3-5-2 or whatever; Do we have the personnel?

Dean Smith apparently played the formation against Chelsea and I can see why, as it counters the way they play.
But I always have massive doubts about the formation because it’s far too easy to make it a 5-3-2 and just call it the more attacking version.

I do like it, as it’s a very fluid setup, where you can quickly turn defence into attack and vice versa.
But I’m not convinced we have the players for it.

I like both Matt Cash and Matt Targett. Interestingly, both started playing as wingers, but got moved back into the fullback positions.
I have to wonder why that is, but can only assume it’s because they’re better at defending than attacking.

Certainly Cash doesn’t seem to offer much when it comes to crossing of late, which is strange because I have it in my head that he did have a decent cross in him previously. Has he been told not to get up to much? That seems strange if he’s supposed to be a wingback.

Likewise, Targett definitely has a decent cross in him, but I struggle to think of when he banged the last one in with any good outcome?

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say, to be honest, but it seems to me that using them as wingbacks and expecting them to replace two out and out wide players such as El Ghazi and Traore (are they really wingers? I don’t think so) is somewhat alien to us.
And mixing and matching like this isn’t ideal.

I think it’s pretty fair to say that we gave a decent showing against Chelsea and I’m not suggesting that our setup was wrong at all.
It would take a much more knowledgeable person than me to answer that.
But it just doesn’t feel right.

Very similar to how Watkins and Ings frankly didn’t look right either.

Hopefully it’s just about learning how to play the system


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  1. Bill Evans
    Bill Evans September 14, 2021 at 5:28 am . Reply

    I disagree about the 2 Matts – I think both of them are excellent wingers and have pulled off some great crosses. I think Targett is missing having the one who shouldn’t be mentioned (i.e. JG) but he’s also partnered well with AEG. They both have excellent ball control.

    As regards 2 up-front, I feel it could work but just didn’t quite against Chelsea. For some reason, Ings just didn’t get the roll of the ball or involved as much as we know he can. The coaches need to figure out how to get him and Ollie to work effectively together because both need to be on the pitch as starters, in my opinion.


  2. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 September 14, 2021 at 3:29 pm . Reply

    See it’s being reported that Tuanzebe wants to make his loan move permanent.

    He fits the Villa model of buying promising young players and Smith was keen to get him on loans having worked with him previously but is he an upgrade on what we have?

    1. Sidforever
      Sidforever September 14, 2021 at 5:45 pm . Reply


      I really hope this is rubbish paper talk.

      The idea of dispensing with Smith after potentially seven matches is absolutely ludicrous. We’ve not had the best start to the season but part of that has to be down to Covid and then it’s knock on effect into the international calendar. Further I fundamentally believe that the other people in the club such as Purslow who would’ve been sanctioning the travelling abroad.

      So far this season we were hopefully going to Watford, missing key players against Brentford, dispensed with Newcastle and played very well against Chelsea. It’s about the direction of travel.

      Fundamentally believe the principles are right at the club and we will get better with time Rome was not built in a day.

      Ferguson seven years to get going, Saunders another seven years to get going. Give the man time to do the job.

      1. Big Fat Ron
        Big Fat Ron September 14, 2021 at 10:14 pm . Reply

        It would be a horrible error by the board to sack Smith before the end of the season. The only thing that would warrant a dismissal is being embroiled in a relegation battle. Look at it from Smith’s perspective. He’s lost his only world class player (arguably the best in the league); he’s lost two coaches; COVID and Internationals are wreaking havoc with his preparations; he’s got injuries to key players and his captain is determined to do his best Laurel and Hardy routing at the worst possible moments.

        If anything he’d be within his rights to say “f*** this bollocks, I’m out of here.” I know I’ve said the target should be top 6 minimum, but that was before I saw how mad the season is. Given the circumstances, I think a top half finish and consolidation would not be out of order. Someone mentioned ‘transition’ a couple of weeks ago. I maintain that it’s not a transition season, but a sideways step consolidation maybe needed, given the circumstances. Then go again next season.

        Sacking Smith before January would only add to the utter madness of football right now.

  3. Bill Pearson..
    Bill Pearson.. September 14, 2021 at 3:50 pm . Reply

    I see football insider has some interesting comments, Smith if he doesn’t turn things around will be gone, he’s got till the next break and its being said there was payment to get you know who to sign for Man City, dirty deeds was afoot.
    Me!! don’t believe a word of it. Bailey , along with Ings, and Olie as being definitely playing next match. I thought Ings was isolated and wasn’t given the ball as much as usual and extra determination from some of the players played a big part in the first half ,only an half soaked defender helped us to lose the game. Still up and fight again that’s all we can do till our owner’s step in ..

  4. badger123
    badger123 September 15, 2021 at 10:04 am . Reply

    I saw that story about Smith being given until the next international break and just laughed. The hierarchy want results of course, but they’re not that stupid.

    Christmas might be a different matter.

    Not seen anything about payments though. I’ll have to have a look for that.

  5. Bill Pearson..
    Bill Pearson.. September 15, 2021 at 11:28 am . Reply

    Apparently it was to his father and camp.
    Revealed: The extraordinary sum Man City paid Grealish and his camp to ‘fix’ Aston Villa transfer
    Man City paid Jack Grealish and his camp an extraordinary £10million fee to seal his transfer from Aston Villa, Football Insider can exclusively reveal.

    City paid a Premier League-record £100m for Grealish after triggering the release clause in his contract over the summer.

    0:54 / 1:24
    Scott demanded ‘best coffee in the…

    A recruitment source has told Football Insider that City pad a £10m fee to Grealish, 26, his father Kevin and his agents Stellar Group for fixing the deal.

    It is believed that Grealish senior had negotiated the split of the agent’s fee when renegotiating his son’s deal with Stellar a number of years previously.

    The England international also signed a six-year contract worth more than £200,000-a-week as part of the astonishing deal with City.

    The fee for Grealish exclipsed the £89.3m that Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba in 2016.

    Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

    City agreed to meet the £100m clause in Grealish’s Villa contract that he signed last September.

    The Midlands giants had tried to convince their captain and talisman to stay, offering him another new deal on improved terms,.

    But the opportunity to work with Pep Guardiola and challenge for the game’s top prizes proved impossible to resist.

    Villa spent heavily over the summer in an attempt to soften the blow of Grealish’s departure.

    They paid £25million-plus fees for Emiliano Buendía, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings, and also recruited Ashley Young on a free transfer and Axel Tuanzebe on loan from Man United.

    In other news, ex-manager names expected winner in Man City, Man United and Liverpool race to sign Declan Rice after what he’s heard.

  6. Bill Pearson..
    Bill Pearson.. September 15, 2021 at 4:37 pm . Reply

    I’m at a lose here, do you think that he who deserted us and had 13 games rest with shin splinters really didn’t have and it was a ruse? , reading and seeing all that was said making Me think we was tricked , the reason I’m thinking this is we went out and bought in the hope we could persuade him to change his mind.
    All that according to that article making me think that, I know fans are saying he’s gone forget him but I don’t like being given lies like its my club I’m here for life then walk away , all for a medal and glory that he could have helped Aston Villa gain and been a marter in history of our club. Oh sod it bollocks to him ,hope he gets sod all out of it..

  7. Holte
    Holte September 15, 2021 at 6:33 pm . Reply

    As a fan, if I was playing for the club I love and getting a huge salary, adored and idolised by the supporters and with our best owners for a long long time, there would be absolutely zero chance I would have left to join Citeh. I question how much of a fan (he who shall not be named) was because I can only put it down to greed and selfishness. He got into the England side playing for Villa when we were on the brink of a successful period in our history.
    Unfortunately I now realise that the top 4 clubs especially will continue to pick off the best players from the clubs below them. This makes it nearly impossible to challenge them. Even if our owners don’t want to sell, it won’t stop our best players leaving. I can see Watkins or McGinn moving on in the summer if we finish outside European places. After all, what loyalty do they have to the club if we can’t even keep one of our own! 😒

  8. Holte
    Holte September 15, 2021 at 6:44 pm . Reply

    In response to the headline the formation I would prefer would be a 4-1-4-1. We shouldn’t play 3-5-2 or 4-4-2 just to shoe horn Watkins and Ings together as central strikers. For me, Ings is the best finisher so play him down the middle with Watkins wide left which he did many times for Brentford. My personal choice would be:-
    Watkins McGinn Buendia Traore
    Targett Hause Konsa Cash

    I would like to see other fans preferred formation / team selection.

Right or Wrong? What do YOU think?

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