Forest – Villa: How are we going to play this?

Let’s face it, unfortunately Forest are a total shambles at the moment.
They have no manager, an owner who wants out, the team are struggling in the league and to cap it all, there’s going to be a protest.
Which all in all means I’m sure I’m not alone in having a lot of sympathy for their fans.
We’ve been there, after all.

So it should be a simple task of out-playing them, out-scoring them and back on the bus in time for a few celebratory beers back at whichever nightclub, shouldn’t it?

I’ve been looking at what side I think Bruce will play and I’ll tell you what, I’ve found it decidedly tricky.

The back four maybe picks itself, unless you’re of a mind to stick our new full backs straight in. I’m not convinced you want to throw the whole lot in, in one fell swoop, but if you are, who am I to argue?
I’m just not convinced Bruce will do it, although I’d expect the new lads to get minutes.

After the way Brentford apparently ran and passed through us with ease, the obvious thought would be to stick Jedinak in as the holding mid, but he’s injured (again), so that’s that thought straight out of the window.
I’ve seen it mentioned that Gardner is the next best option and indeed that would be my thought (although Lansbury is supposed to be able to play the role, even if he looked poor the other night).
But I don’t see how you can fit him in, given that Lansbury and Hourihane are certain to start.
Green and Adomah were apparently our best bets going forward against Brentford, so I don’t see how it would be fair to drop either of them.

Which all means that if we’re going two up front, we’re trying to fit five players in four spaces.

Why two up front?
Well Bruce has said that’s how he wants to play and there’s no way I see Scott Hogan not starting.
You could harshly drop Green and play Kodjia on the left, I suppose, to accommodate Gardner in the middle, but wouldn’t we be going down the same road of leaving the lone striker isolated?
If that happens, I don’t think I’ll be best impressed.

No, it has to be a 4-4-2 (or a 4-4-1-1 if you like) against a team in Forest’s present state.
They’ve actually won their last two games, but I’m sure you know what I mean. We’ve just pinched their best midfielder and McCormack can’t play this one, after all.

No, there’s no excuse now.
Bruce has the tools required and we have to go at them from the off.
Sod this sitting deep stuff; we should press and play a high line.
Most of all, we need to see some serious movement from the players and they need to be creating space for our undoubted quality (at this level) players to pass into.

Of course, it might well be that things don’t work out.
The team might not click. In fact there’s every chance it won’t.
But there’s no excuse now to not show some proper attacking intent. You might as well lose fighting and threatening as trying to play safe and hope for something and yet still lose, in my opinion.

If we play as well as I believe this side is easily capable of, I can see a 3-1 win, no problem.

But if we see the rubbish we’ve been accustomed too over the last few months, I can’t see past yet another away defeat.
And a fall into yet more abject doom and gloom, as we slide further down the table.

The pressure’s on, Mr Bruce.
No excuses, you have to get the players performing and I want to see you on the touchline ordering the players to get at them.

Oh, in other news, Gabby has done his hamstring, which strikes me as quite convenient. No matter though, as I don’t think anyone, including the manager, cares. His days as a Villa player are surely numbered.

Villa to lose 1-2.


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  1. marvin
    marvin February 4, 2017 at 8:35 pm .

    Didn’t watch, but listened and from what I heard it Bruce’s subs or inability to make needed changes that cost us the game. Management isn’t easy and he had to make some tough calls, but I honestly don’t think he has ever had a set starting 11 since he started. Maybe going forward we can build something special but right now it’s just painful. Johnstone, wtf. I already miss Gollini.

  2. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson February 4, 2017 at 9:24 pm .

    It’s the fucking coaching to blame, we was second to the ball ,our passing never found a player, goalkeepers error, that team is and not on the same planet to be a football team, no wanting, no thinking or positional knowledge. You could put a parks team out and get a better game, effing shower…

  3. originallondonlion
    originallondonlion February 5, 2017 at 1:36 am .

    I only saw the TV highlights. Going forward, they weren’t too bad, we looked like a team with some threat in front of goal. Unfortunately, as I always say, you build teams from the back. Our current keeper is making errors as bad, basic and often as Guzan. We are not going anywhere until we have a keeper that the players in front of him can rely on to pouch a routine save. Our #6 also failed to track hs man for the winner.

  4. saddened
    saddened February 5, 2017 at 7:45 am .

    REALITY CHECK – these players have been together, as a team for such a small amount of time, they need time to gel, lots of passes to empty spaces and nervously hoofing the ball….70% of the game i thought we played well and looked good going forward.

    We won’t make the play offs, but I think that will be a blessing as we are certainly not ready for the premiership…. Two home games coming up, where I hope we can put a couple of wins together.

      GIDDYVILLAN February 5, 2017 at 7:57 am .

      In fact 4 home games out of the next 5 fixtures, going by our home record there should be quite a few points to be had here’s hoping UTV

      1. saddened
        saddened February 5, 2017 at 8:18 am .

        looking forward to it Giddy, when Kodjia and Hogan start learning where each other are, i think we will be lethal going forward.

      2. Hitchens 60
        Hitchens 60 February 5, 2017 at 9:06 am .

        We lost because of a mistake by the goalkeeper, petulance (again) from Grealish and a failure to take any of three or four excellent chances (not helped by two brilliant saves by Forest’s GK ). On reflection I agree with Saddened and thought at the point Grealish got sent off we were starting to dominate the midfield.

        If mistakes were made it was in going too defensive when we went to ten men but then again we should have been good enough to do that for 10minutes or so. Maybe Grealish could have been subbed earlier but that’s with the benefit of 20 – 20 hindsight.

        Gutted and angry but not despondent – Hogan looks the business and he seems to instinctively play well with Kodjia

  5. Villain1
    Villain1 February 5, 2017 at 12:17 pm .

    Johnstone has been shocking and must be dropped. Will be interesting to see if Bruce has got the guts to admit his mistake or whether he’s more interested in sucking up to Man Utd and Mourinho by playing him further.

    1. Holte 66
      Holte 66 February 5, 2017 at 3:17 pm .

      First post on here and have to admit i was happy to get Bruce given his promotion record. Initially we played a high tempo pressuring high up the pitch and results were positive. Don’t know if it’s coincidence but since calderwood came in we have stood off opposition and results have turned. We should have got an experienced goalie instead of a kid who is no better than gollini. I will keep faith that new players need time to gel but whilst confidence Is low I worry we could get sucked into a relegation battle.

  6. Benno
    Benno February 5, 2017 at 5:08 pm .

    Its been so long since we had a decent keeper. Brad Friedel is probably the last one, and he was past his best by the time he came to us. We desperately need someone reliable there and so far, it doesnt look like Johnstone is that man.

    We have such a good team on paper, and it does take time to gel, but we need to start winning games. There can be no more excuses.

    As for Bruce, I think he’s bought well, but the switch to 5 3 2 was worrying.

    1. originallondonlion
      originallondonlion February 5, 2017 at 7:57 pm .

      You are right, Friedel was the last keeper we had who was above par for the Premier league when he arrived. Strange for those with long memories, Cumbes was only average but either side of him Sims, Rimmer and Spink were above par, so was Bosnich apart from his kicking.

      Now we seem content with crap, which considering the money we spend on outfield players is bizarre.

      1. Hitchens 60
        Hitchens 60 February 5, 2017 at 8:02 pm .

        OLL – not sure we’re content with crap. Is it more to do with a chronic lack of goalkeeping talent. I can sort of understand the position Bruce found himself in with RDM having committed to a raw and naive Italian talent – Johnstone is no more than a stopgap in mho. For me it’s what we do about a GK in the summer that’s important.

        1. originallondonlion
          originallondonlion February 6, 2017 at 4:01 pm .

          H60, the problem is not a lack of, but a refusal to recognise talent, when it exists in lower leagues. This true of outfield players also but is particularly perverse about GKs. There are better keepers in the Championship than Boruc, but Howe did not buy one, better keepers in League 1 than Johnstone but Bruce did not buy one, and I am sure good keepers abroad who would love a Championship pay-packet.

          Anticipation is the rarest and most necessary attribute for a keeper. My pub team was lucky enough to have had guesting in goal Jonny Wilkinson and Graham Thorpe, both local lads. The Rugby star was average, but the wicket-keeper’s anticipation was so good we offered him the permanent job.

  7. Henrik Bakholt
    Henrik Bakholt February 5, 2017 at 5:58 pm .

    Brucie should get the rest of the season and into at least half of the 1st half of next season. If not then Mark Warburton up at Glasgow Rangers who”ll probably get sacked for finishing too many points behind Glasgow Celtic should come in. Another alternative could be David Wagner with Thomas the Hit Man as assistant.

    GIDDYVILLAN February 6, 2017 at 3:57 pm .

    I’ve just been on twitter & I can’t believe the amount of geordie fans trolling Dr Tonys account, what’s the obsession??? Life must be shite on the Tyne

  9. marvin
    marvin February 6, 2017 at 4:26 pm .

    Regarding GK-

    The most frustrating part of Johnstone isn’t even what he has done or said, but rather what Bruce has set him up to be. He was set up to fail – he was brought in as an experienced, older improvement on Gollini (which he is not) and yet after a terrible start he is now being described as a young keeper learning his trade.

    I wouldn’t say there is a complete lack of talent out there but more of the natural ebb and flow that occurs in any position. For the past few seasons it seems the old guard is now being replaced by the future – ie. Courtois, De Gea, Schmeichel, Karius, etc… Plus, the January window is insanely tough to secure a good experienced EPL keeper (the sort of keeper we would like), most have already been sent out on a season long loan and/or needed as cover – ie. Begovic, Vorm, Hart, Szczęsny, or even Krul.

    Options will be available come summer, but depending on funds it will be important we now get this appointment right. Out of all the missteps the new management have taken this season I really do feel the club has completely failed at finding a solution for keeper and it is safe to say it has cost us getting promoted this season. Even if we wanted to bring someone in there is no one available on a free who is better than Bunn.

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