Southampton 1 – 0 Villa; Sorry Dean, your time is up (I think).

To be honest, I’m not massively bothered about trying to analyse what went wrong last night.

It’s just simple to say we were awful in the first half and were better in the second, albeit still not good enough to get anything against a decdedly average at best, Southampton side.

We could possibly have got a draw or maybe even a flukey win and it might have changed my view slightly. It’s always harder to slate a performance if you’ve got a result after all, but it would only have been covering what’s been happening for a very long time.
I hate the saying, but “papering over the cracks” is what I mean.

My problem when watching Villa games is not a recent thing. We’ve had serious issues in the midfield for ages and I’d bet if I was to look back through previous posts, I’m sure I would find myself commenting about how poor we were in that area eighteen months ago.
Yet still nothing has improved.

The attack and defence have been very much up and down, good and bad, which is fair enough, but that midfield has been a constant.
We probably all know it, but I’ve said it lots of times that it’s usually the midfield battle that decides a game. It’s just critical.
And it’s when I look at our current midfield that I see where many of our problems are. Who, McGinn apart will stick the foot in? Nakamba can do it, but gets dropped the second Luiz is fit to play.
Ramsey can get involved, but he isn’t exactly built like a brick outhouse, is he?

So that’s one issue that hasn’t been sorted because we seem way more interested in attacking with a bunch of lightweights, where if we’re getting over-run, we can’t resort to roughing it up to at least slow the opposition down.
Not having any option in the middle is inexcusable in itself.

But I can perhaps overlook that weakness if the attack is making up for it and quite frankly, we’re outscoring the opposition.
And to be fair, we have done. Not because our attack has been stunning, but because our defence last season was quite simply excellent. Martinez was an inspired signing and even Mings, who I think is awful, was statistically doing very well. So much so, that even I ended up applauding him occasionally.

And then, this season we look incredibly poor all over the pitch. Why?
Well, for me, the likes of the Watford game don’t count. You always get freak games so early on in the season, so I can easily discount that sort of performance. I’ve seen plenty of them before.

But then Smith changed it up at the back, going with a 3 or 5, depending how you see it.
Whatever, it looked totally alien to the defence and Tuanzebe looked horrendously unsuited. I said yesterday that he is way out of form, yet Smith persisted in playing him again over one of our players who is actually on the books, in Hause.
And Tuanzebe was shocking again in a two, let alone a three. Okay, Tuanzebe is a right footer, but it makes no odds to me if you’re playing poorly.

I’m not slating Smith for going to a three in the slightest. What I will slate him for is the fact that even my grandsons could see it wasn’t working, yet still he persisted with it.
I admire Smith for being his own man and sticking to his guns. It’s not so rare, that a manager persists with something that the fans don’t like and ends up being proved to be correct.
But Smith wasn’t correct and his failure to change it back when defenders looked so uncomfortable just makes him look bad.
That’s how it goes.

And then we have the bad luck thing.
It’s true. We have had some awful luck with injuries. But I suggested yesterday that it has to be more than just bad luck. We signed three attacking types in the summer, in Buendia, Bailey and Ings. The first two have hardly shown and still look way off being fit now. Bailey had cramp after 70 minutes last night! I seriously doubt he’s done any serious fitness training this season.
And ings is injured now. Coincidence? I seriously doubt it. You couldn’t make it up.

And then it seems we have major unrest behind the scenes. Sanson was noticeable by his absence yesterday after Smith seemed to have talked him up in the presser. What’s happened there?

And probably the biggest problem of all for me is the fact that so many players just seem to be way off form.
The one single player who I might say is playing somewhere near his level is Matty Cash. I can probably say Konsa, Hause, Young, Luiz and Ramsey have done okay, but some of those don’t feature regularly.
The rest are just way off it and I think it amounts to ten or eleven players who have featured regularly up to now.
That surely has to be way more than coincidence and is either due to them being seriously short of confidence or just non-believers in what we’re trying to achieve. Or worse, just have no respect for the manager.

I ccould understand the lack of confidence thing. Being made to look rubbish in a system you know you can’t play does that to a person. But if that’s what’s going on, who is that down too?

The non-believing thing makes sense too, it’s a reaction to not getting the results required.
So it’s probably a combination of both things.

I don’t think for one minute, it’s a lack of respect. Well, possibly it is on Sanson’s part. But surely he’d have been elbowed from the team setup? Oh, hang on a minute…..

Whatever, I can surmise until the cows come home, but the question has to be do I think Dean Smith can turn things around?
And the answer is a resounding no.
He has the international break to try and do some sort of reset, yet I don’t even see us beating Brighton at home, let alone Palace away, Man City at home, leicester at home, Liverpool away. Even Norwich at home looks a daunting task at the moment and we’ll only have one easier game all season on paper (Norwich at home).
I can see us being seriously mired in the relegation zone by the time it comes to Norwich.

Yes, things seem to have conspired against Smith, but I just don’t believe it’s all down to bad luck.

And then I look at the stat that says we’ve now lost more than any other team (apart from Norwich) in the Premier league in 2021.
And I just can’t get away from it.
What does it say?

That our current plight is not a short term issue. It’s prolonged and is a fact even when we’ve had Grealish playing for us during some of that time.
And quite simply, it isn’t good enough for a team aspiring to the lower middle regions of the table, let alone European places.

I like Smith, I really do. He’s one of us and because of that, I think it’s making us very sympathetic to him.
But that isn’t doing the club any favours. I really don’t want to say it, but if we’re just being logical and looking at the facts that are staring us in the face, he has to go.

I’d much prefer to see him resign or even go with a “by mutual agreement” decision, but I don’t think he’s that kind of a man. He’ll be thinking he can turn it around and that’s admirable. I think the hierarchy will give him some time too, if he makes a good enough case to them.
But it’ll only be “papering over the cracks” and his days are numbered, hence it’ll only be putting off the inevitable.
And I really wouldn’t like to see him being booed week in, week out, which we all know is what will happen.

But then, who replaces him?

It’s the age old question isn’t it?
And I don’t have a clue.
Same as I’ve always said though,it’s not down to me to choose and I don’t get paid the big bucks to do so either.

The thought of getting a Garde type replacement terrifies me.
But I just don’t think things can continue as they are.

I’m gutted for having had to come to the conclusion, but I always knew it was coming.


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  1. Steve
    Steve November 7, 2021 at 4:55 pm . Reply

    I was told friday b4 this happened that it was TERRY. I don’t believe it and certainly don’t want it.

  2. Tom
    Tom November 7, 2021 at 4:58 pm . Reply

    I think I wanted smith to part ways, I wasn’t 100%. Now it’s done, it feels crap but I think smith himself may even feel relieved to some extent. I do worry about who comes in but it really does have to be the real, proven deal. No gambles, premier experience and success to some level is a must!

  3. Steve
    Steve November 7, 2021 at 5:07 pm . Reply

    Who is available who wouldn’t be a gable. Everything is a gamble. Saunders brilliant at villa crap at wba and blues. Kendall brilliant at everton 1 out of 3 times.
    Prob end up with Nunes who apparently touted to villa before he got the spurs job.
    I just can not think of anybody i want who we could realistically get.
    Why did Terry leave with no job offers ?

  4. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 November 7, 2021 at 5:23 pm . Reply

    Badger – unfair request but could you put a poll up with a list of possible names. Might have to wait a couple of days to see what fantasies the media put up 🙂

    1. Big Fat Ron
      Big Fat Ron November 7, 2021 at 8:50 pm . Reply

      My logic says Nuno has already been sounded out and is a done deal. We need clean sheets and back to basics; he showed he can do that at Spurs. And he probably still lives locally. On the plus side, I would hope he’d determined to prove Levy wrong and show what an excellent coach his record at Wolves suggests he is. My money is on Nuno, primarily because it’s quick and easy for all concerned. For him, it’s an upgrade on Wolves and not a massive step down from Spurs, while for us, it’s probably a slight upgrade on Smith, as he has some Europa League experience. If he can do top 7 with Wolves, he can do top 6 + for us,but only with serious investment in January.

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