And here we are. After what seemed one of the shortest off-seasons in memory, football and Villa are back. Well, the Premier League was back yesterday because TV, but you know what I mean. And even as I type, Liverpool are down 1-2 to Fulham in the 80th minute.

This is something Villans will be familiar with. You just can’t overstate the emotion and energy working for promoted clubs on opening day. Now the scouse have just equalized to salvage a point. Something Villans aren’t all that familiar with.

Anyway, it’s Bournemouth away to open for us, and Gerrard’s team sheet has a couple surprises: No Mings or Watkins in the starting XI.

Instead, we have:

Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Carlos, Digne, Kamara, Coutinho, Ramsey, McGinn, Bailey, and Ings.

So. We’ll see how they line up, but I’m pretty sure that’s another 4-3-3. Do I think that’s our best side? Not really. Will we get a result? No idea. All well and good saying we should, but I’ll confess right now I’m a little concerned about Ings and Coutinho as far as upfield pressure goes. And Ollie and Tyrone will likely be stewing on the bench. Mings handled losing the captaincy with class. I’m pretty sure he won’t be well pleased losing his starting spot to boot, though you have to give massive credit to Ezri for recovering well enough to start opening day.

This is why Gerrard gets the big bucks, obviously. Me, I remain unconvinced. Willing and desperately wanting it all to come good, but simply not convinced it will. I truly hope to be pleasantly surprised.

So that’s what I’ve got. Which isn’t much. Had a few drinks with my Forest mate last night, lots of talk of them doing a Fulham/Villa, and he’s pleased as punch to be back, even if he’s scared to death. He didn’t have a lot of good things to say about Gerrard.

Villa have moved on from the scared-to-death bit, but clearly there’s a lot riding on this season. And now we’re minutes away from the first of 38 chapters in what should be a rather interesting season with the winter World Cup interrupting proceedings. Me, I’m happy I jinxed my brother by predicting a guaranteed three points for Pool. He always was a glory hunter.

Do Villa end up cracking the top 10? Are we challenging for Europe? That’s the talk, the stated aims. And it all starts here. No idea what to expect, though offhand, I’m thinking the substitutes will make the difference. But of course I’d love us to be 2 or 3 up when they come on. Maybe Bailey will be the star today.

But Bournemouth will give it their all, and Villa have to start putting in gritty 90-minute performances if they want to hit their goals. Simple as.

Over to you.

Comments 112

  1. It’s a decent team. I’d have started Archer and Buendia ahead of Ings and Phil. Delighted that Mings is dropped. Would be great if Ed could get 20m for him

  2. Well let’s hope that pre-season was an indicator of how we’ll be much more resilient this season. We came from behind in our two, toughest pre-season games so there’s every chance that we’ll do the same again today.
    I too am disappointed that Mings isn’t playing today.

  3. Don’t know that I’m surprised Mings didn’t start after bringing in Carlos and him losing the armband, but we’ll see whether replacing him was truly a priority.

  4. JG,

    I think it is a bit harsh on Sanson not to make the squad. Traoré, dunno. He’s not been consistent enough, but he’s defo on the outside now.

  5. New season same utter trash midfield and attack

    Absolutely clueless in possession as usual

    McGinn and Ramsey can’t play together

    Both to similar both runners both athletes not good in possession or passing

    McGinn isn’t good enough

    Countino is poor most the time

    Our strikers are utter shite

    We need new players. 3 at least

  6. Frem. Yep

    Mid and attack I just don’t like it all. Just the same. No bite, no balls, pace, physicality its just urrgggghh

    For us to do anything they all need to be playing a 8 out of 10 knocking it around nice.

    Said the other day if I’m a CB facing villa I’m comfy

  7. Well, that was poor. Never really troubled them.

    Course, with a lead, they’ve got everyone back, but we’ve struggled with the final ball, Phil can’t influence anything, Bailey isn’t getting many chances to run onto anything.

    We pass it around alright, but do seem a bit bereft of ideas up front.

  8. First time I’ve seen Carlos. Reminds me of Micah Richards. Beefy strong bloke but not quite tall enough to be comfortable with corners and crosses and not fast enough to be a full back.

  9. It is, H&V. Me, I think the team needs to show something today.

    Hope r0bb0’s right, and that we have more resilience. But seems to me like I was right and we’ll be looking to the subs to provide it.

    Agreed that Ramsey and McGinn aren’t enough in MF.

  10. I said id judge sg this season and he’s pissing me off. Id be benching mcguinn not making him skipper.

    I wouldn’t be playing both him and Ramsey
    And seeing as he’s phils best mate I’d want him to succeed. … Get him as a 10 in a 4231 and that lets you play buendia.

    I’ll tell you now I had bad vibes under Deano beginning of last season and I’m getting them now. Stop being daft sg and putting needles pressure on yourself cause you’ve win 2 out of 11 matches

  11. This is shambolic but not surprising

    Ings simply hss no legs and isn’t good enough

    Sell him

    McGinn and Ramsey aren’t good enough together and shouldn’t be starting every game

    Countino is a more hit and miss can’t start every game

    Defense is to small

    We need a quality striker winger and cm

    Losing today might be a blessing
    Go spend cash

  12. Delivery has been poor from both Cash and Diane. Lots of hopeful balls in, quality has been lacking.

    We’ll be lucky to get a point, never mind go on to win.

  13. Disgusting

    Two good signings isn’t going to turn this crap team good

    Way to many players not good enough

    Mings certainly isn’t the problem

    We need signings big time

    The likes of Watkins Ings mcginn Ramsey Luiz should be squad players no more

    Maybe we even need to get Potch whislt we can

  14. How the club have kept this dire midfield the same for 3 seasons is shambolic

    Lange is fucking shite at his job to

    Countino can’t start every week

  15. H&V you say “this is why I see us nowhere near Europe” but you’ve been saying how great everything is with the signings and how optimistic you are.

    When you say ‘this’ I assume you mean Gerrard and his tactics?

  16. Said before this team is built on athletic players and not technically gifted football players hence why we are awful in possession.

    Cash mcginn Ramsey Watkins for example runners not technically good

    We have huge problems

  17. Classy dainty pretty little side 0, classless hard working scrapping side 2. I’ve been a Villa addict for over 50 years but now I’m going to say it. I’ve always thought Villa were up their own arses about being classy and playing “proper football” Wish we had our own awkward tough guy equivalent of Billing. Kamara looked OK but seems a bit gangly.

    Team SG just got it totally wrong today. I would take Sean Dyche in a heart beat right now. SG on his way to being fat Frank.

  18. It’s not good enough to say this team is crap.

    Most of the players are the ones that achieved 11th place 2 seasons ago

    They were very young and are now more experienced

    Everyone was excited about the new players being brought in

    We have good players coming through the academy

    The first game of the season can always throw up surprises so I’m not going to get too worked up about today, but if there’s no sign of change after half a dozen games then we’d be justified in starting to question how the team are being managed and motivated.

    And no, I’m not saying if we haven’t improved after 6 games we should sack Gerrard (as others have predictably already started doing on other sites). If we’ve not improved after 6 games, THEN it would be fair to expect changes in tactics, formations and team selections at least.

    This squad should be good enough for top 8 and if by Christmas, this management team isn’t able to show that they will be capable of doing that, THEN it would be reasonable to start calling for a new manager.

  19. I hear you, jbd.

    And I don’t really know what to say. Thought the starting lineup was wrong, still don’t like the formation. Not quick enough, no one seemed on.

    We’ll be better than that, but SG sat on the bench scowling is not what I want to see.

    And conceding within the first 10 yet again. Not sure what they accomplished over the summer. And maybe it was too much summer. Not a fan of stupid long trips going to Australia, FFS. Looks like they should’ve just stayed home, done less PR and more training.

  20. r0bb0,

    I’m usually more optimistic, and you know I always say not to take too much from any single game. Your patience is the right approach, atm.

    But given our run of form from last season to now, I’m a bit frustrated. Not going to call for SG’s head, but then I was never convinced as I’ve said many times. Doesn’t seem to know his best XI, doesn’t seem to know how to play to our strengths.

    Don’t think he’s a good man manager, don’t think he’s tactically astute.

    That said, there were a lot of very subpar individual performances.

  21. 10 wins out of 28,drops captain mings,makes mcginn captain who shouldn’t be starting,doesn’t get a bruiser type midfielder to partner kamara,sticks with failed 433 system don’t see why Gérard should get more time or money,and yes add couldn’t get carney to stay

  22. JG,

    Have to say, I’ve no idea why Sanson is perennially sidelined. I’ve no idea what he’d look like week in, week out, but he’s got aggression and bite.

  23. Just turned Chess Titans down to level 3 and kicked it’s arse. Feels good, don’t mess with me!
    Ready for the mighty classy Villa to show up for the Bournemouth game. We will marmalise the upstarts!

  24. H&V,

    That really seems to be the case. With Deano, I knew what we were trying to do whether or not it was working. We just don’t have the players to play this system.

    And whoever mentioned an unhappy dressing room, I do think SG got it very wrong dropping Mings from the very start. He wasn’t the problem, we managed 15 clean sheets with him in. Carlos may well be an upgrade, which is fine, but that’s quite a blow for a guy getting England call-ups. And I don’t see how Ings and Coutinho starting without Ollie gives us any legs up front.

    I really saw no plan other than Cash and Digne pumping in crosses.

  25. Robbo I’ve not said anything optimistic about the team. All summer I’ve been saying I’m not seeing it and not seeing us challenge for Europe.

    I like the Carlos and Kamara additions but the final 3 rd is…. Lightweight is too polite. Weak as piss

  26. As J.C. wrote above re. Gerrard: “Doesn’t seem to know his best XI, doesn’t seem to know how to play to our strengths. Don’t think he’s a good man manager, don’t think he’s tactically astute.”
    I agree with every word, only trouble is what aspect of management does that leave that he might be OK at? Pressers? Well, I’ve not been knocked out by those either. He was a dodgy appointment to begin with, in my eyes. What’d he achieved? Won the Scottish prem, where to finish 3rd is failure? Future Liverpool manager? I don’t see it. Tranmere? Possibly.

  27. Good start boys. Did anyone on the field bark orders, get things sorted? I saw none of that. Maybe Mings other qualities on the pitch were missing. Who knows? For large parts of the game I expected a cabbage or perhaps Bruce patrolling the sideline. 2 more games like this and Gerrard is gone. Yet, as an optimist would say, “early doors”, “team needs to jell”, Yada, yada, yada. When you have a game that is a supposed gimme you need to take the bull by the horns and shove it down their throats.
    That was demoralizing. Maybe make the rules more harsh. Hope all the ketchup was swept from the table post game.

  28. Ian

    Sgs record now after 23 games as bad smiths last 23

    He gets 10 games to sort it out.

    Today’s selection was school boy error stuff.
    Friendly v pool tomorrow called of saying its quality needed now not fitness… Incomings?!

  29. Viva

    Yeah the Gerard scowl on the touch line looking fuming doesn’t wash now you’ve had a summer to fix things this is on you now mate.

    My heart sank when mcguinn announced captain….should never be starting really regularly

  30. H&V—same as, with more expensive players. 10 games is generous. A couple more missteps and the teams’ doubt level will be sky high.
    It’s a team of mini me(s). Diego is the only one with any meat and height .

  31. I have not seen any of the game, and don’t particularly want to. Sounds like a complete shambles, with all the hype coming to nothing.
    It is not the players that are the problem. I have not chosen these players for a wining team during the pre season, but Gerrard has been working towards it.
    I am going to say now that Gerrard is not the right manager for Villa, and he is not going to achieve anything with the players he is selecting. He may well eventually prove me wrong, but I have seen nothing yet to co0nvince me otherwise.
    I am now not looking forward to being at Villa Park next week, unless there is some significant change, and buying a couple of slightly above average players will not resolve it.
    This really is looking a very sad situation. No wonder Carney wanted out. Perhaps the writing was on the wall.

  32. Paul

    Same, apart from the balance and profile of the team is no where near right for me.

    But not knowing your best formation, let alone starting 11 after pre season is huge alarm bells

  33. Heroes
    Just seen that lad ,why where we not in for him
    Never seen as many villa fans united in not wanting Gérard as manager,crazy we are so bad with owners we got

  34. Not the owners but the behind the scene guys. I’ve never had much faith in Lange or his partner in crime. I thought they undermined Smith. Got their way by getting Gerrard. It’s middle management that’s screwing things up. Nassif and Edens aren’t football men in the big scheme of things. It took the Bucks a while to be the best. If they trusted Lange and I can’t remember the other guy’s name they probably don’t trust them so much now. Same shit happening at MU.

  35. You’ve got to think there looking at Lange and transfers and thinking shit this ain’t working.

    El ghazi

    Money spunked up against the wall. Loosing millions on that lot

  36. Saw the team selection today and despaired. Gutted at 2pm. Solanke and Moore are over 6 feet tall and that needed 4-2-3-1 with Mings in the back line alongside Carlos and either Chambers or Tim alongside Kamara. It was always going to be a fight so Buendia was a must. This ain’t hindsight, just plain common sense We were going to get bullied and we did.

  37. Plug,

    Yeah, didn’t like the XI at all, but I didn’t think we’d concede within 4 mins and the inevitable subs would have a chance to make it right.

    Didn’t like the way they were introduced, none of the game management, really.

  38. Plug,

    I’m not usually this negative. Maybe I’ll get my sunnier outlook back. But this one really bothers me.

    Not because it was Bournemouth, per se, but more so because it’s beginning to really seem like SG might be in over his head.

    So, one game, early days, but no improvement whatsoever.

  39. John, I thought we would win due to the gulf in quality between the 2 squads. Then after the game SG talks about our lack of quality. FFS.

    In the end, plain desire won it.

  40. John, the substitutions were poor. Guessing he pulled Ramsey because he was the junior in the selections. I’m not happy about the Captain change either. Would be delighted to be proved wrong.

  41. Plug
    The subs I agree with. And going to 4231 Ramsey has been off the boil for along while and fair enough but has needed sitting out.

    Again him and mcguinn in mid you won’t finish anywhere near 10th

  42. I am usually quite positive, but nothing since Gerrard became involved with Coutinho, speaking of him like some god, and the privilege that Villa had in obtaining his services. There was a reason the guy had fallen from favour, and his value had plummeted from £143million to under £20million. It never felt comfortable. Yes he had a couple of great games, but it didn’t last. He was quickly sussed out. He could be another McCormack in disguise.
    No one is seeing anything concrete with Gerrard, and His omission of Sanson is a disgrace after his pre season, same for Mings.
    Purslow is the guy responsible for this mess, and is not the first time he has done it.
    The owners must be wondering how they have gone so wrong….

  43. Just got in from a social meal and a few Caribbean cokes and lemon. Suddenly, out of nowhere I got this image of a classy posh bit of totty going slumming it to a rough country pub hoping to meet a sturdy country boy who would bend her over for a stiff rear ending. Guess who played the sturdy country boy today.

  44. Gerard win record is the same as Gary nevilles time at valencia 10 wins out of 28 ,neither managed 7 draws to Gérard 5,when is going to wake up to the fact Gérard is way over his head another great player unable to manage

  45. Having seen the game highlights, I have to wonder how what should have been an experienced Premier league team, managed to lose against a poor Bournemouth team.
    The answer is simple, as Gerrard picked a team which had not played together as a team for more than 45 minutes in pre season.
    Had he picked the team that was used to playing together, especially in defence, he may have faired better, and the same with the midfield. Couthino, Ings and Bailey have not played together as a front three either.
    We dodged the bullet of having a great player as a manager when we appointed Dean Smith over Thierry Henry, but we have walked smack bang into the line of fire with Gerrard. He may have been a great player, but great manager he is not.
    If this is not sorted quickly, I can see a lot of players wanting to move on, and not be part of this debacle.

  46. Watched highlights on match of the day which being a villa fan where none
    Defence looked shambolic this after Gérard spending 60m fixing,stories on digne having to take jewellery off in early minutes don’t surprise anyone, Carlos looks small,konsa is the same as last season missing in action,cash starting to make Hutton look decent
    Captain mcginn all I seen was his number another horror show from him,crazy decision to make him captain
    Coutinho looks decent against better sides but his last dozen games have being mainly woeful
    Ings looks and moves like me and I am nearly 50
    We r a mess and the buck stops with purslow it’s his man in charge his mate,mcphee our setpieces defending and attacking awful another purslow appointment, and finally lange let’s look at our recruitment
    Sanson both managers don’t pick him even tho he looks like a proper midfielder in his few cameo runouts failure
    Bailey injury hit first season failure so far
    Ings failure so far looks like he can hardly walk never mind run
    Beundi for me a failure,fans favourite tho because he puts in some effort
    Digne too early to tell but not massive improvement on target yesterday jewellery incident a shocker
    Coutinho great start but good moments have faded into distance failure
    Chambers success
    Olseon hard to know only sub keeper and after our record won’t be hard to look better than some previous Keepers
    Kamara too early to say
    Carlos too early to say looks a bit small for me
    Not good looking for lange especially when Brighton sell full back to Chelsea for massive profits,Leicester do it season in season out as do few other clubs

  47. After the disappointment of yesterday, and having slept on it………..I’m still very disappointed. The Cherries are a limited team with limited tactics, lump it in to the big men to do some damage. It shouldn’t be rocket science to combat it.

    I’m not calling for SG’s removal after one game. He needs some time to make progress but that may be only a few months pending results. However, the captaincy change seemed an unnecessary aggravation and leads to questions about man management. Not to mention that many of us see SJM as a non automatic selection.

    Team selection and shape is another issue. There are horses for courses and different opposition teams require different selections and set ups. Yesterday’s choice was awful. A fast start would have helped but we looked slow.

  48. The thing about the captaincy is that from yesterday, it would appear that Carlos was bought to replace Mings, so no more captain.

    Now, maybe that won’t end up being the case since Diego is right-footed—which is another curious thing, playing him on the left when you have a left-footed international who is a very good header of the ball.

    So yeah, it’s an unnecessary aggravation, but it’s also like Targett, where someone was courted and bought with the seeming clear intention of replacing a popular, nailed-on starter.

    I get it, football works like that sometimes. But I’d have thought Carlos (quick and strong if not terribly tall) would partner well with Mings even if I had a sneaking suspicion this was how it would play out.

    Again, Mings wasn’t a priority to address in the window.

  49. Unfortunately , Potter is more than happy where he is, and he can only improve on where Brighton were last year. I cannot see any manager wanting to take the poison chalice at Villa Park, unless he is an outstanding manager, given full control.
    Great to see the Brighton playing well, meanwhile Spurs looked good yesterday with Bencatur and Bissouma to call on!!

  50. We need to be more open to ugly players I feel to make a team instead of a bunch of random indiduals. And as fans not dismiss players who aren’t sexy on paper.

    Like Johnny Evans. We would of turned our noses up at him and thought he’s shit. Same as Dawson.

    I’d of gone for matic maybe for a year. 4231 sit there and be physical and progress the ball, win headers and help Kamara settle in with his vast experience

  51. Welbeck is one of many we missed an opportunity with, like so many others. Callum Wilson springs to mind. Mitrovich could easily have been grabbed when Fulham were down. Toney would have been good too.

  52. Mings defo has a brain fart in him. But he’s 6’5″ tall. He barks out the orders at the back. How many last ditch tackles did he make for us last season?

    Sure, there are faults but receiving goal kicks inside the area from his keeper doesn’t help if team mates don’t move into space to make themselves available. Nor does zonal marking at set pieces. I’m with Ian insofar as the problem lies with middle management. And that problem sits squarely at the desk of Purslow.

  53. I was surprised with Konza starting after a season of poor football and how fit was he after recovering from a knee injury?
    I wondered about Targett going. Is the same thing happening to Mings?
    Coutinho keeps getting picked and as much as I like to see a bit of magic, he’s really hasn’t done much other than take minutes away from someone else. Would Chuckie have gotten more time and still be with the club?
    Gerrard treats Chambers like the winter driver you have to keep your shiny car shiny.
    Luiz is playing it safe regarding his pending contract. Good for him as watching what is happening will affect his decision.
    McGinn is not the man for me-Captain or nailed on.
    El Gazi had 10 goals 2 seasons ago but doesn’t fit? Shouldn’t the manager try to put a team together with the parts he has? Not jettison all just to play “his” style? What’s with that? You have to have more in your toolbox.
    Gerrard wants things his way. I’m guessing but I don’t think he takes much advice from his assistants. McPhee was great with Dean but now cuts a forlorn figure. I bet Beale is glad to be gone.
    Lange and Purslow are only interested in Lange and Purslow. NSWE seem to be interested in making money only and obviously that is top 4 but their picks to run the club are IMO weak and are only interested in their own advancement.
    The connections to Liverpool are tiring to read and pointless.
    Gerrard has his favourites and those players aren’t necessarily the ones who should be fielded every game.

  54. So Gerrard says that Mings needs to “look him in the eye and show me he’s ready to play”

    Mings doesn’t strike me as the sort of person to hide away and not express his feelings. Could it be that he’s too big a character for Gerrard?

    Whatever the reasons it does feel like another example of Gerrard deflecting criticism back to a player. It’s not a managerial trait that sits well with me. Maybe it can work for some people but I’d personally prefer that sort of comment to be between the manager and the player not the manager and the press as the player has no right of reply and it feels like an abuse of power.

  55. Ian and r0bb0 good comments from both of you.

    The results so far are not really surprising, as most teams are well organised, and making effort. Haven’t seen a really poor team, apart from Forest, and they are in a big transition, so they have an excuse. Gerrard doesn’t, as he has had 3 months to prepare for the opening game.
    We are back in the Lambert era, putting players into a “bomb squad” where their values will plummet and Villa will struggle. Maybe Gerrard’s main reason for making McGinn captain, is “because the fans love him”. A very poor reason for making a guy captain.

  56. Lots of really good comments and observations.

    I’ve gone and done not so much a review, but an expansion on what I think’s going wrong. It’s long and probably has few surprises, but I needed to work through it. Again. 🙂

  57. R0bb0
    Airing dirty laundry doesn’t bode well for anyone. Once HR or in this case the news and pundits get a hold of it it becomes kryptonite. All things need to be done in-house with all players involved. No secrets.

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