Southampton – Villa; No faith whatsoever.

It seems such a short while ago that we managed to scrape a win at Old Trafford, doesn’t it?
Confidence was palpable throughout the players, the fans and the whole club. Confidence was brimming.

Yet here we are just six weeks later and it’s doom gloom and despondency. It’s one of the biggest turnarounds in fortunes that I can remember at the Villa for years.
You have to ask what’s caused it and for me there’s only one reason; Dean Smith messing with the system purely to accomodate players.
I’m tempted to say he should be sacked just for that alone. But I’m not that vindictive and we have to try and get behind him and the team and encourage them to get the win.

Not that I think we’ve got a hope in hell.
I’ve seen many fans say that we have to get three points against Southampton or Smith is in serious trouble.
It’s almost as if we should be beating them comfortably, yet I don’t see it like that at all. You’d think Southampton are in Norwich’s position, but the reality is they’re one place above us. When you take into account the fact they have home advantage, they have to be favourites.
A quick glance at the first bookie I came across shows Southampton at 19/20 and Villa at 27/10. So, yes, the home team are clear favourites.
And it’s not hard to see why is it?
We offer no attacking strategy and our defence is worse than useless at the moment. You probably already have a good idea what sort of score I’m going to predict.

Squad news and it’s just a joke on our part.
It’s been oft said lately that we’ve been incredibly unlucky with everything seeming to collude against us. Yet if I was Dean Smith, I’d be wanting an inquiry into why we seem to get so many injuries, for such stupid reasons and usually in training.
If indeed they are injuries and the club are not just covering up other things. We know Smith has a tendency to not tell the complete truth, after all. But that’s another issue.

Danny Ings and Douglas Luiz are both out with muscle injuries, neither of which were sustained on the pitch. Good job, whoever’s in charge of conditioning the players, I don’t think.
There is some good news to counter that, in that Sicknote Sanson, Jaden Philogene-Bidace and Jacob Ramsey have all been declared fit.
The news about Ramsey is a pleasant surprise after the manager informed us that he’d been told the lad had a high ankle injury, leading to many reports that he’d be out for at least six and possibly ten weeks, such is the severity of that sort of problem.
Yet he’s fit again in less than a week. They might as well pay me to do the diagnosis. The medical world has just announced an anti Covid tablet and a jab that will pretty much eradicate cervical and HPV related head and neck cancer, yet we can’t even make such a straightforward diagnosis.
Okay, I understand that you probably have to do further investigation to confirm, but why say anything at all if you’re not sure?
It’s yet another symptom of how everything currently seems to be wrong at the Villa, in my opinion.

As for Bidace and Sanson, did they have Covid or not? Looking at the timeline, I’m not 100% convinced. Ten days isolation, isn’t it? So to have been declared fit yesterday, they’d have had to have been identified around Monday the 25th of October. It’s possible, I suppose, but they were certainly okay when we played Arsenal on the 22nd.

Bertrand Traore is still out with a thigh strain and Konsa is of course suspended for this one after his red card against West Ham.

To further back up the “something seems wrong” point, Southampton have a fully fit squad apart from long termer Jack Stephens.
Is that a sign of a club that just does things properly, I wonder?

I could talk about formations and setup and strategy etc, but it’s academic, as our team is pretty much chosen for us.
We have three central defenders to choose from. Tuanzebe is miles off form, so I wouldn’t play him, which leaves Mings and Hause. Will Mings have bucked his ideas up after being dropped last week? He was apparently fuming and it’ll be interesting to see how he reacts, particularly when it seems he isn’t mentally the strongest player. Hopefully, he knuckles down and takes it on the chin.

And then Ings is out, so we’re left with an out of form Watkins up top. Davis won’t be replacing him, that’s a cert. So could he or even young Archer, play alongside? Not a chance for me. Neither would justify Smith going with two up top.
I’d be very tempted to say let’s go with young Archer alone for this game, to see how he copes, but you can only see a lack of service destroying his confidence too. I’m guessing he’ll get minutes.

The midfield is the interesting part. Smith will probably play his usual 4-3-3, with Bailey and Buendia accompanying Watkins, which leaves the three in the middle. McGinn and Nakamba will be two, but who will get the final position?
No doubt it’ll be golden boy Ramsey

So there we have it, I’m actually going to predict the line-up for a change;

Cash, Hause, Mings, Targett
McGinn, Ramsey
Buendia, Bailey

Sanson and Chukuemeka will get minutes.

How far is that from Smith’s best eleven? There’s been much comment about how the manager doesn’t seem to know his best eleven, but I think he does and that’s close to it. Hause and Naka are probably the only two he’d ideally swap out, I reckon.

Yet I fully expect the same old rubbish we’ve seen over the last few weeks. The midfield will be bossed again and we’ll probably resort to long balls towards Watkins, who is not the big lump you need for that kind of play.
It’s pitiful and I don’t see Smith sorting it out during the international break.

My prediction?
A 3-1 loss again.

The only saving grace is that Southampton are the only team to have lost more Premier league games than the Villa in 2021.
So there’s always hope, I guess.

Come on Smith, sort it out!


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  1. Tekkers48
    Tekkers48 November 5, 2021 at 9:40 pm . Reply

    Have to say Smith looks lost. I think the trigger will be pulled at the weekend and i will have no sympathy for him. We have been so so poor this season.

    1. Big Fat Ron
      Big Fat Ron November 5, 2021 at 9:57 pm . Reply

      He knows it’s over. I feel sorry for him, to be honest. Losing Grealish was massive. Terry and O’Kelly almost as bad. He’s had the rug pulled out from under him and just hasn’t been able to regroup.

      I can’t help thinking about Purslow’s well-crafted statement about replacing Jack with three players. Three. In other words, this guy was so good and so important, the only way we could even try to replace him was with three players, as in 6 legs instead of two, 3 players in the team instead of one. What the statement should have said was: “OK lads, Jack’s left which means we’re fucked. We’ve done our best to spend the cash wisely but don’t expect miracles. Hold on to your arses, it gets bumpy from hear. It’s all yours Dean.”

  2. Big Fat Ron
    Big Fat Ron November 5, 2021 at 9:41 pm . Reply

    F****** bonfire night. It’s like WW3 down here! Ridiculous.

  3. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum November 5, 2021 at 9:43 pm . Reply

    Smith’s last game? Bit sad really.

  4. Big Fat Ron
    Big Fat Ron November 5, 2021 at 9:49 pm . Reply

    Thanks for everything, Deano. Sorry it didn’t work out. 🙁

  5. Tom
    Tom November 5, 2021 at 9:52 pm . Reply

    Watkins has been utter shit!!!

    1. Big Fat Ron
      Big Fat Ron November 5, 2021 at 9:58 pm . Reply

      Baby brain? Sleepless nights? Who knows what’s happened to him.

      1. Big Fat Ron
        Big Fat Ron November 5, 2021 at 10:06 pm . Reply

        When was the last time we saw the Watkins that scored a hat-trick versus Liverpool??? He could’ve had 5 that night.

  6. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum November 5, 2021 at 9:56 pm . Reply

    Sounds like the players have lost heart with the management. We could be in the bottom 3 by Sunday night.
    Too many players have let the side and Deano down.

    1. Big Fat Ron
      Big Fat Ron November 5, 2021 at 9:58 pm . Reply

      Their body language suggests that know Deano’s gone.

      1. Bum Bum
        Bum Bum November 5, 2021 at 10:07 pm . Reply

        I think you’re right.
        A 2-0 win would have possibly turned our season around, but it wasn’t to be…

  7. Holte
    Holte November 5, 2021 at 10:03 pm . Reply

    Too many times this season we conceded early and had to chase the game. It’s no good playing 45 minutes every game. I don’t know if Smith will stay after 5 defeats in a row but we mustn’t repeat the mistakes we made before and appoint someone who isn’t long term. I don’t know who was responsible for the £100m recruitment in the summer but right now it looks like money down the drain.

    1. Big Fat Ron
      Big Fat Ron November 5, 2021 at 10:09 pm . Reply

      Holte, I was thinking similar. Suso got the bullet for his shocking signings, which almost got the club relegated. But Lange doesn’t seem to be faring much better, does he? It can’t all be Smith’s fault, can it?

  8. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson November 5, 2021 at 10:05 pm . Reply

    Im sorry to say it but its the only way for us to stay in the premier . I would have liked him to have used our youngsters earlier in the season but he was so stubborn. Now you’ve seen they are not children and played like men but he was adamant playing off form players. Sorry Dean but you brought this on yourself. Good luck for the future Dean ..

  9. OLL again
    OLL again November 5, 2021 at 10:08 pm . Reply

    Monumental effort especially second half. But not enough quality with the attempts on goal. It is a results-based business. The directors will be taking a leap of faith now if they keep Smith after 5 defeats. His midfield never attempted to pass the ball with short passes through midfield, it was all hard hit long passes which are more difficult to control and more likely to go astray.


    1. Big Fat Ron
      Big Fat Ron November 5, 2021 at 10:14 pm . Reply

      Panic passing, OLL. The commentators on 5 Live were laughing at how bad the passing was at half-time.

      I just worry there’s no one out there who could come in and turn us round quickly. I dread another Garde style appointment which would almost guarantee relegation. That would be beyond disastrous. I think the owners underestimated how big a loss Grealish would be.

  10. Holte
    Holte November 5, 2021 at 10:20 pm . Reply

    I can’t think of a stand out candidate to replace Smith at the moment. If they are going to act then they need to do it tomorrow. If they haven’t got a replacement lined up then we might as well keep Smith and hope he can repeat the turnaround of two years ago. It’s going to be difficult to get the right manager or players when near the bottom of the league.

  11. Sidforever
    Sidforever November 5, 2021 at 10:27 pm . Reply

    First half Awful and lost patience with Smith.
    Second half they battled and I thought the players were playing for Smith.

    Then again I do think Purslow and Lange should also be in the dock on this one. They were equally if not more so responsible for our signings.

    However, we had a poor pre season, players injured, players out with Covid, players unable to play due to travel restrictions, manager can’t pick best 11 and manager can’t decide best 11.

    Overall I vote for Smith to stay. But if sacked who really is out there?

    1. Big Fat Ron
      Big Fat Ron November 5, 2021 at 10:33 pm . Reply

      Ellis wasn’t shy about poaching managers already in a job. Maybe that’s the way to go. Pick the man you want and go all out to get him, like the ‘good old days’…

      Failing that, give Lambert the chance to ‘go again’ (winces and wretches simultaneously).

  12. Holte
    Holte November 5, 2021 at 10:27 pm . Reply

    Also going back to my previous comment that Smith hasn’t had a full squad to choose from yet. If he does stay maybe he will have better luck with returning players and then he might have Sanson, Luiz, Ings, Traore and of course Konsa to come in.

  13. Big Fat Ron
    Big Fat Ron November 5, 2021 at 10:29 pm . Reply

    Just want to put something out there. Did the club actually strengthen the team in the summer? Net spend, zero. And Buendia, Bailey and Ings combined are not as good as Jack. Not even close. So the team is significantly weaker than the team that finished in the bottom half last season, most points which were accumulated were before Jack’s injury. Is it really that surprising that we’re in deep shit?

    Summer 2021 money wasn’t spent. IF it had been spend on one or two powerful, top class midfielders, we might not be in this situation. I know the owners have been magnificent. But something went badly wrong in the summer. And I hate to say it, but the net zero whiffs a bit of Lerner tightening the purse-strings. I hope I’m wrong.

    1. OLL again
      OLL again November 6, 2021 at 9:41 am . Reply

      I agree. What Jack gave us was ball retention. He could hold on to it while other players moved into position. Neither Ings nor Bailey are that type of player, and nobody at the club would expect them to be. They were bought to score more than Traore and El Ghazi.

      Buendia is different. Somebody in the management must have considered the ball retention job. Perhaps they thought an existing midfielder, Mcginn, Nakamba, Douglas Luiz, Sanson or Ramsey could do the job – but had not been doing it while Jack was there. On the evidence of their performances in the team only Ramsey was a possible ball retainer so I must conclude Buendia was bought with the ball-retention role in mind. If so it has been a flop so far.

  14. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 November 5, 2021 at 11:52 pm . Reply

    I find myself in a fortunate position this evening courtesy of a power cut 🙂

    So instead of banging my head against a Villa brick wall, the neighbours came round and we got pissed in the dark!

    All in all a very satisfying evening.

  15. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson November 6, 2021 at 10:43 am . Reply

    Hitch I think Badger thrown himself in the cut as he’s gone absent, mind you I would have joined him lastnight. That was fortunate Hitch I’d thank the electricity company for saving you the pain I suffered. If you’d all listened I read the writing on the wall weeks ago but me being me deaf ears fell on . Yes poach a manager spend what we had for Grealish and sod the league for giving us shit refs we’ve been having . God help us we now need him..

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 November 6, 2021 at 10:52 am . Reply

      Yeah Bill you’re right – I sent them a thank you card and a box of chocolates 🙂

  16. Holte
    Holte November 6, 2021 at 11:25 am . Reply

    Merse thinks we should stick with DS. I find myself changing my mind every 5 minutes on him staying. One minute I think what would have happened at Man Ure if they had lost patience with Alex Ferguson. The next minute I think of our points per game ratio without JG and wonder whether Smith has a clue without him. Shakespeare, MacPhee and the other newly recruited muppets aren’t doing DS any favours. Was it any of these appointments that pushed JT and ROK out the door?
    I think Purslow needs to script a speech promptly to rally the fans if the intention is to stick with DS. If they are planning on getting someone new in, then they better get it right. Whoever comes in will still have one of the weakest midfields in the Premier league to work with, so will find opposition teams going from defence to attack without a challenge. This is the biggest reason we are conceding goals for fun.
    Worrying times me thinks 😒

  17. Big Fat Ron
    Big Fat Ron November 6, 2021 at 12:42 pm . Reply

    I’ve just watched Matt Targett’s post-match interview. He is visibly upset, almost close to tears and at least twice suggests that it’s the players’ fault and not Smith’s. I hope they all feel that way. But they’ve got to show more and for the whole 90 minutes.

    Smith’s teams were supposed to be,used to be, high-intensity, fast attacking football. They need to get back to that. If that means putting one of two kids in, so be it. I’m also not sure if Smith should go; last night I was certain. It could be a huge mistake to sack him.

  18. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson November 6, 2021 at 4:49 pm . Reply

    Wasn’t he one of the players that voiced his anger when Wolves beat us ?he might have overslept the mark showing anger at Smith .

    1. Holte
      Holte November 6, 2021 at 5:06 pm . Reply

      Bill, I don’t mind someone getting angry when we lose. Maybe the rest of them need to show some reaction rather than wait till half time every game before they put some effort in. Maybe some people don’t like home truths.

      1. Big Fat Ron
        Big Fat Ron November 6, 2021 at 5:59 pm . Reply

        Holte, I DO mind someone getting angry when we lose when since they arrived, they’ve demonstrated precisely jack shit that they are capable of doing anything about it. If Ronaldo does it, fair play – you know he would turn a game on his own. Sanson? No. Not until he starts bossing games on a regular basis. But since he’s not fit enough or good enough to even start a game, I won’t be holding my breath.

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