With cup-run dreams cruelly dashed once again, Villa turn their focus back to the league and Leeds after what will have been a rather intense week at Bodymoor, one would think.

Everyone’s had their say, with the performance displaying everything from complacency and arrogance to plain lack of quality. Some criticism fell on Emery for his selections, tactics, and changes, but really, there wasn’t much management needed and the squad should’ve been more than enough. The only caveat there is that one might expect a lack of cohesion given the changes in the starting XI.

Whatever the faults, I was watching and thinking, “Well, disappointing we can’t kick on and get 3 or 4, but 1-0 will do,” until Dendoncker’s gaffe. Then I thought, “Okay, well, replay it is.” Then the corner routine.

In other words, apart from a mental collapse at the end, Villa had just about done enough.

Which isn’t to say that’s good enough, leading most to summarize that if nothing else, Unai clearly knows what he’s got to work with now. I’m guessing he had a pretty good idea already, but you often learn more in defeat than victory.

So, Alex Moreno has now joined, and Emery’s first transfer is over the line. Many wonder why another left back (after criticizing Digne), and the answer has to be that Unai sees him as an upgrade, and the position is significant to the way he wants to play. Given the other links, Moreno probably also points to a desire to bring in more technical players.

If Stevenage taught us anything, it’s that there’s not enough quality on the ball throughout the side. And we’ve talked about it forever. So, yeah. I’m all for players with good feet, touch, passing weight, vision, and the rest. Players who can actually play in possession. Players who can make you pay.

But as we move through the window, Villa will keep working with what they’ve got. So, one would hope lessons have been learned. Konsa’s spoken of hours of meetings where Emery is trying to link what the players see on the pitch to the bigger picture of what they should be seeing. But Leeds will present an entirely different kind of challenge, and there will at least be space to play in.

So, between embarrassment, demands, and a different kind of opponent, we’ll all be wanting that trusty cliché of “a response.” I’d like to think we’ll get one.

Over to you.

Comments 206

  1. Well how painful was that first half?
    OK we’re a goal up but there’s been no control and just not enough urgency to close them down.
    We’re lacking bite in midfield. . . . I guess without either McGinn or Dendonker we’re looking lightweight.

  2. Communication between the players just isn’t there tonight. . . I do hope they’ve listened to Emery at half time and come out with a bit more intent in the second half

  3. You can see that Emery wants us to play out calmly from defence but we’re inviting Leeds onto us and then don’t have the guile or confidence or movement to find a way through a phalanx of densely packed Leeds players.

  4. Having tempted so many Leeds players forwards to pressure our defenders you’d think it would leave spaces further forward for us to exploit but if they’re there, we don’t seem able to find them

  5. With Ramsey just back from injury he doesn’t seem to be quite up to speed yet and you’ll forgive Moreno for not quite being up to speed yet either . . . I guess that can be all it takes to leave us exposed

  6. Pheeeeeeew!!

    For once we were the team that took their chances. Makes a nice change.
    Bailey and Gnonto both deserved to be on the winning side tonight but happily it was our guy who was.

  7. JG. Moreno had some dodgy moments when he first came on but settled into the game and bearing in mind he had barely any time to even get to know his teammates he did well and must have felt so good to save that goal. . . They’ll all be talking about it in the changing room now . . . great way to settle into the squad.

  8. My thoughts

    Martinez- world class
    Ashley – put in a shift against Leeds best player

    Konza and Mings – Quality

    Moreno – looks great going forward and got back to block a goal on the right back side!

    Kamara – best I’ve ever seen from him. Absolute genius.

    Buendia – back to best. Power on heading goal was amazing. Quality how much he loves the badge

    Bailey- best Villa performance. Maybe because Leeds gave him more freedom

    That was it for standouts.

    For their goal, I watched it a few times and think Sanson was unlucky as he was off balance. Otherwise I thought he was decent.

    Unfortunately I feel we’re crying out for a pacy #9

  9. Until time wasting is redefined it will not change. It’s a tactic used by all the teams. It aggravates opponents, keeps them off the ball during the nitty gritty, gives a bit of time for the team to regroup or get into position, a bit of a breather, and anything else that a team might need. You certainly don’t see managers shouting to get going when they are winning. Martinez’ time wasting is akin to giving the opposition the finger. Sh-t disturber supremo.

  10. Martinez only wastes time when we’re ahead. . . . but if we can keep this good run of form going, he’ll soon be missing games due to cumulative yellow cards!

  11. Apparently, despite coming off the bench after 10 minutes had already gone, Moreno had more touches of the ball than any other Villa player. Now his touches in his first twenty minutes or so may not have been the best but it’s great to see that he was so keen to get involved and was able to find himself in positions where the ball was. As Emery said, Digne’s misfortune gave Moreno a perfect opportunity to get involved and become part of the squad. Thankfully he passed the test.

  12. Interesting to hear Emery’s views on whether we need a new striker. It seems that prior to Watkin’s injury it was not in his thinking. If Watkins is going to be out for any length of time, he may be forced to reconsider of course. There’s been a lot of talk about us needing more strike power up front, but in Emery’s first 6 league games, only Arsenal, Many City, Liverpool and Spurs have been scoring at a faster rate and the last two of those, only marginally so. Bearing in mind that those 6 matches under Emery have included games against Man United, Spurs and Liverpool, you can understand why, based purely on the numbers, he may feel that there are other areas of the pitch requiring more attention. This is also against a backdrop of many of us feeling that Watkins was out of sorts so if Emery is seeing in training what he’s ‘really’ capable of then that may be helping to reinforce his view that a new striker is not top of our priority list.
    We shouldn’t forget that top strikers are the most sought after players on the pitch and if we were to try and bring in one who had shown that he can hit the ground running and provide a quick, and genuine improvement on what we already have, it would probably take all of whatever budget Emery has available.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Watkin’s injury is not a bad one.

  13. It’s a win. Happy days. It’s made my weekend. But we were fortunate to get the 3 points. Still don’t know how we came in at half time 1 goal up.

    The opening goal was a thing of beauty. A Leeds corner dropped to Young in the area. He tarried with the ball briefly to assess his options and saw Kamara break before playing a magnificent pass to him. Kamara galloped up the pitch and turned his man when the cover arrived before dispatching a fabulous pass to Bailey who cut inside and put it in the top bins. Cue arses in the air.

  14. Martinez, Young, Mings, Moreno (after a shaky start) and Kamara were top drawer. Bailey was improved too.

    But oh dear Konsa. I must have counted 10 times in the first half he received the ball from Martinez only to dawdle with it until the press arrived and then hurriedly return it to Martinez who was then under pressure. I’m sending him a laundry bill for cleaning my soiled underwear. He is way too slow in the head.

  15. You know what’s coming from Leeds. They work hard both with and without the ball but we tactically out manoeuvred them. Nice one Unai. They are also prolific foulers and quite dirty. How their keeper never got a red card I don’t know.

    The downside for us were the injuries to Digne and Watkins.

  16. The new guy Moreno grew into the game as he adjusted to the pace of this league. The signs are that I’m going to like him. He saved a goal from Harrison I think it was and got into the opposition area regularly. Think he’ll do some damage there.

    He’s skilful, thinks fast and has speed. Fine attributes.

  17. Plug, good points about Moreno. He really did start to show what he can do in the second half and if that’s a sign of things to come from him, maybe it also gives us an insight into the sorts of players and skills Emery will be aiming to bring into the club.

    It’s interesting that a couple of people have said that Mings had a good game. I thought he did too but he got a slating in the Birmingham Mail and I don’t think JG was too impressed either in the first half, although he too, points most of his criticism Konsa’s way. I imagine the Birmingham Mail reporter’s view was coloured by that one unfortunate slip and it’s shame if his opinion of a 90 minute performance is based on just 2 seconds of it.

  18. Good win

    Poor performance

    Again players like Watkins Ings and buendia shown they need replacing. Bailey isn’t great either doesn’t lift his head up

    We really need 2 or 3 forward players this month

  19. I see that Jesse Marsch says last night was Leed’s best performance since he’s been in charge. Ok the guy must be starting to fear that he’s fighting for his job now but in fairness, they did play with heaps of energy and commitment and at times, some skill too, but yes. . . .they are still a dirty, whingeing side too.
    Against that backdrop, we did do well to hang in there although it was by the fingernails at times. . . ‘Thank you’ Martinez, Young and Moreno who all saved what so easily could have been 3 more Leeds goals.

  20. JG, best to just leave frem to it. . . .sadly he doesn’t listen to anyone else’s opinions. When it’s transfer time, he gets out his phonograph and puts the old ‘we need two new strikers and two new wingers’ LP on repeat (anyone else remember LP’s?)

  21. I didn’t see much of Buendia in the first half and was thinking. . .oh dear. . .what’s JG going to be thinking, but he came back into his own in the second half and got his reward with the goal. . . . and how pleased did he look to score it!?

  22. Must admit I was pleased. . .and relieved. . .to see how well Bailey played last night. He showed against Wolves how much it means to him to perform well and there’s a danger with overly self-critical people that they can retreat into their shells if it all gets too much, but huge credit to him (and presumably his team-mates and manager too) because last night he worked so damn hard and was riding tackles and making runs from start to finish. . . oh and scored a great goal too!

  23. It’s still a bit too soon, for me, to feel ‘totally’ confident that Emery is ‘The One’, but I do like how he conducts himself. Just the things he’s said about Bailey give an insight into the man.
    Asked whether he’d considered dropping him he said:

    “Yes! Because the last match we played against Wolves he had two chances and we drew and he was thinking about his responsibilities to score.”

    You couldn’t ask for a more honest, but straightforward and fair response and you suspect he’d say just the same things to the players faces too. After the game he went on to say:

    “I am so, so happy with Leon Bailey. In the last game he had two really good chances to win the match and he was a bit upset and today he scored the goal and did the action in the second goal.”

    That feels like a genuine response from an empathetic man and just the sort of person you’d want to ‘give your best’ for.

    You get a further insight into how he deal with players from the following quote about Bailey in the aftermath of his missed chances at Wolves and poor performance against Stevenage:

    “We were helping him, supporting him. We were as well trying to give him confidence to continue and to carry on with his work.”

    If ever you wanted to see the difference between people who look for mistakes and poor performances: as an opportunity to criticise and shift blame; and those who see them as an opportunity to discuss how to improve and motivate; then this is it. Instead of thinking ‘Bailey is useless’ Emery sees the good in the player and looks to see how to support and bring the best out of him.

    If only all fans had the same football intelligence and empathy.

  24. R0bb0,

    Thanks for insights on Unai. I hadn’t noticed that. I’m all in on Unai, especially as he’s a coach. I never understood the SG concept where he was manager and Ball did all the work in training. That’s bizarre to me.

    Plug – Konsa poor? Maybe I’m biased because I wear a Konsa jersey during every game, but I thought he made some vital interceptions.

    What I really like with Villa – we have Moreno, Kamara, Luiz and Buendia that are quality one touch passing players. Their quickness and flicks will open up space. Then we have Bailey, Ramsey and Watkins that are speed merchants.

    Frem – what striker do you want in Jan?

  25. Unai doesn’t care if your 17 or 34 if he sees you fit and gives the team different options your in.

    I have no doubt finally after years of having such a samey samey team he will have so many different strings to our bow to win games.

  26. Robbo
    Beundi for me has been a let down in terms of goals and assists ,but was that the stevie g effect,I think so
    Finally we have a style a way of playing even if it’s heartstopping stuff ,emery has done that in 6 matches mixed in with a world Cup,along with that we have martinez our Cantona,he struts about like gladiator long may it last
    Hail emery

  27. JG, completely agree. . . . I imagine that Emery will give every player a chance to prove themselves (heck. . . . . even Sansom has had a couple of run outs!) so if we have any faith in him we all should absolutely give him time to see what he can bring out of them.

  28. I know VAR got us 2 points yesterday. But I haven’t changed my mind. I’m still for binning it. Watching Toney tonight and he wins a dubious penalty. The slo-mo shows he was being tugged by a defender outside the box. Toney then clamps his elbow tight against his side with the defenders arm in between. When he reaches inside the box he goes down still clamping the defenders arm. Plain cheating. Where the fuck was VAR?

  29. After half a season the table doesn’t lie. As fans, we’ve felt the team has been less than the sum of the parts for more than a season.

    The question now is…..are we equal to the sum of the parts or still less? If the latter, then 8th spot or higher will soon be coming into view.

    Still buzzing from yesterday.

  30. Plug
    Var it was correct yesterday but how many times have we said that as villa fans
    Utd goal couldn’t happened to better opposition, don’t agree with it but who cares city have got plenty

  31. James, at £85 million for Mudryk, Shaktar Donetsk have had Chelsea’s trousers down. Same as the Italians did for £96 million Lukaku. Couldn’t happen to a better outfit.

  32. I watched the match again.

    Can we please put a 300m release clause into Kamara’s contract. The man is unreal. I work for a French company and when he signed all the football people in the know said “you’re getting Zidane for free. He’s that good. He’s more that a #6”.

    You know what, he’s sooo much more than a #6

  33. Ings and cash potentially available for offers

    We should absolutely be trying to sell them as well as mcginn, Watkins.

    We’ve moved on from these type of players now.

    They are championship level players / bottom prem team level.

    We need next level, hopefully even higher with uni pull

  34. Interesting comments in an interview with Mings:

    He says that Emery has given him a new lease of life at Villa (which also suggests that his enthusiasm had waned under the previous manager . . surprise surprise!)
    He says “Individual games are so tough at the moment because we are learning new ways to play”. I guess as fans we should try (difficult for some) to have a little patience as it will take time before the ‘new ways’ are fully embedded. Having said that, the ‘new ways’ have done pretty fucking well so far!
    He’s a thoughtful player and is careful not to criticise previous managers when he says: “I’m being exposed to a whole new different way of coaching – not better or worse – just different”
    Everyone seems to talk about Emery’s attention to detail and it seems he’s been concentrating amongst other things on catching opponents offside as Mings says: “You see us celebrate offsides – quite heavily – because that’s what we are focused upon. If we hold our line and the attacker is offside, it’s dead. You saw that against Leeds with their disallowed goal.”

    When that dick of a Sky commentator was saying how “unlucky” Leeds were to have the Rodrigo goal called offside by VAR I was shouting. . . . ‘no, they weren’t unlucky, the guy was offside!’ Maybe we should actually be thinking ‘what great play by our defenders to catch him offside.’

  35. JG, I know I suggested yesterday that its’ best to ignore Frem but I thought Villa MD asked a very fair question when he said to Frem “which specific striker do you want?”

    Constantly criticising others is often used by insecure people trying to make themselves feel better and I guess we should try to be aware of that but it doesn’t make it any the less wearisome for everyone else.

    Frem. . . .just in case you do actually read others comments . . . you say you respect Emery, so don’t you think that he deserves some time to work out which players he’s able to get to fit his way of playing and which he can’t? None of these players are intrinsically bad or they wouldn’t still be in the club. The question is whether Emery is able to identify and harness whatever skills they have in his squad. Give the guy a chance to do that eh?

  36. Well been between watching the game at the local again and finishing my conservatory ceiling but I have got to say that by plan or not we are starting to accumulate some class additions. Kamara would of given France a better chance in that final no doubt, what a player he is and will be. Moreno, now that is a FB, his timing of runs , energy and awareness is incredible, Phil could learn off of him.

    I must admit I have not been a fan of older players which is strange as I fully believe that if you eat and train properly you can stay relevant in sport in your 30’s, See Ash and Ronaldo, takes dedication and maybe some genetics but I am not going to flinch when I see us buy a 29 year old again. It does bring us closer to the magic 27 average age that seems to be the age of teams that win stuff.

    Well done to Unai he played Leeds well, they are made for breaking against and we did ride our luck but it worked, wolves were a different proposition as we saw.

    Everything about Bailey looked better, he went past players mainly because they allowed him inside, wolves didn’t. Still when on song he’s a pain and when he has acres to run into.

    Mings and Konsa had to get used to Moreno but they did eventually, Young was occupied with his winger and what a player he was, what a footballing brain with skill to match, he’ll be gone, he is everything Traore at wolves isn’t, wish he was ours imagine him and Moreno.

  37. Sanchez £Nil
    Estupian £14m
    Dunk £Nil
    Colwill £Nil (loan)
    Groß £3m
    Mac Allister £7m
    Lallana £Nil
    March £Nil
    Caicedo £4.5m
    Ferguson £Nil
    Total £31m

    Criminal how Lange and purslow are still in a job

    We spent more on buendia alone

    In fact we are something mad like 10th most money spent in Europe over last few years

    We need to go and do what Brighton are doing, our owners need to rip our current scouting network away

  38. Robbo

    Some players just don’t have the capacity to improve

    Watkins cash etc haven’t got better

    Watkins won’t ever be able to finish or control a ball he’s 27 now not young cash 5 won’t ever be able to cross mcginn won’t improve his technique

    We need to get rid of players we signed from the championship

  39. Frem, you’re right that Brighton have done some fantastic business but they’ve also had excellent managers who’ve been able to get the most out of them. You’re clearly right that we haven’t done such good business as them and it’s something we should aspire to, but I think our biggest failing is not finding the very best managers to get the most out of our players. I’m with Mark in believing that Dean Smith did exceptionally well for us and of course it’s hard not to let the fact that he is ‘one of us’ colour our judgement to some extent. Recruiting Gerrard was an almost inexcusable, huge error of judgement on behalf of everyone involved and has set us back even more than the 18 months or whatever it was that he was with us.
    Emery is increasingly feeling like the right man for the job right now and, I know you don’t share the same view as many of us on the players we have, but surely even you must accept that Emery is in a far better position to judge the qualities of the players than we are? Why not trust in him and give him the space to do that?

  40. Going back to Brighton, they stand head and shoulders above every other club in the division for their league position in relation to their net spend. If we were going to throw money at any transfer it should be in trying to bring in whenever it is who has done such a good job for them although if I were them. . . . .would I want to move?

    Since 2018 we’ve spent the 7th most in the division, and since 2019, the 8th most. I said before the start of the season that I thought our current squad was capable of achieving 8th in the league and there’s nothing I’ve seen to change my mind on that now that we seem to have a decent manager. In other words, our league position should be representative of the quality of our squad if only our directors hadn’t fucked up the manager recruitment.

    The next step, I agree is to look to do better than 8th and that will come from bringing in the right players and managing them properly. What we probably do not need is the complete upheaval of loads of new players. . . . that is more likely to set us back than move us forward.

  41. Frem, You think that Emery is a good manager . . . you’ve said you think he is. . and you think he speaks openly and honestly . . .you’ve praised him for this. He has been complimentary of Watkins so it seems to me that you have three options:

    You change your mind about Emery being a good manager
    You change your mind about Emery being open and honest
    You stick with what you have said about Emery and accept that ‘maybe’ he is seeing things in Watkins that you are not. At least give him time to properly judge. You may well be right that he will decide by the end of the season that we need someone different/better, but until then, go with his judgement.

  42. Mark, we finished a new conservatory on our kitchen in the Autumn but we only did the finishing work and had someone else actually build the thing. I was nervous, because last time we did this was around 30 yers ago and then we had to put doors back in between the kitchen and conservatory because it was so bloody hot in summer and cold in winter. Glass insulation has clearly come on ‘so’ much since then (and we have a slightly smaller ratio of glass to solid wall this time round) so I’m pleased to say we’re not having to seal it off this time round!

  43. Mark, you make an interesting point about older players. On Friday, our right back was Young by name and young by nature . . . .what a brilliant example of what you’re talking about. It may be a good that we a week’s break before our next game though because surely it must take longer to recover as you get a bit older and he was worked soooo hard by their winger who does look a real find!

  44. Frem, just before you ask why ‘our’ scouts didn’t find Gnonto, it would be a fair question, but it’s worth bearing in mind that in the last couple of years Leeds have had a significantly greater gross and net spend than we have so you’d hope that they may have found ‘some’ nuggets’ within that spend.

  45. Oh. . . . .and despite that spend, Leeds are 8 points behind us in the league , in the last 5 games, have gathered only 2 points against our 10, and their manager is hanging on by his fingertips

  46. Newcastle 3rd

    Fulham 6th

    They don’t have better defenders keeper or midfield than us

    You know what they do have?

    Better strikers and that’s why they are where they are

    Mitro banging them in.. Wilson. Isak scored 3 in 4 prem games

    We have Ollie Watkins up front and Danny Ings

    Our strike force is what let us down all the time

  47. We absolutely have to go and spend big on a top striker.. It’s our major downfall. They just don’t score goals

    Read that Digne is our highest earner on 160k countio and Ings 3 and 4th

    Purslow and Lange are horrific

  48. If Newcastle get European this football unfortunately they will be the new man City and its another club we just won’t compete with with Lange and purslow running the show signing crap on high wages

  49. Anyone else find Guardiola’s manner a bit petulant and embarrassing?

    He was complaining that his team were exhausted and using that as an excuse for losing against Man United but United’s players had played in the FA cup and carabao cup also.

    In his mid week failure against Southampton he only had Ake, Haaland, Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva, Mahrez and Ederson on his bench to bring on as fresh legs so you can understand why the poor thing feels that he doesn’t have the squad depth of some of the other teams.

    He said he’s been with City for 5 years although I reckon he’s in his 7th season. . . . do you think he’s beginning to feel that maybe he should have won the Champion’s league in that time with all the money he’s spent?

    Of course he’s a good manager, but is he a great one?
    Will he only ever go where he thinks he has the freedom to buy his way to success?
    Does he make the most of players he has available?
    Will he always think that he is bigger than the club?

  50. Frem, so Newcastle are where they are because they have better strikers?

    I’m guessing you don’t know that Ings has better shot accuracy than any of Almiron, Wilson and Guimaraes? Has similar conversion to Almiron and Guimaraes and much better than Wilson?
    scores considerably more goals per minutes played than each of those Newcastle strikers.

    Watkins has the best shot accuracy of the lot, but has not been converting as many shots as he could and should this season. He’s shown in previous years that he is capable of it but needs that extra bit of confidence to return and then he could be a huge asset for us again. If anyone can bring that out of him then I reckon Emery can. I certainly hope he can but I have a sneaky feeling that you’d rather actually see Watkins and the team fail.

    There are often valid points within what you say but you are complete hostage to your own prejudices which leads you to say things that are just wrong. When someone tries to engage you in a sensible discussion you tend to just repeat your prejudices instead of taking a second to question. . . “am I actually right? “

  51. I fear you’re right about Newcastle but credit to them, they’ve done it by recruiting a fantastic manager rather than spending big so far. They got Howe we got Gerrard. . . .THAT’S where we went wrong

  52. Well, been a very social weekend, so I’m late to the party.

    Typical Leeds game, tough for Moreno to debut against a bunch of rabid terriers. But he did get into the groove and will be a good signing, I think.

    Mings’ point about learning a new way to play…yeah, there’s a real tactician and coach in charge, and years of habits to unlearn. So it won’t always look great. But, when you take your chances, especially early, obviously has a huge impact on the way it plays out.

    In many ways, Leeds are the best and worst team for us to play against. Always a nail-biter, they never quit running and creating chances because of it. But it also leaves them wide open, which is why they aren’t as successful as they could be.

    Bailey definitely benefited from that. If he can learn to adapt his game, try taking on fewer players, wait for the clear chances in space, get his head up, he’ll be a much better asset. The goal, well thank god he scored. Should help him a lot.

  53. r0bb0,

    “Which striker would you get” is the big question. We’ve seen successes and flops at all price ranges, Chelsea defo at the top of the flops chart.

    Apart from Kamara, atm, there isn’t a player out there you couldn’t improve on. But that’s just the reality across almost all the PL. Even the top clubs are always buying and selling.

    So, once again, it’s all about getting the most of what you have, establishing an identity, and then bringing in the right players to fit.

    Simple idea, hard to execute. For the 2-3 teams we laud, the rest struggle like we have. If Emery’s here for a bit, I think it will finally change.

  54. JC. . . You put your finger on it there with regard to Bailey: “try taking on fewer players.” I think Frem may have said that he needs to get his head up a bit too.
    He seems to be an instinctive player with some great innate skills. . . . . if only he could add a bit more awareness he’d be great.
    It’s a hard skill to learn but hopefully Emery can help him with that.

  55. You expect your wingers, above all to have a bit of pace and able to beat their full backs. That immediately, dramatically limits the pool of possible players to choose from. It also puts on extra pressure because there’s less time to think. It’s all very well a centre back receiving the ball, holding it and then casually passing it to his other centre back and moving into position to receive it back if needed (no criticism of centre backs here. . . .they have other key attributes) but a winger is likely to be moving at pace which gives him less time to think and also having to calculate when and how to kick a faster moving ball, whilst also very quickly assessing where the opposition and his team mates are, and where they’re likely to be in 2 second’s time after he’s kicked the ball.
    It’s asking a hell of a lot, which is why it’s rare to see all the attributes in one player.
    You think about our wingers over the years and how frustrated, fans have become that they don’t do ‘everything’ well. I remember fans bemoaning the fact that we’d let Marc Albrighton go after seeing him succeed at Leicester, but I also remember him coming in for heaps of criticism from Villa fans for not being able to cross the ball.
    Andy Weimann flattered to deceive, making some great runs and scoring some great goals, but just lacking that bit of skill and awareness. Trez, El Ghazi, Traore. . . .oh and the other Traore too, they’ve all been found wanting by Villa fans over recent years. Ashley Young is probably the closest we’ve come to an all round great winger although he wasn’t the very fastest and he did frustrate opposing (and ultimately even Villa) fans by regularly ‘buying a foul’ when he ran into dead ends.
    Bailey seems to be one of the most promising we’ve had so I hope he continues to improve and that people are able to see the good and not just look for the mistakes, because there ‘will’ be mistakes and if we were to replace him. . . . .the replacement would make mistakes too. . . ..it’s the nature of the beast.
    I’m not saying wingers should be beyond reproach (just because I used to be one) but if we expect perfection, odds are we’ll be let down. That young winger for Leeds looked to have all the attributes but I wouldn’t mind betting that he’ll follow up that performance with some dud ones over coming weeks.

  56. Brighton, yep they have got the recruitment sorted out of all the prem clubs for me but its been a long time in the making and much investment in their youth team that have born fruit, we on the other hand are trying to catch up fast but haven’t refined all the systems yet. we show signs of getting there though and Unai appears to be a manager that can identify the right parts to buy even when fans are pointing at other positions that appear more obvious, hence we need to shut up and let him get on with it.

    On Newcastle and Fulham having better strikers? maybe better finishers yeah on their day but crucially the big difference is creating what’s known as Big Chances, we are 14th in that league. Have great forwards of course can help but as Liverpool sit 2nd on big chances and are below us in the league its not the whole picture. West ham are bottom and have created 14 and scored 15 so they are pretty clinical just don’t create enough.

    We are barely better than the bottom clubs on that score we have 21 and 22 goals so we are putting away the big chances only, Fulham you have to say are only 1 big chance above us on 22 but have scored an amazing 32 goals, that really just means they have been lucky enough to score some goals from ridiculous situations, worldies etc. Southampton up next have created 27 but scored 17 so they really do not have clinical finishers but on their day can hurt you.

    Leeds in the last game smashed us on XG so for us its been about being clinical from few chances and its why we have done so well lately. Its also been about being very hard to beat.

  57. I’d like to see Bailey on the RW although Moreno means that Unai is building that asymmetrical system of his with the LB having that clear channel, two up top with one (Bailey) out wide right.

    Kamara is quickly becoming Unai’s Jack, he can be the pivot around all we do , it does have its dangers as in if he’s out we stutter, hopefully a couple of the youngsters in Tim and Raikhy possibly providing cover and competition in the near future. Problem being is when you get a real good one its difficult to keep him and build around him, they are mostly irreplicable.

    So I look forward to Frem pointing out that Unai can’t do it it without Kamara.

  58. Heroes…..Wow, and he’s only 19 years old. And a Columbian international. I have no idea what he’s like as I don’t know the guy. Welcome to VP Jhon Duran.

  59. Robbo my conservatory went up in 2004, its more like an extension and it has the kitchen diner in it. Problem is its boiling in summer freezing in winter. in the recent cold snap the frost stat was coming on as its situated with the boiler in the kitchen. So I’ve Insulated the roof and given it a ceiling and new lights, it will get an under floor heating system when I’m ready as will the bathroom and middle room, new double glazing panels to follow. Building a 25m2 Log cabin as well at the moment, once done I can move my Gym equipment in there (there’s a lot of it ) then move tools, materials etc into the old shed while I build a garage. After that I can clear the ground floor and get stuck into that, its like a building merry go round

  60. We’ve signed a quick tall striker everything Watkins and Ings aren’t

    Hopefully sign another striker to Ings and Watkins are miles of what level we need

    Add a quick inside forward and cm also

    Sort this poor squad out uni

  61. Honestly next season the only players who should be with us are Martinez Mings Luiz Kamara Ramsey and new lb

    Sell everyone else and improve

  62. We could put a sign up “Fire sale” outside villa park? I’m sure that selling about 19 players in one go will be easy, after all they are all not good enough for us so teams will be fighting over them. Then with the £20m we get for lot we can buy two more 19 year olds.

  63. Mark, good luck with the conservatory. Our experience has been hugely different this time round. . . . . some decent insulation has made it a real asset which we use pretty much every day whereas the previous one was rarely used

  64. Thanks for the ‘anagram John’ links. If only Ings and Watkins had provided a similar number of goals and assists in a season, maybe someone would be able to pull together a similarly impressive YouTube montage for them!

    When you first see him, you imagine he’d be a striker in the mould of John Carew or Heskey but he seems to be quite different to both of those. He certainly has skills and confidence and those are two pretty handy assets to start with. He also knows how to buy a foul, which we’ve missed since Jack moved onwards and benchwards.

  65. Frem, you’ve been very critical of Luiz in the past so it’s good that you now see him as a key asset going forward but it does also demonstrate how a player’s value ‘can’ change depending on how they develop and who is managing them.

    As JC pointed out yesterday, pretty much every player ‘could’ be improved upon but that could be said of every club . . . .there can only be 11 ‘best’ players in the world for each position at any one time.
    Based on how we’ve done since Emery joined, it does begin to look as if this current squad is capable of lifting us to 8th position or thereabouts which may not be quite what the owners had hoped for at this stage but is in line with our recent net spend.
    It now seems as if the owners have confidence in their new manager and are prepared to back him, so provided we get the recruitment right you’d have to hope that we’ll have a squad capable of top 6 by this time next year.

    (can’t help myself. . . . . Frem, why on Earth would you want Purslow and Lange to be responsible for replacing nearly all our squad bearing in mind your views of them?)

  66. The only things that gave me pause for thought on the new strikers vids were one he went over a lot and two I didn’t see any headers whatsoever that I can remember.

  67. Robbo already it looks like the kitchen is not losing heat as it was, basically like an open window. I’ve installed a wifi system called Tado so I can see the temp in all rooms

  68. Best wishes Freddie Guilbert for your future career. I am one of those fans that valued your efforts in a Villa shirt. A warm welcome is assured if you ever return to VP, hopefully for a European tie in the not too distant future.

    His parting statement is exactly what I would have expected from him, pure class.

  69. Lots of activity at Villa Park sorting out players, including youngsters being recalled, selling Vassilev, Freddie gone, and lots of rumours over incomings.
    It does seem now that Unai doesn’t want to hang about, and wants his own players in.
    Not much good speculating, as I am sure b y the end of the week we will know who is coming in, and a good idea of who is leaving.

  70. Would love us to sell Ings and go get another striker to

    Unfortunately our attacking players just don’t strike fear into anyone

    Ings no pace Watkins just useless can’t control or finish a football buendia slow and sloppy won’t dribble won’t run baily runs with his head down and 1 in 10 shots good

    We need a new attacking line up hopefully get another couple in this month

    I think uni is beginning to see purslow and Lange are shite though we getting rejected by a few players

  71. We just need better all round attacking players desperately

    It’s scary the money we’ve wasted on Watkins Ings baily and buendia

    If we had a proper scouting network imagine what would have been done with that money

    I would say none of those 4 are good enough for top half prem side

  72. Imagine what Brighton would have done with 100 million to spend on 4 players

    Imagine what gems they would have found

    Instead we have Lange who thought buendia was a 33 million pound sr and Watkins a 20 million pound striker

  73. It’s easy saying Brighton scouts are what we need,seem to remember Everton taking Leicester scout,that’s worked well for Everton and look at Leicester their run is over
    Think emery needs time,we have the bulk of decent squad,we need an injury free run Carlos ramsay mcginn missing world Cup hang 0vers

  74. JC. . . I’ve been against Frem being chucked off the site, but could there be an exception made if he say. . . repeats the same thing more than 3 times on one thread. . . .or something like that?

  75. JG,

    That’s just it…replicating success is difficult, and I do think there’s enough to build on.

    The way Emery looks to be going about his business, clearly he’s got a bias for players he knows, but they’re all good players on their day. And none of the links/signings so far are costing fortunes.

    I’m sure he’s convinced they can play in his system and will be upgrades.

  76. With Buendia, I think there’s a couple things to be considered:

    One, he was bought to play with Jack, and, I believe, to fill the Barkley role.

    Two, it’s hard being a one-touch player when no one else around you is. Luiz can be, and Kamara is definitely changing things.

    Three, apart from perhaps being overly ambitious too often, he’s tidy with the ball, works hard, defends, knows how to cycle it and wriggle out of trouble. He thinks quickly and sees well.

    Don’t know what the future holds for him, don’t know if he’s reached his ceiling. We’ll know in the next couple windows.

  77. thanks Robbo at least he can head then.

    History is a great teacher Frem, all scouts have purple patches and clubs do too. Villa had Saunders for 8 years to build for one title and the European cup and he is considered as being one of the best we have ever had. Went to a few other clubs and did bugger all. Smiths time at Villa was special, he set records and achieved things and then it fades away, Clough great at Derby shit at Leeds then great at Forest, numerous Liverpool managers did well, ex- players steeped in the same upbringing eventually petered out.

    So its not as easy as get him buy all the good players never will be.

  78. Sky Sports reporting that West ‘Aaamm have completed the signing of Danny Ings for £15 million although the official website remains silent so Sky’s statement is less than accurate.

    Frem will be delighted. But he may hold Purslow & Lange’s feet to the fire for wasting £10 million over 18 months.

  79. Plug, if confirmed (and it has seemed to be going that way) it seems to be placing a lot of confidence in the Jhon Duran signing. Emery has said that Bailey can act as a striker and of course we don’t know what/who else may be in the pipeline.

  80. JC, based on media rumours, Emery does seem to be looking to bring in players he already knows, but Jhon Duran hadn’t played fornhim and I don’t believe Moreno had either had he?
    Will most of the links to ex Unai players prove to be no more than bloggers click bait, with just enough plausibility. . . to make us click?

  81. JC, your comment about Buendia seems very fair and also suggests that JG’s criticisms may have some justification too.
    Hopefully you’re right, and Emery is starting to bring in more of the sort of players who will be able to work with Buendia’s style of play and help bring out the best in him.

  82. Mark, your comment about history being a great teacher is a good one. It’s not just about being in the right place though, it’s also about being at the right time. Look at David Moyes. . . . West Ham’s saviour last year and now needing to be saved himself. Arteta two seasons ago struggling to even tread water without drowning and now confidently surging ahead of the field.
    So it’s not just about finding the right fit (Clough at Forest but not at Leeds) but also giving them time to see whether the longer term fit is really there.
    I think both you and I would have liked Smith to have been given a little longer but hopefully Emery will show that all’s well that ends well.

  83. r0bb0,

    Duran’s an interesting one, as I’m not sure who, outside scouting networks, would really ‘know’ him. But it seems clubs have certainly been watching.

    When I said ‘knows’, it’s more that Emery understands who the player is and what he brings (rather than that he’s played under him). As opposed to someone saying “Danny Ings scores goals,” and just buys him without any other considerations.

  84. Also, Danny Ings:

    Getting older, contract running down, on massive wages and doesn’t fit Emery’s system. Sell now, get the most you can. (At least he had some residual value.) We’d get less in the summer. Having him sign a new deal wouldn’t have raised his price any.

    Suggests further incomings. I agree with the all the folks saying that doesn’t necessarily mean a pure CF.

    I also like the fact that it seems to say Emery’s in charge and NSWE aren’t afraid to make hard calls.

  85. I can see Emery staying with Watkins and Bailey (current squad), and Duran coming on and getting minutes.

    You’re taking less chances putting a big, fast forward in, however young/raw, than slotting someone into midfield.

    But this goes back to all the players…Emery isn’t here to tinker. Like MK says, you can’t replace everyone at once, but Villa will look rather different after this window and the summer.

  86. Robbo deffo not just right place right time, personalities and clashes, managers go to players aging and him not finding replacements at the club or where he moves to (SAF did that well and Wenger). Managers ability to blend a team, sometimes it just work out with a team someone else brought in, some fans don’t like their style is a big problem for many.

    I think Unai has a great balance to his attributes.

  87. With ings gone ,it leaves us with o ly 2 out and out attackers with still half a season to go
    This can still be decent finish to a season which in turn should set us up for following one
    We don’t seem to have any youth trying to break into squad

  88. Transfers
    If it was easy everyone could do it
    Look at 2 lads Brighton sold for massive profit bissomu cucrella,both looking really poor,yes I wanted bissomu thought he was my perfect midfielder
    Everton spent guts of 90m,West ham after a good season spent 150m,big match at weekend with a draw resulting in both managers getting sack
    Me I trust emery to sign another 2 or 3 to finish out season

  89. Players take time to settle , a season at least to start seeing the best from them usually, if we get a few in this window that hit the ground it will be some window. Either way patience is required for all. Sometimes player land with a bang then lose there way, same with managers. We are not Chelsea though so we need an end to the manager and player merry go round sooner than later.

  90. Best wishes for the future Danny Ings. We appreciate your efforts in a Villa shirt.

    It was the signing of Danny Ings that led me to query on this forum whether Compass had made their first error since taking over. He was a regular scorer but getting older by the day and with a receding value. It was a divergence from our “buy young players to improve them and increase their value” modus operandi.

    Unai’s statement that he had decided to let Danny go was telling. Transfers are definitely his domain and I trust him far more than Lange or Purslow.

  91. Plug- to be fair to Ings we never really saw what smith was intending, to many injuries to players and jacks departure meant by the time Gerrard turned up it was all change. He was never a fox in the box type and required space and often played and made runs from deep, the feeling was he was a “we signed one of the prems top scorers” statement signing. It does look like smith had nowhere near the say in players bought that either Gerrard or Unai now has. unai apparently wants another technical director to work with or above Lange, Real Sociedad’s sporting director Roberto Olabe has been mentioned.

  92. Anyone else feeling uneasy about today?
    I guess it’s years of feeling we’re making progress and then crashing back down to reality.
    Southampton have turned a mini corner so I imagine we’ll be taking the ‘away from home’ approach today, despite Southampton’s lowly position in the table?

  93. Mark, did Smith ever ‘intend’ anything with Ings. . . . did he even want him?

    He could however very easily be the missing corner piece In West Ham’s jigsaw that saves Moyes job, and the Hammer’s season, if Moyes is able to find the best way of using him.

  94. I find the Ings business funny in terms of wet spam. People loudly lamenting not signing Bowen, spam were flying, now here they are looking to Danny to rescue them.

    He might, but it really is a strange one.

  95. Today’s game is also a strange one. Don’t see them much, but such a defense-first Southampton looks a bit odd.

    A few nice passages leading to nothing much, but both JJ and Bailey could’ve done better with the chances that fell to them.

    What I am liking is that we seem more comfortable on the ball, Bouba and Doug interchanging with ease. Players seem to have a better idea where they’re supposed to be, where the outlet is. I particularly like it when I see us pass to the 6 or 8 in the middle when playing out from the back, and having that player turn upfield with the ball.

  96. For me, Luiz and Kamara have formed a really nice partnership, and Luiz looks like he might be reaching that next level much more consistently.

    Phil…Just not at the races. Hard to come in, sometimes, and get up to speed, and I understand any manager would want to try and get him going, but it’s just not happening.

  97. Another result in the great column,are they the same players that Gérard almost destroyed
    We need additional players bench was woefully short on attacking options

  98. Solid performance and we look like a team that can win without being spectacular, some of the passing was superb today, there really isn’t anyone we should fear at the moment either.

  99. Mark,
    I’m sure you’re right that Smith will have had some input to the Ings recruitment, and I may have got my timings mixed up, but I do remember that like me, you questioned the change in direction in player recruitment, which I ‘thought’ started before Smith actually moved on. I believe that there was speculation in his last season with us that signings were being imposed upon him.

  100. I expected a win and got it. There’s definitely an improvement in the middle. As Mark said the passing has improved. Martinez is just wonderful. I’m quite happy with the improvements been made since Emery changed addresses.

  101. It’s another top weekend. Crack, fizz, glug, glug.

    A skinny win but I’ll take it. A fortunate win too with the VAR decision chalking off their goal, but I’ll take that as well.

  102. We can clearly see the signs of improvement under Unai. There is now a structure, much better passing and as others have mentioned the axis of Kamara and Luiz in the middle is forming nicely.

    It was a typical Unai away day performance. A bit more clinical up front and we may have collected a much easier win. We’re on the march.

  103. R0bBo, I’d have settled for a draw beforehand because Soton have picked up form wise of late. Getting the 3 points was a bonus.

    I’m now looking up the table. We seem to have caught the trailing pack. Could we…..reach Europe in year 5 as planned by Compass?

  104. Plug. . . before Kick off, I was thinking we’d be doing ok to get the draw too. I know everyone seems to be feeling we only just squeaked through today but the only statistic that Southampton won, was fouls commited, and they totally smashed that one.
    How long would it need to be before we could start saying that we’ve moved beyond new manager ‘bounce’ and are seeing genuine and sustained improvement?

  105. rObB0, I think we are now beyond new manager bounce. Our status after the Fulham game was a relegation scrap which is now history. Discussion needs to move forward to the rebuilding phase and in that respect, it’s only just started.

  106. Somehow I managed to watch the game on Villa TV , which was great!
    An impressive display by the team today, especially Young, Martinez and Kamara. Luiz is really showing how important he is, and how important it was that he stayed.
    So pleased for Ollie that he has got his goal at last, should help his confidence no end!
    Konsa and Mings now have their act back together, looking so solid once more.
    Had quite a surprise when I saw Villa’s wage bill putting us as the 14th highest spending club in the Premier League with a bill of £1.85million, with Kamara the most expensive player on £175,000 per week, Next above us is Leicester with a bill just over £2million, Vardy their most expensive player. Then comes Liverpool £3.4 million, Mo salah on £350,000 per week, Man City £3.5 million with Kevin de Bruyne on £340,000 per week. Chelsea £3.6 million with Sterling on £350,000 per week, showing they are all fairly close, but then the top club is of course Man Utd with a bill of £4.5 million and David de Gea on £375,000 per week!
    Interesting that Arsenal and Spurs have lower wage bills than Villa!
    I am sure that is one of the reasons that Ings has gone, and Villa want to bring their wage bill more into line.
    I think that as fans we need to think seriously about European football and the effect it can have on the club, and is this why clubs like Leicester and West Ham are now in trouble, maybe through not having big enough squads to cope with so many extra matches.

  107. PP,

    You read my mind…If we were to somehow get a spot, it would be a least a year too soon.

    Ideal for me would be 8-10, finishing with momentum, a nice summer, and then a good push next year. But we just don’t have anywhere near the depth yet.

  108. PP, that wage bill table is interesting isn’t it. I think the one you were looking at was for last season and it suggested that our 16th position was slightly below our wages position of 14th. It’s not going to be surprising that 4 of the 6 teams paying lower salaries than we were are no longer in the Premier league. I guess it just shows that to some extent at least, you get what you pay for.
    I don’t know how accurate these tables are, but spotrac have produced one for this season https://www.spotrac.com/epl/payroll/ and it suggests that we’ve moved up from 14th to 7th, showing again how supportive our owners have been. it should be remembered that to some extent we’ve swapped high transfer fees for high wages, in order to attract players towards the end of their contracts.
    If accurate, this emphasises yet again that under Gerrard, we really were performing well below where our salary position would indicate we should be, but have been over-performing in recent weeks. If we were to settle into 7th place performances I think we’d all be happy with that, although as John, Paul and Ian have pointed out it may be better to have one more year to build a fully competitive squad before trying to take on Europe.

  109. Emery isn’t messing about is he? He’s deciding which players don’t fit the way he wants to play and he’s moving them out. . . seemingly even if we don’t have replacements lined up. He’s mentioned us being out of the cups as a reason why the squad can be trimmed and stated that we’ll only bring in players of the right quality. . . . . and that may not be in this window.
    No doubt some fans will be unhappy about this potentially leaving us short for the rest of this season but I have a sneaky respect for his single mindedness.
    A few injuries to key players could leave us exposed and may even result in us achieving a lower place in the table than we otherwise might have done, but as others have pointed out, maybe 8th -11th would be a perfect finish this season? We probably only need 10 more points to be clear of the relegation zone so if Europe might be a year too soon, his approach feels like a pragmatic one. . . and is showing the owners that he will do his best not to waste their money too.

  110. Still buzzing from yesterday. Yaaay.

    I have every faith in Unai being able to establish a squad capable of competing in Europe next season should it happen. I’m not in the least bit concerned it may be premature. He’ll know by season’s end what his requirements will be for next season and he’ll make sure we’re good to go.

  111. I’d be fine with Europe. unai has an amazing record in those competitions and I suspect that squad won’t be weak for long. The kids out on loan won’t be kids by next season. Kessler, Tim Iroegbunam, Archer, the young winger who’s name escapes me but has been on the bench for weeks now. We may not be as weak as we think. Unais thorough approach to matches would help and we would not be fielding the 1st team every game I’d suspect. So along with the domestic cups good learning curves for the players. If the focus is the league then I don’t see a problem. Of course the offer of European footy won’t go amiss in recruitment.

  112. Sorry, perhaps I should have converted the article saying 14th, because it referred to the rising position. It means that we are the 6th highest spender, after Leics, Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea and United.

  113. Booooom
    Remarkable what unai is doing in such a short space of time with the players inherited.

    Patterns of play, clear style. Patience I love watching it. We are so calm on the ball and keep possession.

    I love Martinez more then anything but was worried about his footwork and commanding his whole box like Alison or ederson but the change has been insane. He’s out his box playing a sweeper now! The def as a whole takes much much credit. Clean sheets away from home! I can’t believe my villa eyes.

  114. Unai saying we need different types of players is just music to my ears.

    He loves danjuma who’s gone toffees but said we have Bailey who’s the same so don’t need him. No more samey samey!

    Yeah good luck Ings but never a right fit for us and bought with no style or plan in place. 15 mill and high wages off the books for someone who is 31 this year is good business

  115. Heroes, I don’t think you can say there was no plan when Ings came in, there were so many injuries plus Jack leaving Smith had to go 352 to get width so any plan became survival.

    Unai has been nothing short of incredible though, Bailey says he’s got a great sense of humour too.

    we may have little choice about Europe if we keep this up, six of the next nine matches are against sides in the bottom half.

  116. hmmm think 352 lasted all of 5 mins.

    was just a mess.

    mad how unai comes in with same players and boom 4222 is the best way with what we have. and dint see ings and watkins working together which they were never going to.

    i still think we may see 4321 when unai has his own players in

  117. Heroes, yep Unai does do things differently. We have some lateral thinking these days. Did anyone notice we had 2 keepers on the bench against the Saints? Olsen and the kid Sinisalo. He likes to get the kids involved with the first team squad.

  118. Well-spotted re. the two keepers, Plug. Also noticed we only had 8 players on the bench altogether, so just 6 outfielders instead of the 8 allowed. Even then, Unai only used three of them!

  119. Heroes- we actually did ok with 352 played well against Chelsea, beat Everton, beat Man utd lost to spurs 2-1 away then the turn came when we were beating wolves and had that second half collapse. Funny enough Gerrard took the advanced FB’s to another level after that and ditched all our wingers, that went well.

    1st thing I checked was the Keeper as at 1st he appeared last on the list of subs and I thought who’s that. Good job we didn’t get any bad injuries our bench looks wafer thin, mainly because most of its previous occupants were having Medicals etc, I don’t think it was some kind of casual Unai tactic, we just didn’t have the players. Perhaps they should of stuck beards on a few of the women.

  120. Most of the time Unai plays counter attack much like Smith did, Against Southampton we kept the ball very well and didn’t let them counter as they were trying to. Now that was a lot different to Us butting up against a team sitting back recent years particularly without jack and under Gerrard.

  121. mark yeah man unai is very much horses for courses. one week will be different from the next depending on the oppo.

    we really did play some lovrely one touch possession footy against saints.

    think we had 60% possession!

  122. H&V, I’m not sure that all the players that will leave us this window or probably the next either should be described as deadwood.

    Effective ‘pruning’ however often requires decisions to be made about ‘which’ perfectly healthy branches should be cut out in order to maximise the vigour and productivity of the whole plant.

    It is good however to see that Emery seems to have a clear vision about the overall shape of plant he’s looking for and will cut out the branches that don’t fit that shape.

  123. JG, I guess to some extent, it depends on what our objectives are for this season.
    When Emery took over, we’d started looking over our shoulders at the bottom 3 places, but just 7 games later, and with 18 games still to go, we probably only need 10 points to be safe from the drop.
    If we’re now looking for a possible European place this season then then you’re almost certainly right, and we’ll need some extra players. We don’t have any cup games to play though, and the league has been won in the past with fewer players than we still have available.
    In the meantime, it’d be nice to know if there was any substance at all, to any of the rumours we hear about players we’re supposedly interested in: Delafou, Ziyech, McKennie, Guendouzi, Dembele, Henrique, Aubemayang. . . etc etc etc

  124. Mark,

    In the words of Brian’s Mum. . . . ‘you’re a very naughty boy!”

    I’ve seen that You tube and `as you can imagine I’d love to respond. . . . .but I’m afraid I’m going to bite my tongue and resist!

    As for your ‘very tenuous’ link to Villa’s secretive signings (or otherwise), I prefer secrecy to the Birmingham Mail’s outright lies. Today’s clickbait headline said: ” . . . . as Guendouzi, Henrique and Dembele sign”.

    To be kind to them, maybe they’re just incompetent journalists and proof readers and the headline should have read “if” they sign but `I suspect they’re just disreputable and dishonest

  125. r0bb0,

    Didn’t see that article, or that headline, rather. Could be a simple typo.

    But, I can tell you that for any digital platform, clickbait is indeed king. The writers have to churn out content, whether they think it’s worthy or not, and the metrics/performance burden is onerous. They simply have to drive eyes to pages to make the ad-impressions that give us the content for free.

    Naturally, I’m old enough to come from pre-internet days in the business…people actually got physical copies and paid for them. Had real subscriptions, which were seen as a baseline of legitimacy, especially in European markets.

    We wrote real articles, nice in-depth interviews (like where I’d go an athlete’s house, have tea, sit in out back and spend an hour or two talking), gear reviews that were critical of advertisers, all that.

    Now, I really feel for all the young people (esp on Twitter) announcing they’ve landed their dream job in sports, etc. For a few, it will be fun (beyond the initial glee), and maybe does lead to some notoriety. For most, it’s just a thankless slog.

    And even for those who ‘make’ it, it’s still the same thing year after year. Same cups, same storylines, incessant transfer speculation, ugh.

    It’s also true that the bare-bones overhead (copyeditors and proofreaders), volume, constant churn do take a big toll on quality, even at top publications. It also leads to a lot of burnout.

    I never complain about running up against a paywall. It takes lots of money to create content at any scale, but so so many people think any written word or whatever should be free. They’d never take a job that pays nothing.

  126. John, it must have been a nightmare for media owners to decide which route to take after decades (or more) of ‘knowing’ what their financial model was but then finding that it no longer worked.

    It still feels very much in a state of flux and you made me feel guilty for continuing to consume certain free media, without making the requested donations . . . . heck . . . I’m even guilty of doing exactly the same on this site!

    I understand the temptation to bend all the old journalistic rules in order to attract eyes to a site with sensationalist (and frequently consciously misleading) headlines but in time, surely people wise up to it and avoid such sites . . . . . . or can we just not help ourselves from being suckered time and time again?

  127. Coincidentally, just in the past week, 2 organisations I’m involved with have proposed dispensing with their paper based communications and shifting wholly online. Maybe I’m old fashioned but whilst the tide is flowing strongly in that direction, I can’t help feeling that there is a still a place for paper for ‘some’ consumers. We’ve settled on a halfway house, whereby we’re cutting the initial paper based distribution by 90% and explaining why, but offering consumers a paper based option if they request it. It did make me laugh when the wording came through and said that ‘we recognise that some customers don’t have access to an online version and so if you want a paper based one, you can request it from our website.’

  128. r0bb0,

    No need to feel guilty! It’s about picking and choosing. I subscribe or donate to some places that really have merit and I go to frequently. Random access, I’m less worried about.

    It was a funny thing the way it happened. Basically the internet went from message boards to actual sites. Companies thought, “we just have to be on the web,” and they never really saw how quickly it would replace everything. Or, given its novelty, how making things free at the outset would go from a token presence to their primary revenue stream.

    Some people ‘saw it’ or at least the potential and tried to drive it. But I don’t think anyone realized how quickly it would become a race to the bottom. Or how exact numbers would impact ad revenue. Used to be you took out glossy 4-color ads in a thick fashion mag, and rates were based on placement, ad size and circulation (along with reader demographics). Now, you don’t have to do that. So many downstream dominoes: Photographers, ad and photo agencies, make-up artists, retouch artists, the designers and creative directors, the people who book locations and permits, do the back-office work. All the foreign bureaus and correspondents. Just so many things.

    I have a particular hatred for Craigslist…Newspapers got a lot of revenue from classifieds, and that was the first big blow that started hurting their bottom lines. Subscriptions help, but never covered all the costs, let alone profits. But we all are worse off for having fewer papers owned by a handful of giant companies.

    Lots of other facets, drivers. There are beneficial effects in ‘democratizing’ market access, etc. But overall, along with the proliferation of bullshit that’s easy to platform, it’s been a rough go.

    And we do still subscribe to some print because it’s still a vastly better experience. At least for those of us who grew up with it. So, it’s good you’re not eliminating it entirely.

    After all, they said ebooks would kill paper books, and they never have. Print’s doing well, though it’s not as lucrative as it used to be. I’ve never bought an ebook and I never will.

  129. JG,

    Yeah, it really is about trusting Emery. The fact he’s being somewhat ruthless in sorting the squad gives me optimism. It’s clearing the decks for incomings now or in the summer, and shows there’s a new standard.

  130. Yes it does seem that Emery only wants players in his squad that he has faith in, and isn’t prepared to compromise. It’s hard not to respect that.
    I’m sure I’ve read a quote from Emery along the lines of ‘we’re trying to fill the gaps, but it needs to be with the right players and it may not be till the summer’.
    Again, this feels like a good approach.
    Martin O’Neill was guilty of bringing players in and never using them which may have been part of the reason for the discontent that simmered under the surface before finally erupting.
    It felt as if we panicked a bit after Jack left and questions were being asked right from the start about why Danny Ings was signed. Emery has quickly grasped that he doesn’t fit and acted accordingly.
    It would be great if the jigsaw pieces were all in place by Monday but I’m all for us going for the ‘right’ transfers rather than ‘quick’ transfers

  131. JG. . . . heed the words of your therapist and do try to continue suppressing your inner Frem. . . you know it makes sense.

    You will be far from the only one who will question whether getting rid of players before finding their replacements is the right course of action, but if Emery really doesn’t feel that they fit, and by saving their wages and maximising selling price he’s given free rein to bring in the replacements he really believe in (even if it takes a little more time), like you, I’m happy to be patient and trust him.

  132. I’m going to stick my neck out and say that Unai is the best manager/coach we’ve had since Ron Saunders. Everything I’ve seen in the short time he’s been with us has had my approval as a humble fan.

    There was a video that appeared during the world cup of him putting the players not participating in the competition through an exercise until they dropped. I saw SJM collapsed on the deck. The last man running was Ollie who not only ran the furthest but Emery also had the stop watch on him. He was impressed and told Ollie so who by then looked like he was ready to honk up. Unai’s way of finding out which players had it in their tank.

    Then there’s the tactical side of things. It’s clear that he has a complete grasp of “horses for courses” when deciding formations and tactical application. I’m on board. Such a shame it’s taken this much time to arrive at his employment. Not to mention eye watering sums wasted by others. COYVB.

  133. Plug, I think we’re all feeling similarly about Emery at the moment. Of course some will turn as soon as we have a couple of losses but from all we’ve read, he does just seem to have so many positive attributes:
    – Experience of winning at the highest level (and not at clubs where he’s just been able to ‘buy’ success)
    – A sense of humour (I just struggle to trust that people can relate to others if they can’t take a joke)
    – Humility, but combined with an inner confidence
    – A fantastic work ethic including great attention to detail
    – High standards, and an unwillingness to compromise, which he’ll also expect from others
    – Tactical awareness and an ability to adjust tactics during a game

    We’re still only 7 games in but the one thing we can be totally confident in is that he’s significantly better suited to the role than his predecessor.

  134. Here was the quote I had in mind:

    “. . . but only if they are going to add some different quality in the squad, but if not… At the moment we have very good players and we are happy with the players that we have, but of course, we want to add more players, maybe this transfer or maybe in the summer.”

    As you say John, he’s setting a new standard and if we have to wait to achieve it, so be it.

    He also said about Jhon Duran:

    “He has potential as a striker if he can develop like we are thinking he will do.”
    “We can’t give him the responsibility, as a 19-year-old, to play as a striker in the Premier League against the best teams in the world.
    “I want to help him firstly with his adaptation; hopefully that will happen quickly. I know that he’s coming as a 19-year-old and he will need time to know his team-mates, our ideas, and playing against important players in every session here and against opposition teams.”

    Against that background, as JG pointed out, it does seem strange that we’ve sold Ings and loaned Archer without a striker replacement lined up, but he seems to have earned all of our trust that he’s doing it for the right reasons.

  135. Just watching the Man city, Arsenal game and see that Grealish again has been given more freedom to roam. In the last game he even switched wings a couple of times.
    After suppressing and wasting his skills for a year it seems that it’s finally dawned on Pep how to get the most out of him and his performances have improved accordingly.
    Is it to the good of the overall team performance though?

  136. Some very interesting comments on here in the last couple of days.
    I agree with how sad it is that proper journalism has been replaced by click bait material, sadly because we are all guilty of wanting so much for nothing. How many people now buy a newspaper regularly, or even the Radio Times. We want everything at the cheapest price with no thought of the consequences, hence the loss of all our manufacturing industries, once more being a nation of shopkeepers!
    I must also admit that I am just as guilty in these modern times, but with a little persuasion , I could return to the desire for quality, service and buying British.

    Next, I am also happy with the way that Unai is organising his plans and putting down his markers as to what he wants for a successful future. I am sure that when he is referring to the players he has got, he is also including the players that are/have been out on loan, when he talks about replacing them only wit better players.
    It is also important for him to sell/loan at the best potential time for getting a return on them.
    It is scandalous when you look at Trezeguet and El Ghazi who cost around £8million each , sold for £5 million for the two, and now they have got 12 goals and six assists between them. They may not have done anywhere near as well with Villa under Gerrard, but surely we could have made better use of them.
    I am not really sure how many more players we will recruit, if any, but I am sure that Unai will end the season with us being where we should be, around 6-8th in the table.

  137. After thrashing West Bromwich 4-0 yesterday, we may see more of our returning youngsters in the near future, as it was only in September we lost the original fixture2-6.
    The individual players scores were very impressive, with no-one below a 6. It seems we intend to ensure that we have a strong under 21 squad again, and the step up to the senior squad should be more accessible.
    Many of these players now could be a match for any young players that we are looking at bringing in , who are not already established stars.

  138. PP, you’re right that many people are looking for “something for nothing” and inevitably, the corporate money follows consumer demand for ‘low cost’. The business I still have an interest in, manufactures the best quality products of their kind in the country but in the last few years a couple of new businesses have changed the model by bringing in low cost alternatives from China. The quality is nowhere near as good but inevitably, many customers gravitate towards it. We’ve still managed to increase sales by pushing the quality and sustainability angle and offering long term product guarantees but it does make life tougher. One of the two start up businesses has now gone bust due to supply chain problems from China and the other is on the market. It would be nice to think that we’re seeing the start of niche manufacturing at least, returning to the UK, but I’m not holding my breath.

  139. JG, you’re still fretting about recruitment I see!
    Did you see Frederic Guilbert complaining that he’d been treated like a piece of meat in his time at Villa?
    I’m not sure whether to feel sympathy for players or not. I think of a player like Nakamba who you imagine will put in all the effort that he can (and probably with a smile on his face) and yet is unable to do the thing he loves, which is play competitive football. It does feel tough on someone like him, but then again there are other players who take the money and also take the piss (anyone remember Ross McCormack’s gates?). It’s hard to imagine another walk of life where a player could behave like that and yet be immune from being sacked in the way that anyone else would be. . . . . has a player EVER been sacked?
    Premiership players are ‘extremely’ well rewarded, and can afford to employ agents to look after their best interests so maybe the pay off is that the clubs get to treat them as a commodity?

  140. .r0bb0, on of the biggest problems I’ve had with players is how quickly they can be disposed of. You never get a chance to develop a relationship with them bar a few.
    They are commodities and they have gravitated to that environment. Get as much as you can as you you’re only as good as today, never yesterday.(see Coutinho) if you can work a deal where you are impossible to shift all the better if you fall from grace. (See N’Zogbia/McCormack)
    The game has become a product with bottom lines being the only important product. Sure a few owners have more than an interest in finances and gravitate to the play but most don’t. (Check out what positive owners are like…Wrexham) some players wear the badge on their sleeve and are honestly involved in the team and community. (See Grealish/Nakamba). Some feel hurt by the treatment they got..Guilbert…and I see his point and his disappointment as do a fair few Villa fans.
    I’ve always felt sorry for beef cattle. 3 years and it off to the dinner plate. I felt a bit better about dairy cows until I found out that their milk production falls off at 3 years and then it’s off to the dinner plate. Players are the same.

  141. jbd. . . . .so a player HAS been sacked! Mind you that was 20 years ago so it’s not exactly a common occurrence.
    It’s interesting reading about the implications of Chelsea’s action though. It meant that they in effect forfeited the £15m they’d paid for him with no means, through footballing channels, of selling him and recouping their signing fee. Instead. . . . they took him to court for the £15m. . . and won! It seems that various courts have ruled that he was in breach of contract and therefore had to cover the proportional balance of his signing on fee. The last report I’ve seen, from 2 years ago suggests that Chelsea are still chasing him for the money though.
    He was sacked for failing a drugs test, which showed he’d taken cocaine. A subsequent survey of professional footballers by the British Medical Journal showed that “45% knew a team-mate who had used recreational drugs” which probably isn’t THAT surprising.
    You’d imagine that the preference of most clubs would be to try and rehabilitate a player, to protect their investment if nothing else, and Gordon Taylor, the head of the Professional Footballers’ Association, called Chelsea’s treatment of Mutu “astonishing” at the time, accusing them of failing in their duty of care.

    If a club like Chelsea has struggled to recover their £15m even from a clear cut case like this, it perhaps explains why clubs are reticent about sacking players and emphasises how important it is to employ a manager with great man management skills.

  142. jbd and Ian, on the subject of which bits of the player you’d want to eat, I’m thinking Grealish’s calves. Plenty of lean meat but perhaps needing slow cooking?

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