’t see a future (a la Targett) and we may be seeing that on the pitch. The team doesn’t feel as ‘together’ as it once was. At the same time, we saw a number of similar 45-min performances under Smith.

    So, like I say, I’m not convinced either way. The bounce is long gone, Top 10 might well be a fantasy now (though it would’ve been more possible had we not lost to Newcastle and Watford).

    Strangely, though, saw that we had higher xG than Wolves. All very hard to parse for me.

  72. H&V, I think you’re misreading the motivations of people on here when you say: “there’s not many of us backing sg”

    I’d be extremely surprised if there are many, if any on here who are not backing sg. . .

    We all desperately want him to succeed. I would say though that very few are backing him blindly. It’s clear that there were doubts in the minds of some before he came (myself included), but as Villa fans we’d love to see him succeed and pick up from the progress that we made under Dean Smith.

    You’re right that there are question marks (as there are for any manager), but hopefully, time will show them to have been unfounded

  73. The man manager point is an interesting one, but it’s so hard to judge from the outside. You only tend to hear what a manager was really like after they’ve left, and even then you have to take comments with a pinch of salt because every player will have their own take on things (or axe to grind).

    What seems undeniable though is that he’s struggled to get players motivated to go out and perform from the first whistle. I think Mark shared a stat about us having conceded more early goals than any other team and that must surely say something about how we’re starting games?

    It’s an odd one because this is where you’d have thought that someone like SG would have a natural advantage, but maybe he needs to be actually on the pitch, leading from the front, and still hasn’t learned how to motivate from the sidelines?

  74. r0bb0,

    Yeah, a lot of speculation…Was listening to a Forest fan talking unprompted about Gerrard’s reputation that way, prickly, not warm, over the weekend.

    Former players, I’m sure it is hard, especially if you were one to grab hold, lead by example, etc.

    But the recent comments, from not buying in, to “I’m trying to fix it, it’s on me. But I need the players’ help to fix, and we may have to get others that will,” (paraphrasing) suggest impatience/frustration, bit of a rupture, perhaps.

    Players may well be motivated to do well individually, but if they’re asked to do things they haven’t, and aren’t good at it, they’re probably thinking, “Why can’t we go back to what we know, what I am good at, and what I think would help.”

    So I’m guessing there’s hesitance, lack of confidence in each other being where they need to be and doing what needs to be done. We saw that under Smith, but I’m thinking (maybe incorrectly) that the squad were largely that way more so when Jack was out and nobody else could lift the team.

  75. And of course if they think they’re not suited to the system, it probably only compounds errors.

    To my mind, players not right up into an opponent from the off speaks of caution, lack of belief, if that’s what they’ve been asked to do.

  76. JC, that comment about caution and lack of belief at the start of games feels very plausible.
    Maybe what they’re being asked to do doesn’t come naturally to them so they’re overthinking things. It’s only towards the end of games when they start acting more instinctively and our play improves accordingly.
    There is also a real danger with dominant managers that players become fearful of making mistakes so go into their shells somewhat. That style of management ‘can’ work well of course and we could all mention a number of the very best managers who have managed that way. You can imagine that managers like Ferguson and Clough were able to let players know very clearly what they wanted from them though . . . . which brings us back to your comment about caution and lack of belief.

    If you’re going to adopt an autocratic management style then you need to have absolute confidence in your own ability and plans. One without the other doesn’t work.

    I don’t know if that applies to sg. . . pure speculation.

  77. Indeed, r0bb0, speculation on SG, entirely.

    I’m not sure to what extent it persists in football, the autocratic style, but I know it’s changed in a lot of sports, modern players not reacting well to that however good they are.

    Deano was criticized for being too nice, obviously. But he may have been more ‘resigned’ to having less say in personnel and working with what he had. Wasn’t going to do him any good to alienate players he was stuck with for a half or full season.

  78. Matty cash new 5 year deal. Deserved 100%

    The work he has put in under sg to improve in the final third has been immense. No longer call him a vampire cause he’s afraid of crosses!

    That’s cash, Martinez, young Tim all just signed 5 year deals

  79. Robbo

    Yeah man that’s fair.

    Sg is going to make plenty of mistakes. He is prob now trying to change too much too soon! But I don’t mind at all a ruthless clear idea. Shape up or ship out.

    Villas always been too nicesy nicey. Time for a ruthless, ambitious elite mentality.

    He has 2 summer Windows for me to judge

  80. I wouldn’t be getting hung up on systems and belief etc and are the players confused etc…,we just won 3 on the trot with a agg of 9 nil and are up there in the form guide since sg took over.

    It’s just that the players are what they are, mid table
    Inconsistent. We will loose a few then win A few

  81. H&V
    You say that we are “up there” in the form guide since sg took over.
    Over the past 12 games we’re placed 13th and with the exception of liverpool have had the easiest opposition to play over those 12 games so our form really isn’t great.
    I suppose the next relevant question is how does our squad compare with other teams. It’s pretty subjective but I’d say we have a better squad than Newcastle or Wolves and over the last 12 games (also with comparatively new managers) they’re placed 6th and 7th.

    I think we’re at a place where we’re ready to accept that SG is going to take some time to learn and adapt both himself and his squad but I don’t think it’s right to suggest he’s doing terribly well so far.

  82. In terms of were Villa currently are , Wolves as an example have been better and higher than us at least the last 5 seasons so we are defiantly not currently better than them
    We have some good players but are still missing a fair bit of quality

  83. For me we have seen this squad perform much better with jack here. We now apparently have more quality as per money spent on each player yet we don’t even look close to wolves let alone beating a top 6 team comprehensively. Covid isn’t an excuse for top teams to get beaten by us by a landslide is it really either, if it was all the crap teams would have too. So what’s happened?

    For me the togetherness has gone and we have become boring to watch. Can’t explain it better than that, quality upgrades have not improved us to a higher level that levels dropped.

  84. runtings and JC, Wolves ‘may’ have more quality although when I saw the team sheets for Saturday I really thought it was a game we should win. . . . Villa tinted spectacles?

    I think perception of quality is skewed by current form and results. Laga has Wolves playing tight, organised football where the manager understand’s his player’s skills and the players all know exactly what’s expected of them. As a result, perhaps the players appear more accomplished than they may do in another squad?

  85. Mark,
    Yes we have seen the squad perform better with Jack in it, but we’ve also seen flashes of us performing well without him so I really don’t think we can put our struggles against top half teams just down to losing Jack.
    Going back to Wolves for a moment, they lost their talisman, Jota and then they lost their main outlet and speed merchant Traore. This weekend they were without Jimenez and Neves, and yet they still functioned. Ok, if you look at the XG ratio then perhaps we deserved to come away with something, but how many times can we use that line?
    I do agree that we ‘seem’ to have lost some togetherness but I really don’t know if that’s just a fan’s projection because we’ve lost a bit of our previous optimism (H&V excepted of course!)

  86. Mark, I also think back to the Arsenal game. We were awful in the first half but by the end I was praying for just a few more minutes of added time because we were well on top and looked as if we must surely score.
    We ‘can’ play decent football but when a team is as inconsistent as we are, even ‘within’ one game never mind from game to game, then I think you’re right to point out that there’s something missing. You called it a loss of ‘togetherness’, it may be lack of confidence in their roles, or fear of criticism (by manager or fans) but there is ‘something’ missing for large portions of games.

  87. Jack Grealish was so big for Aston Villa it was almost unhealthy but we lost our playing identity the day he walked out and its going to take big changes to find a new one without him

  88. we have talented individuals but that doent make a good team.

    the blend is all wrong and is the main thing for me to be addressed.

    we are a nice team full of little ballers. ok when we are all on it and against a team of the same ilk, saints, brighton but you come against a burnley, west ham we dont have the tools to take them on

  89. runtings

    last few years villa and palace the same. over reliant on jack and palace zaha.

    tbf we have both done well to adapt!

    id of bitten your hand off if when jack walked id be guaranteed no relegation drame with 10 to go!

  90. its very tough getting the balance right which sg is trying to do. hes said numerous times we cant have any basket ball games. 2-2 utd , 3-3 leeds. all great to watch for the neautral but a bit mad!

    need more controlled games. have had plenty. 2 -0 palace. two 2-0 against brighton. 4-0 saints, 3-0 leeds.

    but is hard to do with no midfield controller. yet another piece i read v wolves. old timer moutihno dictated the game. ran the show. we simply have no one to do that.

  91. H&V, we may have hoped that Coutinho might have dictated the game in the way that Moutinho did but Lage had set out a plan to cut off the routes through to Coutinho and he was therefore nullified in a way which Moutinho wasn’t.
    Buendia was starting to show signs of being a player who could pick the ball up and make things happen for us but it’s hard to find space for both him and Coutinho in the team so his development in that role has taken a step back.
    With two players having been instructed to cut off the ball to Coutinho you’d imagine that would open the way for other players to step up but that didn’t seem to happen.

  92. yeah id like to see buendia used more. deserves it. produces off the bench too. i wouldnt be surprised once nakamba is back in we go back to 2 tens.

    phils not a moutihno.

    different positons

  93. On the matter of less “togetherness” than previously, I agree the team does not appear as tight as it has done. The reasons can be debated but for my 6 penneth, I’d say players are less inclined to bust a gut if they think they’re going to be shipped in the summer. They will always look after number 1 first before looking after the hand that feeds them. So calling a spade a spade is OK in my book, much prefer to know where I stand and that is how SG calls it. But the consequences of doing so are more predictable.

  94. H&V, yes Moutinho is being asked to play a less advanced role than Coutinho and as such was able to influence the game more on Saturday. Both players have in the past played in the advanced 10 role and also played in a more deeply positioned linking role. With Lage having decided that the way to stop Villa advancing was to cut off service to Coutinho in the advanced role then you might have hoped that someone else could have stepped in to link play or Coutinho could have been asked to drop back a bit. Klopp did that with him in the past but maybe it’s a bit too much to ask now he’s that bit older?

  95. robbo yeah man agree

    i wouldnt mind seeing buendia as one of the 8s you know.

    moutihno is a proper cm type and can play in front of the back 4 dictating and tackling. not phils game

  96. Archer scoring again

    This guy is a better striker than Ollie Watkins.. A much more natural finisher

    He wouldn’t miss half what Watkins does

    Sell Watkins and Luiz please

    McGinn can go to if er are going to be ruthless.

    Our spine next season can’t be Mings mcginn luiz and Watkins again

    They aren’t good enough

  97. I can’t understand how people think we would be in a relegation battle if Smith stayed? just because we were 2 point off of the bottom three doesn’t mean we would not have moved up to a similar place once injuries abated, not only that we would have returned to a 433 with a full compliment of wingers Bailey, Trez, ElGhazi and Traore and maybe Smith gives archer and Davis some pitch time etc, in other words nobody knows what would of happened. The bottom three have not even amassed 25 points, that’s pretty crap and not the one team cut adrift while the bottom 5-6 battle it out. We have 36 points and sit 11th and only have to beat Norwich to be certain of safety and that’s the only game I’d say we will win, we have a double header against Burnley but they will be scrapping for their lives. So judging on our present form its a good job we are pretty much safe.

    People have very short memories, just before the start of the season we were still accessing Wesley, if he had been fit then would we have bought Ings so late? The only fit winger we had was ElGhazi. So coupled with the fact Jack had gone having an understrength squad at season start was always going to make this season tough.

  98. Then there is Simon Jordans opinion.

    Gerrard has European aspirations for Villa but will need to crack the top half of the Premier League first and there are some big-spending teams above them with deep financial reserves. “We will say Villa spent £400m and they didn’t, they spent £370m and took £120m back in so they spent £250m over three years to get to that,”

    “Eighty million pounds a season is not a huge amount today for a team that is finishing in tenth in the Premier League. “I think Gerrard is doing all right and I think that he is not beating teams above him in the Premier League is incidental because he has not got a team that is good enough to beat them.

    “Nobody really expected them to be in Europe this season and he picked up a difficult team going in the wrong direction and settled them. “He hasn’t set the world alight but there are lots of very good managers in front of him.”

    Now I agree with the bulk of what he says but doesn’t that then say what an exceptional job the far less glamorous and experienced at the top level Smith had done or was doing. 3 seasons in the top flight and we are not good enough to beat the top teams nor expect it? also the managers above us are much better? so Smith was able to tactically outwit some of the best on his day with a poorer squad + Jack yet SG can only hope not to lose to badly? Lets not forget he’s added Phil and Digne to what is a supposed better squad.

    That for me is the elephant in the room. Nothing to say he can’t rebuild how he wants and it works, but it will just take a lot of money. Whether the likes of Archer etc can break in is also questionable. To put it in perspective he spent Millions at Rangers and put them in debt to win one title worth £3m. Celtic have built a young side and are very likely to win the title.

    Maybe this is what Villa have to do to compete? its not really what Spurs, arsenal and others are doing as far as age of players but it is what it is.

  99. man thinking of the spurs game…gulp.

    we have to play nakamba even though he aint up to speed.

    harry kane dropping off like he has been doing into a non existent midfield is the stuff of nightmares!

  100. H&V There was a time when they knew how to keep clean sheets too. I’m getting exceedingly wary of promises made in the mental side of teams. Remember us getting a shrink in under Xia I think, might even have been Lerner. For as long as I can remember we have suggested various reasons why we are not quite there, The time under Smith was the closest and showed real continual progression until it stuttered after the coaching group split up and Jack went taking the feel good factor with them. If I could rewind and go back and remove the Covid episode in Jan 21 I would as it was one of the biggest factors in that season, just as the double injury to Wesley and Heaton derailed the 1st season.

    I will believe it when I see it as far as elite anything goes, its great excuse though if we need one.

    Maybe we will upset Spurs apple cart the way we did Southampton’s.

  101. Here’s a tactical appraisal of Smith and Gerrard this season. Takes no account of lack of or change of personnel just passing grids with what was available. When you get to the end you can see that we are only just getting back to being as good as we were the back end of last season. Compared to the season start in 20/21 we are nowhere near, I think the graph stops after we won 3 games recently and doesn’t show the last three lost. It also takes no account of opposition faced, the timing of Gerrard’s arrival and some softer fixtures you would think helped and I can’t but help think it would of been similar either way with Smith or Gerrard, what both managers need or needed is a full pre-season with the team.


  102. You can see though why the owners pulled the trigger because we looked like world beaters at one time. Did they have some further insight other than we were good what’s happened? or was it this hasn’t worked without jack all change?

  103. Mark, I’m not wanting to agree with you. . . . .but I largely do. I’ve been accused of being a happy clapper in the past, back in the Steamer days, and it’s true that my instinct, as a ‘supporter’ is to try and do exactly that. Right now though, like you I am just not seeing progress.
    You’re right to point out that SG has a significantly stronger squad to call upon than DS did earlier this season but right now it’s hard to see us beating decent sides.
    There are three options as far as I can see.
    1) Steven Gerrard is under-performing with the current squad
    2) Dean Smith over-performed with the squads he had at his disposal
    3) Jack Grealish really is good enough on his own to turn a below average squad into one that can beat ‘any’ team in the premiership.

    [If it’s the last one of those then how bad a manager is Pep that he’s not able to find a way of properly using Grealish’s skills? Surely any manager who is able to bring on Grealish, Foden and Jesus as substitutes ought to be steamrollering all before him?]

  104. with all due respect I don’t get all this DS is so great chat
    Jack carried us from the championship[ to prem survival and when he got injured for the last 10 games or so we fell apart and down the table

    We are bang average not rubbish but not great either , we won’t be consistent winners until the squad is improved

  105. deano got sacked cause
    a) results had been relegation form for over a calender year
    b) that carried on to this season when the threat of relegation was looking real
    c) he couldnt find a way to win without jack
    d) by very good sources the players were taking the piss in training
    e) the summer window was terrible

  106. deanos footy was counterattcking.

    was never going to control a game hence being a yo yo team. win or bust is us.

    now im all for sg vision of possession. think it brings more control and is more substainable.

    time will tell.

  107. Runtings – Maybe your not seeing it because it isn’t about Dean Smiths so great, its more that maybe SG is not the huge upgrade the management wanted from what they thought they’d bought. I suspect they thought Smith was underperforming with the great squad they’d payed for now they are underperforming for SG plus two world class players more, not run of the mill prem players, world class.

    People seem happy that he gets another two seasons of building after this when all he has on his CV is three years to get One trophy in a two horse race. So many of our players seem good enough to get called up for some of the biggest world teams yet at Villa can’t do it?

    The question I have is given the team and resources Smith was could just any manager have turned the club around? I am not sure they could because it was culture problem as much as a playing one. It does appear now that SG is playing by a different set of rules to Smith too. Given the sack of shite he was given I think Smith did amazingly, to say it was all Jack? harsh. Of course the team was built around jack rightly or wrongly, it allowed the club to progress rapidly and brought hope. The alternative was probably selling Jack for £30m tops, He would never of stayed if he got far less of the ball. Smith did a great Job of using him to the clubs gain and his own loss.

    The time to build the silky passing style you want was when we went down not when we were on our knees and not when we are fighting to gain a foothold. I think we have all been guilty of thinking Villa are ahead of where we actually are and that is down to how good we could look at times even against the best, that is no longer true to me under SG, Under Smith this season we really should of battered Chelsea and beat Manure so given the squads improved and no longer depleted as it was why are we bang average? I don’t believe that we Bought Digne and Phil in to sit in mid table, was it maybe to justify bringing SG in? I think definitely more was expected. It may be a wake up call for the owners who knows or a reality check.

  108. H&V Your list lacks all context of what really happened and why the owners were prompted to move. Its all very well saying we were relegation fodder for a year when during that time we had the Covid lay off and effect, several injuries, one fit striker, the loss of an icon, loss of his coaching team (for whatever reason). The success in early 20/21 was also down to Barkley not just jack and we lost both. Ask yourself why SG isn’t finding a way to win when Phils off form? or when Digne’s injured again? He changed things recently from the two tens so you know he can’t just be using this season for wheedling out the fodder. Why is he given no stick for not finding a way to win with very little wrong with the entire Squad?

  109. Mark lots of ifs and buts but I for one was fed up of the hoof ball or direct style of play that has been present at our club long before Deano
    Yes it is a risk taking a young new manager and we will have to see big improvements next season if SG is to continue and prove he has what it takes to get Villa firing
    I do believe in the footballing principals SG is implementing and would bet against him being a success
    DS took us to a certain level then we hit a ceiling … I suspect a good few of his buys will be gone in the summer
    Yes DS pulled of some fab results but it was usually followed by a bad result against a lesser team and if you check his stats for his last calendar year we were in free fall

  110. Good to seen Steven Gerrard being discussed by many here. I personally have never been a fan of him.
    He sets up his teams poorly and his tactics are fairly outdated; completely reliant on Coutinho who has been found out by better teams.
    As we stand Tottenham should beat us unless Nakamba starts. We have lost i think six out of the last nine league matches?
    He now wants more control than the Director of Football i hear? Villa is only a stepping stone for him. Nothing personal, just that i think he would have managed in the Championship to prove himself further. He is out of his depth at Villa.

  111. Gerrard will only increase the age limit of this team. That’s what i think he means when he says Villa need more profile.
    I hope he proves me wrong but so far plenty of doubts from my side. Stan Collymore the other day alluded to the same.

  112. I agree with Mark King on Dean Smith. We played some fantastic football with him in charge. Yes, he hit his glass ceiling here and need to go.
    I think he is a good coach and excellent in man management. However, his use of substitutes was below par and was poor in game management.

  113. Mark
    I’m pulling a Rafa. The facts! We were dead and buried and the context of covid kept us in the league. Would of gone down without that break and coming back to no fans. Which we excelled! Hmmmmm. Not too mention the goal line technology being switched off! Reliant on Phil? Not for me. For me we looked better as a team before he signed in our push up the league. Digne is fit.
    Sg is being given stick left right and centre! It’s a small minority backing him…..

  114. Lads Smith has the same win ratio as SG in the prem so make what you want of that. SG spent a lot of money to win that title in a two horse race, not shabby but they are in dept, Fans often moaned that he was to conservative considering the gulf of quality he had. Also they were not doing so well before he left.

    I don’t think Dean smith wanted to play percentage football it was how it had to be. Never played that way at Brentford could play possession or counter. However in the prem you have to get the best from what you have and we were not and are still not playing with top quality players. This team was virtually conjured when we came up with a relatively small spend in reality. To turn that into something more possession based was going to take time regardless. Look at all the footballing sides that came up and went down recently? Wolves while capable are a counter attacking side.

  115. And this is why I’m backing sg. Great age. Great standing in the game. Attract players. He’s like me in style too, will be pragmatic. He won’t be no pep with Tika taka but that’s ok with me. Straight away his philosophy is better on the ball. Possession based. Again which I like.insant respect, he won’t suffer fools.
    The phrase a good team will be a mirror image of there manager bit like dogs looking like there owners. And if sg can build that team….which given the sg we know is deadly serious and driven I think he will do it.

  116. Runtings

    Take a deep delve into sgs time at rangers. It’s a very very Imprssive job. Lazy to just say well it’s a two horse league. They were on there knees.

    Great quote from him doing the rounds when after 2 years they started clicking and thrashing teams, he said nah that result is 2 years in the making, solid recruitment and training bearing fruit

  117. Rangers fans are mad. What was he 37 going into Rangers, 50k every other week. Have to over turn Rangers.

    Then go on that European run.

    Man it’s some job

    Looks like they’ve lost the title now he’s gone too!

  118. Mark DS built this squad and if he was ever going to bring passing football to villa he would have done it in the championship were we was breaking transfer records in that division
    Instead we have teams around us that cost far less but pass and move miles better

  119. H&V. . . .did you really just suggest that we wouldn’t have gained promotion without goal line technology being switched off.

    I’m seriously hoping I’ve misinterpreted you or you were saying it tongue in cheek.

    In that comment you say you’re giving ‘the facts’. Again, I assume that was a tongue in cheek comment as you followed up with no facts.

  120. runtings, I haven’t seen a defence of DS in today’s comments, but rather a suggestion that we have yet to see significant advance under SG . . . . and that looks like very fair comment to me.

    There does seem to be a general acceptance that SG should and will get time to mould the team the way he wants and we won’t be able to judge him until he’s had a chance to do that.

    Personally I would be concerned if that process involved a wholesale change of direction for the squad as it seems likely that we’d end up losing cash and ending up with a much larger wage bill. Maybe our owners are prepared to take that gamble but it would feel like a diversion from the business like approach that we’ve seen from them up till now

  121. r0bb0 would have to agree that there isn’t much advancement under sg at least result wise but there is a subtle transition of playing style going on
    Not sure about wholesale changes but there are up to 6 players vulnerable to leave 3 already out on loan

  122. runtings, running through our list of loan players I can see 8 that may be off. You imagine that a couple at least could be replaced by players from the youth set up leaving 6 potential holes to fill.
    That seems to give more than enough scope to bring in the sort of players that SG may be looking for.
    I’m struggling to find players within the current playing squad that we should be looking to ship out. There’s been talk of McGinn, Luiz, Watkins and Sanson being sold but you have to seriously question whether we’d succeed in finding better players than them to bring in.
    I’m sure you’re right that SG is trying to introduce a new style but maybe because he doesn’t have the players for it at the moment, it’s hard to see just how that playing style is going to work in the Premier league.

  123. runtings, I was just thinking back to when we were first promoted and in fact I think that DS DID try to implement a passing style back then. I remember us playing some exciting football too. . . . . but losing games. If I remember rightly, after a while he realised that he was going to have to adopt a more pragmatic approach and we started to grind out some results.
    Maybe this is the stage that SG is going through now and maybe he’ll eventually accept that without VERY substantial investment it will be difficult to play the style of football he wants us to in the Premier league?

  124. r0bb0 for me direct football is a thing of the past so no pain no gain and its not going to be an easy transition but if we are to become a top 6 club we will have to stick to the current principals of possession based approach to the game

  125. runtings, I know where you’re coming from because it does feel right now that possession football is the way to go, but rules are always made to be broken so I wouldn’t go so far as to say that ‘direct football is a thing of the past’.
    Granted, the Leicester approach seems unlikely to prevail for a whole season again but I tended to think of Ferguson as often adopting a counter attacking style and it didn’t do him any harm. The key thing is whether a manager has the players, the management style, the tactical nouse, the self confidence and the single mindedness to be able to effectively pursue whichever style they decide is right.

  126. robbo

    yeah man its all tongue and cheek…trying to cheer this site up! Anyone would think we were still in the champ with bruce and the doc!

    aston villa are in a very very good place and have lots to look forward too.

    theres a meeting tonight. new north stand to start end of next season. will be over 55k. nice!

  127. Davis would offer more to us than Watkins

    Watkins can’t score and his his hold up play is absolutely horrific

    At least Davis will keep the ball

    Always wanted him to play more for us.

    Watkins has to be moved on this summer with a fair few more

  128. Runtings- so let me get this straight, Smith should of implemented a passing style in Champs? for one we had a take over and were close to oblivion. New owners came in and Bruce was given the chance and failed, Smith took over Bruces build added a couple and the rest is history. Are you suggesting he should of concentrated on playing a passing game with Bruces squad? and once we went on a ten game winning streak and then on to final he should of not bothered getting up so we could practice passing in the champs? how was there ever time? the entire time he has been here he was fighting fires, and Robbo’s right he did try to play very expansive football with a young squad thrown together out of necessity. His biggest job was rebuilding Villa as a club let alone instil man city like quality into the side. No way we would of stayed up playing how you suggest like so many before that played that way. The type of team your suggesting are playing better football don’t do any better either, Brighton? Southampton? The next rung up are not pure passing sides.

    Now I don’t disagree with improving technically its essential at the top, I think the U23’s and below are being schooled much closer to that style than the 1st was but you have to achieve a certain quality to be able to stay up while achieving what you want to see, Klopp did it a Liverpool in 3 seasons with a very strong side. Danger is if your not quite there you’ll be closer to relegation than mid table comfort. You can’t ignore the bread and butter of managers which is gaining points at the level Villa are. To have built a team in the prem, in your 1st season up? with a manager that’s never played there let alone managed? that is a massive achievement. Last season was a complete roller coaster and I don’t think much could of gone better and also have gone wrong.

    To suggest SG deserves a couple of seasons of doing not much other than building to being good in the third boils my piss because that was never on offer to Smith was it?

  129. Mark you clearly love Deano even more than Trez and don’t take it as me having a dig at them as they both were the right people at the right time for the club , the point I was tying to make re deano’s playing style is he isn’t a possession based manager , that’s just fact as far as how I see the game were sg is and won’t shift from that basic principal … something I have wanted to happen at the club
    whether SG will succeed or not remains to be seen its unfair to pass judgement this early in but if we are not operating in the top half next season the pressure will weigh heavy no doubt
    but again don’t mistake my opinion for insult DS is one of our own and along with Jack performed the huge first big step away from the clutches of oblivion

  130. How long SG deserves to be given before we can determine whether he’s being successful or not is a debate in itself. He certainly deserves more than the 5 months taken to date.

  131. Another weekend another villa match,does anyone really care,will we turn up,will we try ,will it be 1 good half ,1 crap half,will the usual suspect start and play entire match,will digne last more than 15 mins ,so many questions

  132. Plug
    How long does Gérard get ,good question,
    I don’t see anything in us different from smiths sides as yet,watched rangers last weekend absolutely garbage so no faith from his rangers career,compared to what new Ireland manager has achieved in 20 matches ,Ireland players are weak but playing style has improved, the lines are all there back 4 midfield ,everything we play it’s like Hutton and lescott r in defence ,Watkins has turned into gabby and Luis is a poor version of westwood

  133. Runtings – nothing to do with loving either, I look at the club and circumstance Dean came into and what SG has inherited and it does not compare, Deano made Wheelan into a version of Pirlo, got the best from Bruces team, added a couple and made huge strides, Sg has added two world class players and then thrown his hands up declaring the players are not good enough. Now his view of the players may or may not be accurate, many have progressed to international level though under Smith, not to shabby eh? reminds me of Bruces proclamation that the players are not doing what I asked.

    So what bothers me is SG’s judgement is about to dismantle all the club has built because its not good enough. Seems pretty obvious he is getting more say than smith did in that department having had Suso and lange equals in looking for players in his time here and a remit of youth and improving players to sell on and reinvest. All this came with the caveat that the team had to have a clear progression every season, ie get better and integrate the academy in the near future. In any venture that is not possible, in fact sometimes you have to retrograde to move forward. Smith a history of youth development because he had to and got good at it and SG a history of buying 28 plus years olds to gain his success in a two horse race, seems at odds to me. Smith lambasted for sticking with 433, and SG about to dismantle the team because they can’t play his version of 433.

    At the earliest point of us looking in trouble with pre-season a joke, Jack gone and the replacements injured along with several of the previous seasons forward line Smith was dismissed. The back end of last season was easily as good as SG now, we ended on 55 points and got 7 draws so clearly better than what we are seeing at this point and at least on par. So his eventual success at Rangers and luke warm 5 months at villa have him taking the club future in his hands for good or bad. Its a huge leap away from the clubs remit under Smith. Maybe just maybe Mr Smith would of liked a few super stars in their prime and not Elmo and Taylor as the senior squad members?

    What there appear to be to me are some double standards at work, SG may work out and then leave, Smith never would have and I think over time got us to where the club wanted us, sustainable and with youth coming through. I think this club still needs stability, not 2-3 year stints.

    Smith by the way was winning plaudits at Brentford for his teams great possession football in the league and particularly in cups against prem league opposition. What you were seeing at Villa was him getting the best out of Jack and Mcginn and having to build a team to survive a very hard league whilst growing over time, that time was cut short, 5 year plan anyone?


  134. How long does SG get? will depend on what he’s allowed to do this summer. If its a massive overhaul then it would be insane to dismiss him in ten games if things look shaky. If he sells the fringe players and brings in say 3 quality players and gets a good pre-season and we are still shit by November then its fair game if he goes. He has said he needs a pre-season to get his ideas across and maybe he does, the same would of helped Smith. At this point we are regressing back to old habits we had thought we’d ironed out.

    We don’t know what he’s been asked to do, better finish than last season? possible and on much fewer points, Likely? probably not. Europe or the fringes next season? who knows.

    One thing that irks me are that his coaches do the tictacs or at least Beale does and he hasn’t out smarted a single top manager, surely you have to get lucky once?

    Keep an eye on Everton with over £500m spent and in the shitter.

  135. The main thing he will have to achieve though is to start beating the top sides or draw, if you cannot do that and rely on beating the bottom 6 twice and a few peers your not going to go far as very likely you won’t beat them every time. Just as it was essential to be on par with and beat the teams in the top 6 of the champs to get up. I know Robbo didn’t agree with this and on a maths basis you can beat bottom 10 twice and do very nicely in the table but that’s also unlikely even for city or Liverpool. What it does show is the true quality of your side and manager to mix it with the best.

  136. Good comments MK. The article on Smith’s coaching very good too.
    I am still waiting to be convinced that Gerrard is the right man to be a long term replacement for Smith, and if he isn’t, then Smith should have stayed and been given a proper opportunity to build a Premiership team to compete at the highest level.
    SG has been able to attract players, but is he capable of keeping existing players happy? It does not bode well if we bring in new players, and then end up with a poor team spirit. It does seem that players are not coping with the changes being made to fit what Gerrard wants, and he seems loath to let any of the youth, apart from Ramsey, have any chance of showing that they can adapt to his system.
    I am going to continue seeing how things develop over the coming weeks, but for me, Gerrard still has to do more to convince the team and the fans that he is on the right path.
    What Villa must not do, as they have in the past, is panic and change managers, change too many players, and waste money on poor buys.
    We only have to look at the West Ham board, and how they have built the club slowly, but surely, back into a team that can compete at the top level. Very few signings each year, but always got the right player at the right time, Cresswell and Bowen are great examples of this, both players that Villa wanted, but for a little extra money at the time, we were not willing to pay!!

  137. Thanks PP, I do wonder about Wet Spam though. All’s well now it seems and they took the plunge of moving grounds too. They went through a spate of having very different managers to Moyes and even employed Moyes to save them then dumped him only to re-employ him. The squad they have is a mix of their youth plus buys from several managers. I must admit its suited Moyes and he’s made some good additions to a pretty useful but rudderless squad.

  138. I was just reading up on my fantasy league stuff for tonight and came across this. Matt targett as a player not many have that might make a difference, called a differential in FPL.

    “The 26-year-old has produced 13 created chances, 14 successful crosses and 145 final-third touches in eight Premier League appearances since making his Magpies debut, totals which are only beaten by Ryan Fraser (£5.3m) among team-mates.

    He also shares corner-taking duties with the winger, and fares well in most of the key defensive metrics, including tackles, interceptions and clearances.

    As a result, he has played a key role in a defence that has shown real improvements under Eddie Howe.”

    Remind me again what was wrong with him?

  139. We made wolves look world class….

    Newcastle battered them

    Arsenal we made look world class, Palace battered them

    A lot if these players need moving on. Mings, Mcginn, Watkins, Luiz etc

    Ee won’t get anywhere with the players in our team


  140. Mcginn and Watkins need to be be dropped today

    But they won’t be

    Sanson will be dropped although he was our best player against wolves

    Let him and Bailey get some starts

    McGinn and Watkins have proven under Gerrard they are easily replaceable in the summer

  141. JG Newcastle beat Wolves last night, Spurs are on fire at present, the form team, 18 goals in 5 games and beat wet spam so not much to judge him on there I’d think, but he doesn’t seem to have a problem crossing for the toon which is odd don’t you think?

  142. frem -best player against wolves was Beundia, The manager has to get the best out of what he has I was recently told, I’m sure once SG has cycled through 30 or so players he’ll get it right.

  143. SG says he tried to gee the players up into a derby day frenzy against wolves and the way we started it looked like it worked. The only thing is with that type of mind games is you get a huge adrenalin dump. May even do stupid thigs like try and take 4 wolves players on like mcGinn did and gift a goal. Once the mood switches the opposite effect can happen and you get a flat performance. Smith always told them to remain calm whether 3 down or 3 up , its not easy to do but it takes the up and down energy equation out of the game and you can get in the flow. You often see teams play like demons 1st half only to sit in the changing room while the adrenalin clears and they go to sleep, the opposition then appear to get twice as good as the manager gee’s them up. Lately Villa get a goal back and suddenly play like their lives depend on it, usually because a sub like Beundia comes on pumped up and bingo second wind. Game management is far harder though if you rely on over stimulating the hormonal side of things, you think differently or not at all.

  144. Mark he will get it right.

    Smith was here 3 years and his own players and he still couldn’t get it right.

    I just wish he’d drop players like McGinn who’s been awful for weeks and weeks now

    Watkins can’t score hold a ball up or pass but yet keeps playing

    Get Davis back. At least the ball sticks to him. It comes straight back with Watkins

  145. Frem- well he has a better base to get it right doesn’t he surely? Or do you think he’d be better off with Bruces team? if Smith was sacked because he couldn’t get a tune out of our players how come SG will get it right probably when he’s bought a load of players? if you can’t see the irony in that I give up mate.

    And you can’t say its Smiths players because its been a committee looking at players since he has been here, Also I can’t believe that people actually expect it to be perfect from the starting position Smith was given, its a joke view that many seem to have really. The old he’s spent X, when the starting point was a team worth under £100m I should fecking think we had to 🙂

    Neither Watkins or Ings are suited to how SG plays them, 15 goals last season from watkins and 8 hit the woodwork so can’t score? have look at the top strikers this season top scorers, Kane has 12 watkins 8 despite shite service and most the top scorers are mids really or elite like Salah, De Bruyne. So there is more to playing there than scoring these days.

    Basically this team is way ahead of where they thought it would be and the start of last season only cemented the idea we are somehow worthy of top 8 imo.

  146. Mcginn and Watkins starting again an absolute joke

    We are falling down that table

    Brighton above us and Newcastle 2 points off

  147. Mark

    Smith had plenty if time and money to get things right

    He was well out his depth as a Premier league manager

    He should have been sacked eay before he actually was

  148. Frem- He had two seasons in reality blighted by injury, covid and losing our best player, go and look at other teams I don’t think you will find any built at the rate this one was at this level. Most were started years before in the champs and have had 10 years of building. If you can’t see that I despair mate, you’d be lucky to build a fence in the time we have been in the prem.

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