How to deal with a problem like the Villa

I was about to write a post, but I’m glad to say “Big fat Ron” has given his verdict, which makes a nice change from my waffle.
Cheers, fella!

What to do with a problem like the Villa?

Well, the dust has settled on my first live match since November 2019 and I wonder if it’ll be another three years before my next one.
Last week, my comments were based on statistics on a screen, without having seen the match; this week all my comments are based on what I witnessed from a perfect position half way up the Doug Ellis stand, bang on the half way line.
Out of curiosity and as I write, I’ve checked the stats, and they suggest we were by far the better team. Mr Lineker suggests “I don’t think Villa should be too down on themselves.” So how do you explain a 4-0 reverse?
I’ve just watched the analysis on MOTD, and it’s very simple, as we all saw. Firstly, Ian Wright rightly states their goalkeeper “was magnificent”, echoed by the summary on 5 Live as I drove away from VP, suggesting Lloris was equal MOTM with Son. But as Wright also rightly says, “you have to take your chances.” Talk about stating the obvious.

Now, some of us may not ‘like’ “the bin-dipper.”
However, I would suggest the he is on the same page as most of us and us as him, which is why he must be given a proper summer transfer window and a full season, minimum.
Here is my analysis of what I saw, beyond the blindingly obvious ‘analysis’ from the professionals in the BBC studio:

I’ll start with Ollie Watkins. Whenever I see him giving an interview I think, what a lovely guy. However, he was woeful today and when he runs, it appears as though he’s had lead implanted in his backside. So if “the bin-dipper” has decided to listen to offers, I have no problem at all with that. His finishing is simply not good enough. I’d also add that he’s not on the same wavelength as Coutinho and appears to be trying too hard because he knows it. I recall him admitting in a recent interview, you just have to run and let Coutinho do what he does. Players of equal ability to Phil wouldn’t think that. Consequently, Phil eventually lost interest when he realised all the chances he was putting on a plate weren’t going to be despatched by the strikers.

Second, Danny Ings. Same as Ollie, I’m afraid. And I don’t think the sleepless nights that Gerrard mentions in his programme notes would have helped – shocking finishing. He, like Son, should have had a hat-trick. Interestingly, I recall commenting that Watkins becoming a father last year might have contributed to his loss of form. So again, if “the bin-dipper” wants to bin Ings, I have no qualms with that either.

I would suggest that if we want Coutinho, he might not want to come, unless Gerrard can promise better players around him. I would also add, however, that he needs to be playing higher up the pitch as he was rarely in a shooting positon around the ‘D’ and even came into his own half to collect the ball on occasions. This has to change.

That’s the forwards dealt with. Now for the defence, for which there is no case.

Recent reports that “the bin-dipper” wants to bin Konsa were today given credence. He was poor and was at fault for the first goal. The header was so bad, any self-respecting centre-half would have been embarrassed. Is it loss of form, or is he really good enough?

Today we also heard that Mings is looking more than vulnerable. But haven’t we been criticising his play for over a year now? In which case, hasn’t Gerrard seen what we see? Bin. Again.

So that’s both our main strikers and centre backs in the bin. Almost £100 million. But Gerrard is not to blame for this.

Now for the centre of the ‘spine’ of the team. Luiz, McGinn, and Ramsey. That’s the strongest midfield available to Gerrard so I was pleased to see them on the teamsheet.

Moments before Ramsey’s superb burst into the box which drew Lloris’ best save, I commented to the chap next to me that someone needed to take responsibility and have a shot. JJ duly obliged. Generally, he put himself about and we know he’s only going to get better.

McGinn was his usual industrious self with the occasional misplaced pass and the one long range shot on target. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he needs to shoot a lot more than he does. That doesn’t need a great deal of brilliant coaching. It goes like this: “John, when you get within range, shoot.” Not hard, is it?

Luiz, I’m not sure. He doesn’t shoot these days, even though we know he’s as good as McGinn in that department. So again, I would suggest the following advice in the teamtalk: “Dougie, when you get within range, shoot.” Again, not difficult.

That leaves the fullbacks.

Cash worked the keeper a couple of times.

Digne didn’t put one single decent ball into the box, did he?

A comment on Bailey: all left foot, he finds himself on the ‘D’ on his left foot in a shooting position, so what does he do? Tries that stupid shuffle he always does onto his right foot, stumbles and loses the ball. Again, coaching tip: “Leon, when you get within range on your left foot, f****** shoot!” Unless of course you’re worried about your hamstring crumbling if you do. Bin? I think so.

Now the manager. All of the above is none of “the bin-dipper’s” fault. And if he’s decided to bin Konsa, Mings, Watkins, Ings, Bailey and a few more, I can only applaud his ruthlessness, which is exactly what his players lack. He knows it. He’s said it. Many times. His players know it. In contrast, Conte’s “inheritance”, to quote Mourinho, is world class players who are totally ruthless.

Badger I have to dig you out – when I suggested we make a cheeky bid for Son before Conte arrived, you categorically said you wouldn’t want him at VP; is that still the case?

Nonetheless, the boisterous cockneys a few meters to my right serenading the Italian with “Antonio, Antonio…” was sickening, especially when compared with the Holte’s silence. Not a single rendition of “Stevie G’s claret and blue army.” Shame. This was compounded by renditions of “your support is f****** shit” and “you’re shit and you know you are.” Not the most original lyrics, but none of which I could argue with.

All in all, is was all too predictable, evidenced by many of the winnings with the bookies amongst us today. We knew we’d lose heavily; we knew they’d score early; I knew they’d score early in the second half; I even predicted a hat-trick, albeit from Kane rather than his buddy.
The only negative I can say against Gerrard today is that at 2-0, I said to the chap next to me, who was probably sick of me bellowing expletives through the match, that the manager had to make substitutions because if they got a third it would be too late. They scored a third. At which point I said “if he makes the substitutions now he looks stupid.” Then the subs came on. I can only suggest that at 2-0, he didn’t believe we could come back.

So, what to do about a problem like the Villa?
I think many of us realised today that “the bin-dipper” would be well within his rights to bin the fruits of Suso’s, Lange’s and Smith’s labour, which are now rotten, and build his own “ruthless” team.
Dare I say that this lot are too nice, like the manager who was sacked because of them. I hope our owners and CEO are preparing for a busy summer. And I hope they’re got some big bins. We’re going to need them.


Page 2 of 2 1 2
  1. William Pearson
    William Pearson April 14, 2022 at 5:30 pm . Reply

    Aston Villa Chief Executive Christian Purslow has sat down with VillaTV to discuss the Club’s plans for the redevelopment of Villa Park.

    Mr Purslow confirmed the first phase of redevelopment centres around a complete rebuild of the North Stand and construction of a much larger structure to take Villa Park’s capacity above 50,000, with plans due to be submitted this summer.

    Designs for the new stand, which will be sympathetic to the club’s proud history and traditions, will take into account the feedback from Fan Engagement Surveys that have been commissioned. See below for more details.

    Villa’s CEO also spoke about upgrading the hospitality areas within the Trinity Stand, a new multi-purpose building on the North Stand car park, improvements to the public transport links in the local area and plans for future phases of redevelopment at Villa Park

  2. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 April 15, 2022 at 3:26 pm . Reply

    Are Burnley backing new manager bounce; perhaps they’ve looked at Villa’s record and can see six points!

    Odd time to sack Dyche with 8 games to go though.

    It seems the new game is five strikes (losses) and you’re gone. If Purslow’s read the rules Gerrard is in a tricky spot 🙂

  3. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 April 15, 2022 at 5:28 pm . Reply

    Barry got two for Swindon today – he’s found his confidence and touch again following a challenging time at Ipswich.

    Barry, Archer, Bodace and Aaron Ramsey – all attackers. Would like to see all of them involved in the first team next season.

    The only problem, as I see it, is they’re all small. Is it a Brummie thing? 🙂

  4. William Pearson
    William Pearson April 16, 2022 at 7:51 am . Reply

    I did watch the Preston game with Archer and have to say an average game from him. Yes he looks small and physical powes is the problem. Suppose its all about being in the right place in the right time helps. They say all the great men in the world was small. Why do we have to wait till we 23 rd for a game it seem daft .I started to watch the scrum and Cov when they went two up turned over shocked to see Cov stuffed them. Missed a fight coming back my interest was O Hare.

  5. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 April 16, 2022 at 5:37 pm . Reply

    See we’re dropping down the table quicker than Brian Rix lost his trousers 🙂

    One for you Bill!

  6. William Pearson
    William Pearson April 16, 2022 at 5:49 pm . Reply

    I never doubted it Hitch, 15th Finnish Hitch.

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 April 16, 2022 at 6:16 pm . Reply

      Even that might be optimistic – I think I called 16th and Gerrard looking shaky.

  7. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 April 17, 2022 at 5:38 pm . Reply

    Villa now below Newcastle.

    Great move appointing Gerrard.

    So much for constant improvement; great slogan though.

  8. William Pearson
    William Pearson April 17, 2022 at 6:14 pm . Reply

    The only saving grace Hitch the knowledge that’s not his players, we have to agree the football been more entertaining when we lose. Things don’t look good and it will reflect on seating and merchandise at the end of the season. It’s a catch twenty -two get rid now or stay. I’m for riding the storm, give him till we know for sure.

  9. Sidforever
    Sidforever April 17, 2022 at 7:08 pm . Reply

    Hitch and W
    I am in agreement with you.
    Since Jan 1st Villa 14 points and Newcastle 23.

    Eddie Howe inherited players just as SH has. No excuse for SG not having his team, same for Eddie.

    SG’s first transfer window Coutinho, Digne, Chambers and Olsen. We are now in free fall, yet Newcastle are ascending and also now have Targett!

    SG keeps talking about throwing the players under the bus. Eddie Howe motivates his team, including Ryan Fraser who left him at Bournemouth!

    SG needs to start improving players. What happens when he spends in excess of £100m+ and is not able to motivate the next batch of players he has signed.

    SG needs to start performing.

    If not he and Purslow will need to vacate Villa Park.

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 April 17, 2022 at 7:39 pm . Reply

      Spot on Sid.

      Is Gerrard a one trick pony unable to adapt the playing style to suit his players and the strategy to reflect the moment.

      One thing is absolutely clear – no team fears playing us

      Will our owners buy into another complete rebuild because I’m not sure the fans will.

  10. Holte
    Holte April 18, 2022 at 9:05 pm . Reply

    I’m concerned we have appointed Gerrard on his reputation as a player rather than a manager. He won the Scottish premier league in a two horse race with Celtic in transition. Big deal! We have two massive games coming up in the sense that it will decide for me whether he should stay or go. Anything less than 3 points out of those two and I would find someone else before millions is wasted in the summer. I expect us to lose away to Leicester which would be 5 defeats in a row. And we know what happened to the last manager to suffer that run. Sidforever is absolutely right that Eddie Howe has done a better job of taking on someone else’s squad and improving them. Gerrard offloaded Targett for Digne which has been a disaster and persisted with two up front despite the fact that it doesn’t work. Purslow won’t kick his buddy out though so maybe the owners need to see him gone too.

    1. Big Fat Ron
      Big Fat Ron April 18, 2022 at 10:12 pm . Reply

      Howe was struggling until he got reinforcements in January. Only then did they pick up.

      1. Hitchens60
        Hitchens60 April 19, 2022 at 7:22 am . Reply

        So did Gerrard BFR but that hasn’t worked out too well!

  11. Big Fat Ron
    Big Fat Ron April 18, 2022 at 10:10 pm . Reply

    I fully appreciate the concerns about Gerrard. Yes, the jury is out. However, let’s go through the squad and see who really is a ‘top 6 PL player:

    Martinez: would be hard to upgrade, would like to think a ‘top 6’ keeper
    Mings: Bournmouth reject, signed to keep Villa in the PL, now surplus
    Konsa: signed to keep Villa in the PL, can’t get in the England squad, even though their defence is shit, mid-table player
    Hause: see Mings
    Cash: signed from the Championship, looks fine, but definitely room for a ‘top 6 upgrade’
    Targett: signed from Saints, wasn’t first choice there – mid-table player
    Digne – give him a full season
    So the majority of the defence are NOT ‘top 6’ players. There were signed 3 years ago to keep Villa in the PL, which they have.

    McGinn: see Martinez – a ‘keeper’, but signed for peanuts
    Luiz: see Mings etc – Pep chose not to buy back, hmm
    Nakamba: see Mings etc
    Ramsay: work in progress
    Sanson: a mistake – ‘top 6’ PL players don’t cost less that 15 million in the 21st Century

    Ings: a mid-table player, fast approaching his ‘best before’ date
    Watkins: see Cash
    Bailey: injury prone, a mistake
    Buendia: signed after ‘yo-yoing’ with Norwich – world class at Championship level, looks a mid-table player in the PL
    Traore: imo, one of the few ‘top 6’ quality players in the squad on talent alone
    Coutinho: an upgrade on Jack? Like for like at least, like Digne, give him a full season

    Take ‘the bin-dipper’ out of the equation and the reality is we have a squad of mid-table players, because they were signed from the Championship or weren’t first choice at their mid-table previous clubs. The only ‘top 6’ player we had was Jack, which is why we looked so good for the first half of last season (a long, long time ago). As we know, when he got injured, the team spluttered to a near-standstill. That continued when he was sold and replaced with mediocrity.

    All of the above means the squad have reached their ceiling, which is mid-table, but everyone now wants top 6. So you either do the logical thing and upgrade accordingly, or wait for someone to perform miracles and transform them into top 6 players. Don’t forget, a top 10 finish hasn’t been achieved for many years and this is the 3rd season back after a complete rebuild. Heck, Big Ron finished 10th in ’94 with an unbelievable squad, and that was when the league was a lot weaker, and nobody seemed to mind. I’m not convinced by Gerrard either, but this squad is NOT a ‘top 6’ squad. Anyone who thinks so needs to get real. I would suggest a 150 million spend on a CB, a CB, and a CF to install a ‘top 6’ spine to the team in the way forward in the summer.

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 April 19, 2022 at 7:21 am . Reply

      BFR – good and we’ll reasoned summary and I wouldn’t disagree at all.

      But – the concerns over Gerrard are not because he hasn’t transformed the existing squad into top 6 material; the reality is they’ve gone backwards as a team since he arrived to the point of relegation, not mid table, form.

      He persists in playing a system that doesn’t suit the players we have and,frankly, will be difficult to successfully implement in the EPL without an outlay in the summer of monstrous proportion – which isn’t going to happen.

      Managers have to adapt their tactics to suit the players, the opposition and the match situation,. Now I don’t profess to be an expert in these matters but have we actually seen any evidence to date that he can do that? Didn’t Bielsa, for all his coaching excellence, do exactly the same at Leeds.

      The EPL is a far different proposition to Scotland.

      I’m sure our owners are going to allow him a full transfer window and pre-season before which we might be looking nervously over our shoulders.

      As a Villa fan I want Gerrard to succeed but I remain concerned.

  12. William Pearson
    William Pearson April 19, 2022 at 8:14 pm . Reply

    It’s a case of back to business for Aston Villa’s first-team this week after being granted the Easter weekend off by Steven Gerrard. The head coach did, however, oversee a 5-1 friendly win at Brentford on Good Friday prior to a couple of days away.

    Gerrard, 41, wanted to have a good look at some of his youngsters who’ve been around the first-team with the likes of Ben Chrisene, Tim Iroegbunam, Tommi O’Reilly, Kerr Smith, Jayden Barber, Josh Feeney, Brad Young and Hayden Lindley all featuring against Brentford’s B team. Villa’s squad in west London was a good mix of young and senior players with Bertrand Traore, Leon Bailey, Marvelous Nakamba, Kortney Hause and Carney Chukwuemeka also in action.

    Head coach Gerrard was left fuming with his first-team group after his side’s 0-4 defeat by Spurs 10 days ago, and used the Brentford friendly as an opportunity to assess those mentioned at close quarters ahead of assembling his group for pre-season. The boss has continued to speak glowingly of the likes of Iroegbunam and O’Reilly, with the pair impressing the gaffer once again.

    READ MORE: Steven Gerrard has already told Aston Villa transfer targets what he expects

    READ MORE: Nakamba and Chambers start – Four Aston Villa changes Steven Gerrard will consider vs Leicester

    A huge cull is expected at Bodymoor Heath this summer with a whole host of first-team stars set to depart. Gerrard is keen to add players with real pedigree while also complementing Villa’s talented crop of youngsters knowing the manager wants to fight hard on three fronts in the Premier League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup next term.

    Gerrard said: “We want to go on a journey with players that are all in, that are going to help us get to where we want to be. We want to add players who are able to come in and make the group better.

    “I’m more excited about this than I’ve ever been because now I’ve had time in the job to analyse individual players that are in the building, I’m a lot better off in what I know about these players.

    “It’s clear from what we see, what we need, areas we need to improve and that’s a better place to be in than when you walk in the door and you think you have observations from the outside. Until you actually get in and work with the players for a period of time… what has it been four, five months… I’m a lot more clearer now where this team is and where the squad is at and what needs to be done to improve it

  13. Holte
    Holte April 20, 2022 at 6:07 pm . Reply

    Hitch, I think Buendia has what it takes to succeed because he has the skill and an eye for a pass plus he does have grit which is sorely lacking in a lot of our squad. Unfortunately Gerrard persists with two up front to accommodate his mate Danny.

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 April 20, 2022 at 10:25 pm . Reply

      And Coutinho, if he stays, is another of Gerrard’s mates and will be ahead of Buendia – that’s why I think he might be gone.

      Personally, I agree with you and think Buendia offers more to the team on a consistent basis than Coutinho.

  14. Holte
    Holte April 21, 2022 at 10:08 pm . Reply

    Burnley winning tonight means we could still be sucked into a relegation battle. They are 8 points behind with 6 points up for grabs as we face each other twice. Maybe Everton will be the ones who go down this season!

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 April 21, 2022 at 10:14 pm . Reply

      Or maybe us – it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

      How often have we seen a team looking relatively comfortable collapse into relegation?

      A concerned Villa fan.

      1. Bum Bum
        Bum Bum April 22, 2022 at 1:33 pm . Reply

        We sure don’t come under the relatively comfortable category at present…

        1. Hitchens60
          Hitchens60 April 22, 2022 at 3:43 pm . Reply

          We were 4 games ago Bum Bum – the slide is on!

Post Comment