Middlesbrough – Villa; FA cup round 3

If I say to you that Villa haven’t won a third round FA tie in eight years and that no club has been in the top two divisions and lost nine ties on the trot, I’ll bet that I know exactly what you’re thinking.
“We’re just the club to re-write that record”
And I’d agree with you.

I’m sure we all remember the defeat to Stevenage, because it seemed to set yet another low in what was a bad time. It wasn’t Gerrard in charge at the time though. It was actually Emery, who was finding his feet and all about the players.
I like the way Emery does his interviews because I find them intriguing. He has a knack of being informative while saying absolutely nothing at all.
He talked about the game in an interview with Birmingham Live and I thought it was quite revealing in a couple of areas. I’m sure many of you will have already read it, but I’ll put the link up anyway;


The first point is;

“When we were speaking about the respect for this competition, it is not really showing it with the starting XI players”

Now, he does go on to say that he may or he may not, but I take that as a strong hint that he probably will change at least a couple of players. Not so much for rest, but most likely just tactically.

And then he went on to talk about the transfer window. I’m not shortening this, because I think it’s quite illuminating;

“I am thinking not a lot about it because maybe one or two players could leave, maybe but it’s not clear. If we are trying to get someone it is really because we are very convinced he is going to increase our level in the squad. It is not very clear in the January window to get it.”

Which left me a bit disappointed as I thought that made it pretty obvious that we can expect one, maybe two at most and even then, probably loans, which have never seemed a very successful idea to me.
Which then begs all sorts of questions such as if we’re not going to push the boat out in the window, how serious will we take the FA cup, when we’ll need to conserve as much energy as possible for the league?

I could quite easily be trying to over-analyse things and knowing Emery, he’s probably just taking things one game at a time. That said, I’m not convinced he cares too much for the FA cup, as much as he tries to talk it up. Which brings us on to the game.

Squad news and Emery said it himself;
(long termers apart) “Pau is also not available, nor Lucas Digne, Bertrand Traoré or Youri Tielemans.”
Pau’s obviously a big miss, but the good news is we have Kamara back after his suspension and he should be well rested. Matty Cash was seemingly suffering from illness, but it’s all a bit vague and the manager has said everybody else is available.

As for Boro, the big news for us is that Finn Azaz will be available after his £2.5 million move to the club mid-week, though it’s most likely he’ll be on the bench.
Paddy McNair, Matt Crooks, Marcus Forss, and Darragh Lenihan are all out, but Hayden Hackney, Matt Crooks and Emmanuel Latte Lath have all returned to training this week, so could feature.

Middlesbrough sit twelfth in the Championship, but they’re only 4 points off the play-off places, so they already have plenty to think about. There’s also the little matter of a Carabou cup quarter final game against Chelsea midweek. Hence there’s been talk that Michael Carrick might change his team up in a major way for today’s game. Certainly, it seems to me that we should prove a tougher game than facing Chelsea, but I am of course biased.

I watched Boro’s game against Coventry the other night to try and weigh up the opposition, or at least the first half, as I became bored and switched to another game. Suffice to say, that I didn’t see much to worry about. Coventry went on to win 3-1 after falling behind and looked good for it from what I saw.
Boro just look like your typical midtable Championship side, that work hard and have a few decent players. In other words, well capable of beating Aston Villa, if recent history is anything to go by.

Yet I don’t see a problem.
Of course, nuch depends on what sort of side we field. But if it’s anywhere near a full strength side, I feel we’ll have enough to see them off reasonably comfortably, particularly as I see this game being less of a priority for them.

I’m going for a 2-1 win.
What we could really do without is a draw, but the doubting Thomas in me thinks that’s also a good possibility.
Nah, I’m sticking with the win.



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  1. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson January 6, 2024 at 7:05 pm . Reply

    I’m bored shitless , I just cannot understand our approach to this game today. Don’t our players understand we have fans that pay good money travel miles and they serve up games like this , I believe in the FA cup matches travel all over the country supporting my club but this I’m well disappointed in. Wake up ffs Villa .

  2. Holte
    Holte January 6, 2024 at 7:11 pm . Reply

    The ref is doing my head in.

  3. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 January 6, 2024 at 7:23 pm . Reply

    Not sure that was deserved although we had enough chances to win it.

    Anyway we move on into uncharted territory 🙂

  4. Holte
    Holte January 6, 2024 at 7:39 pm . Reply

    A congested fixture list in December and now 8 days off before Everton and then 2 weeks off! I just don’t understand the logic behind how the games are scheduled.

  5. Sidforever
    Sidforever January 6, 2024 at 7:47 pm . Reply

    A win is a win and we don’t set the record of not getting beyond the 3rd round for the 9th year etc etc.

    The key indicator from this match is that there is a big drop off when others, not the best 13 players in the team are used.

    Emery’s knows his fans is to have real quality in support across all parts of the pitch. I think we are short of quality support at:
    * Goal keeper
    * Right back
    * Centre half until Mings fit
    * Defensive midfielder
    * Striker
    I guess that’s about £200m!

  6. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 January 6, 2024 at 9:39 pm . Reply

    We have to look at the positives (few thought they might be) beyond getting into the 4th round in living memory – well that might be a slight exaggeration!

    Badger, I actually thought Ramsey was starting to show signs of getting some match fitness although he did fade second half. Kamara was excellent in breaking up play and getting forward; he showed how much we missed him especially his partnership with Luiz in the centre of the park.

    Although we were too slow, particularly in the first half, we did create a number of very good chances which we failed to take; Konsa hit the post, their goalkeeper took the MoM award and we should have been awarded a penalty and their defender sent off (second yellow card). I thought the ref was awful – look at the yellow card count against the Villa for what?

    Finally, I do wonder to what extent our recent cup record played on the mind of the players.


  7. OLL again
    OLL again January 6, 2024 at 10:22 pm . Reply

    Dreadful ref – Jones. Consistent about being a homer, but nothing else. Those supporters of ‘the bigger club’ [Southgate] will have expected their team to give it a right go, but instead they played as if they were sh*t scared of Villa. Their plan to park the bus and try to nick one near the end backfired – we pinched their punchline.

    Our stand-ins are OK one at a time, but 4 of them disrupts the team. I think it is clear the rest of the team don’t think much of Duran. He is a target man style forward who needs balls pumped into the box to set up a duel with the CB, and Villa to be alert to resulting loose balls. Instead we tried for the dribble & tap-in completely ignoring Duran. I will be surprised if an unimproved Duran is on our books next season.

    Dion Mumblin needs to be relegated. He talks incoherently and too much, talks tripe, pretends that something that happened was what he foretold, when it wasn’t.

    1. BFR
      BFR January 9, 2024 at 8:10 pm . Reply

      Dion Mumblin! 🤣

  8. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 January 7, 2024 at 11:33 am . Reply

    Have been looking at the loan rules as it seems more likely to me it’s a route we’ll go down in January to strengthen the squad for the second half of the season. Any players we get in though shouldn’t, ideally, be cup-tied for the FA Cup or Conference.

    I think we currently have two loan players (Lenglet and Zaniolo) – both from European Clubs which doesn’t affect our ‘quota’. As far as I can make out we can have as many loan players as we want from ‘other National Associations’.

    Quota rules which are no more than two loan players at any one time (and a maximum of four loans per season) only apply to loans between Premier League and other English clubs (including any Welsh clubs playing in the Prem / EFL).

    May see us moving for loan deals on a GK, right back or striker and possibly a replacement for Lenglet if Barca recall him (only likely if they can sell him elsewhere) – and what about a loan move for Henderson – leaving our main funds for reinforcements in the summer.

    Any thoughts?

  9. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson January 7, 2024 at 12:09 pm . Reply

    Henderson Hitch ?
    Thought he moved to Saudi and was a player in and out of the team , he’s also in his 30s . We want a midfielder young and wanting , we need to think more on our full backs because we was shown up more than once on our flanks . OLL Dublin got to me as well , he does mumbles rubbish he has to think as he describes on moves that are obvious to people. And get rid of women interviewing the game for men . No I’m not a sexism person it’s ok for the ladies but men’s? They sound like that idiot Alan Carr driving me loopy. 🙀😇

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 January 7, 2024 at 1:08 pm . Reply

      Bill – according to BBC Henderson is ‘desperate’ to get back to the EPL – sounds like grass being greener.

      Was only suggesting a loan until the end of the season – he’s still a decent player and would add depth to the squad particularly in the event Luiz or Kamara aren’t available.

  10. Badger123
    Badger123 January 7, 2024 at 12:49 pm . Reply

    I believe Henderson is taking a holiday.
    He must be well fed up over there. I think he was on £700k a week and he’s going to throw a load of it away by not being tax exiled for the whole year. Unless he stays on holiday until April, I suppose?

    So we are okay to take more foreign loans (cheers for that Hitch). I reckon that’s the way we’re definitely going.
    The big question is, is that because we’ve had another look at the finances or because we’re going balls out in the summer?

    You would think the owners are getting well fed up of throwing tens of millions at the club every few months. Maybe they don’t want to increase that burden?

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 January 7, 2024 at 1:27 pm . Reply

      Badger, I read an article on FFP (or whatever acronym they now call it).

      Two things jumped out that I wasn’t aware of –

      1. A large percentage of the cumulative three year loss is only allowable if ‘funded’ by equity investment by the owners (if I recall correctly something like £88m of the £103m three year loss allowed) – hence the purchase of additional shares by NSWE. Your point is still valid though on level of investment but there are serious potential rewards if we can establish ourselves in the top echelons of Europe particularly the European Championship.
      2. EUFA ‘s allowable losses are less than those of the EPL and it’s these that can get the team thrown out of European Cups (vis Juventus in the Conference League)
      I’ll try and find the article again and post it if I can.

    2. Roy Bracy
      Roy Bracy January 7, 2024 at 7:58 pm . Reply

      Maybe something for the group to comment on,
      How many of you like the way emi stands on the ball in middle of his own half wanting the opposition to try come for the ball
      It’s like dirty Harry “ok if you think you’re lucky come and have a go”
      Also who blinks first,and wastes time legitimate because its up to the opponent if they want to try and get the ball.

  11. Roy bracy
    Roy bracy January 7, 2024 at 2:43 pm . Reply

    Lots interesting comments and yes game was boring but you can only play against what’s in front of you and Middlesbrough where very well drilled in stopping us from scoring.
    Yes I was screaming at the TV to move ball faster or have shots and hope for deflection same as that thrashing we gave Liverpool with loads of deflections.
    But on other hand the shots might bounce to an opposition and cause a break away counter attack with our players all out of positions.
    It’s annoying I know but by playing as we do gives us some control of any misfortune of loose balls.
    Another thing the game nowadays is about 95min as long as you get the winner in that time that’s all that matters
    And we’re getting better at playing to the final minute
    It’s what ferguson teams always did and nobody could complain at his success
    Point is as long as you have the ball the opposition can’t score.
    I’m getting the idea now how emery thinks of the way to play against different opposition
    Hopefully not upset anyone

  12. Gerry
    Gerry January 7, 2024 at 3:13 pm . Reply

    I think there were many positives in that game. Nothing more positive that we won. We managed to win a game with about 75% effort. We did not seem to incur any new injuries. We got a lot of ball time for Ramsay and he is getting there. We found out just how much we need Kamara. He and Luis are the envy of other PL teams and we know how good John McGinn can be. I am beginning to warm to Ollie’s assist contribution but we need a killer finisher. Top teams win even when they are not at their best. We are now a top team.

  13. Badger123
    Badger123 January 7, 2024 at 3:40 pm . Reply

    I’ve just had a better look at our supposed new badge.
    Jeez, it really is awful and nowhere near as good as the current one.
    It looks like it’s been designed by a five year old and that lion…
    It’s bloody horrible and I hope they decide to not go with it.


    1. Bum Bum
      Bum Bum January 8, 2024 at 9:49 am . Reply

      It is a bit simplistic. Probably designed by a Gen Z work experience dude. Looks like something from a video game, and a Nintendo one at that…

      Henderson has to see out his 2/3 year contract in full to receive the full Saudi tax exemption he’s been offered. If he leaves early he has to pay millions in tax. Oh well! No sympathy from me.

      From watching the Boro game, we seem to be playing the same way, week in, week out. It’s obviously extremely successful as we’re 2nd in the league, but we need a little something else…Cheeky loan bid for De Bruyne?????

    2. OLL again
      OLL again January 8, 2024 at 11:44 am . Reply

      Apparently AVFC have registered the new design. That does not mean it will be used if enough fans say “What the Heck are you doing?”. The excuse for not going with the fans choice of the round badge is that ‘it wasn’t distinctive’. The new design is distinctively awful. two other clubs have lions in the badge, Chelsea & Millwall for no obvious reason (Millwall started life on the Isle of Dogs). Villa’s lion was apparently taken from the standard of Scotland so the Lion should be red not gold.

  14. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 January 8, 2024 at 12:31 pm . Reply

    I’ve attached MOMS article on the new badge


    It’s a pretty long read but it covers the badge design, FA Rules and fan consultations. David Michael, editor of MOMS sits on the Fan Advisory Board (FAB) is an outspoken critic of the new commercial regime overseen by Heck and the way in which Heck has disregarded the fans views in this matter.

    I think we can expect a negative fan response direct to the FA

    All is well on the pitch but not off it and Heck appears to be the chief protagonist.

  15. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 January 8, 2024 at 4:06 pm . Reply

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