Brentford 2 – 1 Villa; Where do we go from here?

I’m not going to dwell on last night’s game, but I will say I thought it was a disaster waiting to happen, with us playing Whelan and Jedinak in the same team.
Whelan’s form has been poor lately and along with Snodgrass, I’d have put him high on my list of players to be “rested”.
The combo just left me wondering how our midfield might function and it was plainly obvious that it just didn’t, with Brentford running through us with gay abandon.
I know many of you really like Grealish, but even though he was still probably one of our best players on the pitch, I just don’t see how he works in the way we set up. For all his runs and tricks, what did he ultimately achieve?
I’d suggest very little.
He is knocked off the ball far too easily and runs into dead ends, because the fact that the rest of the midfield offer so little threat, it means the opposition can just afford to crowd him out.
That’s not to say I don’t like him. I do, but just don’t see how he works.
I’m sure many of you will disagree, but it’s only a small part of my opinion in this post.

Suffice to say, I thought Bruce got the selection wrong, bigtime, in going for two defensive mids.
As for the game itself, well I have to say I seriously lost interest and a lot of the second half just passed me by.
Such was the dominance by Brentford, a few minutes late on, apart.

And that isn’t good enough.

Which leads us on to the manager.

Look, let me say straight off that I am not a blind follower of Steve Bruce.
By all accounts he’s a very nice bloke, but to me that means nothing, as I’ve never met him.
He will go when the good Dr X deems that he has nothing more to offer, which is exactly the same as it’s always been at any club.
But I will do my best to support any manager of Aston Villa while he’s still in place.

In other words, I will not condemn him purely because of where he’s worked before, as I’m fairly sure some Villa fans have.
I’ll admit that I was more keen to take Bruce over McCleish, but that was purely down to Bruce’s proven success in getting teams promoted; no more, no less. Whereas McCleish had done next to nothing where it counted.

I’m digressing too much in trying to emphasise that Bruce is no particular favourite of mine, so let’s try and keep to the point.

Which is, what would you do if you were Tony Xia?

A brief summary of our position (as if there’s anyone who reads here that doesn’t know).

We need promotion this season. It looks like automatic qualification has well gone, but we might still achieve a play-off place. The fact that we can’t beat the teams around us concerns me, but that’s how it is.

With Bruce having spent a fortune on massive flop strikers who can’t get a goal between them, we are now restrained by FFP, so basically don’t have a pot to piss in.
Which begs the question of who is any new manager going to bring in? He’ll be forced to sell our better players if he wants to spend any decent money or stick with what we have and try to get a tune out of them.
Which leads me to my first dilemma.
Given that it seems that Bruce is seriously struggling to get the team to perform, would any other manager be able to?
I know. I can hear some of you saying they couldn’t do much worse, given the supposed strength of our squad. It’s a point I’m inclined to agree with, to be honest, as I’ve often said that I’m sure the team are being shackled, as much as they haven’t helped themselves at times.

Steve Bruce seems totally reluctant to throw the kids in.
It’s not a point I’m entirely convinced of though, as he has played Green, Davis and Hepburn-Murphy. I hear many calls for Suliman and O’Hare, but aren’t the coaching staff watching them every day?
Would any new manager really be quicker to throw them in?
It’s easy to say yes, but we have to remember that at lower league clubs, the options are less and managers have no choice but to play kids.
And even then, if we do try them, what happens if they flop massively?
That said, I’ve often questioned why we have an academy, but that’s another area of debate.

And then, there’s the big question of do we really want another manager in already, after years of unsuccessful chopping and changing?
Consider that we’re trying to put ourselves in Xia’s position here, where’s he’s being advised by Wyness and I think they’ll both be very reluctant to sack the manager now.
The point has often been made that December does not win you the league and I at least, expected a poor run of results this month. I also expect our run to continue for a while. All teams have a bad patch and I believe this is ours.
Which leaves us with another dilemma.

If we’re to be really quick in swinging the axe, we have to sack Bruce sharpish. I’d be looking at the next two games, with a view to getting a manager in where he at least has the transfer window to play with.
Any later would be utterly pointless and we may as well keep him till the end of the season.
Unfortunately we also have to ask if Middlesbrough away and Bristol City at home are a fair brace of games to judge him by.

All things that I’d expect Wyness to be telling the owner for what it’s worth.

Hence I don’t see Bruce being relieved of his post in the short-term.
But I do see lots of moaning from the fans.

About the only thing that I can see changing things is if the away fans seriously turn on Bruce and they apparently did last night.
When that happens consistently, you just know a sacking is imminent.


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  1. nath
    nath December 27, 2017 at 8:21 pm . Reply

    this post was well worth the wait, it covers many areas and is correct especially the midfield selection last night. just jedi, whelen and snodgrass 3 of the 4 in midfield have not the legs or the ability to perform in a midfield together. snodgrass is a massive disappointment he has much more ability than he is showing, he comes inside to much and has no end product, because he is coming inside we have no width on the right.

    thats all i want to say because pointing out the errors or mistakes will take too long, it was a write off and bigger embarrassments are not too far away if they continue in the same fashions.

    on the kids i understand you all want to see the kids, i for one always fought on their sides. kids are the future and should be promoted within the 1st teams if they have the ability. but and its a massive but, the current set up is not a good place to school youngsters. we are so bad its unbelievable. last night i was reading hate posts aimed at davis. do you really want the youngsters to face the flak for years of villa under achieving. villa fans aim their frustrations out at all the team and managers and other fans. its gonna be messy before it gets better.

  2. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson December 27, 2017 at 9:09 pm . Reply

    Don’t matter what we think does it, all this been going on for 12 months with Bruce, i like a lot more said I’d give him time to make Villa the club it was and should be, we all have seen him make unbelievable decisions that been prooved to be laughably, two weeks ago he brought in a extra professional help from Middlebough that’s worked with him over the years, I’m sorry to say we are no more forwards in seeing things get better, i think his problems is he’s soft in management, he doesn’t actually know what to do, we all called for change in the team he picks by seeing what’s wrong in the team he just plays what he think is safe, he has to go and now.

  3. DSVilla
    DSVilla December 27, 2017 at 9:55 pm . Reply

    That’s a very calm and reasoned post Badger.

    Mine’s a bit different. Sack him. Sack him now. The only problem is we can’t sack him any earlier than now. I wanted him out last Xmas. I wanted him out at the end of last season. The reason for that was blindingly obvious. He had a wealth of talent at his disposal and had no idea (and that includes his coaching staff- who he picked) how to get them to play football. The number of players who have arrived with a good reputation and strong stats to have their careers stalled is testimony to his incompetence.

    Think back across his time at the club. How many convincing performances have you witnessed? I guess you only need the fingers on one hand. What is going to change? Bruce isn’t. He just can’t see it.

    All teams become the image of their manager. Bruce’s team is a cautious, defensive one, waiting to sneak a goal and shut up shop. He sucks the life out of players. He sucks the life out of the fans. He is just another McLeish – happy to talk about the history of the club and the expectations, but totally the wrong man to deliver.

    Nice bloke, but I know loads of them and I don’t want any of them as our manager.

    Fuck him off and get someone with some enthusiasm and passion – like Klopp, and tactical nous (probably not British but maybe with a few exceptions). It’s not a simple task but unless we do that we are doomed to a Groundhog Day of mediocrity.

  4. DSVilla
    DSVilla December 27, 2017 at 10:05 pm . Reply

    Pinched off Twitter:

    Oscar Garcia: “My obsession is to attack and to have the ball as many times as possible. If we have the ball, we will have many chances to score and to win. That’s my philosophy.”

    Now I defy anyone to tell me we should stick with Bruce and give a credible argument to support it.

  5. Villain1
    Villain1 December 27, 2017 at 10:05 pm . Reply

    Stability for stabilities sake is completely pointless. Wolves haven’t been in any way stable over the past 12 months and they’ve found a highly successful formula. Watford are like a revolving door but cope well and there are plenty of other examples.
    We are desperate for a dynamic proactive manager and have been for well over a year now. The problem is the CEO, Mr Wyness is as much as a dinosaur as Bruce himself and far too “pally” with Bruce to make the ruthless decisions required to make this club even moderately successful. Unless Dr Tony steps in and overrules anytime soon we are heading for a very troubling time ahead.

    I also am sick of hearing this total BS about Bruce being a “decent bloke”. He’s not. This is nothing more than a pay packet to him. Tired old cliches from a tired old dinosaur, he’s saturated our squad with ageing tripe like Whelan on high wages and couldn’t set up a team positively to save his life. The little jibes at the fans via his media chums have not gone unnoticed. I for one cannot wait for the day that fraud leaves.

  6. nath
    nath December 27, 2017 at 10:52 pm . Reply

    if they sack bruce and hire another manager, would this affect the fair play nonsense, maybe that’s a reason why is hasn’t been sacked and why they are probably hoping he leaves on his own so to avoid a comp payout.

    1. badger123
      badger123 December 27, 2017 at 11:02 pm . Reply

      Hmm, that hadn’t occurred to me, but it’s very probably correct, Nath.
      That’s a very scary situation to be in, if it is the case.

    2. DSVilla
      DSVilla December 27, 2017 at 11:06 pm . Reply

      I don’t think it’s anything to do with that. Bruce isn’t on that much, and compared with the cost of not getting promoted it’s irrelevant.

      The real indicator is the appointment of Agnew. Xia will have agreed that on Wyness’s advice. That means sacking Bruce wasn’t on the radar, as he would have just delayed the decision while watching the latest few results. We’re stuck with Bruce. He will get sacked at the end of the season, with Villa sitting just in the top half.

      too late.

  7. Bill Evans
    Bill Evans December 27, 2017 at 11:47 pm . Reply

    Spot on about Grealish. I fear his true skills will never be realized in a Villa shirt.

  8. nath
    nath December 28, 2017 at 8:01 am . Reply

    i don’t know shit about running off the club and that fair play stuff is also new to me. but my understanding is they can’t sign anybody, because they are borderline breaking them rules, which has consequences to the club if they do. sacking bruce will incur paying up his contract unless he breaks clubs rules seriously doubt that. or unless he walks away which is a possibility.

    even if he’s not on massive wages, its a outlay of his whole contract and his backroom staff and hiring another manager and his staff etc, they would have to sell a player probably to fund all this or hire within like kevin mcdonald

    looks like the dr has his hands tied and probably the reason why nothing was done. could terry take up the player manager he already has a contract with the club,

    1. DSVilla
      DSVilla December 28, 2017 at 9:44 am . Reply

      Unless the rules have changed again Xia can put in money to cover any loss above £13m. If he is rich as he says he is then he could cover it. I guess he thinks he has spent enough. Lerner MK II maybe? Might also be why he is keeping quiet

      1. nath
        nath December 28, 2017 at 10:32 am . Reply

        you could be right. i just don’t enough about this side to comment. i am just guessing. could he loan the club and cover the expense himself or is that not allowed. January will be a telling month.

        1. DSVilla
          DSVilla December 28, 2017 at 10:52 am . Reply

          No a loan doesn’t help with FFP as the club still owe him the money back to him so losses not affected. Villa are allowed to post a £13M loss (that’s last season number – I haven’t heard that this has changed for this season). If they lose £20M and Xia puts in £7M as equity (like creating more shares and paying for them himself) it wipes out £7M of losses. It’s all supposed to be about financial strength of the club. As we all know there are ways round it.

          Overseas investment by Chinese has been really cut back. I think that’s because so much money was leaving China that the government stepped in. I just think it’s a lot harder for Xia to get cash out to invest in Villa. then again he may not want to invest any more cash.

          January, as you say, will tell us what’s going on. All this talk of FFP and loan players is softening us up ready for the disappointment to come I think.

          Just guessing though. I still have my fingers crossed

          1. nath
            nath December 28, 2017 at 11:20 am . Reply

            you have cleared up lots of stuff, i just had no idea about. our football side is in dire straights. sounds like the finances could also be a major issue,

            cheers for the info

  9. originallondonlion
    originallondonlion December 28, 2017 at 11:46 am . Reply

    December is the crunch month as usual. When we were in the Prem we got a full set of difficult fixtures, and the computer dished out a series of testing games in this division for 2017. They have proved so far that we are about the 8th or 9th best team.

    The manager is overall responsible for everything – including the injuries. That may seem an extreme statement but it is true. Broken limbs are bad luck and once mended the player should be a good as new, though older readers will remember Ray Graydon was an exception. Injuries to ligaments and muscles – and also dislocations – are things that some players are prone to, and they do not change. So if you buy a player who has an injury record, it won’t change just because he has changed clubs. Examples are Benteke and Wilshire. Your key players need to be durable or duplicated. So Villa do have a long list of players in the treatment room, but Bruce cannot claim it is bad luck.

    Finally – when the penny dropped that Villa needed a right-winger, Bruce bought one – Snodgrass. But the player is a left-footed right winger, as much use to us as a chocolate teapot. Judged purely on his record, Bruce has not yet failed, but it will take a miracle to get Villa promoted from here.

  10. DSVilla
    DSVilla December 28, 2017 at 10:59 pm . Reply

    Rumours of Villa not paying suppliers and being in financial trouble – having to borrow money to pay players. That’s pretty scary if there’s any
    truth in it.

  11. Andrew
    Andrew December 29, 2017 at 12:24 am . Reply

    Wyness thinks the club not allowing players or management staff to have a couple days off and making them train those days is going to change anything. They’ve had 5 months to train. They’ve done and learned nothing in that time. What the hell is a few more days going to do? Bruce admits he doesn’t do tactics, so he’s not changing the team in anyway. The players go out there and do whatever they want, same thing happened under Lambert, unfortunately we don’t have Kodjia like we had Benteke. We had Adomah but he’s gone quiet (now injured). Wyness is the leader of the boring nonsense the Bruce Apologists come up with for keeping him.

    Even with how bad a manager Pulis is, he’s going to rip Bruce a new one on managing, especially because Pulis hates Villa so much.

  12. Benno
    Benno December 29, 2017 at 3:37 am . Reply

    The truth is Bruce has done nothing in his time in charge. We have no real style or way of playing. We haven’t really won any games that we weren’t expected to win, although we have lost many we shouldn’t have.

    He hasn’t been able to get the best out of a number of players who were performing very well at this level beforehand. The football we play is awful to watch and we get out passed in most games. Every decent manager seems to get the best of him tactically too.

    All in all it is very disappointing, although you cant say we didnt see this coming last season.

Right or Wrong? What do YOU think?

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