It wouldn’t be football if there weren’t constant speculation, predictions, and meaningless opinions. There’s a void, apparently, that needs to be filled 24/7. Which is fine. That’s the way of things in our media-saturated age.

Now that Villa have laid down a marker of sorts, many supporters are getting what they’ve wanted, a little bit of attention for Villa. Long overlooked in the Sky 6 era, it feels good to get a little respect. And when we do, there’s lots of people immediately shooting it down.

Coming off a big week like this, I’m certainly buoyant. I’m also 100% in agreement with Unai Emery. Let’s talk about titles in week 32. For now, enjoy the ride. Enjoy the progress, the moments of joy and relief. Dwelling on the future takes you out of the present.

But isn’t the future what we’re really interested in? Yes, ultimately. But it will come as it always does, and we’ll have precious little influence over the shape of it beyond the throngs at Villa Park and away urging the team on and giving them that extra lift that tired legs, hearts, and minds often require to get over the finish line.

What We Know
Me, I’ve been seeing the mentality we know is required, at least to this point in the season. The players have bought in. They’re not afraid, and certainly neither is Emery. They could’ve wilted Saturday, could’ve shrunk from it and let voices of doubt creep in, but they didn’t. They showed they want it, that they’re willing to work and suffer for it. Wednesday before, they saw that if they took it to City, if they wanted it more, and believed that would affect the outcome, they could bend the game to their will. They played aggressively, freely, and with confidence, outside their heads and doubts.

They’re also willing to take accountability, which is what happens in those little moments where they accept what the manager has to say. For example, Luiz talking about having a disagreement with Emery over something on the pitch and then talking it through. “Sometimes my head isn’t totally right and I say something back. We end up arguing, but afterwards we talk and everything is okay.”

Point being, you’ve got a player reaching his potential, influencing matches, getting recalled to the Brazil squad, being speculated about for the usual CL favorites. He could be a bit full of himself.

But he knows Emery’s fanatical attention to detail has made him a better, more consistent and influential footballer. He knows Emery has made the structure and players around him better, giving everyone a chance to progress together. If you take the advice on board, as John McGinn did about what to do when he found himself with the ball back to goal in the seventh minute against Arsenal, you just might be glad you did. And once a manager or the staff are proved right, you begin to trust.

That’s where Villa are, at the moment. They’re learning, they’re practicing in matches, as Emery admits. They’re growing into themselves and finding that by trusting and listening, they’re improving. There’s an elite footballing mind in the building and he’s shown aspiring elite players just that. His instructions and demands produce results.

And the resulting ride has been glorious. It’s actually fun now, and the years of disappointment start to give way to hope and belief.

Yeah, But
We’ve also seen some of the intangibles at work, like luck, timing, and decisions. We’ve faced top teams at those fortuitous moments when they’re missing a key player or two. When they’re tired, as well, and feeling some pressure. The tight decisions and penalty shouts have gone Villa’s way.

Which isn’t to say we haven’t been robbed of key players, too, or been on the receiving end of epically farcical decisions. Even before the injuries, we were starting out with a threadbare squad compared to several others. I don’t think Emery’s just acting humble when he says there are six or seven better teams. On paper, yeah, there certainly are better, deeper squads. And that might well be what decides things over the long arc of the season.

On the other hand, Villa just played their 38th match of the 2023 calendar year and find themselves second: 24-6-8, a point above Arsenal, and eight below City. So I guess it’s us and them for all the marbles.

Can we do a Leicester? Of course. Is it likely? Well…Me, I’m more focused on our relative position, the fact that City will get everyone back and almost inevitably kick it into gear. Never mind winning it all, top four would be astonishing. That was always the first landmark goal for Sawiris and Edens: getting to the Champions League. And that seemed impossible a little over a year ago. Now it is a distinct possibility.

So that’s why I’ll keep living in the present, week by week. Not because I don’t believe Emery has what it takes to manage us there. Not because I don’t believe the players want it or that they’re afraid. Only because it’s a long, hard season and there’s plenty of time for fatigue, luck, timing, and decisions to go against Villa.

It might seem like negative framing, and for the players probably it is. We want them playing for the title Emery’s way, because that’s what it will take to finish where we want to be, and this past year, well, the record doesn’t lie.

In Emery We Trust
I’ve no doubt Emery will keep the players’ heads straight because he knows the reality. He’ll stay focused on the last performance, and the next one. That’s how we got here. If he’s looking ahead, it’ll only be about recovery, load management, when to slot in Zaniolo next. The January window. Improving the away record, starting a new home streak when the current one ends because streaks always end.

If Villa do manage to climb the heights, that’s what will get us there: one detail at a time, one session at a time, one day at time, one game at a time.

If you’d asked me at the beginning of the season if top four and Conference League champions were possible, I’d have thought that was a bridge too far. Too many games, too little depth. But now it’s truly on offer and would arguably be Villa’s greatest achievement overall in four decades.

Don’t get me wrong: Back-to-back victories like those against City and Arsenal are foundational. They tell the players they can win out in Europe. They tell the players they should be beating Bournemouth and Brentford. They tell us we’re actually in the mix. But they also remind us, given where we find ourselves after, just what’s required to win this league. Pep won’t forget in the return fixture, and neither will little Mikel.

I’ll be taking Emery’s advice, basking in the moment, and looking no further ahead than Zrinjski.

Over to you.

Comments 299

  1. Hi JC

    I think you have beautifully covered the breadth of emotions that every mature Villa fan is going through. There are comments on the Villa posts on social media stating we will win the league that leaves me shaking my head. Not that we cannot, but its impossible to call after 15 games. As you say, enjoying every win, backing the boys and living in the moment is what we should be doing. ECL and staying in the top 4 is going to be a strain enough, forget about challenging for the title. If we can win the former and finish in the top 4, that would be just fine.


  2. I’d just been mulling over where Villa really stand now and came on here to make a comment to that effect. . . . . .and find you’ve already done it, more eloquently and in much more detail than I’d had in mind!

    Anyway. . . . . now I’m here. . . . one of the questions I was asking myself is “how do I want other results to turn out?” Basically, that’s a question around who are we really expecting to be competing with after the ‘week 32’ benchmark. Take Sunday’s Arsenal/Brighton game. . . . do I want the title contender to lose, or the team that might be fighting for a top 5 Champion’s league place. Same question for the Liverpool /Man United game.
    I eventually decided I’d want Liverpool and Arsenal to win. . . . . . . . but it was a close call.

  3. r0bb0,

    Yeah, I do the same thing and I end up where you are. Let the teams chasing us fall behind, and let’s see how we can keep pace with the leaders.

    I mean, I’d love to see the others fall apart, but having Chelsea and Manure at a distance, Spurs behind as well as Newcastle? That’s the real opening.

  4. I’m also curious where we’ll be after the new year…If we’re still looking this good, will we try and leverage that in January?

    A couple quality additions to round things out wouldn’t hurt anything.

  5. Morning Lifers. These are heady days to be an Aston Villa fan. Beating Arsenal and Manchester City back to back is no mean feat.
    Even the bookies are waking up to a potential reality of us winning the league. We are now 14/1 to win the title.
    I hope Emery plays the likes of Deondocker, Ramsey, Zaniolo, Lenglet, Moreno and Duran on Thursday. Our next fixtures between now and end of January are quite winnable.
    Up the Villa.

  6. @JC – yes, its going to be a stretch and we need to wrap our squad in wool to be anywhere close to achieving this. Do a West Ham AND Newcastle from last year, not asking for much 😉

    MON’s gamble that cost us both progress in the Europa league and a top 4 place still haunts, would we have had a different trajectory if either had happened? At least this time we are going for it.

  7. Villalore:

    Interesting question…Can’t say I know, but achieving either would’ve been massive, obvs. With MON, it was always the spending that was in question, the way he just sort of accumulated players and forgot about them.

    Hard to really build something sustainable that way. But if you win things (or get CL) and get more money in, maybe it would’ve changed the trajectory.

    But then we turn to Lerner and whether the ownership would ever have been sturdy enough regardless. A very strange period.

  8. Hadn’t really thought about it, but worth bearing in mind that after tomorrow, we won’t have any Conference matches until well clear of the January window. Think the knockout playoff round is in late Feb.

    So that’s a help.

  9. Get a draw tomorrow and we won’t be seeing any Europa Conference games until early March. Set against playing for such a result is the prize money available for a group stage match win. So Unai will be duty bound to try and beat Zrinjski.

    Meanwhile the other game in our group is a brahma. AZ must win to pip Legia. A draw suits Legia. The game could be feisty given what’s at stake and the first leg aggro.

  10. Jackvilla, I think we’ll see all of those players you mention tomorrow. Plus Diaby. Think he’ll use Moreno sparingly as he needs him at Brentford.

  11. I’ve been looking at some of Zrinjski’s recent games on Youtube. The pitches have been mud laden cabbage patches. Nothing like the standard of those in the EPL. That’ll get my attention as much as the team news tonight.

    Dreaming as usual, I looked into the format for next season’s Champions League. One big division of 36 teams. Four seeded pots of 9 teams in each pot. Guessing we might make Pot 2? Each team will be drawn against 2 teams from each pot, making 8 opponents. No idea how they decide which games are home and away but we’d only play each team once. So 8 games guaranteed (4 home, 4 away).

    The top 8 teams in the big division proceed to the last 16 knock out phase. Teams finishing between 9th and 16th will get be drawn against a team finishing between 17th and 24th in the division in a two legged playoff for a place in the last 16. Still following this? It means that a team finishing 9th to 24th in the division will play a minimum of 10 games in the competition (5 home and 5 away). And all of this by the January.

  12. Yeah, hope Zaniolo can find a spark. Good fitness/practice run out for others.

    But, a bit like watching paint dry so far. Guess it’s a good exercise in breaking down a bus.

  13. All way too slow. Zaniolo is not impressing me. Things are breaking down with him down the right. We need to go through Moreno more down the left. Pitch is not slick and is a hindrance to pace.

  14. To my mind, the important stat in that half is their one shot on goal.
    Just as a reminder that they only need 1 more
    . . . . . If it’s a good one.

  15. Hey, MD

    Duran defo needs to apply himself more. Think he’s gotten away with just being big and fast up to now. Probs would go on loan, but think we need the backup body.

    Zaniolo? Not sure…He’s further behind than Diaby, but both seem to be struggling to adapt to varying degrees.

  16. Dreadful game. No urgency. Looked like we didn’t want to win the game. Certainly not after our goal, it was a case of down tools boys. Gutted for the travelling 850 fans.

  17. Having seen players go through tough spells and then come good, I don’t like criticising players, particularly if they’ve not had many chances to impress. Duran and Zaniola could both fall into that category however the attitudes of the two players are very different and I’m going to say now that I’d rather Duran was not in the club.
    I agree with Villa MD and would like to see him sold or at least loaned out and we either recall Archer (if that’s possible,) or bring in someone else.

  18. Not a Diaby type of game. When the opposition is limited and parks 11 men behind the bus, he has nothing to used his pace against.

    Best I can say about this evening is job done.

  19. Job done
    2 less matches
    Players got a nice run out,especially ramsay moreno
    Goal for zanilo
    All good
    Think will give emery after match interview a miss,along with Canadian pete

  20. As JC says, he needs to apply himself more. . . He’s not making the runs he should or making himself available. . He’s lazy.
    I hate how he falls over and play acts . . . It’s embarrassing.
    I really didn’t like the way he was lecturing Zaniolo at the end. . .a player who gave his all and actuay scored a goal tonight.
    Sorry. . . I don’t like him.

  21. Putting Duran to one side, it’s great to avoid those 2 extra games. Thinking back to Martin O’Neill days, it is also great to see us taking this competition seriously

  22. Hopefully the other take away from tonight is no injuries. But we’ll have to wait and see on that one. Find it hard to understand anyone getting injured at walking pace.

  23. JG. . . Yes, I am being harsh on Duran.
    I was a bit critical of him in his last game so was watching him tonight, and I know that there’s a danger then of seeing what you ‘expect’ to see.
    I dint think he contributed as much as he could have done although it was never going to be easy for him in a game like tonight’s against a team set up to stifle and with us ‘conserving energy’ to put it kindly.
    What’s undeniable from things he’s said and the way he’s behaved again tonight is that he’s completely full of himself and if you’re going to behave like that then you’d damn well back it up with your performances. . . . And to my mind, he hasn’t

  24. R0bb0 & James G,

    I also made a point of watching Duran tonight. I liked him b4 tonight, but so many times he’s standing with his hands straight down. He wasn’t interested in making a run. Major attitude problem. We all know he’s a talent, but he needs to remove the chip off his shoulder. I don’t think he will. Would swap him in Jan

  25. Find the Duran conversation very interesting. In the end, he pretty much did SFA, but seemed to have some attitude. Again.

    But, as JG points out, very little service.

    And the one thing I noticed (well, not just the one) during the game was our unwillingness to play balls quickly. I mean, pretty obvious given the walking pace, but it points back to the service to Duran.

    Just guessing, but seems like the ultra-patient style has to be on instruction. At least in part.

    What I’m thinking is that it’s about ‘speculative’ balls that just end up being turnovers and coming right back at you.

    True? Dunno. But I saw lots of runs that were overlooked with players checking back and cycling the ball instead. No idea if that’s what Emery really wants in the various situations where it happened.

  26. And it was a funny game. Zrinjski packed in, more bodies in the box than outside sometimes.

    Game no one at Villa wants to play, but an opportunity for meaningful minutes for players like Zaniolo and Duran. Even Dendoncker, who became ‘Dendonkey’ in my mind during the match. Even Diaby, to an extent. Shit pitch, crowd just above a Sunday league average.

    Tielemans and Bailey were rested entirely, Ollie, Bouba and Emi didn’t come on. SJM made an instant impact. Not sure what was up with Olsen’s exclusion, should read more.

    So really, more of a training/practice match. Emery said nice things afterward, but can’t imagine he’s all that pleased with the last 10 minutes. And a little tough for the guys trying to find themselves given the changes in the team, the opponent’s tactics, the relatively low stakes. Kind of like an early cup tie set of players.

    Upside is that JJ and Moreno got much needed minutes, and Marschall looked good for 80 out of 90. I imagine Emi might’ve made the save on Zrinjski’s goal just because he’s bigger. Marschall almost got there.

    I’d forgotten what Chambers looks like, so that helped, seeing him again. Congrats to O’Reilly, who must be doing something right, and also Nicolo, finally netting. Let’s hope that helps settle his brain.

  27. Prizing open a packed defence remains a work in progress. We haven’t cracked it yet. Even the first 11 failed to score at Forest.

    The way in is often around the sides. We had Moreno and Zaniolo/Cash hogging the touchline for long periods but never gave them the ball, preferring to try and work it through the middle and that needs slick movement and one touch passing which was not evident last night. A poor playing surface made matters worse.

    On the Duran debate, I agree he seemed to get angry at the lack of service but he needs to watch Ollie and realise his job entails much movement more often that not without reward. It’s not just about sticking the ball in the net. And finally, Zaniolo has contributed a goal/assist. We must wait and see what effects it has on his confidence.

  28. It seems our Duran has a memory like an elephant
    His row with zanilo was about zanilo not passing the ball quicker in a villa breakaway near the end
    To be fair Duran had every right to complain

  29. 5th spot in champions league is in danger thanks to man u and barcodes failure even to make Europe league
    Saying that 6 English clubs topped their groups ,need a few teams to go far

  30. JG, I didn’t spot it, but I’m sure there will have been an occasion when Zaniolo could have passed to Duran and failed to do so. I reckon we’d struggle to find a single game in which a striker has been in a decent position and not received a ball he thinks he should have done.
    We lacked a cutting edge yesterday and although it would be unfair to ascribe that to Duran, bearing in mind we were playing tentatively against a packed defence, I do think he could have done more to try and open things up. I don’t know where you go to find how many touches each player had, but I’d be interested to know which players had most (and least) involvement in the game. . . .if only to see if I’m being unfair in my criticism of Duran.
    Anyway. . . . .back to the original point, it looked to me as if Duran didn’t just make the point about Zaniolo not passing to him once. . . .he laboured it. I reckon it was more about him being too immature to recognise his own failings and wanting to pass the blame onto a player who actually got himself involved and achieved something on the night.

  31. JG, there’s been a fair bit of talk around us losing our 5th Champion’s league place because of the failings of Newcastle and United.
    Having read that article I’m not a lot the wiser to be honest, although it does all seem to hinge on the number of games won in all 3 European competitions, albeit, weighted towards Champion’s league wins.
    It’s not impossible that the extra, 5th spot, may ultimately be determined by our own progress in the European Conference League which would certainly raise the stakes for us, and/or, whichever teams are competing for 5th place in the Premier league this year.

  32. Robbo
    Duran started this season on fire then had his tantrums and was rightly left out of team subs bench,looks like he didn’t do a sancho and has worked his way back
    Last night was painful to watch never mind play
    We don’t have enough attacking options to do without, last night was crying out for Bert
    Hoping monchi has a few lined up and we don’t do a deadly style on Gregory

  33. JG, yes you’re right Duran did start the season well, and I do think that he has the potential to be a good player . . . . .it’s his character and behaviour on the pitch I don’t like. It doesn’t matter what the hell I think, and hopefully Emery and his team mates are able to work with him and bring whatever talents he has to the fore, but he gives the impression of someone who thinks he’s already a star and that sort of attitude does not usually help players to be at their best, and usually isn’t great for team morale either.

  34. So Mark Lawrensen says “everyone’s got this love-in with Villa” and then predicts we won’t make top 4.
    He’s probably right that we won’t make top 4, as it’s a long season and we have loads of games to get through, but the “love-in” comment is a bit odd and it certainly doesn’t feel that way through our end of the telescope.
    As Villa fans, I’m sure we’ve all felt pretty much ignored by the media until the last week when we beat both City and Arsenal, and they were ‘forced’ to talk about us. I don’t think he can have noticed that our results since Emery came on board should have warranted far more attention, but I’ll bet that most of the pundits, even now, don’t realise or accept how remarkable the turn round has been.
    Of course, as Villa fans, we can’t help still expecting the wheels to fall off, or at least wobble at some point, but the facts are, that we haven’t been loved anywhere nearly as much as results suggest we should have been over the past year.

  35. I’m happy to remain unloved and unfancied by all and sundry. Indeed, we are even despised by the blue section of Brum but that of course is just plain envy.

    Here’s some facts. This time last year Villa had 18 points from 15 games. We finished with 61 points after 38 games. That’s 43 points gained from 23 matches. This term Emery has 35 points from 16 games. So from this time last year, we’ve accumulated 78 points from 39 games. An average of exactly 2 points per game since this time last year compared to an average of 2.18 points per game this season.

    If we average 2 points a game over the remaining 22 games we’ll end up with 79 points. Historically, 76 points gets a top 4 place. So Lawrenson can stick his love-in and predictions where the sun doesn’t shine. It would be a brave person to bet against us.

  36. I have to agree with R0bb0 on Duran. We all want him to come good, but his attitude stinks. Gas to see City leak 2 late goals. Pep didn’t even seem upset which is bizarre.

    Anyway, best time as a Villa fan and I just started dating a lady with Eskimo background. Best cheekbones I’ve ever seen 🙂

  37. What is the definition of “spoilt”.

    A Guardiola team getting booed off at full time.

    Come on Villa. Let’s take 3 points today and keep the pressure on those entitled outfits.

  38. Just about gratifying win over a spiteful niggling scummy bunch of pricks. No real satifaction until mee and maupay are put out of the game permanently. Amazed to see Watkins so angry. Again that says it all about brentford. Surely they can’t hate Villa that much after we stole Hogan off them!
    Villa still sub par after that horrible performance last Thursday. Can’t be arsed contemplating a MOTM.

  39. Another awful ref ,no consistency
    Why did he need to be told to send mee off awful tackle
    How many times were we fouled in midfield to stop attack yet no cards
    There goalscorer pulled torres shirt that hard he nearly had it on again no card even the biased commentators mentioned it
    When Watkins wa celebrati g his goal Brentford players started the ruck
    Maupauy got booked after committing foul yet ref still went with corner
    Never mind the chaos at the end

  40. Watching the ‘Pool / Utd game, and having convinced myself I wanted Utd to lose, to improve our chances of Champion’s league, I can’t help myself now wanting Liverpool to lose and leave us in 2nd.
    Who’d have thought THIS would be the dilemma in December?!

  41. Well, I’ve missed this afternoon’s proceedings. It appears I’ve missed a corker. What a load of spiteful shits this Brentford team turned out to be.

    Mee is a thug. Just a thug. Nothing more than a thug. He’s got this thing about ending Villa player’s careers. He belongs behind bars. I dislike him with a vengeance.

    How on earth did it kick off after Ollie’s goal? Our boys are celebrating in the goal net and the next thing there’s a pile of Brentford players involved. The red card for Kamara is a nonsense. So’s the yellow card for Unai.

  42. Plug
    Ollie was giving rocks to a moron in the crowd who had been abusing him all game. It was purely man to individual moron. The little baby shits in the red and white shirts took the hump at Ollie’s perceived over celebration. Just self important chip on the shoulder jumped up small club mentality.

    Go forth and multiply brentford. Hope they end up in the same league as wimbledon.

  43. Looking at the flare ups again. Kamara is very unlucky to cop a red card. He pushed an opponent. It was nothing compared to the fracas after Ollie scored where the Brentford keeper had one of our players in a choke hold around the neck using his arm. And Emery was only trying to keep the peace. Fucking hell Coote, get a grip of yourself.

  44. What ever respect I had for Frank’s Brentford manager before yesterday, it is gone claiming mees tackle was a red card
    We committed 6 fouls got 4 yellows 1 red
    Brentford 19 fouls

  45. Mee’s sending off was indisputable. He was so far over the ball that you can’t help wondering if he was consciously trying to harm Bailey. . . . . it certainly looks that way. Managers are so often guilty of trying to defend the indefensible in their post game interviews and Frank was guilty of that yesterday. I don’t think anyone is as bad as Arteta though, who surely must be starting to embarrass even Arsenal fans by now?
    The red for Kamara is incredibly harsh when, as Plug pointed out, at one point, their goalkeeper actually had Konsa in a headlock and receives no caution at all. A Brentford player tried a headbutt, whilst another had his hand in the face of one of our players. The FA wording says it can be a red card if:
    “a player who, when not challenging for the ball, deliberately strikes an opponent or any other person on the head or face with the hand or arm, is guilty of violent conduct unless the force used was negligible.”
    The law doesn’t say (as many pundits seem to incorrectly assume) that it’s an automatic red purely for touching an opponent’s face. I’ve watched it a couple of times now, and I honestly don’t think I’m biased when I say that Kamara didn’t ‘strike’ the player and also, used negligible force. You compare it with the tackle by that animal Mee, and it will be a travesty if both receive a similar punishment.

  46. I imagine it will be an uncomfortable team meeting today and Emery is going to be telling all players, but particularly Emi, Bouba and Ollie that they need to keep calm heads.
    In fairness, I suspect that Emi did have a calm head yesterday. . . . .he just can’t help himself from stirring the shit (and Maupay is a certainly a pathetic little piece of shit)
    It’s rarely good to show fans that they can ‘get to you’ and I imagine Ollie will be told that, although in fairness, if he used it as an extra motivation to score the goal and then rub the fan’s nose in it then maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all!

  47. Just had a quick look at media reports, and they mostly use the word shove or push when describing what Kamara did. I reckon the FA knew what they had in mind when they used the words ‘deliberately strikes’, and I really don’t think that covers what Kamara did. It was well short of being a punch, or slap to the head which is what they must have been thinking of, and it certainly didn’t involve significant force.
    Unless I’m reading it wrongly, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of discretion when deciding how many games a player should miss. The panel will either rescind the card, or it’ll be a 3 game ban. I reckon, by the letter of the law, it ‘should’ be rescinded, but unfortunately, the FA may use it as an opportunity to ‘send a message’. rather than to uphold their own laws.

  48. I stand foursquare behind Emi, Kamara and Ollie. Frank over wound his team yesterday and this was the result. That Mee gets a 3 game ban for attempting a leg breaker and Kamara gets the same for pushing a player is way too unfair.

    (and Maupay is a certainly a pathetic little piece of shit). I second that statement RobB0. And Ghoddos is too. He started the fracas after Ollie’s goal by wading into the Villa huddle inside the goal.

    Then there’s Frank bemoaning the red card for thug Mee on the grounds it’s a contact sport and such tackles are permissible. Funny how he contradicted himself immediately afterwards by claiming a penalty for “clear contact” by Konsa.

    But the bottom line Lifers……we have played 7 Laandan clubs this season and have 7 wins. I’m like a dog with 2 dicks.

  49. I see Unai being quoted as saying: ” Tim is being consistent in training and I think he can help us. It is the moment for other players.”
    Looks as if he may be preparing for a bit of rotation over our densely packed Christmas schedule.

  50. Well, missed the match, but saw a replay last night.

    That was all very interesting. Mee? Yeah, he’s a thug. If Leon’s leg is planted? I don’t want to think about it. And that certainly wasn’t the same as Bouba’s involvement.

    I did like the togetherness, though, and I think it’s probably another galvanizing moment for the squad. Like the rest of you, not going to criticize anyone for having their teammates’ backs. Would like to see Kamara’s red overturned, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Not sure how Emery gets a yellow for playing peacemaker.

    Also, Martinez is a world-class shithouse, Maupay is a smug little prick, and yeah, a bit surprised by the turn Brentford have taken, class-wise.

    Emery will definitely be having a word…composure is important (like, not getting sent off), and Emery’s the sort who’d like to have us seen a certain way.

  51. Match-wise, another funny one. The pattern has definitely set in that teams will basically sit low and look to counter us.

    Emery got frustrated with Ramsey for not releasing the ball sooner at one moment, and I think that’s the next step. Each repelled counter is exactly where Villa have space going the other way, and it’s got to be played faster. Think that’s really what it comes down to. Sometimes you see us do it, sometimes you don’t.

    Dougie and Youri are also big parts of the fluidity. Diaby is probably always going to be a bit invisible just working it around trying to break down 8 or 9 defenders. I’d like to see both him and Zaniolo with more chances to carry a little and create.

    I’m sure Emery wants that to be balanced so that we don’t just turn it right back over. He likes having control of the game, and I’m sure that pace has also helped with workloads, etc.

    Was going to talk about various players…In short, brilliant assist from Bailey, lots of wobbles elsewhere, never mind that shot-backpass. Cash seems to lose his mind a lot…better if he doesn’t try dribbling so much around the box. Moreno, will be good to have him back. It’s a nice complement to Digne, and I like alternating them. JJ, it’s been a while, still rusty. Bouba…I like him 60% of the time. Still thinks he has much more time than he does.

    Given Emery’s back-three, not sure we’ll go for a true RB, but I wouldn’t mind seeing one.

  52. Sheffield utd ,emery is going to have to juggle squad aboutno clear info on tielmens or torres
    Could try
    Konsa Carlos lenget digne
    Luis tielmens/tim
    Ramsay Bailey
    Duran watkins
    Rest mcginn we still have zanilo diaby moreno

  53. Still steaming! The talking heads on MOTD were saying mee has only been sent off once several years ago after more than two hundred games, so he knows how to control himself. Given that tackle on Bailey and that cowardly career ending tackle on Wesley a few years back, does mee have some unknown problem with Villa. There’s lots of useless nostalgic history in my head but no smidgeon of knowledge about mee.

    I very much remember the grudge leicester had against us for poaching Brian Little while they were on the way to getting promoted. I’m sure sulky o’neil was quite happy to use that. They stuffed us for a several years in a row until we did them for five with Peter Crouch scoring two. Are brentford in the same boat because of Hogan, Deano, Konsa and Watkins? They were using this hate thing motivation to be in control of us but mee just couldn’t channel his problem with us for the full ninety ten minutes and threw the game away. The last time I saw a game as spiteful as this was when maupay tried to do SJM from behind in his first season with us. brentford again!

    WTF is wrong with brentford?

  54. Just been listening to an interview with Chris Heck. It leaves more questions than answers. The North Stand is not now going to be demolished at the end of this season. It may never be. Must admit I wondered how they were going to accommodate the season ticket owners in a reduced 36,000 capacity but that won’t be an issue now.

    Last week we heard of new investment from Atairos. What’s this for if not stadium development work? Is Heck planning a new stadium away from VP? He says right now that he doesn’t want to add 10,000 seats to VP as it’s too much too soon?? He’s basically pedalling transport issues but I’ve been in VP with 65,000 inside. Lines of buses and police manning the traffic light controls did the trick after the game.

    Hmm. Got the feeling we don’t yet know the full extent of his thoughts.

  55. Interesting, Plug.

    I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the station/transport…Could well be they want that sorted before adding another 10k.

    But there’s also the issue you point out, which is the reduced attendance while they do the construction. Not sure what it adds up to, but they might not also want to lose the revenue and attendance while Villa look to be on the up.

    It’s tough with older stadiums. Also hear a lot of complaints about hospitality, the various things they’ve tried…But the old grounds were never designed with all the mod-cons in mind.

  56. The ground is so iconic, I really doubt they’d want to move. There’d be a riot.

    That said, never say never. The newer stadiums pack in more people and make more money.

  57. Having been to Villa Park once I don’t have the nostalgia ingrained. I’ve always thought that a new stadium would be the way to go but with the development around the stadium for inner city kids to play football I figured they would keep refurbishing
    Villa Park. The same issues are happening at Old Trafford. But a time comes when a new venue is needed and with the aspirations of the owners I can’t see that being more than 5 or 10 years down the road.
    There’s been plenty of conversation over the stadiums shortcomings. Give the old gal a sweet send off and embrace a possible new build.

  58. Just listened to the interview Plug and it’s certainly worth 10 minutes of your time:
    It’s a well put together, optimistic piece and the two big takeaways for me, were the stadium expansion (or otherwise) and the 150 year anniversary.
    The latter is quite clever thinking. It does seem that a lot will be made of Villa being the first club to reach the 150 year milestone. It’s something that does set us apart and presents us as a big club, with a deep history, and a great future. I have confidence that the current management will know how to make the most of it.

  59. He made a lot of it being all about the fans. . . .we’ve listened to the fans etc etc. and I do believe that to an extent, but ultimately it will come down to what will make the club a sporting and financial success. The three do go hand in hand of course so there are no complaints from me on that score.
    Like you Plug, I took the transport ‘reason’ for delaying construction with a pinch of salt. As JC suggested, it ‘may’ be about maximising profits over the next couple of years whilst the club is doing so well and selling out and heck (no pun intended), if we do actually achieve Champion’s league football next season, what a shame to have one end of the ground silent. THAT bit does ring true. They recognise that the atmosphere in Villa park is helping to bring success on the pitch and it would be a mistake to lose that over the next couple of years, which could be crucial in pushing the global awareness of the club by winning games at the highest level.
    There’s a huge potential prize in being able to present Villa as the oldest professional club in the world, with the deepest history, returning to the pinnacle of European Football. . . .now THAT’s a marketing person’s dream!

  60. Ian, I’m not sure I agree with you about Villa Park, but I do accept that it’s sentiment that makes it very hard to accept us playing anywhere else, when you’ve grown up with the club being exactly where it is.
    Having said that, if we’re going to go out and present ourselves as being the worlds most historic club, then it would seem strange to then discard a core part of that history.
    Opposing fans and media commentators do all seem to agree that there is a special atmosphere at Villa park, and when the club is performing as we are now, then that is undoubtedly true. Chris Heck went out of his way to say that they don’t want to destroy that, and those sound like wise words to me.
    Having sat in an Emirates stadium where the only noise was from Villa fans, our management do seem to be exercising sensible caution about deciding which direction Aston Villa should take next.

  61. Good takes…

    Another thing is that all these plans were devised before Heck arrived, and he’d naturally take a look and say…”Well, maybe, but not just yet.”

    The warehouse development, continued investment in Bodymoor, those are good things that they’ll keep.

    If they do eventually build a new stadium, I’d expect it not to be a giant soulless ground, but something 50-55k and closed in to maximize the noise, etc. The concourses would be more spacious, more food and drink options, etc.

  62. Anyone watching the Chelsea Newcastle game
    Mudryk violently grabs Guimares by the throat and I don’t think was even booked. . . Certainly not sent off. . . . not a lot of consistency there

  63. In light of Heck’s statement yesterday on the postponed rebuild of the North Stand, we also see that Compass have put another £54 million into the club according to Companies House. This comes immediately after Atairos’ reported investment of £95 million. That’s £149 million added to the bucket but major stadium development has been shelved for the moment.

    Should we be worried? I’m thinking not. Villa is still debt free following last years results and this years results should be healthy with significantly increased income. We are either preparing a war chest for Unai and Monchi in January or cash flow is tight. I will watch with interest when our next personnel salary annual total is released by the club.

  64. The Afcon tournament kicks off on Jan 13th. It is going to significantly weaken some EPL teams. I’m really pleased that we only lose Bertie from our squad.

    The biggest game of the season is coming up on Friday night in my view. Win it and we go top, if only for a few hours. I’m expecting Sheff U to park the bus and it may not be a game for Diaby’s qualities, which will be more suited to OT on Boxing Day. However, I’m only guessing. Unai knows precisely what to expect and how to get the 3 points. All I’ve got to do is get down VP and get behind the team.

  65. I’ve seen elsewhere, fans having a bit of a hissy fit about things that Heck didn’t say . . . . but might have inferred. For goodness sake, are they missing being able to moan about the results, the manager and the players so have to find some new target to complain about?

  66. Agree with your description, r0bb0, of Villa as “the world’s most historic club” – given the depth and ‘glory’ of our history – but surely Notts County (founded 1862) are the world’s OLDEST club: they even pre-date the Football League!

  67. Viva, I don’t think we need to let the facts get in the way of a good story eh?

    Have to say mind you, having done a bit of searching, there does seem to be seem to be some dispute over which club can genuinely claim to be the oldest, continuously playing club

  68. r0bb0,

    I’m sure it’s the same at every club, but I sure hear a lot of moaning from our fans.

    Thank god it’s not about the players, results, and manager for once.

  69. You’ve got a case, Plug, but it seems Sheffield were playing a game closer to the rules of rugby, with legitimate handling of the ball and, on that basis, I would rule them out.

  70. Now I’ve no doubt that there’ll be some miserable old gits who hate this, but I love the idea of the light show for Friday’s game:
    I bet that everyone involved with putting this together will have their butt cheeks clenched during the countdown to the light show but I do hope it all works as they’d envisaged, and creates a memorable display. I know the big kid in me would love to be there to see it first hand but I hope it comes across well on the TV too.
    I know the most important thing for fans is how we perform on the pitch, but these days. it’s impossible to detach the football from the commercial side of things, and despite what some of the miserable old fart brigade say, I was encouraged by Heck’s interview to see that there’s someone in charge who will do all he can to build awareness of the club around the world. Anything which helps shine the spotlight on us in a positive way, will help build awareness and income, which helps build the squad for the future etc etc. Finally, we seem to have climbed out of our vicious circle and into a virtuous one.

  71. Well RObb0, the virtuous circle appeared this morning care of the European Court of Justice. Laporta of Barca and Perez of Real Madrid are convinced. The £1 billion debt that each of them carry will be wiped out. Mickey Mouse economics will take over. Everything will be hunky dory now that they are free to do whatever they like. Run their players into dust. Wear them out. Screw the fans. Screw UEFA and FIFA. Who cares when there’s $$$$$ to be had. Where’s the sacks of gold coming from? Ah……..

    Hope Heck doesn’t have his head turned.

  72. Plug,
    I saw the ruling of the Court of Justice, but wasn’t clear on the implications. On the face of it, the way could again be clear for a breakaway league, but if I remember rightly, that concept fell down last time because of fan pressure, particularly from Premier league club fans.
    You can imagine that with new Premier league kids appearing on the block such as Newcastle and maybe now even Villa, the original 6 may find an elitist, breakaway league even more attractive than before, but would they find it any easier this time round?

  73. Depth of our squad is going to be severely tested in next 9 days,3 games
    Tielmens appears out to at least fa cup weekend along with kamara who is suspended
    Torres no clue when he will be back or what’s wrong with him
    Traore scored a wonder goal on international duty has been seen since
    Cash mcginn Duran are all 1 booking away from suspension

  74. I reckon VAR just about got it right on the penalties. I’m not saying that at least one of them shouldn’t have been a penalty (the push on Ollie being the most obvious one), but once the ref failed to give them, they weren’t ‘clear and obvious’ enough mistakes. If he’d given any of them, I doubt VAR would have overturned his decision.

  75. Don’t want to tempt fate, but Lenglet has slotted in pretty well so far. Latest rumours are that he’s going nowhere this January and based on that first half, that looks to be the right call

  76. OK. .
    That’s bollocks.
    Yes, Ramsey is holding the keeper slightly, but Ramsey is being totally manhandled by the Sheffield defender
    Total shit
    Really unhappy

  77. That felt like the game officials and VAR were trying to compensate for that Hawkeye cock up a few years ago. Sheffield Utd hadn’t won away all season. That’s where “classic Villa” comes in, so on a positive note, “classic Villa” did not prevail. Another little curse avoided.

    Were we getting cocky with Villa only having to beat bottom of the table SU to go top at Xmas? Think karma has kicked our arses. At least we don’t have to keep that home winning record going. Pissed off but glass half full today. Not inspired enough to pick a motm.

  78. Those are the games that really frustrate. Obviously Wilder’s no fool, and has gotten them organized. And of course they got the sucker-punch goal. Which often happens when you’ve spent so much time cycling it and thinking only about breaking them down.

    For our part, I do think there were two pens, either could’ve been given, how neither was baffles me. Major part of that being if Villa score, it opens the game up. Not a fan of winning 1-0 on a pen, generally, but we’d have seen a much different match, and they’d have had to try and play football for more than 10 minutes.

    Villa’s main downfall was the final ball. So many nearly ones. Probably missed Torres’ passing range. Probably missed Tielemans’ creativity and quality, as well.

    And we again missed/passed up opportunities to play it faster, especially to wide areas.

    Positive obviously was getting an equalizer, and that was a lovely ball, run and finish. Just should’ve happened sooner.

  79. Did we score at the end because of an extra injection of urgency injected with time running out?
    If so, maybe there’s a lesson there.
    Having said that. . . . What we’ve been doing up till now has served us pretty well and put us second in the table just before Christmas. . . .

  80. And yeah, jbd, we would’ve lost that in earlier years. Record winning streak? They all come to end. We’re still undefeated at home.

    The scowl on Emery’s face…That was something.

    Also…The thing with Ramsey. Had another phase of play begun? Sheffield had it back. I’m sure I’ll be in the minority on this, but seems to me the goal was independent of the hold which occurred while Ramsey was being manhandled and Foderingham could easily have broken free, made no effort to do so. Score one for gamesmanship there.

    That said, JJ should know a little better. Had he released his hand a touch earlier, the goal would’ve stood.

  81. r0bb0,

    I think so, yes.

    The only criticism I have of our play is that we often get lulled into a sluggish rhythm. I suppose it’s part and parcel of having so much possession and trying to break down 10 defenders, which is happening much more often.

    But playing faster (which we did at the start, and I was surprised it didn’t yield a goal) and taking a couple more risks…Villa do score that way. I feel pretty safe in saying, though, that Emery isn’t a fan of end-to-end games. But when Sheffield did have the rare foray that got broken up, that’s when you pounce rather than have Konsa carry it up and not make a decisive pass sooner.

    That’s where I think Torres comes in.

  82. Since we didn’t win tonight, that’s our title challenge trashed and us put in our place. We can now relax and play our natural Emery ball with out pressure We know Arse, red scouse and shitty wouldn’t cock up like that because they are used to the pressure of being at the top and so much better than us. This we know don’t we?

  83. JC, another phase of play surely had started. As you say they’d won possession amd were trying to mount an attack.
    That decision was wrong on so many levels.
    If you’re going to penalise Ramsey for a hand on the keeper’s arm and disallow the goal then you surely must give a penalty for
    the blatant manhandling
    of Ramsey?
    I really dislike the tendency for a conspiracy theory to be rolled out for anything contentious these days, but I couldn’t help wondering if tonight’s VAR official was an Arsenal fan.

  84. Ref was terrible.. if a team parks the bus and constantly fouls – give out yellow cards. How was the push on Ollie (and shirt pull) not a penalty?

    Great fight back. Bailey is becoming a great player. Lenglet looks decent. Has a nice left foot and we’llnow need him for Man U. Hopefully Ramsey will learn from tugging the goalie jersey – looks like you can do it to any other player

  85. jbd…

    The one other ‘positive’ I was going to mention is that it should refocus the team on United.

    It’s been a long and remarkable stretch, given the extra games and the squad depth and overall quality. That’s the argument against us being actual title challengers, and it was always valid. I think we have been ‘lucky’ up til now as far as injuries and suspensions go.

    But you slip up like that and Emery will be all over them.

    The other ‘positive’ to note is that in years past, I’ve always said Villa just need more draws. It’s extremely underwhelming on the day, but those points add up. And the thing with the top four/six is they always turn most losses into draws.

  86. MD,

    Yeah, I’m very frustrated at the tactics they allow. I don’t allow myself many conspiracies, but you push Salah like that (two hands and the shirt pull) and it’s a peno every day of the week.

    Villa have held up well with offsides (because that’s pretty cut and dried). We haven’t fared as well with all the other stuff…shirt pulls, totting up, cynical challenges, etc.

    And even if the conspiracy isn’t about the top placings, an argument could be made that the PL doesn’t want the bottom three decided by Christmas.

  87. As my daughter just told me, if we’d drawn against City and Arsenal and won tonight, we’d have 2 fewer points and you’d have been feeling really happy. . . . so now can we just get on with enjoying Christmas!?
    She has a point.
    Happy Christmas everyone!!

  88. R0bb0 – your daughter has a great point.

    JC – if it was Salah, that clear foul on Ollie is a penalty every match.

    There’s a media love fest with Villa. I feel that also doesn’t help

  89. I don’t disagree with any of the comments on the game. It’s frustrating watching a game that is hamstrung by one team clogging up the channels. You can talk about this until you are blue in the face but as far as I’m concerned it’s the uneven levels of financial power by some that creates this type of play. And by the way who was that Sheffield player heading every cross out of danger. After that performance he should be tested for early onset dementia. I think this is third game I’ve watched like this. Something needs to be done to change this, at least until a goal is scored and the game plans change for all the bus drivers. I suppose Villa could park the bus too. Wouldn’t that be fun.
    Happy for Archer and Lenglet. Doesn’t Duran have a bony elbow.

  90. Ian,

    I was disappointed how Sheff U double parked the bus and pundits were full of praise for them.

    Man U should be interesting. Hopefully Tielemans is fit. We definitely need another striker as Ollie can’t keep starting every match and Duran seems too raw to start.

  91. My rating from today for 1st 11
    Emi – 7
    Digne – 7
    Konsa – 7
    Lenglet – 7
    Cash – 8

    Bailey – 9
    Luiz – 6
    McGinn – 6
    Ramsey – 5
    Diaby – 7
    Ollie – 7

  92. I’d woken up quite sanguine about last night’s result. . . . and then I sW a slow motion replay of the handball where the defender swung his arm at the ball.
    Now what’s wound me up (all over again) is that during the VAR review, they kept showing the incident from behind, and at the time I was asking why they didn’t keep showing it from the front.
    From the angle they ‘should’ have been focusing on, the ball ‘clearly’ hits below the shirt line and ‘clearly’ on the arm.
    I’ve said I don’t like conspiracy theories, but something stinks about last night’s VAR official.

  93. As for the disallowed goal, there are 3 reasons that was a wrong decision, but the clearest is that a new phase of play had started. The FA rules state that there’s a new phase when a defender has passed to his own player.
    In the cold light of day now, it’s clear that the VAR official was invested in Villa not winning last night. For all of the decisions to go against us just isn’t credible.

  94. I know it’s a bit embarrassing to keep harping on about refereeing decisions, because ultimately, we needed to create more chances to win, but even so, something about last night’s officiating doesn’t ‘smell’ right.

  95. Such a disappointing night. Gutted we didn’t win. The Blades did exactly as I expected them to and park the bus in a 5-5-0 formation. Wilder insists his players get stuck in and the foul count mounted whilst the ref kept his card in his pocket. I thought we lacked the guile to break them down which is something we’ve seen before this season.

    An early goal always helps. It didn’t come. When it did finally arrive I was shocked to see it chalked off and needed to see the replays once I got home.

  96. Lifers know my thoughts about VAR. The ref Anthony Taylor is from Manchester. Please don’t try and tell me he’s a Stockport fan. The VAR Rob Jones is from Leicestershire and almost certainly dislikes Forest. We’ve had some history with these 2 geezers previously.

    I too saw 2 penalties not given, 3 if you include Ramsey being rugby tackled whilst he’s supposedly impeding the keeper. Play had reset after their keeper made a mess of his punched clearance and therefore Bailey’s goal should stand. How can they screw that up unless there is an alternative agenda?

  97. Our winning run at home had to end some time. Now that it has, it gets the monkey off our backs. Hopefully everybody will now write us off and ignore us. Suits me just fine.

    Merry Xmas Lifers, we’re still sitting in pretty lofty company.

  98. Oh and one final thought. VillaMD gave Cash a score of 8, second only to Bailey. I thought Cash was poor, he gave the ball away in dangerous positions twice early on that a better team might have profited from. It shows 2 people can watch the same game and come to very different conclusions.

  99. Ian, John, results yesterday could have been even better. Everton had a goal rubbed out by VAR for a foul in the build up which neither the ref or linesman daw with excellent views. Scandalous cheating keeps Spurs on our tails.

    Oh, and my post above about our VAR Rob Jones against Sheff U probably being anti Forest. He refereed the Forest v Bournemouth game yesterday and confirmed my thoughts by sending Boly off for straight forward clean tackle. Couldn’t get his 2nd yellow card and then red one out fast enough. More scandalous cheating. When are the authorities going to address a problem that stinks.

  100. We should all feel
    grateful towards Garry Neville as he co ti ues trying g to reduce the pressure on Villa players, whilst also doing his best to motivate them against his old club.
    He says it will take a “miracle” for Villa to end in the top 4, and whilst he’s right that it’s going to be one heck of a challenge, but I reckon he’s said it just before the United game to try and give our players that extra little incentive to go out and prove him wrong.

  101. I guess the way the Sheffield game was played meant that we expended less energy/covered a shorter distance than most other clubs? We may prefer a faster tempo at times but is it all part of the Unai master plan, to conserve energy through a season with lots of games?
    In contrast, will Postecoglu’s make or break/go for it style of football see Spurs flagging towards the back end of the season?

  102. Dammit. . . .didn’t check the source first and was suckered I to clicking on a ‘Villa News’ article. As ever of course its total nonsense
    They’ve found some sort of socialist doctor to comment on Tielemans injury and basically, using all his vast experience and medical knowledge, he’s been able to assess that because Emery has said that Tielemans could be out for 2 weeks. . . . The injury must have been more serious than originally thought.
    Well thanks for that informed insight.
    That must be why it takes 5 years to train to be a doctor.

  103. ‘Specialist’doctor, not ‘socialist’ (well in fairness I’m as qualified to comment on his political persuasion as the doctor appears to be to comment on Tieleman’s injury)

  104. Apologies for spelling errors. . . I don’t now seem to be able to scroll back to check through typed comments so I must just concentrate harder whilst typing.

  105. Another round of fixtures played and one thing dominates headlines,var and refs
    Villa game probably 4 big decision wrong
    Forest game boly sending off joke
    Arsenal game how it wasn’t handball against ottegarrd
    Everton game ,there goal wasn’t clear and obvious
    It can’t carry on 40percent of games ruined

  106. Hello Folks, Happy xmas to you all.

    Thought I’d chuck my thoughts in as we near 1/2 a season. We are living through some very strange times but I don’t think Villa’s rise is one of them. I don’t think the general football top4 orientated Punditsphere understand what a root and branch transformation we have made and I don’t believe we will be going back under these owners. We have just about completed our best ever win count in a single year in our 150 or so year history, won the most games at home on the bounce, that should tell them something has changed (beating shitty and arse helped you would think).

    I think we will get top 4 injuries allowing, and I’d go further, if we hadn’t lost Mings, Ramsey, Beundia, carlos, Moreno etc at the season start I think we’d be genuine contenders right now ( still are). You can see what losing Torres, carlos, Kamara and Tielemans has done last match for our predictability and options. Hopefully we won’t see another Brentford type game this season and we hopefully won’t react as stupidly next time so hoping things will settle and we will get them all back.

    We’ve arrived, knew that 5 year plan would work along with Deano’s incredible eye for a player.

    Have a good Christmas.

  107. Hi Mark, nice to see you here with a Christmas message.
    It does indeed feel as if times are changing, but theres inbuilt inertia in the media, so don’t expect them to be quick in recognising it, and when they do, they’ll be even slower at acknowledging it.
    I saw an article today about the net wealth of the owners of Premier league clubs and it was illustrated with the crests of United, City, Liverpool,Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs, despite the fact that only one of those clubs is even in the top 3.

  108. Nervous,always when playing utd at old Trafford
    Injuries and suspension hitting us ,our squad not very big now,definitely needs a couple new bodies in January for rest of season

  109. And once again the holidays have superseded my duties. You wouldn’t think we could turn Christmas dinner into a party, but…

    So COYVB…let’s get ‘em today.

  110. JG…this is the luck-timing part of the equation. Fingers very firmly crossed.

    I do think there’s something to r0bb0’s comment about our walking pace at times and conserving the squad.

  111. Commentators being arsoles straight away . They are morning the loss of the old manure. Get the feeling they a making a plea for classic Villa to help out poor little stuggling and suffering manure.

  112. It’d be too easy now to criticise the way we seemed to relax and try to see the game out, but let’s not forget it’s worked for us in every previous game this season.

  113. Robbo
    1st goal all down to Carlos
    3rd goal lenget fault
    Just typical us dominate then throw it away at old Trafford, plus give a utd player his 1st goal
    We definitely need additional players in January

  114. Been a brilliant 1st half of season, tiredness catching up along with suspension and injuries
    Only 2 league games to end of January hopefully recharge of batteries by then

  115. JG. We’ve praised the way that when we’ve lost a player, this season, others have been slotted pretty seamlessly into their places but it does feel as if today we may have had to make once change too many.
    That seems harsh when we we t in 2-0

  116. Oops. . . .pressed ‘post comment’ too soon.
    But in the second half, we just lost cohesion and weren’t easily finding players the way we have been for most of the season.

  117. Officials very poor tonight
    Slightly before there equaliser blatant bodycheck ,mcginn was waving frantic at ref played advantage even when there was none,frees all one sided,lino first half let utd play on numerous times when they were off

  118. So JG, back to your point, yes it is feeling as if we ideally need a couple of extra quality players this January.
    Let’s face it it’s probably going to be hard to sign the quality of players in January that we’d need to make a difference.

  119. All good comments…I think the numbers game did catch up. A different midfield with Bouba and Youri to call on.

    But yeah, Diego was at fault, unlucky bounce off SJM, big save on Bailey and Evans’ foot just in the way.

  120. Have no complaints about the result. At 0-2 we were cruising then about 10 minutes from half time we stopped playing and competing for the ball. I was worried at HT. Worst fears realised in the 2nd half as we never competed at all and made them look a decent team.

    Couldn’t hold possession, couldn’t control the midfield and I can’t understand why we played the way we did in the 2nd half. Instead of putting some pressure on them we farted around at the back until the mistakes kicked in.

  121. We need a right back that can cross the ball,konsa gets a nose bleed at half way line,cash only manages one good one every 3/4 games
    Even tho Watkins got 2 goals in December he never gave Evans any bother tonight,probably down to fact we never hit ball to him

  122. Jc
    Bailey was unlucky with his effort and it would been a great time to score,think mcginn should not have let Evans block his,but how do we critise players for honest effort

  123. Don’t think we’ll get a better chance of beating them at OT. An opportunity blown for me. Thought Manure looked brittle at the back but we just didn’t attack them enough.

  124. Seen this several times in the past against manure. Villa cruise into a justifiable 2-nil first half lead then sit back in the second and think about how good they were. Even Big Eck’s side did it when Bazza was first coming through. Then a manure sub would come on and get a hat trick. I’m thinking of some mexican and some no name italian.

    I suppose walm cuddly obliging classic Villa couldn’t resist the double whammy of giving a forward his first goal after a stumbling start and help out the prawn sandwich crowd after they had their season start from hell.

    I’m not usually this narky but this ice cold contolled total football side SHOULD NOT HAVE LOST THIS GAME. Can’t help thinking there is a blind spot in Emery’s mind when a side throw the kitchen sink at us. Cool controlled calculating football sometimes wilts in the face of English style 100mph aggro football played by better than average players.

    Glad Tim Ironbrew got a bit of a game. Duran was just a bumbling lump. What he had at the start of the season has gone. Konsa was the least dozy player on the pitch but again, we didn’t really have a worthy motm.

    Now we have given the luvvie media a good gloat and Emery ball has been given something ti think about. Today we were well up our own arses!

  125. Jbd
    Fairly accurate post
    Worrying diaby has gone completely off the boil,and you are right on Duran looked part early season since outburst not even a shot on target

  126. Was an opportunity blown, Plug. Shame, perfect start, but then United shouldn’t be as ‘bad’ as they are.

    Hated that it echoed ‘same old Villa’, but they’ll learn.

  127. As 656 says, when a team throws the kitchen sink at you, players need to stand and win their individual battles. We lost every one from the 35th minute onwards. Even SJM was not at the races.

  128. Someone’s going to say it, so I guess it might as well be me. . . we’re still third in the table so it ain’t all bad, and we’ll soon have a fit Torres, and Kamara back from suspension, and the suggestion from Emery was that Tielemans should only be out for a couple of weeks.
    Those are three big players to welcome back, and ‘maybe’ some further additions in January.
    It’s not all bad.

  129. Yes 3rd place is way better than we could have expected at the start of the season. Remember John Gregory top at Xmas a lifetime ago with an ALL ENGLISH side. They flopped back to 6th or 7th at the end. They also went too far up their own arses thinking they were playing PROPER football and weren’t able or prepared to mix it with the ruffian oiks who didn’t see things the same way. Southgate was a leading exponent then and that’s how England play now.

    One of my many homespun theories is that every higher side will have a bad patch, then the goodness comes out again. I was hoping our bad patch was the newcastle game. See, I’m being positive again. Am I convincing?

  130. I’m trying to be convinced jbd, but not quite there. Every ‘next game’ seems to take on more significance now and you feel our ‘next game’ could be quite telling.
    Win it and maybe we’re back on track. . . . Lose it, and we’re definitely in a bad patch.

  131. Apart from Torres, Kamara and Tielemans coming back, Moreno and Ramsey are still coming back up to speed and ‘maybe’ Zaniolo is about to come good, so there are some reasons to feel that ‘if’ were hitting our bad patch, we can quickly pull out of it with fresh legs and minds returning to the pitch.

  132. I do worry that John McGin could be run ing himself into the ground.
    He does work so hard.
    It would be good if he could be given a game’s break sometime

  133. Last night hurt. We had the game won but stopped competing. I’m as much pissed off with the media love in for all things Manure. The commentators never stopped banging on about them. I was a big fan of Coisty but no more. At HT the “expert pundits” rattled incessantly about Manure. You would never know they were playing Villa. And I do despise Manure with a vengeance.

    Now that rant is off my chest, we have played a lot of games this month. It’s caught up with us. It’s exactly the half way point. We have 39 points. Repeat for the 2nd half of the season and it’s 78 points and Champions League. We now should not consider the Sky Six anymore. There are another 2 clubs joining the party, Villa and Newcastle so it’s the Sky Eight now. Of the other 7 clubs, we’ve played 5 of them away and only 2 at home. That should bode well for the rest of the season.

    In Europe we’ve played 8 games. Only 7 left in that competition if we go all the way. And we are only 14 months into Unai’s project. He’s still building the team. I did have to laugh at Bailey taking up his position for a free kick behind Onana on the goal line miles offside. What a distraction. SJM swings the ball in and Bailey merely moves sideways out of the way so he’s not interfering with play whilst the ball goes in the net. Brilliant and comical in equal measure. Both goals down to the wild man of Borneo.

  134. A draw and a loss at old Trafford and you would swear we were in relegation battle according to some
    Yes it’s frustrating but we have 28 games played so far this season add in international not a bit wonder some players are running on empty
    Last fee minutes v Brentford has bit us badly with kamara but in general our discipline has been excellent only 4 suspended, now it moves to 10 bookings bit of relief for some
    Hopefully can beat Burnley get injuries cleared up ,kamara will also be free so a nice quite January with at least 2 cup matches to get fringe players game time
    Onwards and upwards under emery

  135. This time last year, Newcastle were comfortably in 3rd place in the table, 3 points clear of 5th and 8 points clear of 6th. Just over a month later they were down in 6th place and 4 points off the CL places.
    Of course they then recovered and made it into the Champion’s league.
    It may be that we’ll want to remind ourselves of this in a few week’s time.
    Remember that Villa have recent form in coming good towards the end of a season, both in our promotion season with 10 wins in a row and just a couple of seasons ago when we looked destined for relegation and a final surge saved us.
    I hope we ‘dont’ need to remind ourselves of this in a few weeks’ time, but I thought I’d put a marker down now. . . . Just in case 🙂

  136. Ust popped onto the villa blog and saw an interesting and slightly worrying report from the supporters club meeting with the executive. If true (and I can’t say whether it is or not), then Chris Heck is not to be trusted. I hope it’s not true. The club made one misstep in appointing Gerrard, hopefully this isn’t another.

  137. Robbo
    Read report
    One thing really surprising is saying games are not sell outs
    Kinda understand European matches Thursday nights don’t suit and then most matches are Sundays awkward again

  138. r0bb0
    Harry Johnston was chucked of in about six weeks. How long before they rumble Uni? I can take it on another blog but hate it smegging up this one.

    I do go off piste now and again and check out the other blog. Lots of reasonable (to me) content but they don’t appear to be able to avoid a good eye gouging, face scratching, handbag swinging bitch slapping session now and again.

    Some times I think I recognise the style of some of their contibuters and wonder if any one from AVL like to dabble incognito there.

    I’m sure

  139. Jbd, yes, I was pretty sure it was Harry Johnston/frem too.
    I’m sure there are some who post on both. . . . I used to, but haven’t for years, but do still take a look sometimes as there are some good balanced posters (and inevitably, a few who I have learned to just skip over)

  140. I don’t know if any of the VAB have a particular axe to grind so it would be interesting to know a bit more about how successful Chris Heck has been in previous roles before jumping to any conclusions about his ‘fit’ to Aston Villa.

  141. The Advisory Board notes are interesting R0BBo. It’s answered some questions and raised more at the same time. Nice to know that VP is remaining the home of AVFC. I’ve always thought it is situated in a wonderful backdrop. It has the grounds of Aston church one end, Aston Park on one side with historic Aston Hall insitu. If Birmingham Corporation showed some vision, the housing behind the Witton Lane stand could be cleared with occupants rehoused in new build sites around the city and the railway embankment would form an excellent boundary that side. The cleared land could be a regenerated business park to include bars and restaurants.

    Sizeable car parking needs to be found on multiple sites within easy access of motorways and trunk roads. Shuttle buses from these to and from the stadium. With improved train services from Witton and Aston stations and buses to and from the city centre to the ground would clear the crowds much faster if the route pinch points are manned and controlled.

  142. I guess the danger with Heck is that he thinks the American Model needs to be applied to AVFC. Some things may work but there will be plenty that don’t work. He needs to understand the Brummie psychology before implementing his ideas.

    Using the excuse that VP does not sell out all games as the reason for putting the Witton End stand redevelopment on hold does not hold water. If we had 50,000 capacity, there would still be 200 seats unsold. Football is not like an airline where they are allowed to overbook flights to ensure 100% capacity is achieved on a flight. Then if more people turn up for a flight, the stragglers get bounced off it and given a voucher for another flight. Ain’t going to work with your average Brummie at VP.

    We can only sell a percentage of the total capacity as season tickets. That’s the regulations. Increased capacity means increased season ticket sales. Non season ticket sales needs to be completely streamlined using online technology. It’s almost there, just needs to be slicker.

    The new Club Crest was supposed to involve fan interaction and consultation. Seems that didn’t happen, or if it did it was ignored.

  143. That’s just as I read it Plug, and like you, I thought the ‘200 unsold tickets’ sounded like a red herring. I really don’t mind him not speaking to the fans for his first 6 months in the job, in fact there’s a good case to be made for learning about the club before saying too much. Having taken the time to gather information though, there’s no excuse then for sloppy language, spin, or misinformation when he does finally speak.
    I’m still suspending judgement, because passionate fans can be guilty of overstating ‘facts’ as they see them, but the process of choosing the new club crest, on the face of it does seem worrying. Chris Heck went out of his way to talk about extensive fan involvement in the selection process so it’s ‘possible’ that the FAB are just unhappy that ‘their’ preference has not been listened to, but ideally, I’d like to hear more from both sides before jumping on a bandwagon.

  144. Going back to the ground redevelopment, if there’s a plan to add extra seating incrementally, by somehow filling in the North stand corners, then that’s fine by me, but just come out and say that in clear English.

    If he tries to patronise fans with spin or half stories then he’s very quickly going to be found out, and it would be a real shame if a lot of the other amazing work done by the club was tarnished by the arrogance of one man.
    (Just take it as read that there are a lot of genuine ‘ifs’ in there)

  145. We’re well into rumour season now and I see that the Manchester City xtra website is suggesting that City want to resign Douglas Luiz but that it’ll take a “9 figure sum”. To be honest, if they’re ready to offer £100,000,000 for him, then I think we’d be mad not to sell for that.

  146. it’s funny how many in the media are shouting about how wonderful United were this week, how they’ve turned a corner etc etc. Ian Ladyboy (sic) of the Mail podcast, postulated that United have exposed a chink in Villa’s armour . . . .the clever little sausage has noticed that we defend with a high line, and United exploited this.
    The fact is we’ve had the high line all season and it had helped us be the only team not to lose from a winning position.
    Now it could be that the changes to our back line made the high line slightly less effective (Just surmising that, I can’t prove it) but to suggest that United and Ten Hag are some sort of geniuses for identifying and exploiting this ‘chink’ is just silly.

  147. We’ve been called out. We should be ashamed because we vilified f**m for telling it like it is. Makes me think f**m has got other multiple alter egos on the go. No mention/realisation that they threw harry johnstone off their site because they couldn’t stomach him.

    Uni has been outright challenged/accused of being f**m on this site. Wonder if the challenger is one of our brethren with a different ID, or else we are being read by “THE OTHERS”.

    I suppose I’m being a big kid but I love all this intrigue – so long as we remain smeg free.

  148. Not quite the Christmas we wanted lads but spurs and arsenal coughed up the points yesterday too so all’s not lost. I couldn’t believe the absolute grief of the pundits when we were two up at Old Trafford nor the fact they are now title contenders (not). I do think Mr Hag pressured our high line and the fact we didn’t have Torres, Kamara and Tielemans to keep the ball effectively eventually told. We gave the ball away for at least two if not all three goals and had a deflection, Luis had a less than £100m display and McGinn was forced into playing were he’s least effective, Dendoncker despite the goal and assist just not what we need. Untied’s goal XG was however less than ours amazingly and Mcginn should of scored. Salah and Son off to the Afcon amongst many others in the league and that favours us. If we can get everyone back and march on then skys the limit but, I think City will win the league again.

  149. Hi Mark, I reckon you’re right about the high line. It’s worked amazingly well for us this season (I’m sure we’ve all seen the stats showing the effectiveness of our offside trap as an example) but it really does rely on perfect teamwork, constant concentration and quick reactions and it’s remarkable how well it’s generally been maintained, despite changes in personnel along the back line. As you say when we lose some of our most effective, ball retaining, players then we are likely to struggle with the midfield battle and invite more pressure on our back line. McGinn’s bum seemed a bit less effective in that last game too so as you say, being able to (hopefully) welcome back quite a few players in the next few weeks should see us back to winning ways.

  150. Following up on previous comments about the badge redesign, I do think that we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions in the absence of all the background information. It’s understandable that many fans will have strong opinions on the matter, some certain that a shield is best and others adamant that the logo should be round. The matter has apparently, now been referred to the FA, presumably by those who have a strong affinity for the round badge, following strong suggestions that the badge relaunch will be for the shield version.
    There seems to be little dispute that the club’s online poll came down in favour of the shield design, whereas other polls, not conducted by the club, have come down in favour of the round badge. I haven’t seen how the questions were asked, and that may have heavily swayed the outcome, particularly if there was ANY editorial support for one version over the other.
    From a fan perspective, the badge design is largely driven by emotion, whereas for the club, there are practical considerations of visibility and ease of reproduction across a whole range of media and products. A design that may look good on a shirt, may be a pain in the arse, to incorporate on a website header for example.
    If the club had a strong preference for one design over another then it would have been sensible to communicate the preferences and reasons for them.
    If the club ‘consultation’ is judged by the FA to have been deep and broad enough amongst the fan base, then to my mind, the case should be closed.
    What fans should be wary of, is allowing their sentiment for one design or the other to sway their view of the club on match days.
    What Chris Heck should consider, is whether he is genuinely consulting with and understanding the views and concerns of the fans.

  151. I watched the Brighton v Spurs game last night and saw a Brighton players pushed on the chin with some force by a Spurs player during a square up between the 2 players. Also saw a Brighton player shoved forcefully in the back by a Spurs player during a substitution because he wasn’t sprinting off the pitch.

    Neither case attracted any punishment from the ref. Then we have Kamara at Brentford getting a 3 match ban from the turd of a ref for a gentle push. There’s one law for some and a totally different law for others.

    The shit hit the fan big time when Sheff U scored at VP a few seasons back but were never awarded the goal because VAR couldn’t determine if the ball had crossed the line. Same last night at the Arse except a goal was awarded despite the ball going out for a goal kick. Clattenberg says the correct decision was awarded, Arteta says it is what it is. But in our case there was threats of legal action. When exactly the same thing happened at VP earlier this month against Citeh they guessed the ball had gone out and rubbed off a perfectly good goal of ours. We’re in the trenches guys, under attack.

  152. Plug,
    you’re right, it’s the lack of consistency that is getting VAR a bad name. It’s reducing the number of wrong decisions, particularly on offside, but they either need to simplify the rules, or at least ensure that all officials know what they are, and probably more importantly, how they will be ‘consistently’ applied. The hand to the face is a good example. Kamara misses three games but I’ve seen 3 separate instances since of exactly the same thing (if anything much worse, at least in one case) and there’s been no punishment at all not even a caution.
    Emery would have had the referees sitting down for an hour or so watching videos, discussing contentious decisions and agreeing exactly what action will be taken next time. We need some of the same sort of professional attitude to be taken up by whoever is overall responsible for referees in this country.
    Currently, it’s just not good enough and there’s no sign of improvement.
    A good start would be more readily admitting when they’ve got things wrong.

  153. JG, yes, it doesn’t take much to ‘trigger’ some doomsayers does it. Frem is just being the same old Frem on tvb (apart from the new name of course) so probably doesn’t count.
    To be fair, I reckon the vast majority of Villa fans are being quite pragmatic about the disappointment of the last 2 games and are able to see them in the context of the rest of the season.

  154. To be fair, Uni hasn’t slagged Watkins off yet. How long can he keep that going especially if he only scores a hatrick but misses a “sitter”?

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