Liverpool 1-1 Villa; A defensive tactical masterpiece.

Consider this.
If we win against Brighton next week, we are guaranteed Europe, whether it’s the Europa or the Conference. Even if we lose, we still stand a chance.
How nuts is that?

Consider where we were when we sacked the scouser and it’s been an amazing turnaround.
But we all know this.

So what did I think today?
Well, the headline says most of it.
Mings was outstanding, let’s get that out of the way. I know I’m quick to slate him, but I also like to think I’m equally as quick to praise him.
Out of what seemed like a hundred touches, he got 95 right. That’s impressive.

I made a mental note to myself that I forgot Konsa was playing. Given that if a central defender can hide like that, it usually suggests to me that he did nothing wrong, one stray clearance apart.
Going back to Mings, I thought that was probably a deserved booking, but nowhere near a red. He got the ball pretty cleanly and the follow-through was just unfortunate.
The prick ex footballer co-commentating was practically begging for a red and I thought that would have been a terrible decision.

Which brings me to the ref. It seemed that he was letting McGinn basically get assaulted every five minutes.
But on reflection, I actually think if you take your Villa hat off, he was reasonable in just letting play flow, as per the instruction from the powers that be.
I actually thought he did a very reasonable job.

So Unai set us up with a very fluid back line, that didn’t quite go as high as it has done at times. What was noticeable was the way it varied from 4 to 6, as was needed.

And it’s this discipline that’s being real time conducted by the manager on the touchline that catches my eye.

Let’s get something clear here.
I tend to be pessimistic.
It stems from over 50 years of seeing us never achieving our potential, flashes apart.
And that pessimism is hard to lose.

The Saunders years were amazing, but I was only a kid, as much as I remember them like yesterday. I didn’t know any better and I suspect many are in a similar position, a few apart.
But I remember being full of hope and belief.

I’d love to be that same kid again, meeting up on the Holte at 1pm so I could get my regular spot with my mates.
But those days are gone.

The point is I am once again beginning to truly believe.

I didn’t think much of our chances today, yet we proved massively resilient against a Liverpool team that have been on a real roll.
They’ve only lost 2 or 3 in their last 30 home games.
So to go 1 up and hold them for so long was outstanding in itself.
Consider it should have been 2, if Ollie had got that pen and I think we’d have broken them completely.

McGinn was excellent again today and it was pretty obvious that one of Pool’s aims was to take him out. He went a bit over the top in the way he constantly called for some protection, but he was basically right.
Let the game flow, yes, but persistent targeting of a player shouldn’t be allowed.

What else?
Ah, for once VAR got it right.
Their disallowed goal was a mile off. If they hadn’t gone back that far, I’d have gone ballistic.

So a great result and a game where it showed that players 100% know what they’re doing and where the other players around them will be. Some of our one touch triangle type football was fantastic and at times had Pool looking clueless.

Yes, that’s how good I thought we were.

Pool came on strong in the last 20 minutes or more and it was expected. That’s where we struggle; the back up.
I’d expect this to be seriously improved, quickly.

How different do we look compared to when we’d just sacked the scouser?
It’s just unbelievable that this is basically the same squad.

That’s the difference between top quality and well, someone who hasn’t learned anything yet.


How tasty does that game look?


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  1. badger123
    badger123 May 23, 2023 at 2:28 pm . Reply

    Good point Hitch.
    It also makes ground expansion more important.
    Although if you’re just buying more equity in the club, does that really affect FFP?
    I’m asking because they’ve done it numerous times.

    I wonder if we made a big mistake in paying such a small amount for the club?
    I’m sure I heard Everton are being sold for £600 million and I’d say they’re about on a par with us, their threat of relegation aside.
    I know inflation is high but…..

    You know more about the money side than me, but I feel sure we missed a sneaky trick there.

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 May 23, 2023 at 3:36 pm . Reply

      I don’t think so Badger – the club was basically bust when Dr Tony sold it so it was tbh at a fire sale price. They also had to factor in picking up Xia’s obligation to Lerner in the event of his (guaranteed ?) default for the overage payable following promotion to the EPL.

      Where we have benefited is that NSWE’s further investment has been in the form of equity rather than loans which strengthens the clubs balance sheet and means Villa have no debt which is a repayable liability and also accrues interest payments.

      FFP is pretty complex and I don’t profess to fully understand it but essentially it deals with revenue and operational costs which includes cost of transfers. So the two overriding major costs are wages and transfers. Clubs are limited to the amount of losses they can accrue over a three year rolling period – the amount varies between divisions. Villa’s big helping hand was the sale of Grealish with £100m going straight to the bottom line.

      There was some talk of introducing a wage cap calculated as a % of turnover but this makes clubs like Citeh even more powerful.

      My understanding is that all the costs of developing the stadium are excluded from FFP – I’m assuming NSWE will look to fund the work through debt, and if so, the stronger balance sheet will be a big plus. However it wouldn’t surprise me if they decided to sell naming rights for the new North Stand. As fans we might like to see something like ‘The Mortimer Saunders Stand’ but harsh economic reality doesn’t recognise sentimental values.

      1. The Ron Saunders Stand
        The Ron Saunders Stand May 23, 2023 at 3:48 pm . Reply

        Unless KFC come in with a stunning offer and hey presto…
        The Colonel Sa(u)nders Stand.

  2. badger123
    badger123 May 23, 2023 at 8:05 pm . Reply

    I see naming rights as a bit of an inevitablity, unfortunately.
    We can’t expect lots of investment and then not let the owners use ways of achieving it, imo.
    Rename the Doug Ellis at the same time, for me. Either back to Witton lane or get some money from it.

    The Holte end can’t be touched and I don’t think I’d like to see the trinty renamed either.

  3. Holte
    Holte May 23, 2023 at 9:41 pm . Reply

    The club seem very keen to involve fans with the rebranding such as the club crest plus the questionnaire sent out regarding the rebuild of the North stand and Villa live. I wonder if fans will be asked about the renaming of the new stand or whether it will be sold off to get revenue. Is it a massive amount for selling off the name of a stand to the biggest bidder? If its only a few million every season, I can’t see NWSE being lured by that option. I do think they love the history of the club and I hope they are influenced to go down that route. The Ron Saunders stand and a statue of the great man directly in front would be my choice.

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 May 24, 2023 at 7:30 am . Reply

      Holte – tbf to Villla they are ahead of most EPL clubs when it comes to fan consultation. They now have a Fan Consultation Board (which meets fairly regularly with Purslow et al) – rather than just a fan review group which has been in place for a couple of years – and consists of representatives from the club and various fan groups such as David Michaels from MOMS.

      The cynical will point to clubs rushing to demonstrate high levels of fan consultation to try and head of the appointment of an Independent regulator.

  4. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum May 24, 2023 at 3:25 am . Reply

    I’d go for naming rights but only if we get £400m for them like Citeh. How the hell did they get away with that?

  5. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson May 24, 2023 at 5:55 am . Reply

    I bet it’s the scum sending them germs over Hitch? I’m in Cornwall Sunday probably organising the club house in Watching the game.

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 May 24, 2023 at 7:23 am . Reply

      Have a good holiday Bill – weather looks set fair

  6. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson May 24, 2023 at 8:26 pm . Reply

    Yippee Man City 1

  7. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson May 24, 2023 at 8:43 pm . Reply

    1-1 that’s it game over no way we will beat Brighton

  8. DSVilla
    DSVilla May 25, 2023 at 12:56 pm . Reply

    According to Planetfootball the Brighton squad is the lowest cost in the Prem. (In transfer fees) Makes their achievement pretty remarkable. We come in at 11th costliest.

  9. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 May 26, 2023 at 3:36 pm . Reply

    Moreno has required surgery on his hamstring injury – which he was very unlucky to sustain – and may struggle to be recovered for the start of next season.

    We seem to be more than unlucky with injuries to our new signings – which is frustrating all round – and not something new either!

  10. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 May 26, 2023 at 8:40 pm . Reply

    It’s being reported that West Spam have identified Lange as a prime target for DoF.

    Villa have said that Lange is highly regarded and would have worked with Alemany had he joined the club.

    If he’s that highly regarded perhaps we should appoint him as DoF and look to fill in behind him rather than looking for a DoF elsewhere?

    From what I’m reading Emery would have a big say in this decision.

    So does he rate Lange or is he looking to appoint mainly Spaniards in scouting and football roles, including DoF within the club?

  11. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum May 27, 2023 at 8:32 am . Reply

    Is he an important part of the backroom team? I don’t think the Hammers are anywhere near as an exciting prospect as Villa next season. The media may well be ignoring us, but fans around the country sure aren’t.
    Poor Spuds can’t even get a Manager in for the men or women’s teams. I can’t see Brighton sustaining this form either.

  12. Gerry
    Gerry May 27, 2023 at 7:15 pm . Reply

    Marvelous Nakamba playing for Luton at Wembley in the play off. Forgotten he was out on loan. Again the bench would have done with him during the run in.

  13. Sidforever
    Sidforever May 27, 2023 at 7:55 pm . Reply

    Well done Luton and even better well done Marvellous. Always liked him. But even better Luton will look to buy him and they will want players with Premiership experience. It will mean a couple of million added to our transfer budget. Also takes his £1.6m salary off the books to contribute towards be if the new players who will be on a mega salary.

  14. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 May 27, 2023 at 8:25 pm . Reply

    Villa Women finish with a 0-2 away win against third placed Arsenal – first time we’ve beaten them! Daly gets her 22nd goal of the season to equal the WSL record and win the golden boot.

    So finishing 5th – the ‘best of the rest’ – and a push for Europe next season.


  15. OLL again
    OLL again May 28, 2023 at 10:05 am . Reply

    Luton in the EPL! Kenilworth Road? Bournemouth’s ground is pathetically small for a Premiership team but at least it is modern and in a pleasant town. At Luton the away fans entrance is famously concealed where the outside bogs of two terraced houses used to stand. There is a gap where the downstairs front rooms of the houses should be that you walk through. When Maggie agreed to Luton banning away fans I was outraged at first, but later thought she had done us a favour.

    1. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand May 28, 2023 at 11:04 am . Reply

      A useless bit of information but this make Luton the first team to go from top flight football to non-league then back to the top flight.

  16. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum May 28, 2023 at 11:16 am . Reply

    The idea of Kenilworth Road is fascinating. How brilliantly old school! Like the 1960s again.

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