Forest 2-1 Villa; Reflections and thoughts on Bruce

It’s a bit late for thinking back to Saturday, but apologies, I just never got round to posting about the game.
Whilst not wanting to gloat, I’m sure you’ll understand how sunning my skinny arse in Mexico at this time of year might deflect from the thoughts of Aston Villa.
Except it doesn’t; it really doesn’t and Villa are still one of the first things I think of every day.
My missus constantly tells me how sad it all is, that a “bloody football team” always seems to come first.
I laugh as I tell her every time that it’ll never change.

So I’ve been thinking a lot then and the truth is I still don’t know what to think, even though I’ve had time to calm down.

Bruce opted for a 3-5-2 then and I should have known better than thinking it was a 4-4-2 when I saw the line-up. It’s Bruce’s favoured setup after all, if what I’ve read about him before he came to us is correct anyway.
I’m not a big fan of 3-5-2, as it all too easily leads to a 5-3-2, especially if you don’t play a high line. I think it was perfectly demonstrated on Saturday.

Which was why I wanted to string Bruce up by his proverbials after the match.
I’d specifically said in the preview that I wanted us to get at them and as the game unfolded, so it became obvious that Forest had absolutely no threat whatsoever and they were there for the taking.
Yes, they had lots of possession, but were doing absolutely nothing with it until that purely speculative shot got totally fluffed by Johnstone.
And god, was that poor. Yes, it spun and maybe even bobbled, but that should have been bread and butter to a decent goalie, it’s as simple as that.
“Total bloody liability” type comments aside, we have to put it down as “one of those”. Again.
That’s what you get when you replace a kid with another kid and those of us who raised the issue at the time seem to have been vindicated. Will he be dropped? He ought to be, as we can’t afford those types of mistakes.
But we’ll see, I suppose.

I shouldn’t gloss over our goal though and it was well executed wasn’t it?
A lovely, deceptive pass from Grealish, which Kodjia finished with some aplomb. Where would we be this season without him?
Actually that’s a very scary thought.

And then back to Grealish, who apart from that pass was totally invisible.
Seriously, at half time, I legged it down to the bar for another Bacardi and coke (no ice) and got back just as the second half was starting. And for the next half hour I honestly wondered if he was still on the pitch.
I soon found out, of course when he got sent off.
I was bloody livid and that’s putting it politely.
Now, I can appreciate what he brings to the game when he actually pulls off a piece of skill. But how often does it happen?
I’ve mentioned it before and he needs to grow up fast. Until he does, he’s nothing more than a last 15 minute impact player.
And what really boiled my piss? He didn’t even look bothered, both times he went in the book. Perhaps I’m being unfair there and he’s just under orders to keep his trap shut and not whinge, which would be fair enough.
But I’m sorry, he just looks a real petulant kid, in the way he acts.
So much so, that I’m sure refs have him marked.

Anyway, I thought up until that point, we were very much holding our own.
And then Bruce took both the strikers off.
I said at the time that we were going into defend mode and it just amazed me. We can’t defend with eleven players, let alone ten!

It’s also part of the reason I’ve waited until posting this, but even retrospectively, I don’t understand that decision.
I’ve seen Bruce’s point that he didn’t want Hogan to do a muscle in the last minutes (a la Gabby).
Err, Hello Steve, did you totally forget that Hogan’s only been with us a few days and hasn’t been over-trained to death, or whatever it is we do at Bodymoor Heath, that causes these types of injuries?
And it was rubbish anyway. Hogan didn’t look tired to me or the commentators. And surely, if he was, he’d have pointed it out?

No, I’m not having it. It was an awful decision, which left us no way of relieving any pressure that was going to come at us. Bloody hell, we’d spent enough time hoofing it, so why stop then?

So I went out on the balcony for a smoke. Because it was all too inevitable.
Does Bruce not listen to us amateur blog writers at all?
You’d really think he’s the expert wouldn’t you?

And that’s where we are.
Bruce sets us up with a system the players don’t know.
The players don’t know each other yet (Bjarnason? hmm) and he chucks a grenade in like that.
I can only think it’s character building Bruce is after.

But amongst all that, I saw green shoots.
How useful does Hogan look for instance?
He showed more in that game than McCormack did in all the time he was here, in my opinion. If he doesn’t get us a few goals this season, I’ll eat my Sombrero.
The season’s a write-off now and it’s now about getting the team to gel.
Which I’m sure they will.
The players we have definitely ought to be good enough, after all and it’s difficult to even wish for a realistically better group, on paper.
Mind you, how many of us thought similar in the summer?

Regardless, we can’t chop and change again, so it has to be Bruce for the foreseeable future.


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  1. nath February 7, 2017 at 7:07 am . Reply

    game at forest totally pi ss ed me off. many things get my goat. but nothing gets me angry more than villa failing to perform. or simply get the result they should. its not the manager or formation or quality of players. we are in some type of twilight zone. nightmare period where we just cant seem to wake up from this endless mare.

    game at forest was lost on individual errors. how many times has this happened lately. why thou they are basically a new team. shouldnt be feeling the pressure or nerves of wearing the shirt.

    the goalie just needs confidence and a run of games. he has good basic goalkeeping skills. he needs to believe in himself that he belongs at the lvl he is.

    failure to play as a team cost us. we were well in control most of game, not finishing off forest cost us. i knew that it would, which pi ss ed me off more. i understand why he replaced the front two after grealish saw madness. one kodjia has just returned from his exploit in his africa cup. hogan had ran his socks off. plus we had a midweek game before this one. so having fresh legs up front, to see you closing down in final minutes. made complete sense.

  2. Hitchens 60 February 7, 2017 at 7:54 am . Reply

    Sorry to hear of your bathroom exploits Badger – they are probably watering down the Bacardi 🙂 At least you’re in the sun!

    This is not meant as an excuse or defence of Bruce but fact is everyone makes mistakes; why is it we seem to pay dearly for every single one whereas we seem incapable of cashing in on mistakes made by the opposition?

    Going so defensive after Grealish was sent off was a poor decision as was putting Andre Green on so late in the game. Before that point we were starting to take control of the midfield and I fancied us to nick it but we have a terrible record in games where we go to 10 men and like you Badger I wrote the script – even down to knowing it would be the young kid who scored!

    I live in hope – the only way for a Villa fan these days!

    1. villaawayindiv3 February 7, 2017 at 2:31 pm . Reply

      It all just reminded me of the Sherwood game at Leicester. ….coasting and then bad subs allowing the opposition to run at us….at least he had the excuse of inexperience….Bruce dosnt

      1. Hitchens 60 February 7, 2017 at 3:49 pm . Reply

        Except Sherwood still had 11 players and didn’t need to make any substitutions let alone take off the two playmakers causing Leicester all the problems – not that I’m particularly defending the substitutions Bruce made.

  3. Astonished Villain February 7, 2017 at 11:04 pm . Reply

    If Jedi is fit, I hope Bruce opts for 4-1-3-2. One thing I noticed on Saturday was that there was a gap in the middle of the park and the midfield got overrun. Bree, Chester, Baker, Amavi back 4, Jedi as holding midfield player patrolling in front of defence and centre circle, Hourihane, Lansbury, Green as midfield 3, Kodjia and Hogan upfront.

    1. badger123 February 8, 2017 at 12:53 am . Reply

      That’s actually my preferred line-up, Astonished.
      But it’s lop-sided without Adomah, imo, which requires a 4-1-4-1 if we want to see Jedinak in there.
      And indeed why I think Bruce will go with the 3-5-2 (including Jedinak).
      But it leaves no room for Green or Adomah.
      Which leaves us the option of changing to a 4-4-2 if it isn’t working.
      The elusive plan B, maybe?

      1. Bill Pearson February 8, 2017 at 7:51 am . Reply

        It’s why I’m so angry, They have not got that I want to win, Grealish has skills but lacks bite, that goes to our half backs and midfield they don’t have that killer I want that ball. How is it we get loan player just to give him experience at our cost? Why can we not make our own identity as a football club in being one of the best. Wll I ever be able to look and say to another football fan I’m a Villa fan with pride.

  4. Hitchens 60 February 8, 2017 at 9:15 am . Reply

    We look a lot better side with Jedinak sitting in front of defence. He’s 32 so Bruce needs to put a younger defensive mid fielder on his summer shopping list along with a really good and experienced GK.

  5. Bill Pearson February 8, 2017 at 2:14 pm . Reply

    Well what a surprise, Villa cannot sell the tickets even when they cut the price.
    Embarrassing Aston Villa fans ticket sales for Newcastle trip despite club paying them £10 each towards ticket
    Club subsidise tickets for Aston Villa fans to try and avoid embarrassing Newcastle turnout,

    1. badger123 February 8, 2017 at 2:43 pm . Reply

      Bill, take no notice of that.
      Read the Mag article and you’ll see even their own fans are calling the author embarrassing.
      It’s a Monday night and live on Sky mate.

      1. Hitchens 60 February 8, 2017 at 7:12 pm . Reply

        Bill – forget it it’s bo***ks. We have the highest away support in the Championship bar none and that’s with our shite away form. Sky moved it to Monday night and as one Villa fan said – the last train home leaves half way through the second half! If you want to have a go then have a go at Sky!

  6. DSVilla February 8, 2017 at 3:44 pm . Reply

    I really couldn’t care less what the Barcodes think. Same for any other team’s fans. I’m just concerned with Villa. We seem to have a decent squad and it will need time to properly gel. That said, we need to start picking up some wins while we have some fresh faces, or they will just get sucked into the vortex of gloom that the club has become.

    We’re not in obvious relegation trouble, but our form in the last 6 games is the worst in the division. That is simply not good enough, and the buck stops at Bruce. If we repeated that over the next 6 games it would be a different ballgame altogether. We would be right in the thick of it.

  7. originallondonlion February 8, 2017 at 5:13 pm . Reply

    Badger, stay off the Bacardi and Coke if you want to avoid Montezuma’s revenge and switch to Tequila. at least Commemorativo quality, Make it Sunrise or Margharitas if you mix it. Also if you can find bottled Dos Equis ie XX beer in the bar – that isn’t piss.

    On to Villa. I witched the highlights of Brentford and Forest. Two items stood out. We know our back four are slow by premiership standards but it seems Brentford are also quicker. There is only one thing you can do in that case: abandon the high line and stick around your own penalty area. Where you want space on the field is between their keeper and their back four, not between yours and yours.

    When we are defending it appears our back four have gone zonal. OK if the oppos are so thick they attack evenly with a man to each slot. But to our surprise they are not, they overload more than one player to a defender’s zone and our other defenders continue marking empty zones instead of the extra men. If there is one thing worse than a zonal defence it is one that ball watches as well. If the attacker does not direct his shot or header at the goal, but instead plays it across the area, a colleague just nips into the unmarked space behind a ball-watching defender.

    Early days but simple errors, it must be fixed pronto.

  8. Adam February 8, 2017 at 7:37 pm . Reply

    Anyone read the article on that keeper Kalinic? Gutted we didnt get him. How it didnt go through i dont know. Who are the FA to decide who a club thinks is an elite player. Could have been our rock in goal.

  9. Bill Pearson February 9, 2017 at 4:47 pm . Reply

    eve Bruce is expected to go with his new 3-5-2 system again when Aston Villa host Ipswich Town this weekend.

    Earlier this week we asked Birmingham Mail readers who they thought should play as the left wing-back in that formation.

    For the defeat at Nottingham Forest last weekend, midfielder Birkir Bjarnason was employed there with Jordan Amavi dropped and Neil Taylor ill.

    But who should get the nod against Mick McCarthy’s team at Villa Park? At the time of writing the poll was very close.

    Neil Taylor gets the vote, so he should.

    1. originallondonlion February 9, 2017 at 7:01 pm . Reply

      Bill, the way I would answer that is start with a look at the back 3. If they are 3 central defenders then the wing backs need to be able to defend against wingers, so probably Taylor. If the back 3 are 1 centre-back and 2 full backs, and one of those is not Amavi, then I would go with Amavi as the wing back since his defensive role with this formation is slight. But two of the five in midfield need to be defensive midfielders.

Right or Wrong? What do YOU think?

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