Barry Goal Steals the Show, Fixture Moaners and the Invisible Man

We all probably thought the worst when the Covid outbreak left us without any first team players together with three leading U23’s out for the Cup tie with Liverpool.

The last time Villa fielded a team of debutants was in 1874 – our first ever competitive game – which probably shows how little the Cup matters to Villa this year given that we elected to play rather than requesting a postponement which we were fully entitled to do.

Liverpool turned out most of their first team despite Klopp’s constant whining about not being allowed five substitutes, fixture congestion and the need to protect the players. If, in fielding so many experienced players, Klopp was trying to rub Villa’s nose in the dirt then it spectacularly backfired on both counts.

And whilst on the subject, we’ve lately had to put up with fixture moaning from Mourino and Scott Parker. Parker making it known that he was less than thrilled in having to take our spot tonight against Spurs, conveniently forgetting they called off the original tie just two hours before kick off after a breach by some of their players – could they have put out a squad (the protocol I believe is a minimum of 14 players being available)? We’ll never know because no data was published unlike in other outbreaks which have led to postponements.

While all of us are having to make sacrifices in our daily lives, the grumbling about clubs having to move fixtures is pathetic and shows how self absorbed football has become. It’s unlikely that ‘elite football’ will be stopped, despite Allardyce’s plea to be released from his Baggies nightmare for two weeks – there are too many multi-million pound contracts involved  – and the sooner clubs realise that this season is going to be like no other with fixture changes and congestion, the better. We don’t need to keep reading about it.

Enough of all that.

Villa fans must have been reaching for the record books and worrying about a record Cup defeat (8-1 against Blackburn Rovers over a century ago) when the teams were announced but those fear soon turned to joy as Villa not only withstood the Liverpool juggernaut but surprisingly went in 1-1 at half time. When Louie Barry broke clear and finished so calmly, after really good play from the back, Villa had already won the night and having that goal voted as the best goal of the FA Cup 3rd Round (31% of the vote by BBC viewers) was the deserved icing on the cake.

There were brilliant performances all over the pitch and although tiredness eventually overcame them, it took all of Liverpool’s ‘big guns’ to achieve the win. 

Lamare Bogarde and Ben Chrisene  have been rewarded with professional contracts. The seventeen year-olds are two of the most recent additions to the academy side and were signed to meet Purslow’s objective of filling the U23 side with highly talented teenagers’. Are these also an example of Lange’s influence starting to show? Will we at last to see real progress from the academy as players of any quality, Grealish excepted, have been few and far between?

All in all a Villa performance and the Barry goal that will live long in the memory.

I was going to write more about the United game but time passes and the outcome was boringly similar although Villa played well and were, in the end, unlucky not to secure a draw. 

United were once again awarded a dubious penalty when Pogba, who had just finished instructing Luke Shaw to dive in the box, cleverly managed to trip himself up. Luiz may have been naïve in allowing himself to get suckered in but the real complaint is why didn’t Oliver go and look at the monitor? After all it was Oliver, in our game against Brighton, who went over to the monitor, having a warded a penalty to Villa for a foul on Trezeguet, deciding to overturn the decision. The award to United was no less marginal but, of course, at Old Trafford the award of a home penalty is not a novelty is it?

The lack of consistency when applying VAR protocol is destroying the game and needs to be addressed now.

So onto the invisible man or one Ross Barkley, who once again failed to materialize for the United game despite Smith continually reporting him being fit to play. Is this just about poor and thoughtless media briefing or something more concerning? Hamstring injuries, on average, keep a player out for six or so weeks so questions should be asked over the way this is being communicated to fans.

The real disappointment is that he has now been absent for more games than he has actually played and there is no doubt that when he plays he lifts the team to a higher level. His interplay with Grealish and his goal threat would, I believe, have made a real difference against United.

Everton next on Sunday, the outcome of which will depend on the after effects of Covid and the amount of preparation time the players have as, at present, Bodymoor Heath is still closed.


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  1. Avatar
    Hitchens60 January 14, 2021 at 10:36 am . Reply

    Confirmed, Villa’s game against Everton is postponed.

  2. Avatar
    Bill Pearson.. January 14, 2021 at 9:56 pm . Reply

    Andre Greene gone to Sheffield Wednesday. are we still churning them out then ?

    1. Avatar
      Hitchens60 January 15, 2021 at 7:18 am . Reply

      Bill, I think the academy has a reasonable record of turning out good players at Championship level but not so much in terms of really good players.

      Under Purslow / Smith we are now looking at signing (and in some cases buying) the best young talent around to boost the quality of our academy / U23’s rather than relying solely on bringing through local youngsters.

      1. Avatar
        Bill Pearson.. January 15, 2021 at 5:30 pm . Reply

        I wouldn’t say that’s right Hitch after the display they put up against Liverpool. Our problem in my mind is lack of showing our talent wouldn’t you say. Grealish got in because needed a player and lifted eyebrows. You only have to look around the English league to see our ex players in other clubs. Ok we will splash the cash and buy but they are only end of playing years of a player, not one player has said I want to go to Villa! They all want the bright lights that the Midlands don’t have in our city. So what I’m saying is have Faith in home grown and don’t give up on a 21 year old player th as been in the care from youngsters loving the game and won’t to be great one day.

        1. Avatar
          DSVilla January 15, 2021 at 7:44 pm . Reply

          I get where you are coming from Bill. It’s a bold decision to throw a raw youngster into the first team as it’s a massive step up. Villa have generally alternated between needing to fight to stay in a division or fight to get out of it. This season looks like it’s different so maybe some of those kids might get a chance. Not sure what changes you can make to the squad or whether younger/home grown players don’t count in your squad total.

          Certainly, some of those who played the other night look as though they could hold their own. Tough call for a manager though. His neck is on the line and he could ruin a players career by picking him too early or not early enough.

          It does look like we are seriously looking to upgrade our intake at youth/U23 level though.

  3. Avatar
    Hitchens60 January 15, 2021 at 7:12 am . Reply

    Rumoured that Hourihane may go out on loan – something I suggested may happen a couple of weeks ago.

    Another rumour is that we’re interested in David Brooks at Bournemouth.

    The first might be dependant on the second

  4. Avatar
    Bill Pearson.. January 15, 2021 at 5:31 pm . Reply

    By the way Dean Smith got manager of the month from Sky Sports.

    1. Avatar
      Holte66 January 15, 2021 at 6:57 pm . Reply

      Congratulations Dean Smith on MOTM for December. This means it’s inevitable that January will be a terrible month.
      As for Villa’s youngsters, it is highly unlikely that they will become first team regulars for us. History suggests that a couple will flirt with first team action before being loaned out and forgotten. Ramsey might be the first since JG to break into the first team and stay there but pressure on managers will force them to buy rather than develop their own. I hope I’m wrong and DS seems more likely than previous managers to give kids a chance. Continuity at the top will help the academy to push promising youngsters towards the first team.

      1. Avatar
        Bum Bum January 16, 2021 at 9:56 am . Reply

        What January??? Looks like we may not get to kick a ball again. Wouldn’t surprise me if the season was cancelled considering this outbreak is worse than the last. Bloody typical when we’re on a roll!!!
        God, covid life is boring. Gotta be thankful for our health though.
        Bill, had your jab yet as the old geezer on site??? 😁😁😁
        Get your vitamin D down your neck guys!!!!!

        1. Avatar
          Bill Pearson.. January 16, 2021 at 2:20 pm . Reply

          Bum Bum,, had my jab on the 4th the second got cancelled,

  5. Avatar
    nath January 16, 2021 at 8:30 am . Reply

    hope we have got that nasty covid under control and all players and staff are on the mend who contracted it. four games behind after this weekend matches and they expect us to probably play 3 games in a week for the rest of the season. when the intelligent thing to do, should be extend the season and abandon the euros. all the world needs now is a useless euros competition and to in danger players by ridiculous time schedule to complete a season. football has been a wonderful distraction from this covid nightmare, players deserve better thought of than demanding more.

    i said a few weeks ago we have got the whole club singing from the same hyme sheet. the youth team displayed excellent against a full strength pool side, i agree with a earlier post that pool came looking to act some kind of revenge after we mauled them in the league. they must have been licking their lips when the covid news surfaced.

    some of them kids are now getting loans which will only fast tract them for the future. it doesnt matter that its non league, its does matter that its men football, see the kids proved they can now play the game. they have enough skill and tactically are good as proven against pool. but they lacked the fitness to compete whole 90 and keeping up the same standards over and over. they can only achieve this by playing regular and not youth game in the real mens game.

    our club is going places fast and smith is a big part of this movement. its not down to one player or one man off course. owners have also played their part by not interfering and trusting the footballing men to implement their footbaling side. we are miles ahead of where i thought we would be at this moment in time. playing great football too. i am totally enjoying villa and proud of all the players

  6. Avatar
    nath January 16, 2021 at 3:39 pm . Reply

    watching leeds brighton and their pitch is cutting up and commentary said it will be heavy on the legs. that made me bust with laughter. its a bad pitch by premiership standards but its miles better than the pitches i played on. ours was p/t cow fields with ponds always in goal areas. you get knackard quicker cause the weight of your kit being soaked with mud and water. i bet i could play on these premiership pitches even today with my added timber

  7. Avatar
    Hitchens60 January 16, 2021 at 4:38 pm . Reply

    Villa’s next six fixtures (Covid permitting)

    20th Man City (a) 6pm BT Sport
    23rd Newcastle (h) 8pm Sky
    27th Burnley (a) 6pm BT Sport
    30th Southampton (a) 8pm Sky
    2nd Feb West Ham (h) 7.45
    6th Feb Arsenal (h) 3pm

    That’s four games in 10 days between now and the end of January and six games in16 days in total before we get a weeks break!

    With so many games in such a short period of time there will be a heightened injury risk as well as mental and physical fatigue especially after the Covid outbreak.

    So. it seems to me that we’re going to need some new recruits to help with the workload – particularly upfront?

  8. Avatar
    Adam January 16, 2021 at 8:28 pm . Reply

    I’d tempt wolves with a bid for Neto. Quality player. £28m might tempt them to sell. Josh King an obvious and needed signing.

    1. Avatar
      nath January 17, 2021 at 8:24 am . Reply

      yeah i agree that neto looks like a top winger. he doesn’t over do things or over complicate things, like some players that do that and end up tying themselves in knots trying to outfox their opponent. neto just creates space and crosses the ball. his crosses yesterday were top class just wolves had nobody in the danger zones to make them count.

Right or Wrong? What do YOU think?

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