Sheff Utd 2- 0 Villa; Not quite time to panic

Sorry about last night; I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open.
I sometimes feel I have sleeping sickness, as eight hours, let alone the usual six or so that I usually get doesn’t seem to cut it for me.

Whatever, it wasn’t good today, was it?

While I’m not quite as doom and gloom as it would seem other sites are, there are problems I saw.

I actually think Wesley had a decent game today. He worked hard and got involved. Okay, he still seems lightweight, but he got stuck in and laid the ball off as he’s supposed to, I thought.
The problem was that he was far too deep most of the time and anything he did gained us nothing.
I really couldn’t believe that he was taken off when Kodjia came on and after being two goals dowm.
I really expected us to go two up front and I questioned Dean Smith’s tactics, not for the first time.

Guilbert struggled because El Ghazi had a shocker today. Everything the Egyptian did was poor and he should have been hooked much earlier.

I’m seriously beginning to question Smith’s tactics.
I saw a much more defensive setup, from the off, which was probably a reaction to how we’ve played lately, particularly with the Leicester game in mind.
It worked well for the first half, but we looked toothless and if Sheffield scored, you couldn’t see where our answer was going to come from.
And that’s exactly what happened, in that we conceded very early on in the second half. Again.

But while I can pick faults, I can see positives.
I thought Hause looked very decent and he didn’t scare me anywhere near as much as Mings has done over the last few weeks.

And I don’t think many of us thought we’d get anything from this game anyway.

Okay, it might seem I’m clutching at straws (the truth is, I am), but we do have games coming up where we should hopefully be able to get some points.

I think we’re in the bottom three now, but I’m still not overly worried.
We underwent a poor spell under Smith last season and came through it ok.

Our recent record is horrendous, but let’s not forget who we’ve played in the last 6-7 games.

If we’re still in a similar position in another 6 games or so time, then I might start seriously complaining.

As it stands, I’d suggest we’re about where we need to be.
On course for 17th, with anything better, a bonus.


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  1. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson December 14, 2019 at 10:01 pm . Reply

    No your not wrong Badger, all what you’ve said is spot on. You must have seen the game like me, Wesley did as you say showed a little change but still not up to what a forward should be.McGinn beginning to worry me he’s had a few games where he seems to lack the energy of late, in fact they are had a bad day.
    Yes the answer has to be Smith’s tactics are not working… next two games are crucial, fingers crossed.

  2. Tony Hill
    Tony Hill December 14, 2019 at 10:02 pm . Reply

    I don’t think Smith can cut it at this level… being a Villa fan through and through is not enough, and if we carry on like this then relegation will be looking like a distinct possibility. Dean’s tactics are being questioned every week too!

  3. Holte66
    Holte66 December 14, 2019 at 11:27 pm . Reply

    It’s quite amazing that our next 3 games are the teams below us. These are the ones that really matter. 6 points a minimum for me, anything less will be disappointing. Part of me though can’t help but feel that we are in a downward spiral. When things are going wrong, a team needs leaders and this is where we are lacking. Grealish is our captain and has the desire but I don’t see anyone shouting and commanding. We are too nice and Sheffield United bossed and bullied us today. We need a few JT’s on the pitch to stop us getting overrun. As sad as it makes me feel, I wonder if Smith is a bit out of his depth. Wilder has spent hardly anything but continues to make his players better. I can’t help but feel a similarity between the team thrown together behind Sherwoods back and this team. A lot of average players and a few good ones. We end up relegated and the vultures come picking out our best while we are left with the overpaid duds (Wesley)
    I might be over reacting but unless we wake up and smell the coffee then this prophecy will come to light.

  4. nath
    nath December 15, 2019 at 7:15 am . Reply

    sheff utd have a squad of player there that have all been together for such a long time in football terms. very few changes have been made from 1st division side two years back. they work extremely hard every game. the system is not a normal 352 most would recognise. most think 352 is 532 very defensive, but wilder uses this flexible system to out number opposition all over the place. he has his players very well drilled in this game changer. other teams try to do this we try to do this. but sheff do this very well.

    in the game yesterday and last year 4 1 game they did the exact thing. this is the reason they are doing so well in the premiership. i said before the game they will create overlaps. it is hard to write how they do this and keep the post short. in most systems you have 2 or 3 down left and right. sheff have a cb and wing back plus forward and midfielder they out number you and force your players in areas they do not wish to be. it is no fluke they are doing so well. teams in premiership will suffer against them. cause their coaches will not see many teams if any do this. also defending it even when you know what they will do is not easy

    villa needed to abandon our slow build up speed and play against the blades, when you regain possession, you have a few seconds where you can catch them out. but blades work so hard closing you down to stop you finding them spaces they leave.

    villa first half had nobody high. el gahzi and grealish both where forced to go deep cause of the overlaps sheff were creating down both sides. ended zero zero. villa cancelled blades out first half. but second half villa tried to keep grealish and el ghazi high with wesley, we tried to cause them more trouble. but this left more space which blades loved. villa had chances second half, which we failed to take. sheff utd converted theirs and deserved the win.

    fans of villa need to realise we had to change a lot of the squad from last season. we said before smith came in, our squad had too many loaned players and players past their best. smith came in and got promotion. which meant we could rebuild in the premiership.sign better quality players which i believe smith done well. but the downside we made too many changes for a smooth transition. we are suffering a blip at the minute. last two games the players look beaten. whether this is the outside pressure getting to them, or they are doubting themselves against the best. fans need to stay with this squad of players. trust in smith to get it right. we are not the finished article but a squad in transition. we are bound to have our ups and downs. finishing 4th bottom will mean success this season,we can add to this squad instead of starting again which will take longer.

    sorry about this long nonsense. i was annoyed reading the smith out b/s on other sites.

    GIDDYVILLAN2 December 15, 2019 at 8:21 am . Reply

    What’s this bollox about our coaching staff applauding the sheffield players in the tunnel after the match if true we’re showing far too much respect to the opposition full stop

  6. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson December 15, 2019 at 8:40 am . Reply

    I’ll say this to you Nath, you know your football that’s for sure. Yes its the slow build up that’s doing us at times, we need to control the ball and find your man quicker to put them on the back foot, I noticed how they find their men and we don’t. Wing play is to draw defenders out and that was missing again.

    1. nath
      nath December 15, 2019 at 9:38 am . Reply

      i was not knocking the slow build up, but against sheff utd who commit many men forward. you have to carry a threat when you regain possession. first half we carried nothing. our build up was slow because we had nothing in forward positions because they all track back. wesley was also tracking back which means nobody was offering any outlet.

      i would liked to seen us go more direct. our slow build up,ended up allowing sheff utd to the time to get back into their defensive shape. they also pressed us to stop us trying to play the aggressive balls forwards. end of the day they were well deserved of the win. i av no complaints

  7. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 December 15, 2019 at 9:19 am . Reply

    Not bottom three – yet! But we are starting to lose touch with the clubs ahead of us and it’s beginning to look like the bottom four are going to be fighting for 17th.

    Yelling for the managers head is the normal reaction from modern day football fans who want, no demand, instant success. Having said that, there is a more measured questioning of Smith’s tactics of late.

    We all talk about players form and confidence but surely this applies equally to the manager?

    Yes, with the exception of Newcastle and Manure, we’ve played all of the top 5 teams over the last few games (that includes Sheff Utd.) and predictably got nothing for it. Notice though that the other two games yielded 4 points!

    The next three games will answer a lot of the questions currently being asked about this squad and management.


  8. Third Generation Villian
    Third Generation Villian December 15, 2019 at 10:54 am . Reply

    While I agree with a lot that’s been said about individual players, the manager and tactics etc I thought I would offer a different perspective on our season so far.

    When we finished 5th in the Championship last season and hoped we could go up through the play offs we all knew that the team was no where good enough to survive in the premiership if we made it, so we needed several players to come in and rebuild the team, and in the end we got far more then we hoped for, but that brings its own problems of little prem experience and the chance there would be 2 or 3 flops from all the players we signed.
    So again, we all agreed we would be more than happy with 17th.

    And where are we today ………. 17th but struggling a bit I know.


    So I thought I would look into the games involving the bottom 10 in the premiership as anything we get from games against the top 6 or 10 is a bonus

    And the tables that follow show that, and are merely for you to discuss on how well we are doing from a different perspective.

    One final observation from me if we win the next 3 league games against the bottom 3 we will have 24 points going into the January transfer window and I for one would be more than satisfied with that from the first half of the season

    But can we win them?



    BURNLEY 10 6 2 0 16 3 13 20
    VILLA 7 4 2 1 14 6 8 14
    BRIGHTON 8 3 3 2 11 8 3 12
    B’MOUTH 7 3 3 1 9 9 0 12
    WEST HAM 10 3 3 4 12 14 -2 12
    SO’TON 8 4 0 4 9 13 -4 12
    N’CASTLE 8 3 2 3 9 11 -2 11
    EVERTON 8 3 0 5 8 12 -4 9
    NORWICH 9 2 1 6 7 16 -9 7
    WATFORD 7 1 2 4 4 11 -7 5

    1. Third Generation Villian
      Third Generation Villian December 15, 2019 at 11:01 am . Reply

      sorry the table did not come out properly, one thing i noticed from the tables is that all our away games have been against the top ten except for the win at norwich

      1. Hitchens60
        Hitchens60 December 15, 2019 at 3:34 pm . Reply

        Interesting analysis TGV.

        Villa it seems, for many years, have had some sort of psychological block when it come to playing the top six or so teams -whether in the Championship or now the EPL – and frankly even before our relegation.

        We actually had a terrible record in the Championship against the top teams and, now, similarly in the EPL.

        I have no idea why and it’s totally illogical but statistically true. Unless and until we can find a way through this we will continue to struggle.

  9. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson December 15, 2019 at 12:54 pm . Reply

    Now here’s nother cock up on VAR, although its makes no different Grealish penalty should have been retaken due to the fact 2 player’s was in the D when he took it. The rule state that it should not be encroached. When will they get it right in the game.

    1. nath
      nath December 15, 2019 at 1:58 pm . Reply

      i saw this on the replays at the time. another blatant obvious mistake is not corrected. but if your tongue happens to be offside they will correct it. i think var officials spotting the encroachment but cause the pen was awarded by them not the referee they didn’t want to be seen favouring villa.

      another point is the man who encroached was the man who ended up clearing the rebound. if we had scored that penalty we had 10 minutes to equalise, would have put sheff utd under more pressure etc this was a important decision. another which went against us

      1. Hitchens60
        Hitchens60 December 15, 2019 at 3:56 pm . Reply

        The VAR overriding directive is for it to correct ‘clear and obvious’ mistakes in four defined categories EXCEPT the EPL have directed that this directive isn’t to apply to offside decisions.

        Hence an armpit, big toe or, as Nath so eloquently puts it, someone’s tongue happens to be out at the wrong time will result in a goal overturned as offside.

        It’s perverse that VAR is failing to correct obvious mistakes but ruining the game with frankly daft, but strictly according to the laws, correct offside decisions. Imho VAR is not working and overall it’s a failure – to score it’s performance as 7/10 is just delusional.

        There was recently a look at how VAR is performing in other European Leagues and, apart from L1 in France, a lot better then here. In particular Spain has adopted (in all categories) an approach which is ‘if it’s not absolutely clear (there’s been a mistake) on first look then just move on’ – this includes offside – which is a clear and common sense approach and means reviews are dealt with quickly.

        France on the other hand appears to approach VAR as in the EPL, is failing and was recently rated a resounding 3/10!

        The offside law says that (paraphrasing) ‘if ANY part of the body, except the arm or hand, is in an offside position ….’ which means that technically you are offside if the tiniest tip of your nose is offside then….!

        But football is a human game and the laws were not written with HD TV replays in mind and the literal translation of the laws (for offside) as written is illogical and, frankly, dumb.

        Don’t change the laws, adopt a more pragmatic approach to their interpretation.

        I don’t believe fans want goals disallowed for ridiculously marginal offside. They want fairness with clear and obvious mistakes consistently rectified. To that end,the authorities would do well to learn from other sports where the use and interpretation of VAR type technology is now happily accepted by the fans without having to re-write any laws!

        Discuss 🙂

  10. badger123
    badger123 December 17, 2019 at 12:00 am . Reply

    Ah, it transpires that John McGinn has suffered a tear in his thigh muscle while playing for Scotland and has been taking painkilling injections.

    That explains his subdued performances of late and it’s doubtful he’ll play tomorrow.

    I know it happens, but I always wonder about the sense in playing with painkillers, as surely it won’t be doing the injury much good?

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 December 17, 2019 at 10:21 am . Reply

      Also if he’s not fully fit then it negatively affects the overall performance of the team.

      What does it also say about the management’s view of other mid fielders like Lansbury? Do they not trust them?

  11. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson December 17, 2019 at 2:15 pm . Reply

    That says it all, it was bloody noticed that John McGinn wasn’t his best yet they play him under painkillers stupid. Now let’s look back at Minns, when he got injured it was apparently said by one of the medical team he was ok to play on.. are we carrying back room incompetence? I’m beginning to think have we the right backroom staff and coaching.

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