That’s the question following Villa’s creditable 1-1 draw with Manchester City, the first decent result against top competition in quite some time. Steven Gerrard was definitely on the hot seat prior to kick-off, and no one knows exactly how much rope he has left.

The one thing I do know is that if Gerrard intends on staying, the side is going to have to follow up that draw with some wins. Villa enter another stretch that should be favorable on paper, but that’s what they had to open the season and squarely blew it. For Villa to be progressing, and for Steven Gerrard to make the case that he’s the man to take the team forward, matches against Southampton, Leeds, Forest, Fulham and Brentford are the ones Villa should be expecting to win. That’s how you end up in the top half, simple as.

Which means Gerrard needs to show some adaptability in formation, tactics, and personnel. We saw a little against City, with Villa often dropping into a 4-2-3-1 off the ball. We also saw both Phil and Emi sidelined, Luiz coming in as a starter, and Ollie played as a lone striker. It worked well enough, though on another day, City would’ve taken their chances and Villa would’ve conceded the customary three or four goals. One shot on target out of three total and 27% possession…Well, you can see we didn’t muster much, but it could even have been a smash-and-grab three pointer if the referee hadn’t been so quick to spare City on Coutinho’s effort.

If Gerrard can build on this, great. If he can admit that his preferred system doesn’t suit the players, great. If he can look to Liverpool and see what happens when they don’t have the same energy and full squad, great.

Will he? We’ll soon find out.

Me, I think he’ll get sacked sooner rather than later if he doesn’t get at least one win out of the next two. But that win had probably better come tonight. And even if that earns him a stay of execution, he’s going to have a hard time explaining not taking at least 8-10 points out of the 15 against teams we’re supposed to be beating. You can expect the odd bit of bad luck in any match, of course, but apart from Chelsea, a top-half team would expect to be looking at an unbeaten run at the very least. Five draws might cut it, but I doubt it.

Anyway, lots at stake tonight for the club and manager. And I won’t call for his sacking if he does get results playing to Villa’s strengths. So, I’ll withhold judgment at the moment, but what we’ve seen after 11 months in charge has simply not been anywhere near good enough.

Over to you.

Comments 123

  1. Yeah, VillaMD.

    We’ll see how they line up, but looking very 4-3-3 again.

    Had a feeling SG saying Phil had had his ‘best week’ of training that we’d be seeing him.

  2. It’s a puzzlement, JG.

    Phil does bother me because he hasn’t had a game yet this season where he’s done half as much as Emi. McGinn and Ramsey bother me, too.

    Know you don’t rate Buendia as highly, but.

    I’d have thought maybe give Dendoncker a run-out in a 4-2-3-1, or if you’re dead set on McGinn, play him in that formation.

    But we’ll see how they line up.

  3. JG – I love Ashley Young, even at 36.

    JC – I can’t resist on SG saying Phil played great in training. Does that mean SG is now attending training sessions?

    Konsa is quality. Didn’t get his jersey for nothing

  4. Early impressions: Phil does look to have a bit spring, McGinn trying to be further forward.

    Young will always shade back further than Cash, Digne might hanging a bit further back more often, too.

  5. Bailey has something to offer. But he’s so predictable about trying to get on his left foot, and sees chances go by trying to sell that he’ll do something different.

  6. Feel so sorry for Watkins apart from header for goal not one other half chance
    Subs now we have 2 holding midfielder, 2 number 10s Watkins and what th fcuk is mcginn

  7. Well that wasn’t exactly a classic but we’ll take the 3 points
    We were more combatative tonight all the way through the team and the big surprise was the industry of Coutinho, and flashes of real quality too.
    Big shout outs for Mings and Konsa who were really solid.

  8. JG,

    Yeah, the subs don’t seem to make much sense. A change of shape would, and then sub into that.

    More troubling is that we really struggled against a very poor Saints squad. They were awful tonight. Scrappy and hard-working, yes, but…

  9. Mings man of match for me,big and strong and cool head everywhere unlike our new captain,bull in China shop his indiscipline nearly cost us
    Another note one worst ref I ever seen,coutinho was getting kicked pulled pushed off the ball and got no frees

  10. JG,

    Mings did have a good game. Has a lot of responsibility, and took care of the big parts well.

    On officiating, I will say I have a hard time understanding how often Ollie gets knocked down without a call. Everywhere else on the pitch, and for many other players, coming through the back gets blown. People knock Ollie’s holdup play, but it’s not an easy job when balls are just lumped up and you don’t get to own the spot you’re already holding.

    Phil was getting the treatment, too.

  11. Well…

    Two things.

    Gerrard needs replacing.

    It was a win, but my God we are awful.


    Don’t care what anyone says

    Watkins is a dreadful striker

  12. Frem, I’m finding it hard to like Gerrard and his ways too but in the last two games the players have at least been fighting for him to maybe he’s managing to create a little ‘togethernesss’ in the camp and that can go a long way. Going back to John’s headline “how much time has Gerrard bought” seems more relevant than ever today. It could have bought him another few games at least because I imagine that this time there are those in the camp who at least still ‘want’ him to succeed.

    On your other point about Potch. He’s been on my ‘wanted’ list for a while now and if we got him I’d feel excited. It’s always dangerous to assume that a manager will just fit in and click though. It’s also impossible for us to know if he still has the same fire in his belly for the job or whether some of the passion has gone. You’d hope that at his age he still has the energy and ego to want to prove that he is the best and can grab a club like Villa by the scruff of the neck and turn us into Champions again.

  13. JC, I too felt for Watkins last night although I was encouraged that we were at least trying to advance the ball faster than before so he had a little more space. The balls were tending to be passed out to the wings and unfortunately, Bailey had a bit of a mare last night so they weren’t then getting through to Watkins. I’m struggling to think of a clear through ball or cross that you felt he should have got on the end of. When Buendia came on you saw a couple of attempts to pass through the lines to Watkins that ‘nearly’ came off but until then he’d been spending his time facing his own goal with an elbow in his back and a boot on his calf.
    Having mentioned Buendia, recently I’ve been looking forward to the 60 minute mark when Phil makes way for him but perhaps the most heartening thing to see was the efforts that Coutinho was putting in last night. . . . he’d have been my runner up for man of the match.
    The first choice for MOTM, as JG said had to be Mings. Imperious in the air, fighting for everything, driving forwards and some super passes out to Bailey which should have come to more.

  14. Having mentioned Mings . . . . . that man has such character that you feel he must surely be captain again soon because sadly, I think the role is diminishing McGinn.
    McGinn was certainly fighting hard for the team last night but he seems a different player and whilst it would hurt him to lose the captaincy, you’d hope he’d soon get over it and start loving his football again.

  15. oh and Frem . . . you make some decent points but please don’t keep saying that Watkins is a dreadful striker because it just diminishes everything else you say.
    His goalscoring record alone proves that he isn’t a dreadful striker but you’re right that at the moment he’s not delivering the goals that we need. It would be a very shallow analysis that said because he isn’t scoring he’s not a good striker though. You have to look at his game in the context of what’s going on around him.
    Up to now, our build up play has been so laborious that he’s had little opportunity to break away from his markers and score. We have the lowest XG rating in the whole of the league and that’s not his fault but the way the players have been asked to play.
    Last night, if only Bailey had been on song then we ‘should’ have seen Watkins finally being given some real strikers chances to latch onto, but sadly Bailey had an off day.

  16. It was a skinny win, but I’ll take it. Ollie ran his nuts off and got an assist for the goal. Mings was imperious. Couts was good. Then the caveat……Saints were terrible.

  17. I don’t think we’ll see the best of Bailey in a 4-3-3 which SG uses when faced by opposition he thinks we can beat. Last night he was poor. He’s better breaking at pace from a 4-2-3-1 setup against opposition who attack us.

    The decision to take the captaincy off Tyro looks more ridiculous by the game. He was in charge of the back 4 last night, we benefited from his height and his long balls out of defence were good. In contrast, SJM needs some time on the bench.

  18. Overall it wasn’t a vibrant performance. We didn’t give their keeper a busy night. We didn’t produce any sparkling football. Quite dull really. But it was a massive 3 points.

    I wasn’t concerned at all about only holding a 1 goal lead as the game wore on. Must be the first time I haven’t been nervous that the opposition would score.

  19. We all saw how badly Saint played last night but maybe we’re not giving enough credit to our defence. . . . . and not just the ‘defenders’ in the team. Someone else pointed out that Ollie was even back there helping out in defence, and whilst that must dull our attacking options to some extent it did make it difficult for Southampton, who probably went into the game expecting to see the usual wide open spaces and yesterday they weren’t there.
    Maybe the idea is that with the midfielders in particular tracking back, the defenders will have more of a license to break forward. . . .we certainly saw that from Mings a few times last night.

  20. This extract from Gerrard’s post match interview shows that he is now at least aware that it isn’t all about him, but he’s clearly still struggling a bit to come to terms with it.

    “Maybe we tried to force it a bit tonight but as we move up the table, maybe that’s when the pretty stuff will come. It has been a tough period but I’ve wanted to step forward and protect my players.

    “I’ve tried to fight and move up this table. We have accepted a lot of criticism and it’s about reacting and that is what we have done tonight.”

    He’s not yet sure where “I” stops and “we” begins but last night the team were clearly fighting as a team to win the game and it’s right that Gerrard should see himself as ‘one part’ of that team.

  21. A very dour game last night, but at last Gerrard has accepted it is more important to defend and not concede.
    We keep saying the opposition has been poor, but no, our defence as a team has improved beyond belief. We are fighting for every ball and Southampton were playing well last night, but at the same time, we were matching them.
    Young has been outstanding, and Mings is back to his best, not making a single mistake last night, winning every one of hi aerial duels.
    Ollie never stopped working, had no protection from the ref, and the same for Couthino.
    Buendia again so much energy, losing one pass to Ollie, and ran the breadth of the pitch to win the ball back.
    Mcginn is struggling with the captaincy, worst thing Gerrard could have done to him. Trying too hard and could have easily had two yellows and been sent off.
    Ramsey doing ok, but had a silly yellow, and the prime reason for taking him off, and bringing on Dendoncker.
    All in all, a good result, and maybe Gerrard is learning a little.

    I was proud to be there last night and be part of the crowd that showed just why Villa fans are respected the world over. During the minutes silence, you could have heard a pin drop, and the singing of “God save the King” was a like a massed choir!!
    I am sure that the Prince of Wales will have been impressed!

    Nice to see Grealish get off the mark in 50 seconds today, after all his criticism. That result of 0-3 will be a big help to us!!

  22. I see that SG is frustrated that every time we win a game we lose a player to injury. Thank fuck we’ve only won two games eh?
    It was a blow when we lost Carlos, however if Konsa can maintain the levels we saw yesterday alongside the rock of Mings then we should be just fine. Chambers has shown that he can be a useful back up.
    It will be a blow if Kamara is out for a while as he’s been showing really decent form for us. Douglas Luis is a handy back up although it would be shame for him and us if he had to be confined in a defensive role yet again for a long period. It does seem that the club were right not to sell him to Arsenal, which must have been a tough decision bearing in mind how little time is left upon his contract. You do have to wonder why Nakamba isn’t even getting a sniff of game time though bearing in mind how much he seemed to have improved last season. Unless Kamara is laid off long term you can imagine that Nakamba will be seeking pastures new in January, which I for one will be disappointed by.

  23. Still hoping that Gérard gets the chop,saying he was rushing things,he has had nearly a year plus plenty help in transfer market yet last night he had better midfield on the bench,his subs crazy putting beundi on taking off only 2 runners Bailey ramsay
    Been around quite a few sites on social media and see very little support for him and all want mcginn benched
    Watching spurs is unrea lconti is a proper manager he has only few weeks more than Gérard to get his ideas across,has Gérard got any

  24. Robbo.

    Watkins scoring record is utterly bang average at best, but the worst thing about him is he first touch and hold play is non existent.

    Kamara out for months

    What is it with this club turning players into glass?

    Seriously is it a lack of physical training and awful sports science?

    We get more long term injuries than anyone.

    It isn’t just bad luck.

    It’s badly run departments

  25. Frem
    Haaland would struggle to get goals playing for Gérard
    When on Friday was he presented with ball facing goal apart from his winner which keeper saved and ramsay buried

  26. Rodgers will be out a job. So that’s 3 top managers we have at our disposal.

    Gerrard has been here a year and he’s talking about going back to basics again

    It’s not good.

    We still have zero identity

    And we will wait until Christmas break to sack him most like and watch clubs get Rodgers potch and tuchel whislt se still have Gerrard

  27. Do we stick with young when cash is fit
    When is penny going to drop with Gérard that his copying klopps formation doesn’t work(it’s not working for klopp now either)
    for me keeper and back 4 I would stick with,and by all accounts kamara is out Gérard has to go with 2 midfielders Luis and deadlocked then a 3 of Bailey ramsay and either coutinho or beundi playing Central behind either Watkins or ings
    Watching Friday night it was crazy seeing coutinho playing as a left winger out on wing away from the ball,trying to close down instead of in middle dictating play
    As for mcginn I feel sorry for him,you could tell by his face he is struggling, he is getting stuck in but all its really achieving is giving away fouls in dangerous areas,or just giving the ball away at half time he had 57%pass rate that’s shocking

  28. Frem, When you say that Watkins “scoring record is utterly bang average at best”, what /who are you comparing him against?
    The only fair comparison is against previous Villa strikers and the facts are that he’s one of the very best strikers that we’ve had in the 30 years of the Premier league. That’s a comment based on facts rather than emotion.
    We’ve had nearly 100 strikers in our squads over that period but of course many of them never proved themselves so dropped off the radar.
    Of the 20 or so that DID make it, and are remembered as our ‘key strikers’ over that period, only 4 have scored more premier league goals in a season than Ollie Watkins did in his first season for us and you’re talking of revered names Like Benteke, Juan Pablo Angel and Dean Saunders.

    Your ‘bang average’ comment is an emotional one rather than a factual one. The evidence very clearly says that you’re wrong and if you keep repeating it then as I said before, it discredits any other sensible comments that you might make.

    I suspect that what you’re doing is comparing him with the best strikers in the league and whilst we all hope that one day we’ll be in a position to attract the Kane’s, Salah’s and Haaland’s, we’re just not there at the moment. In his best year he was above average, even when compared against all the other teams in the league, purely in his goal scoring record but that ignores the other work that he does off the ball and you have to remember that his record is despite him playing within a team that has been in the bottom half of the table.

    A more sensible discussion would be why he (and other members of the squad) have been falling short of their potential over the last year. Hopefully the last 2 games have given slight glimmers of hope that some of these players are going to return to their best. . . . .we’ll see

  29. Robbo

    But we are comparing him to other bang average strikers we’ve had so it doesn’t work

    Just because he’s scored more than some shite strikers we’ve had doesn’t make it good

    He’s done ok, at best.

    I’m worried that Gerrard is going back to basics after a year

    How’s that going to help us progress

  30. To progress the club need to go and attract a big name manager like Potch or Tuchel

    But to do that the owners need to sack purslow

    Followed by Lange

  31. Frem, at school, we learned about 3 types of average: mode, median and mean. Watkins is above average against all of those definitions but you aren’t interested in that are you?

    Where have you seen that Kamara is out for months? Is this a fact or an emotional response?

  32. Frem, I like the idea of us bringing in Pochettino. I’m not as sure of Tuchel but that’s not to say I’d be upset if we were to get him. . . . I just haven’t formed a complete opinion of him yet.

    As for a ‘big name’, Gerrard was supposed to be a big name to attract big name players and has had some success in doing that. I suspect that Poch would do the same or better but would also be more interested in developing our youth players and that would be a big positive for me.

  33. With Bouba…I’m not seeing anything definitive other than the official “Wish you a speedy recovery.”

    Which does sound a bit ominous.

    I have no idea what’s causing the injury issues. Far as new signings: Sanson, Emi, Bailey, Carlos, Traoré and now perhaps Bouba. All were new to the league except Emi, and he fought back without missing significant time.

    So, there’s a PL factor. Konsa returned quickly for such an injury, so whoever managed that did well.

    But it’s hard not to think there’s something wrong with our training/recovery, overall training staff.

  34. r0bb0,

    “JC, I too felt for Watkins last night although I was encouraged that we were at least trying to advance the ball faster than before so he had a little more space. The balls were tending to be passed out to the wings and unfortunately, Bailey had a bit of a mare last night so they weren’t then getting through to Watkins. I’m struggling to think of a clear through ball or cross that you felt he should have got on the end of. When Buendia came on you saw a couple of attempts to pass through the lines to Watkins that ‘nearly’ came off but until then he’d been spending his time facing his own goal with an elbow in his back and a boot on his calf.”

    Agreed. You have to play Ollie a certain way. And we aren’t doing it. Barely gets a sniff, and a 33% conversion rate is very high. Show me three good chances in most any of our recent games.

    Yet there he was, cleaning up behind Mings and clearing away a ball that might’ve sneaked in the bottom corner.

  35. Likewise, whoever pointed out Buendia losing the ball, then chasing all the way back across the pitch to get it back. He was upset with himself and took responsibility.

    I think he puts himself under a lot of pressure to make an impression only getting 30mins, and it’s not like we’re up when he’s brought on to save the day.

    Saw that one moment of Phil being Phil, and he did seem to have more energy in his legs. But it’s still Buendia for me who starts over Phil, and he needs to be played centrally in a 4-2-3-1.

    I’m not sure why that’s so hard for SG to understand. He’ll give Ollie the through balls on the grass he can run onto.

  36. Or Bailey, too, for that matter.

    Bailey needs to be in space. I’m sure MK would appreciate that he seems most dangerous when play is dragged left and he pulls the Trez in that space left in the middle/back post.

    Otherwise, he needs to be driving in from the channel at pace and getting clean looks. If he’s going to play inverted, every defender knows he’s coming back to his left. You have to take that out of the equation, put him in on his favored foot and using his speed.

    If things are congested, he should be further back where he can receive cutbacks, and have fewer moments where he needs to make moves to open up a shot.

  37. JG,

    Has had plenty of time, yes. I’d but my losses, too, though I’d assume as owner I’d know a lot more about the mood in the dressing room.

    Then of course, my obligatory disagreement about bringing on Emi. You bring on Buendia, but take Phil off. Bailey was having a very poor game, was no great loss coming off. Buendia will create as many chances for others than Bailey will trying to get on his left foot and losing it or sending in aimless crosses. Has moments of magic, but as said by someone else (Plug, r0bb0?) he’d be better in a different formation, I think.

    For me, Buendia is clearly the preferred starter as the creative player. If Phil is leggy and off it, he’s the one to come off the bench for just 30mins of effort. I’m thinking SG is trying to get Phil back into the Brazil squad. But it ain’t happening.

  38. However, JG, I agree with all this:

    “Do we stick with young when cash is fit
    When is penny going to drop with Gérard that his copying klopps formation doesn’t work(it’s not working for klopp now either)
    for me keeper and back 4 I would stick with,and by all accounts kamara is out Gérard has to go with 2 midfielders Luis and deadlocked then a 3 of Bailey ramsay and either coutinho or beundi playing Central behind either Watkins or ings
    Watching Friday night it was crazy seeing coutinho playing as a left winger out on wing away from the ball,trying to close down instead of in middle dictating play
    As for mcginn I feel sorry for him,you could tell by his face he is struggling, he is getting stuck in but all its really achieving is giving away fouls in dangerous areas,or just giving the ball away at half time he had 57%pass rate that’s shocking”

    Me, I would not have thought I’d be preferring Young, but given that he has to stay home to cover for lack of speed, it is helping us out, atm. Plus, he’s a savvy shithouse who knows how to foul, waste time…all the dark arts.

  39. Or, I could’ve just agreed with Plug:

    “I don’t think we’ll see the best of Bailey in a 4-3-3 which SG uses when faced by opposition he thinks we can beat. Last night he was poor. He’s better breaking at pace from a 4-2-3-1 setup against opposition who attack us.”

    And yeah, I actually wasn’t sweating this one. Yes, we showed a lot of graft and grit, but Saints could’ve played another hour without testing Emi they were that poor.

  40. Looking at several of your points John there are a few themes but the main ones seem to be that SG is taking a long time to work out how he should be using individual players, he hasn’t yet settled on a playing style, and the overall squad is under-performing as a result (note the use of the Oxford comma which I think we should all try and use at least once every thread. . . . .or should those have been semi colons?)
    It would be hard to find a Villa fan who would disagree with you but there have at least been signs lately the he may be trying to amend his thinking. . . . . let’s hope so.

  41. Villa fans are rightly concerned about the performance of our manager but we’re not alone.
    What’s happened to David Moyes for example? Their net spend was nearly £150m and there were some on here who were bemoaning the fact that our comparative lack of spend meant that we would inevitably plummet down the table. As far as I was concerned, the only thing that mattered was that our squad was stronger than last year and we should therefore expect to end further up the table, particularly as we badly under-performed last season.
    By the law of averages, some clubs will fall backwards each season even if it appears that they shouldn’t. So far West Ham are probably the prime example of this.

  42. r0bb0,

    Love the Oxford, it’s our friend. You could go either way, there. SCs would work fine, but I think the phrasing is clear and concise enough that commas work better…a bit lighter.

  43. I’m seeing some slight changes I think, r0bb0. Couple heat maps would help confirm.

    I know Young is staying home because he has to, seems like Digne’s been back a little further (on average), too. Was seeing McGinn get forward more, which would seem to reinforce that he wasn’t covering deep as often.

    Also saw he and Ramsey switch sides at times (as noted above by someone (JG?) during the match), so they weren’t playing inverted, and they seemed a bit more central, pulled out wide less.

    So, SG hasn’t really backed off the 4-3-3, but seems like he’s having them play it a bit differently.

    Still not seeing any real word on Bouba. Hoping no news is good news.

  44. SG is saying we’ve had to strip our creativity but that confuses me because we were awful to watch before. It’s not like we were playing good football

    I thought he was going to be progressive and brave

    We created absolutely nothing in games and yet we want to go even more defensive

  45. Frem,

    Don’t know what to make of that, either. I understand if he meant not starting Phil or Emi (City), but like you say, we were creating sweet FA before that, too.

    It’s also confusing because the side is well set up for counterattacking football. So go ahead, work on being tougher in the middle and clean sheets, just take advantage of the space. Not that hard a concept and nothing wrong with it.

    This is why I don’t understand how he uses (or doesn’t) Buendia. He’s always looking to play it quickly, and he sees through balls. They won’t always come off, but he’ll continually look to hit people making runs.

    Phil can obviously do that as well, but he’s been more hesitant, not playing the ball as quickly.

  46. Frem and John, yes it a puzzling comment but bearing in mind that his preferred means of attack seems to be the forward runs of Cash and Digne, maybe he’s referring to the full backs acting as defenders instead of attackers?
    We did also see Watkins, Phil and others tracking back more but in fairness, bearing in mind that we had one of the lowest ‘distance covered per game’ stats in the league, maybe this will just bring us more into line with some other teams?
    Whatever he was thinking, I’m not averse to us being a bit more pragmatic for a while if it means we start winning some games.

  47. Ian, I didn’t know that. I hope it’s clicked for him again as the last few years seem such a waste of his talent.
    Rumour had it that he wanted to come back to us to try and relive the best part of his career.

  48. There are rumours on every subject these days and social media encourages people to make stuff up to attract attention and gain followers. It makes it so hard to be separate the real from the rumour. Take Ukraine for example, where we’re only hearing about Ukrainian advances and it’s hard to know if movements really are only flowing in the one direction.

    Last week my twitter feed was trending with the news that Denmark has banned covid vaccines for the under 50’s. It seemed unlikely to me but I thought I’d best check by asking Google and was surprised to see that there were indeed loads of corroborating reports from a very wide range of other sites. It seemed surprising that such news had been suppressed by the mainstream media and you then begin to wonder if there is indeed more to all the reports of the dangers of the vaccines than we’ve been allowed to hear about.
    Because I’m a cynical bastard I decided to check a bit further, but to go back to source data and official Danish Governments websites painted a rather different picture. Their Government has decided to run a booster campaign for all Danes over 50 and to those under 50 in high risk groups. It then becomes clear that in fact they are simply targeting the most at risk groups. This affirmation of the benefit of vaccines has however been twisted to wrongly state that vaccines have been banned for the under 50’s. It probably only needed one person on social media to twist the facts and then many others who have concerns about vaccines pick up on such a story which affirms their existing worries and so the snowball grows.
    If you’re within a bubble of like minded people for any special interest then it’s all too easy to get carried away and very soon, something that was just a suggestion, suddenly becomes a fact with loads of supporting evidence.
    Rumour has it that Rodgers is being sacked in the morning. . . . . ok . . .that one may well be true!

  49. So much for a squad of internationals,only martinez from the Argentinian, Brazilian English and French crew is picked,surely all this information has to working back to owners

  50. JG, I’m sure information is feeding back to the owners although this time, as Villalore points out, it’s as much to do with injuries as form of the players.
    I reckon what they could be more interested in is the CIES report that we’ve paid £130m over the odds for players over the past decade and only Man United, Juventus and PSG have overpaid by more. It’s actually worse than that though because of the top 10 ‘over-payers’ in the whole of Europe, only Rennes have been stung worse than Villa as a percentage of purchase price.

    Frem’s been running his Lange out campaign and maybe the owners will be wondering if they should be joining in.

  51. Villalore, yes, Mings is really unlucky to miss out. When he doesn’t have to do other player’s jobs as well as his own, he’s the England player I’d want alongside me.

  52. r0bb0,

    On Ukraine, I’ve been down that rabbit hole deeply. I think it’s fairly safe to say the situation is largely what you’re hearing. Russia’s in trouble, however remarkable that may seem.

    No one knows what UKR’s actually casualties and losses are, but the battlefield situation/movements are all confirmed, not least by a rather dedicated bunch of open-source intelligence enthusiasts who, aided by the abundance of phone and drone footage direct from soldiers on both sides, more ‘official’ UKR-sanctioned releases, satellite imagery and other data (like NASA FIRM–Fire Information for Resource Management–data), are able to geolocate and verify most claims. They also know their armor and other variants, all of the units and markings, and cross-reference their losses and positionings. (UKR has been masterful in the info space, the Russians, not so much.)

    Claims as to casualties and materiel losses will likely be inflated (by both sides), other caveats, but it’s really pretty impressive. And then we get follow-on proof when journalists, etc., reach liberated towns, interview survivors.

    But like your other example, there’s a ton of disinformation out there (or simply wrong info for whatever reason).

    You can do your own research. But you also have to understand the limits and pitfalls, and be willing to dig, cross-reference, question sources—all the stuff you know well. Me, I’m spending far too much time every day just satisfying myself that reports match up, never mind doing the primary research.

    I think this is really the first major conflict where there’s so much primary evidence being released in near real time. It’s astonishing.

  53. Surely there are checks and balances when it comes to bringing in new players although one does wonder when Ings and Digne make tidy sums each week. It’s something we have as a group talked about. Upsetting the apple cart amongst the players with some weekly earnings being out of whack. I find it funny that the salaries aren’t renegotiated when a player joins another team.

    And on the Ukraine/Russian appears that the flogging of Russian soldiers will increase until morale improves.

  54. Wages and transfer fees keep going up what is value anymore
    More worrying is that a clatter of our players were worth far more this time last year,the buck stops with purslow

  55. I do think we have a lot off average players,some bought at inflated price tags ,but in general we have a decent squad been wasted by poor management now and previously, Fridays match the previous home match v west ham we didn’t have any shots on target of worth,maybe 2 of the worst performances for years,how does them performances encourage new fans or even older fans to come and spend hard earned money at villa Park,Xmas is coming usually would get some gear from shop highly unlikely to this year,its embarrassing wearing it

  56. Potter already taken. Poch in talks with Nice. Tuchel touted as next Bayern Munich manager despite Nagelsmann getting the dreaded vote of confidence from them. Wonder how worried Purslow is.

  57. Yeh, the silence surrounding Kamara’s injury has been deafening. The official site have finally commented about it today but only after L’Equippe in France said he’d be out for 2 months with knee ligament damage and that he’d been sent to Dubai for his rehab.

  58. I’ll watch Beaky’s performance this evening with baited breath. I’m expecting another schooling from Mancini. The Germans put 5 past Italy last time out….

  59. Beaky only picks his favourites. Problem being, too many of them are not playing regularly for their clubs. We’ll be back home early from Qatar. Feel sorry for the fans committed to attending.

    We have some great offense players but defensive formations using dodgy selections kill us regularly. How long is it now? 555 Minutes since the last open play goal?

  60. So disappointed with how Southgate has gone from having the best England record as a manager, to being another failure.
    It all began going wrong with his ultra-defensive attitude to having to keep a clean sheet.
    I can’t see him changing things before the world cup, which is going to be a huge disappointment for the fans.

  61. Is anyone else able to find positives from the recent performances of the Englands men’s football team?
    Against Italy, there were times when we looked to be the better side, had more possession, more shots, and the better XG of the two sides. (managed to slip an Oxford comma in there just for Mr Rees Mogg and Mrs Coffee). It didn’t help us though as we lost, and as the commentators kept reminding us, haven’t won for 5 games now. I wonder how far back we’ll have to go for 6 failures in a row if we fail to beat Germany tomorrow?
    We’ve seen how confidence breeds confidence in Premier league games and it’s hard to see why the same rules wouldn’t apply at the National level, so this doesn’t auger well for our build up to the World Cup.
    Having said all that, how many times have we seen an England side go into major tournaments, buoyed up by false optimism only to crash out at an early stage?
    My one optimistic thought is that at least we’ll go into the World Cup with low expectations, so any successes will be all the more enjoyable.

  62. One other thought. . . . . has Jack always been as petulant as he was on Friday or did I always make allowances for him before?
    Even as an England fan, wanting him and the team to succeed, I found his last performance really irritating. You could maybe excuse it if he was providing the creative spark that we needed, but he wasn’t even doing that.

  63. PP, that turnout for the Arsenal Spurs game really is a sign that the women’s game is being taken seriously now. It was helped by the fact that there were no Premier league games on, but even so, it’s a sign that people who wanted to watch a game of live football believed that a women’s game was going to be sufficiently entertaining to take time out to go and watch. It should go from strength to strength now.

  64. I watched mcginn in action for Scotland v Ireland on Saturday night after reading how well he played previous match,well another poor performance against a side with only 2 Premier league players the keeper and centre half, our midfield (ireland) was championship level,he had 3 chances and not one on target,got away with numerous fouls
    Along with mcginn ,shaggy was on bench with his clipboard, ireland should have scored twice from Scotland set pieces
    Really worried purslow is going to back Gérard to hilt, Freddie supposedly still training with under 23 even with 2 fullbacks out injured same as rumours about sanson even eith kamara iut

  65. JG – if SJM plays again against Ukraine, there is no way he’ll be in a fit state to play at Leeds on Sunday. He was looking worn out against your boys. He doesn’t seem able to reach the levels required once games come thick and fast for him.

  66. At last we see some fight from England. Beaky got his subs right for once. However, his defensive selection of his favourites will always do us no favours. James, Dire, Maguire, Shaw lack pace and all have errors in them. Accidents just waiting to happen. Also, Pope had a stinker.

  67. Football is back,right in the middle of a world crisis,international football didn’t bring much joy unless you are Scottish, so it’s back to villa and Gérard,and sorry its very hard to put much energy into watching us
    3 out of back 4 missing plus kamara our only hope in midfield
    We all know a knackered mcginn will start along with coutinho even if coutinho plays wide left as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike
    Leeds will play an intense high fast pace ,whereas we will play at walking pace with our shirt numbers mainly on view
    Would love to see something like this
    Young Swedish lad,mings konsa
    Dendocker Luis
    Beundi coutinho ramsay
    Subs from Bailey Watkins mcginn sanson archer chambers

  68. JG,

    Yeah, there’s a lot going on…definitely takes the focus off football, especially when it isn’t bringing much joy. All the social accounts have had little of interest to say, and aren’t saying that much.

    Not surprisingly, still the odd tease about Poch. Have to imagine this run of games will decide Gerrard’s fate.

    Like you say, Leeds will be Leeds, and a knackered McGinn will likely be in there. The makeshift back line may well hurt us, but I think it’ll be Mings and Konsa in the middle, Augustinsson and Young, too.

    However, if we sit back a bit and don’t play into Leeds’ hands, that’s probably the way to go.

    I’d still have Ollie start over Ings, with Bailey, Buendia and Ramsey behind. Don’t think Danny and Phil have the legs for this one. Would have Luiz and Dendoncker behind. Won’t happen, though.

  69. Freddie hasn’t trained for 2 weeks due to “a niggle” so he won’t be considered against Leeds. Therefore it’s Young and Augustinsson at FB. Konsa or Chambers to partner Tyro?

    Freddie’s been told he’s surplus to requirements but failed to get a move in the last window. He divides opinion. Plenty of fans like him (including me) but neither Deano or SG have been convinced. Why on earth did we sign him?

  70. Football Insider reporting “sources” saying Villa are checking out Poch and Unai Emery in case SG’s results fail to improve. The “sources” could be Gabby mind.

  71. Brighton beating Liverpool 2 – 0 with a manager who’s been in a Job 7 days

    How can a club be so well run?

    And we have Lange Gerrard and purslow leading us

    Simply not good enough

    Top to bottom we need a massive overhaul.

    Purslow Lange and Gerrard all need to go

    We are in a massive massive trouble of going down

    Nobdody is worse than us

  72. Frem
    You can’t say the club is not being run well,we have hit a bump which is going in a bit now no doubt,so far purslow main mistake is Gérard and if he let’s it fester to long he will go to
    Lange I have read stories saying that there is a power struggle between him and Gérard about players and so far purslow is backing Gérard but same reports say lange is well thought of by owners
    Think Gérard has to pick up quite a few points between now and world Cup to keep his job,pressure is on,starting tomorrow

  73. Players are always a bit of a gamble. The sides who manage to lose and replace without missing much of a beat, they’re the ones who get it right far more often. But it isn’t easy.

    Lange may have been up and down so far, hard to know which buy is whose idea, but SG’s seeming preference for expensive older players in what seems a ‘win now’ urgency…That needs pushing back on.

    Should be about Villa, not SG’s ego/CV.

  74. Brighton have an identity. Simply maintaining that should be any successor’s priority.

    If they’re going to have problems, it will be from changing the style, or losing players and failing to find the right replacements. Or, worst case, both. Unless the manager alienates the squad, you’d think they’d be able to keep going.

  75. Jesus Luiz and McGinn in our midfield again, the same 2 who haven’t been good enough since we got promoted. It’s criminal.

    Wolves sack lage 1 point behind us

    Where is our ambition?

    Defeat tonight you would think Gerrard is sacked

  76. Frem, I’d imagine that Purslow’s support will keep Gerrard in a job irrespective of today’s result but no wins from any of the next 3 and he’d have to go.

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