At the moment, I’m probably the least reliable opinion on Unai Emery as I’ve not yet seen either match in which he’s been in charge. So, today will be interesting for me. And it’s certainly yet another big game for Villa as the world’s leagues pause for the World Cup. Three points here would be a nice way to finish off the season’s first half.

Saw the team sheet and news, so nothing terribly surprising. Kamara certainly has more upside than Dendoncker, so you’d expect Emery to want him to get minutes under his belt. McGinn? Well, we’ll see.

Otherwise, I don’t really have much to offer. Enjoyed watching the United updates during the league meeting, and the comments here after the cup exit didn’t leave me wanting to see much of that.

So, here we go, let’s get another three before our attention gets dragged to the traveling circus in the desert.

Oh…The Argentines seem to have an inordinate fondness for socks celebrating their football heroes. So, when I found a pair with Emi Martinez on them at a street market, I snapped them up.

Over to you.

Comments 169

  1. Carrying over from the last thread:

    I think both West Ham and Newcastle had decent core squads, and their annual flirtations with the drop zone before doing enough to stay up weren’t reflective of that.

    Now, they’ve added and done well with the manager choices. Always interesting to see how that plays out over time (like the Hammers’ rough start this season).

  2. JC- hope you have your sock on, I’d watch that cup game not as bad as painted and it will illustrate how high he has us playing, if we do the same today and don’t win the ball quickly could be painful.

  3. Luis just hadn’t been expecting the ball. . . he was just looking round to check where the opposition were when Martinez passed it so he was then slow off the mark.
    Just not enough awareness from either of them.

  4. JC
    Thanks for spoiling us all by running this site. There are some deep thinking articulate writers that stimulate me and engage me deeply, not forgetting yourself of course. I would suggest that this site is on a par with The Athletic for AVFC content, pay wall and all.
    Got to mourn the loss of 3pm Saturday kick offs. The succession of 2pm KOs is really getting annoying now. Brighton game today meh! World Cup – is anyone bothered?

  5. The big difference in our attacking play is the clever through ball that opens up defences
    We’ve seen it at least twice already this afternoon

  6. Mings wasn’t at his best in that first half, Ramsey was less visible after his injury and Kamara not ‘quite’ as sharp as you’d like but overall I reckon we did OK that half

  7. We did ok

    Ings actually playing better. Better movement more involved.

    McGinn would have scored if he stepped towards the ball

    McGinn having a better game though he has the pace coming off inside the right like he did to win the pen

    Been disappointed with Buendia. Passing has been awful. Had a great chance to play mcginn through and instead played an awful floating ball towards a Brighton defender

  8. YEEESSSS INGS

    Cash with the cross though before needs to do better its such a simple pass and he messed it up bad time

    Now get Bailey on

  9. Ings is a good example of why its very unwise to judge the future of any of our current players until Emery has had a decent time to assess and develop them.

  10. The ball was played onto both of Digne’s legs before he made contact with the player so I imagine that’s why a penalty wasn’t given but if it had been the other way round I guess I’d have been feeling aggrieved. If it wasn’t judged to be clearcut though I suppose it’s right that they stick with the original decision.

  11. Emery has given McGinn plenty of game time. Clearly believes he can have a future at the club and giving him a chance to play himself back into form.

  12. One downside of today was that Frem had an awful game. He made a positive start but then the usual negative play returned. He just doesn’t seem to read the game very well and whereas everyone else seems to believe in the new manager he remains a malign influence in the dressing room.

  13. Jbd and JC, yes of course we’ve seen the blatant time wasting against us and I’ve hated it but as I said. . . I do like the 3 points 🙂

  14. Liked the defensive subs, clog it up. Again, seen that so often against us. Villans complain about us not being able to break it down. But, it’s not easy absent individual moments.

  15. Might be an idea to concentrate more on the football and less on frems foibles then Robbo.
    You have to say though 5 at the back is a tactic, yay, and we like tactics, sometimes 🙂

    They certainly wanted to win though enough yellows to induce Jaundice. As for Brighton? they remain a good team for us to play it seems, maybe they se us as not on their level, like us they try harder against the good sides.

  16. Table is much better looking now,especially with ne t 2 fixtures
    Thought mi gs was quite brilliant especially in 2nd half,even mcginn was fit to keep going for the entire match

  17. Great result after a poor start and pleased to see how Villa managed to see it out. Don’t like the time wasting so early on, but understand it, would prefer another goal to kill it off.
    Good to see the use of the squad and include them in the win.

    Liverpool is going to be a really big game now for both sides.

    JC you are a star for running this site which we all enjoy. Perhaps we should all reconsider making some kind of contribution.

  18. What’s to take away from today’s performance? The 3 points obviously. The turning around of the score after going behind away from home. And Kamara. Robb0 didn’t think much of him, but I thought he got his foot in on so many occasions to win back possession for us. I liked him. SJM having a better game.

    On the debit side, am I the only one who soils his pants each time we have a goal kick or a player plays the ball back to Martinez? I can’t afford the cost of buying underpants in bulk. And we certainly cannot give the opposition a goal start straight from kick off.

  19. Unai is quality. I don’t care if play 11 behind the ball for last 20 mins as long as we’re winning.

    SJM was my mom. Immense today. Buendia not his typical 9/10. Haven’t seen him hit so many poor passes ever. He was still a 7 for me.

    Amazing having a tactical manager. Unai saw Cash was getting over run. Brought on Young and double teamed. Even had Bailey cover.

    For me the Digne challenge was never a peno. Don’t understand why Martinez does so much time wasting. Yellow cards and 8 mins extra time. What’s the point?

    Celebrations at the end were great. Away support also fantastic

  20. Unai now has a pre-season to articulate shape and tactics with the players. We won’t know how things are looking until more games have been and gone. Initial thoughts are promising.

    Canary fans want Deano out. QPR fans want Beale out. And as JG says, Chelsea fans want Potter out. Fans want instant success or a skip for the coaches. Mindless.

  21. Always hated repetitively playing the ball back to the goalkeeper. I first noticed that creeping in back in Southgate’s playing days. We rolled it around playing proper football then some opposition oik refused to bow down to their football betters, butted in and scored a scruffy goal – usually after having the temerity to tackle one of the said football masters.

    You can’t say we haven’t vastly influenced the national side.

  22. Plug

    A manager has to be very clever/lucky taking over a team. Huge juggling act getting fans on board, implementing a style and getting results!

    Klopp was a utter genius when he took over pool, got fans on board straight away. That draw at home to west brom but he made them join hands at the end and cheer the kop…. He knew what he was doing

  23. Plug, you’re right that fans are far too impatient and like H&V, I’m strongly of the opinion that unless things really fall apart then we should settle in for Unai to have at least 2 years.

  24. And whilst we’re bound to question the occasional decision, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt on team selections and tactics too.
    We should also give the benefit of the doubt to players and allow Unai decide who stays and who goes, who plays and who sits on the bench

  25. VillaMD, you’re right that Unai is a tactical manager, is reading the game and makes changes as needed. He also seems to be rotating his squad (or just wanting to give as many players a chance as possible) so when substitutes do come on you feel they’re as good if not better than the players they’re replacing. . . . and fresh and raring to go too.

  26. Plug, yes, I reckon we all get nervous when we see the ball being played around at the back but the alternative has been an aimless kick up field and then wait for the opposition to come back at us.
    It’ll take some time for them to get on each other’s wavelength but I trust Unai to teach them who to pass to and when.
    Maybe a small supply of incontinence pads will be handy in the meantime?

  27. JC
    Noticed that a few people would like to make a contribution to the running of this site. I know it sounds scroogy but I suspect people might baulk at the thought of a monthly subscription (Athletic charges £1.99 monthly). Would it be possible to add a “buy us a coffee” button to the site or publish an e-mail address so we could make a contribution to the site via PayPal?

    Can’t remember how long this site has been running but it is obviously a labour of Aston Villa love. I’m happy with the site as it is. I do wonder though if there was ever any ambition to develop the site in any way e.g., a block function?

    Not nagging – just saying.

  28. jbd, alternative ways of contributing to the site are a nice idea. You’re right that we shouldn’t take it for granted. I’ll also try and take your and Mark’s advice not to comment on Frem too much so that hopefully I avoid you blocking me for it.

  29. It is remarkable what a difference 2 games under Unai have made. Brighton would have been 9 points ahead of us and clear in 6th had they won today but instead we go into the break just 3 points behind them.

    Let’s not forget that our two league wins have both been against clubs fighting for European places so it does now feel that we may be in a position to start dreaming of Europe next year.

    I’m trying not to get too carried away because we’ve seen false dawns before, but this one does ‘feel’ different. It seems that everyone is pulling in the same direction this time, whereas Gerrard went out of his way to try and impose his authority on the squad which actually just demonstrated his underlying lack of confidence in his own skills (or lack of them).

    Unai now has the equivalent of a pre-season with most of his players (the one reason to be grateful for Gerrard’s failings) and also the scope to use the winter transfer window.

    I don’t think I’ve felt this optimistic since Lerner and O’Neill came on board.

  30. Sometimes the time wasting bugs me too but is it really time wasting all the time? There are plenty of reasons for Martinez to hang onto the ball. I think he is looking after the well being of the team. Letting them catch their breath or letting them get into position or perhaps letting them get their heads together after a tense bit of footballing. One reason for his time wasting is just plain old shithousery. It drives the opposition nuts and deprives them of any advantage they might have had at the moment.
    His isn’t the only type of time wasting. Have you ever seen players give a ball to the opposition straight away for a throw in or for that matter anytime the ball goes out of play? The ball boys in the past have been guilty of it. Rolling on the ground is time wasting. Yapping at the ref is time wasting. Strolling off went subbed is time wasting. It’s not just Martinez. The rest of the team waste more time than he does.
    It’s a tactic and it won’t change until the way the game is timed changes. If the game time clock was stopped timewise every time the ball went out of play and started when it was put back into play then the time wasting tactic would be pointless.

  31. r0bb0
    I’ll only block you if you write covid, politics or conspiracy theories. Don’t much like religion but I don’t think anyone has gone there – YET!

    The gloves are off for Villa stuff.

  32. Here’s a quote from Unai today which shows how he’s thinking about how to get the most out of all his players: “Today we were speaking about [Ings’] best position,” “If he can have players to assist him with good balls he can be between two centre-backs. He played very well.”

    This isn’t a manager who has one set formula and won’t deviate from it (naming no names), As someone said before, he’s a tactical manager . . . . he’s also a thoughtful and analytical manager. It’s no good. . . . .I AM getting carried away.

  33. Odd feeling this evening, we won ,finally starting to look like a team,5 subs used too,young cameo excellent can see why he was in beakeys plans
    Only downside is 5/6 weeks off for us,but plenty of time for emery to drill our lads into shape
    Roll on boxing day

  34. jbd if that ever happens you’ll wonder if your on the wrong site, don’t forget we how have more than a month with bugger all to talk about.

    As I said in the week when people were lining up who’s of use, we just don’t know as yet. Unai definitely has his preferred methods but I have never played in a team that didn’t adapt to circumstance, its the most natural thing to do, how you do it however is key. 10 at the back and endlessly row zedding the ball can work on the odd occasion but teams should be able to have mix. I think our main attacking strategy will remain counter attack though and he’s been known to sit back on many occasions to get 1-0 wins.

    Best thing is its never boring, to me that is.

  35. Oh and That small thing of being able to beat the better sides still is valid as it was in the Champs, Bruce failed in that regard Smith didn’t and we went up. If you can’t trouble the top sides you won’t sit among them.

  36. So, JC has more than a month to figure out how we can buy him a coffee. Nag, nag, nag.

    No excuses, there’s no Villa involvement in this shitty abomination of a WC (that’s convenient) assuming we now disown Mr Big Nose. The transfer window will still be shut. Absolutely no Villa to talk about!

  37. jbd,

    You’re very kind. It is a labor of love. We (Matt and I) had wanted to go a little bigger, recorded a couple podcasts, etc., but work and life got in the way.

    And I’m okay with that. It’s a nice thing to just talk/rant/rave without any larger agenda.

    I can look at doing a Patreon or something. Easy way to send along a coffee.

  38. OptaJoe

    ” Danny Ings has scored four goals in his last four Premier League games, as many as in his previous 26 combined”

    When did Gerrard leave?

  39. Still buzzing from yesterday. We are still in the new manager bounce period, but the shape now employed is much better in midfield. Far more compact and difficult to penetrate.

  40. JG….. “I hope emery likes big lads, the first half watching beundi and Luis trying to man mark for corners was worrying”. Very true. But most heartening were the attempts to man mark instead of that zonal marking crap employed by previous coaches.

  41. Ian – great point on time wasting. Maybe Emi is just slowing the game down. I’m sure Argentina thought him some tricks.

    I love this blog. Lots of great, raw, and honest comments. R0bb0, you write some great insightful stuff. I’m not sure why Frem winds you up . I glance over his continuous negativity towards Watkins. Lots of great comments on here.

    I used to think Mings was great, then poor, now great again, so what do I know.

    I will say it’s a bit over the top saying that a player than runs his socks off every week is useless…hint, hint Frem.

    H&V – agree on Kamara. At one point I looked and him and said “wow, we’ve an athlete on our books”. He’s big, strong, fast, athletic. How the heck were we allowed to sign him on a free ? He’s easily going to be a £100m player. Hopefully with Tim beside him

  42. VillaMD, you’ve asked me why Frem annoys me so much. . . . . I could give a quick glib answer or I could imagine myself lying down on the couch and giving a long and detailed self analysis. . . . . nah . . . I don’t think I’d best go there.

    As you’ve owned up to misjudging Mings on occasion I’ll own up to having got it wrong with Kamara this weekend. . . . well after the first half anyway. I’ve generally been really impressed by him and extolling his virtues to my wife (who wasn’t so convinced) but in the first half on Sunday I thought he wasn’t quite at the races in the same way. . . maybe he just lost the ball a couple of times and then I started looking for little mistakes. It’s when you start ‘looking’ for mistakes that you tend to get an unbalanced view and maybe that’s what I did. Having looked at player ratings they seemed to be universally good or excellent. . . so I’ll put my hands up to that one!

  43. So our first two games back will be against Liverpool and Spurs. I wonder how many of their players will be getting an extended run at the World Cup?

    When Dean Smith was sacked there was speculation that the timing had been judged to give SG the chance to start with an easy run of fixtures but you can’t say that this time. Our first 6 fixtures after Gerrard’s departure will all be against teams in the top half of the table and Emery’s first 4 will almost certainly all be against teams in the top 6 when the games are played. It makes our 9 points from 12 so far even more surprising.

  44. Ian, yes why don’t they stop the clock when the ball is out of play? I’d be happy for them to reduce each half to 35 minutes but stop the clock . . . we’d still get to see 15 minutes more football (on average) and we wouldn’t get wound up by the shithousery.

    I’d also move the free kick or throw in 10m forward every time an opposition player tries to impede it being taken.

    At least players rolling on the ground are tending to get ignored and play is continuing around them more than used to happen.

  45. People still complaining about the “penalty” that the VAR did not award Brighton when Digne cleared his line. If we got away with one then great, I’ll take it as we cop the wrong end of poor decisions so often.

    It’s a contact sport, and the Brighton players kept going down and rolling over in agony at any touch on them. It’s plain shithousery. I’m sure that was an influence on the outcome. In real time, I didn’t notice any foul, just the standard reaction from the Brighton player.

    The VAR referrals leave a lot to be desired. The EPL uses it forensically to the advantage of certain clubs. Other countries use it for its proper purpose.

  46. RObB0, like the idea of moving the free kick forward 10 metres when a player attempts to obstruct a quick take. Also like the idea of automatic time offs when the ball is dead. Two clear and obvious improvements.

  47. Unai’s given them two weeks off. Then it’s Dubai and friendlies against Cardiff and Villareal when they return.

    Next two league games against Bindippers and Spurs I would have written off with Gerrard in charge. Now I believe there’s some points to be had.

  48. Regarding Mings. I’m in the camp where Tyrone is more than a cut above at his position. He’s always in the thick of things which will increase his chances of missing a tackle, header, etc. The lead up to a miscue could be filled with bad play by Villa players and Mings is in the position to clean up the mess. The only problem I see is the occasional disappearance mentally and that can be for a number of reasons.
    He works well with Martinez and Konza. I do recall 15 clean sheets in a season under Smith.
    VAR is a pain. The refereeing needs to be upgraded not to go to video for final decision. When penalties are given for infractions that occur in 100th’s of a second it’s, IMO, stupid. Good plays are negated by things the eye would never see. The offside rule needs to be revised. Make the leading foot be the indicator of offside not the random wisp of hair that blew over the line first.

  49. Oh, and pundits bloviating over calls and penalties after the fact and complete dissection by everyone including the bus driver drives me nuts. Anyone can do that. 20-20 hindsight is always “perfect”.

  50. lots of chat about just wasting time against brighton but for me it was just a gameplan to keep brighton out of there stride.

    slowing it all down and frustrating them and not letting them get into there rytheme

  51. “Time wasting” is interesting. But it is just another tactic. A frustrating one, to be sure, but at root, it’s nothing more than refusing to allow the opposition to dictate play. Breaking up play, making the most of time taken for goal kicks, free kicks, throw-ins…it’s just part of the way time is managed in the game.

    Me, I think it would be simplest to just stop the clock when the ball is out of play. Ref doesn’t have to do it, can be done by an official timekeeper. The amount of added time would then be accurate.

    Of course, that added time might not yield the same result as simply giving the ball back/putting in play as quickly as possible, but it doesn’t require any major changes.

    Referees can also be quicker to show the card, etc.

    At the end, though, the whining is just that. Brighton couldn’t break us down, couldn’t score more when the game was more open. Meaningless possession, going wide and crossing…They couldn’t deliver on their end.

    Don’t want us to be known as a ‘cheating’ side by any means, but I don’t think it’s cheating, and is far preferable to being ‘physical’ and fouling all over the pitch. The group sharing of fouls on Grealish comes to mind.

  52. My favourite thing by far on this thread. . . .’bloviating’ . . . . love it!

    Had heard of obliviate but bloviate was a new one on me. We should all be finding ways of using it. . . . . . it rolls round the mouth so nicely.

  53. Ian, yes Premiership referring is a bit shit at the moment but I do think it’s being driven to improve by higher continental refereeing standards. As for VAR, I’m still all for it, but surely they should have the confidence to let us hear why they are coming to their chosen conclusions.

  54. Ian, as for the offside rule, yes of course they should use the leading foot. It would make life so much easier for everyone concerned. It really seems so obvious and I don’t think anybody would argue with it.

  55. H&V, yes the time wasting was part of a gameplan and that’s exactly why I wish they’d stop the clock instead. As it stands, they’ll book for one bit of time wasting but not another. . . .they’ll book for time wasting in the last 20 minutes but ignore it for the rest of the match. . . .it’s all so random.

  56. JC, yes, the group sharing of fouls on Jack was cynical. . . . . and every one of those fouls he bought. . . . .err . . . suffered whilst playing for us was a disgrace. It’s shame that since leaving us he has become a cynical diver 😉

  57. JC, you’re right of course that ultimately, we won because Brighton were’t good enough to break us down.

    We were much more organised and determined than we have been and as Unai has pointed out, the confidence has already started returning to the squad . . . and it showed. Heck, we even came back from going behind and won a game!

    What a lovely change it is to hear a manager praising his squad and, you feel, actually ‘believing’ in them and knowing that his future ultimately depends on them rather than the other way round (naming no names)

  58. Well it looks like Unia is going the get the best out of the players at the club which has been the opposite at villa for some time
    Hopefully this will improve the market values of the players he feels he can improve on

    Robbo I don’t have any real evidence re Sanson but he has shown some n nice technical flashes during ant very brief appearance, however as its been pointed out he still isn’t getting time so its looking bleak for his villa future

  59. It will be interesting to see which players come out of the warm weather camp improved within this system of play, Brighton played out the back with such ease and it’s something our players have struggled with for quite some time. I can see the ones not getting better with training being sold within the next 2 windows

    JC hope you had a great experience on your trip and hopefully you didn’t splash out too much on my prezzie 🙂

  60. Runtings, there seems to be a lot of fan support for Sanson and yes he has shown some ‘technical flashes’ but maybe he doesn’t have the all round game or temperament that’s needed. As fans, we’ve just not seen enough to judge. It does start to look as if yet another manager has their doubts though.

  61. Emery is fortunate in now having a chance to coach and assess most of the squad over the next few weeks. Right now it looks if Sanson and Nakamba will have to step up if they’re going to be retained

  62. Where to begin, I remember when all these niggly rules started to appear, the throw in from where the ball went out was one of the 1st. They have already tried the ten yards if you don’t move and like the keeper taking 6 steps or having to bounce the ball they disappeared up their own chuff. Oh I am sure they are all still in the book they just get ignored once its shown they slow the game down to the pace of treacle. Those calling for them have to remember the poor ref at junior football level with two dodgy linesmen and some angry villagers. This shit only serves rich teams that stand to lose a lot by losing. It takes the fun out of the game no end and probably causes even more cheating to occur, its a simple game best left to the refs and linesman’s eyes, the players have to use their skills, they can’t get their Iphone out and plot a trajectory for their shot, its a real time game.

    Clubs should sign a waiver that thems the rules, tough shit.

  63. Mr Mings? I think he lacks belief in himself, or he simply has days where he can’t concentrate and is slow to react when he has plenty of time. When he’s revved up he is everywhere, that’s adrenaline, simply put he plays better when pissed off.

  64. Met Martin o Neil today,he was signing his book near me,brief chat said he really regretted leaving us the way he did,seemed genuine said emery was a brilliant manager

  65. james

    yeah never been so uninterested in a world cup before. nothing feels right at all.

    at the last min they have banned drinks from outside the grounds which theyve always said would happen.

    and there paying ‘fans’ to attend games

    plastic and fake

  66. Just catching up after a few days in London, seeing an old friend. I am in the camp for having the game controlled by a clock, bringing transparency, and everyone is in no doubt.
    I am also still a believer in introducing time in the sin bin for cards! Stop all this multiple fouling used by some teams.
    VAR should be a team of three, one referee, one ex-player and one technician to ensure that the placing of lines etc, are done on a scientific basis.
    I also think Unai will be looking very closely at all our players in the squad, under 21’s and under 18’s, so that he can assess what is available, where potential lies, so that he can plan better for the future.
    He will only buy if the right player is available now, otherwise any recruitment will be in the summer.

  67. Carrying on the VAR discussion, I’m sick of hearing Shearer and his anti VAR whingeing. “Nobody in the stadium knew it was offside” . . .so why was VAR involved. Errrr. . . . because he was shown to be clearly offside . . .duh.

  68. So now it feels as if we’re having a season reset, where , within a range of 3 does everyone think we will end the season?
    I’m going to say 7th to 9th despite the number of achievable points that have been dropped in the first 16 games.

  69. Predicting where we might finish come season’s end is fraught with danger. Too many unknowns, like injuries, form, new manager bounce, personnel changes et al.

    Taking a stab though…..I think we’ll clear the 50 point mark. Only need about 10 wins for that to happen. Eminently doable with Emery. We are currently close to a cluster of mid-table teams and I do think our outlook is promising, as others have said, the best since MON. I’ll therefore run with P8-P10 as my range prediction.

  70. Well after all the attacks on “Beaky”, he comes good today, and is now England’s most successful manager with his ninth world Cup success.
    It was great to see a team that was very much together, playing like a well-oiled machine with Jude Bellingham being outstanding. Great for a nineteen-year-old Brummie!
    It was also good to see Jack Grealish get on the scoresheet, and Sako have an outstanding game, scoring two goals.
    I shall be supporting the boys and pleased to see everyone getting on with the football, rather than an involvement in politics. If Qatar was a alone in its failings, it may be different, but when most of the world have human rights failings, it seems a little pointless.

  71. PP, yep it was an excellent win today. I’ve been one of Beaky’s sharpest critics and I’d love it, should it prove to be unfounded. One win though against a poor Iran team hasn’t yet changed my mind. Let’s see how we go down the line.

    Viva, Hockey wasn’t a footballer. He was a bush kangaroo.

  72. Wow!
    Looks like the Arab nations are coming to spoil the party with Saudi Arabia defeating Argentina 2-1, and Tunisia drawing with Denmark.
    Good to see a referee using his own judgement to stick to his own decision on penalties!!

  73. That was a great game against Belgium, TBH we should have at least drew that game, we could have had two more pens in my biased opinion. What did you you neutrals make of the ones waived off??
    Still play like that again and we have to get a goal. For the one of the biggest under dogs in the competition, I think we have a surprised a few that’s for sure.

  74. Hello CV.
    That was a great game by Canada. I was like you regarding the penalties but the talking heads after the game discussed it with a referee on the panel and he pointed out why they weren’t penalties. And after he dissected the play I understood. Still, no flies on Canada’s performance. I think they will get out of the group.
    The number of MLS players on the team prove that the MLS league isn’t one to be sniffed at. Those players were great.

  75. Canadian, it was a tough result that Canada should have won. They just didn’t have their shooting boots on and at the highest level that’s costly.

    I didn’t think the penalty given was correct. I’m old school on hand balls. Deliberate, penalty. Accidental, no penalty. I know they’ve tinkered with the laws on this and introduced words like “unnatural”. Total crap for me. However, when the Canada attacker had his foot stepped on, which stopped him from running, that’s a penalty in my book.

    Courtois is 6’6″ and reputed to be the best in the world. The way to beat him from the spot is maybe straight down the middle. Good luck in the forthcoming games.

  76. Canadian v

    that was a fabulous effort from your boys , they did you all and the competition proud

    If they had just one clinical attacker they would have walked that game as you were all over then like a rash

    As for England its the first time we have looked like the team I expect to see since GS has been in charge , been saying 4 ages with the players that we have 5 at the back and 2 holders is just killing our chances, with 4 at the back we can use more of our attacking talent which is our main strength as it suits our players
    Bellingham is going to be the best midfielder in the prem when he comes , what a talent he is a bluenose which is a downside

  77. What a load of rubbish Beaky. Right there, I’ve seen everything that’s wrong in England’s selection and set up. I’m not saying we should be beating USA. But I am saying we should try to attack. The first 5 minutes told me exactly what to expect. Passes along the back 4 = 154. Passes backwards = 236. OK, I’m exaggerating but you know my thoughts.

    Kane was an embarrassment. So was Sterling. So was Saka. Therefore 4-3-3 was really 4-3-0 and the 3 in the middle got swamped. Wrong again Beaky. He plays his favourites. Foden must have leprosy. The rest of the bench were defenders.

    If I’d paid 5 grand to go to Qatar only to see that garbage served up, I’d be after some compo. The other teams now know we’re no threat.

  78. Plug, you’re right. . . .how frustrating was that??
    I can’t have been the only one shouting at him to at least ‘try’ and change the course of the game but no, according to the tv pundits he was sitting there ‘looking concerned’. . . . . remind you of anybody?
    The only excuse he can ‘sort of’ make, is that his job was to see us qualify for the latter stages and we’ve now done that (to all intents and purposes) so we achieved what he was after, which was not to lose.
    My Welsh wife is now hopeful that the team will relax in the final game and give a Welsh team, with everything to play for, an outside chance of coming up on the rails and getting the 3 points which would still give them an outside chance of qualifying.

  79. Yeah, that was very disappointing unless Beaky was simply looking for a draw. Finishing 2nd presents a much easier path, and that may well be what Southgate’s after.

    Kane’s header at the end? He puts that on goal 99% of the time. Not saying he scores every time, but…

  80. At the same time, that’s how England have looked far too often under GS. The US played well, but apart from Pulisic’s shot, never really ended up posing much threat.

    GS had England playing the same as always…round the back and up the sides.

  81. Robb0
    I think you are right. The top teams play not to lose and jockey for position. Perhaps the Saudi / Argentina game was proof of that and it backfired. As was the German loss.

  82. Ian, on average, just 5% of Premier league games end up 0-0 but 20% of world cup games so far have been 0-0. In the Premier league, on average, 55% of games have more than 2 goals scored but in the group games so far its only been 33%, so yes. . . It’s all been a bit cagey so far.

  83. Beaky may be saving players for different games to ensure they do not burn out too soon. It is important how you progress, and by which route.
    He may be playing Grealish more now, as he has not been stretched much this season so far, and the same with some of the other players, who also have experience.
    Morocco destroying Belgium now!

  84. PP, I’d love to think that Beaky is the strategic genius you seem to be inferring and is pacing the squad but I’m really not convinced. Surely if that was the case he would have spread the workload more in the first two games?

    I thought this quote from Rashford after the USA game was interesting:
    ” You do question if you would have changed things in the build-up to the game but that is natural as players because you want to win as many games as you can.”
    Doesn’t that suggest that like the fans, the players may also feel that Beaky’s approach is too defensive?

  85. Beale after leaving Villa. “I’m a London boy and I’m heading home to an exciting project”. Just 21 Championship games later (he won only 9 of them) he’s jumped ship and headed as far away from London as he could.

    Plenty of QPR fans are delighted. If that’s what you call an exciting project, I wonder what crap comes out during his team talks.

  86. Beale is a very interesting case.

    Unless he’s outrunning the axe (can’t be arsed to follow that story), seems rather cold to take that job and turn right back around and head up to Rangers. Of course, the Championship is far more competitive as a league.

    But more than that was this belief that he was a tactical and training genius. I’m assuming the 4-3-3 was every bit as much his as SG’s (being generous to SG there). Didn’t work well when he was at Villa, didn’t work well after. No real adjustments (a tweak or two here and there), no big changes, just mulish obstinacy. Didn’t speak well of either of them.

    You’d have thought that if it was SG cocking things up then Beale would’ve flourished without him.

    Honest question, what did he have QPR playing?

  87. I must own up. Pre tournament, I thought England would struggle to reach the knock out stages. At half time against Wales, I was still thinking the same. Then they started attacking and the damage inflicted on the opposition was there for all to see.

    If we play as we did in the first half against Wales, Senegal will send us home. If we attack like the second half, the quarters is achievable.

  88. JC, I’m not up to speed on Beale’s preferred formation at QPR because like you, I have taken an interest in their progress, other than checking how Tim was getting on down there.

  89. Plug,

    There’s plenty of talent…Odd how they often seem like strangers, other times click (for having played so much together).

    But Beaky really coaches the life out of them, it seems. I get cagey tournament football, but sometimes they’re just painful to watch.

    Glad they’re through, though, and let’s hope they can turn it on.

  90. This morning the BBC are hailing Beaky’s ‘inspired decision’ of bringing in Rashford and Foden. Funny. . . . . and there was the rest of the country thinking he was an idiot for leaving Foden out in the first place. In the previous game it had been clear that it wasn’t clicking for the team and for Saka in particular but it took 68 minutes for Beaky to make any changes at all and 78 minutes before he conceded that it just wasn’t going to click for Saka on that day. Even then, he failed to make the ‘inspired decision’ of giving Foden a go.
    Hopefully there is just too much talent in the squad for Beaky to inhibit them forever and the real England will be given a chance to stand up in the knockout rounds.

  91. JC, you’re right ‘painful’ is the word. There has been some exciting, jump off your seat, football in this tournament but England, with some of the best attacking talent in the tournament, have been boring. Is it me, or have many of the European sides been rather cagey so far?

  92. I’ve seen people saying that the objective was to get out of the group stages and Beaky has been successful in doing that. To put it in context, in the 15 World Cup finals in which we’ve participated we’ve only failed to get out of the first group stages 3 times.

    This squad is ‘capable’ of playing exciting football but he’s presumably decided that the way to win against the few equal or better squads in the tournament is by playing cautious football and he’s going to stick to that mantra throughout the tournament.

    We’ve reached the quarter finals in 60% of the finals we’ve qualified for so anything less than that would be below par even with an average squad. We’ve reached the semis in only 20% of the tournaments though so if we achieve that ‘then’ he will deserve some credit.

    With the attacking talent in this squad though , you can’t help wondering how we ‘could have’ played under a different coach.

  93. I think that Beaky has been very careful to conserve the energy of this squad, try not to concede injuries, and make sure that they do not peak too soon, and basically, he has achieved that.
    He used the Nations qin the summer to examine his squad more fully.
    I think he may have been hoping for a little bit more from Jack against the USA, but he did give him a good run out.

  94. Away from the capers in Qatar, does anyone feel good omens for a Villa FA Cup run? Home to Stevenage should (I have my fingers crossed) mean Villa storming through to Round 4, for a change!

  95. PP, I admire your loyalty but I do think you’re being too kind to Beaky. If he was trying to conserve his squad would he have played the exact same players for the first two games, only made 3 substitutions in the second game and waited till the 68th minute to make his first substitution?
    Would he have kept the exact same spine of the team even for the third game when we would qualify even if we lost by 3 clear goals to Wales? Wouldn’t he at least have wanted to give one of his back up centre backs a teeny bit of game time to protect his first choices from injury or tiredness?

    He clearly trusts his back up choices so little, you also wonder why Mings didn’t get a chance to go when he’s performed so well for England when he’s been given a chance.

  96. viva villa. . . .nice thought isn’t it.. . . . no Man United for a change so surely we have a chance.

    Will Unai try out some youth players do you think?

  97. r0bb0 – I suspect he will go with youth v. Stevenage, but I hope he doesn’t ‘overdo’ it. Just got a feeling this could be our Cup year – 65+ years after I first started supporting Villa, just before the ’57 final. The blessed Peter McParland sent me a card and very nice letter on my 60th birthday, still one of my most treasured possessions!

  98. Maybe last night’s Cardiff game will be a bit of a wake up call and everyone will start concentrating now. Will there be a post World Cup blues for some participants or will it inspire them. . . . I’m not sure which way it typically works.

    Viva . . .whichever way he picks the team and bench will show us a little bit more about the man

  99. Viva, call me a cynic, but I don’t believe we kept getting ManUre and Liverpool in the Cup by chance. Some balls in the bag straight out of the freezer or oven!! We were a guarantee into the next round for the big clubs, which is not the case now. Surprise, surprise we get Stevenage.

    Unai will pick a strong side for Stevenage. They’ll have a grand day out. We’ll be in the hat afterwards with an untampered ball number!!

  100. I can safely state that I no longer understand what constitutes a penalty in football. I also haven’t got a clue how the off side law works. The Poland keeper diverts a cross and Messi gets a penalty for it?? This was right up there with Fernandes doing a pirouette and jumping back first into Konsa raking Konsa’s shin at the same time for a ManUre “penalty” at VP.

    The disallowed France goal by Greaser…..he’s offside when the cross ball is kicked. He becomes onside whilst the ball is in flight. A defender then clears the ball to him and he scores. This is a goal yeh?

  101. Plug, the Messi penalty was just weird, similarly the one the night before (I think) where the defender was presumably judged to have his hand in an unnatural position when the ball hit it despite the fact that he was just trying to stop his fall. There was then the Ronaldo dive to win a penalty which the Fifa technical group described as total genius.

    Is it corruption or incompetence. . . hard to say, but it is bloody frustrating for the watching public

  102. Likewise, I’ve no idea what’s a penalty anymore. I can’t believe the guy stopping himself hitting the ground with his face was a handball. Pretty sure your body sort of automatically extends your arms, making it a natural position.

    The Messi one? Thought the keeper touched it first, no idea how he’s supposed to manage the follow-through. Seems a natural enough collision.

  103. r0bb0, PP.

    I’ve no idea how to read Beaky’s selections. Seems clear he wants the Kane, Saka, Sterling line to sort of be the baseline, and I get it in terms of pace, etc. But that set-up seems better suited to countering into more space, and the way England try to possess and move the ball tends to negate the strengths.

    Likewise, I get wanting to have a set XI and sticking with it. Given the depth, if the subs can impact games, fine. But I’ve never really been sold on the personnel + system.

    Caution? Yes. Makes sense for tournament football, and yes, we’ve seen most of the experienced squads be very cagey in the first half. So, can’t fault him for that.

    What I don’t like is the pattern(s) of play. He seems terrified of having them play anything through the middle or play quickly. Always round the back, up the sides. Predictable, boring, and no one player who can receive and link/dictate in the middle.

    When Jack was on, seemed a lot like before. Players are reticent to give him the ball when he’s drifting inside, it always just goes wide again or backward. So, no point playing him if you aren’t going to play to his strengths, and it seems Beaky and Pep are determined not to let him loose. It’s system above anything.

    But, he is getting results. Just have to see how they fare against stronger sides.

  104. With managing the players, I’m not really sure what he’s doing, either. I’d give Wilson more minutes to keep Kane fresh, thought the US game was crying out for changes like that.

    He did sit Sterling, Saka and Mount, and he has spoken about recovery. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them all back in against Netherlands.

    Bellingham…clearly a very good player with more to come. But apart from the debut, I personally haven’t felt like he’s made a huge impact. Hasn’t done anything wrong at all, but I sort of forget he’s out there. His match ratings have been good, though.

    Anyway, apart from loudly asking during matches what’s going on and why do they do this or that, why is so-and-so playing, I’ve given up on Beaky significantly changing anything.

    They are what they are, and he’ll live or die on these decisions. The upside is that only a couple squads look ‘formidable’. There’s no excuse not to have a deep run.

    But Senegal is not an easy match, and I’m not terribly impressed by the 9 goals against Iran and Wales. Couldn’t have asked for a more favorable group, and the one ‘tough’ side managed to hold them scoreless. At the same time, I can see being content with a draw against the US given Iran and Wales were virtually nailed-on wins.

  105. Why do tv channels continue to pay Souness to be an ‘expert’ pundit. He isn’t intelligent enough to be an ‘expert’ in anything and is regularly guilty of displaying his biased, bigoted views. . . . can’t stand the man.
    Tonight he’s confidently pontificating that the Japanese goal shouldn’t stand, presumably based on some evidence that he’s constructed in his jumble of a brain that isn’t available to anyone else in the world

  106. r0BbO, Souness can do one. There is goal line technology in use and the image I saw showed the ball edge not clear of the whitewash. It was not a case of millimetres, more a case of microns. Tough on Germany, but the issue did not knock them out. That was down to their loss against Japan earlier.

  107. Plug, that’s just how it looked to me too. The point is that VAR would only over-rule it if the ref made a clear and obvious mistake And there clearly and obviously wasn’t one!
    Why do they continue indulging idiots like Souness when it really would be easier just to explain the reality of the situation?
    . . . . surely the answer isn’t that none of them are clever enough to work it out for themselves??

  108. JC, your comments about Beaky’s tactics make such sense. . . . why elect for pace up front, presumably to exploit quick breaks or ball over the top or through the lines and then tell the rest of the team to advance the ball as slowly as possible?

  109. Another point you made was about the quality of the other teams.
    To my mind, at any time during the competition, only Brazil have looked really dangerous. Mbappe has also looked a bit special and his quality has lifted France above the rest of the pack,. Have I missed anyone?
    We’ve seen teams grow during past tournaments and Argentina may do this as the tournament progresses in which case those 3 may all be potential semi finalists. The 4th spot looks up for grabs and open to anybody. It could be England but it seems likely they’d need to get past France.
    Our best chance of doing that is if France pick up a few injuries as my French mate points out, France have a strong first 11 but the quality quickly fizzles out after that.

  110. r0bb0,

    Yeah, only Brazil and France look seriously smooth. No idea how Brazil didn’t score 3 or 4 today, but the keeper had a fair bit to do with it. And that was with 9 changes in the side.

    But you could see how they play both wide, through the middle, and sometimes over the top. Opens up so much, but then they’ve got such good players on the ball. The awareness is excellent. They know when to drop a shoulder and turn, when to one-touch it wide, when to slide it forward. Really nice to watch.

    France just look good and smooth, but Mbappe seems to be the real danger. Griezmann has done a nice job converting to a deeper role.

    Both sides just seem more dynamic and confident, less hesitant, less plodding.

    Argentina might well come on…it’s a bit different, more defensively reliant, haven’t been scoring much, tough to beat. De Maria and Messi definitely seem on their way out, and Messi has seemed a bit off/trying too hard, but I’d expect to see more from him.

  111. Does anyone else find Harry and Meghan’s wallowing in victimhood in order to make as many tawdry bucks as they can rather nauseating?
    There are millions of people who suffer deep and daily racism and others who are left destitute and at daily risk of abuse as a result of their colour or loss of a parent but these two will cry for the camera and release a trailer for their new attention seeking series to try and maximise their own publicity and also harm the work that their brother and sister in law are doing.
    What a totally odious pair they are

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