Villa 2 – 0 Bolton; A win.

I readily admit that I’m an armchair supporter, mostly because of restraints placed upon me because of work.
So it was a pleasant change for me to actually get down to Villa park and watch the game in the flesh, so to speak and see things away from the TV perspective.
The same doesn’t apply to what I actually saw though.

I now fully understand how some fans think Jack Grealish slows the game down too much.

In fact, what I saw quite shocked me and while it might not be a popular view, I’m going to tell it as I saw it.

We’re bloody poor.

Apart from a five minute or so spell in the first half, where we applied some decent pressure, we looked very disjointed and massively lacking in the final third.

The whole side is too ponderous and slow and I fail to see how Dean Smith has made the slightest difference to anything yet.
That’s not necessarily a criticism of the manager, but it may well be a criticism of the players.
It’s almost like they’re over-thinking things and not playing naturally.

Still, you can’t knock a 2-0 win, even if it was against a truly awful Bolton side.
Strangely, I suspect they might have looked better on the telly, but trust me, they are rubbish and will seriously struggle.

Bolasie looks a couple of classes better than those around him.
McGinn worked his nuts off again and was my MOTM, although I think Chester might have got the award.
If that’s so, it’s sad that a defender got the award, even if he did get a goal.
Tuanzebe looks comfortable, but he never really had much to trouble him.


Well, as I suggested, we look awfully ponderous and way too slow in every aspect.
I suspect a lot of it is down to confidence and while it seems we are trying, there is no cutting edge whatsoever.
I can’t put my finger on it, but taking time to take throw-ins gives you a clue.
There’s nowhere near enough urgency and the movement is just abysmal.
The ball just doesn’t go forward quickly enough to surprise any defenders.

Am I wrong?
Well, possibly, but I think a good judge is the opinion of the Holte end.
I was in the thick of it in K5, educating the grandkids in how to shout your lungs out, supporting the club.
I’ve got them in the net now and they’re “Villa till I die”.

But the Holte was fairly subdued.

While we won the game, I believe as things stand we don’t have a hope in hell of getting anywhere near promotion.

I predict a very tough time up to the winter window and beyond.


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  1. Avatar
    Hitchens60 November 3, 2018 at 1:32 am .

    Badger, I followed the game on BBC live and have to say your summation generally aligns with my impressions reading the live texts.

    Having said that 17shots of which only 3 were on target says an awful lot about what are, at the end of the day, an extremely expensive strike partnership.

    Smith still has a big hill to climb

  2. Avatar
    Sidforever November 3, 2018 at 7:46 am .

    There was an interesting interview with Dean Smith at the end of the match. He said at half time he showed Grealish 3 videos of where he came too deep for the ball. He wants him in the final third to hurt the opposition. He also felt it was not up to the performance against QPR and there is much that needs to be improved. I thought his interview gave insight into a manager who will not accept players underperforming.

    1. Avatar
      badger123 November 3, 2018 at 6:45 pm .

      And I totally agree with him Sid.
      Grealish is totally ineffective in our half, on the whole.
      The main point of him is that he needs to be available at the sharp end.
      But sometimes he does mess about too much, imo.
      That said, there were a few shots on sight and that’s the way to go.

  3. Avatar
    nath November 3, 2018 at 8:48 am .

    interesting views but i disagree with most, but you make valid points whether or not. only nobody sat on Vincent van Gogh shoulders while he was painting his master pieces. smith master piece is just a blank canvas,but he has made progress its fairly obvious to the eye. both on ball and without.

    i thought it was a decent performance without hitting anything like the top gears. grealish is starting to rediscover his game. he is focussing more on the final third, which was always annoying to me having to watch him in right back position or receiving the ball deep in his own half.

    i thought our possession we had was meaningful, under past managers we passed the ball sideways and rarely kept the ball (or worked it) for more than a handful of passes. the tempo was quicker than smiths other games and this is pleasing too.

    we are making mistakes too many agreed, but we are getting better and i enjoyed the game.smith is working the players and demanding from them. too many times under past managers we failed to live up to anything like our standards but smiths standards are much higher and the players seem to enjoy his game

    1. Avatar
      badger123 November 3, 2018 at 6:52 pm .

      Disagreeing is good Nath.
      Let me ask you a question.
      Are you confident that we will beat the Blues?

      1. Avatar
        nath November 4, 2018 at 10:22 am .

        i would like to say it is healthy for us to disagree and what you said in summary does ring true mostly. but i can see quite a bit of progression. its not great leaps and it wont happen like that. i do hope with the quality of players we have this process should happen quicker.

        i think we will beat the blue and the harder game will be derby. teams like birmingham and derby will be difficult games, because blues will try to press us and rough us up. they will also target our defence. derby will pose the bigger challenge and greater yard stick to gauge our progression. they look to be one of the better teams in the division.

        we are playing catch up, i do think we will be up there come the end.

  4. Avatar
    Pat 57 November 3, 2018 at 8:56 am .

    Agree with Sid about Dean Smith’s interview. It was refreshing to see a Villa manager tell it like it is.

    Yet, as frustrating as they were at times, I could still see an improvement. We’ve got a long way to go but I think that Smith is taking the right first steps.If we can stay within six points or so of the top until January then some new recruits might just make the difference.

    Agree with Badger that McGinn was man of the match and Bolasie was running rings around Bolton when he came on. Tammy was a nuisance but Kodjia, and Jack at times, overplayed far too much. And Jack, appearing in our half more than once to take the ball off our back player, made me want to throw something at the telly. Smith should tell him to watch Messi and how he’s always ready for the quick ball from the back.

    Anyway we won, didn’t we?

    1. Avatar
      badger123 November 3, 2018 at 6:59 pm .

      Yes, we won Pat and that’s what it’s all about.
      My assessment sounds pretty bleak, but I never have a problem with 3 points.

      1. Avatar
        Big Fat Ron November 3, 2018 at 9:09 pm .

        The win is no different to the 2-0 vs Rotherham earlier in the season. Routine against a side poorer than us but not ‘pulling up trees.’

        Look at our next 7 fixtures before Christmas. If we’re in the top half of the league after that, we should all be doing cartwheels. Fasten your seat-belts guys. It’s about to get bumpy.

        How will Nyland will cope with the firepower he’s about to be faced with? The only chance we have is to restrict the opposition with possession and attacking football. Smith did say that we need to cut out the chances to the opposition, so hopefully, there’s a plan. I like what he said about goalies being good shot-stoppers; it’s their job so doesn’t mean anything!

  5. Avatar
    Originallondonlion November 3, 2018 at 9:21 am .

    Reading the above comments from bloggers and Dean about Grealish coming too deep reminded me of Fabian Delph’s debut (0-2 Wigan h). I was stunned and remarked to my mate it was the worst debut of a big money signing I could recall. In matches thereafter as I watched Delph in midfield running towards a Villa defender on the ball, shortening the pass distance but usually drawing an opponent with him, I wondered why he did it. nIn his mind he must have had low confidence about the defender’s ability to hit a longer pass with any accuracy.

    I suppose Jack has had similar doubts, and it does take a manager to change the star’s mind. He has to tell Jack to look for space further forward and give the defender 2 options, hit Jack or pass it square. If Jack does that and the defender’s longer ball always lacks accuracy – that is the manager’s problem he needs better skills at the back.

    1. Avatar
      badger123 November 3, 2018 at 7:15 pm .

      I definitely suspect Grealish doesn’t have much faith in some of our passing, OLL.
      The way we hit simple balls poorly is crazy.
      Mis-directed, fair enough, but under-hit?
      And it happens far too often.

    2. Avatar
      Big Fat Ron November 3, 2018 at 9:11 pm .

      Are you suggesting the defenders hoof it to Grealish??? Wasn’t that what was affectionately known as ‘Bruce-ball’?

      1. Avatar
        Pat 57 November 3, 2018 at 10:15 pm .

        When Busquets plays a long ball for Messi to run on to it’s hardly ‘hoofing’ – it’s just a long pass. It’s something that we need in our armoury to keep opposition defences honest when they press high.

        It can’t be done however when your best attacker is running back towards his own defence.

  6. Avatar
    ifiruledtheworld November 3, 2018 at 12:34 pm .

    Some interesting points made, agree with a lot. Certainly think we’ve played better in other games since Smith has come in, but any 3 points while we go through this transitional period is massive. Personally think top 6 is beyond us this season, our backline is just far too weak. Can we stay within touching distance come January and make any new signings click instantly? I’m not so sure, but I’d be happily surprised.

    One thing for certain is you can see the coaching that’s being done actually making its way onto the pitch, how refreshing is that? Grealish for me has gotten better with each game under Smith, and finally looked the standard he set himself last season last night. A goal and an assist, hopefully the start of many now! And Kodjia, we’ve all criticized him many times for being too selfish. Well, he certainly wasn’t last night. He’s been getting his head up a lot more and looking for a team mate, and I do think criticism on the likes of himself and Tammy are a bit harsh. Kodjia is just low on confidence, if Smith can get his head right we all know we have some player on our hands. As for Tammy, I can’t see where the criticism is coming from. Got a great assist last night, thought he was a constant nuisance and a better ball from Kodjia and he gets the goal. There was also one moment where he fought with a Bolton player for the ball, disposessing him near the half way line, which I thought was immense if I’m honest.

    I have to say I’m surprised, some of my predictions at Smith’s appointment haven’t come off yet. Thought Hogan and Bree would be two massive benefactors of him coming in, but Bree hasn’t even made the bench the last few games and they haven’t said anything about an injury as far as I’ve seen? Either way, I think it’s been said already but the most refreshing thing to see is his honest. We win 2-0 and he comes out and say it was probably our most average performance since he’s been here, gotta love that! One hell of a tough run coming up now, let’s see what it brings and not lose our heads.


    1. Avatar
      badger123 November 3, 2018 at 7:27 pm .

      I’d be interested to see some stats wrt how many chances Abraham and Kodjia have had this season.
      I like both players, but Abraham, to me at least, seems to miss boatloads.
      Perhaps this is the reason for him being criticised?

      As for the likes of Hogan and Bree, my SIL and myself had a brief conversation about the rest of the squad, during the game and his question was “how poor must they be, if they can’t get in the side?”
      It’s a point I’ve made on here and it makes you wonder.

      But you’re right, Smith knows exactly what those two have to offer.
      They’re obviously not showing much in training and it’s possibly down to the lack of games, at least in Bree’s case.

      1. Avatar
        ifiruledtheworld November 3, 2018 at 7:41 pm .

        Abraham’s touch and decision making seem to be what really lets him down I’d think. I remember against QPR in the dying seconds he took one touch too many and it allowed their defender to slide the ball out for a corner. I like his attitude and commitment though don’t think we can fault that, Kodjia I can’t help but feel as though he might be one Smith would offload in Jan and bring in an attacker more suited to his style. Someone like Ollie Watkins maybe?

        I think the reason Hogan can’t get in just yet is the tempo we’re playing atm Abraham is probably the better option. When we start firing on all cylinders maybe then Hogan can get a couple of starts under his belt. Bree, yeah it’s jusr baffling really. Perhaps it is down to match fitness.

  7. Avatar
    Holte66 November 3, 2018 at 7:59 pm .

    One full weeks training isn’t going to have a massive effect yet. The obvious thing he has done is put players in their favoured positions. Hutton at RB, Tuanzebe at CB and Taylor at LB. Grealish already looks much improved with Smith wanting him to play more in the final third. McGinn has great energy and will be our box to box midfielder. Hourihane sat deepest and was full of running (unlike Whelan) and offers a good option for Bjarnasson. Kodjas work rate has improved and Abraham will score his share of goals I’m sure. I really hope Bolasie can get to full match fitness because he offers more than Adomah. There are still improvements to be made but overall signs are promising we are moving in the right direction.

  8. Avatar
    Bill Pearson November 4, 2018 at 8:59 am .

    It’s took me time to catch up on Villa being in the Atlantic most of the time, I think your a little hard on Grealish Badger, all are proud that we have a player that eats and sleeps Villa. Is it that we expect more because of that? No doubt that our team up till yet haven’t gelled as we would like to see, but we haven’t them sort of player’s yet, like all I was very disappointed to find out we had lost them last two games but we do have to give it time.Will we beat the Scum? well I’ve got my seat tickets for the game and yes we will beat the Scum, why. because its like a cup match too us and that in itself brings that extra motivation. Keep the faith lads, we are the Villa.

    1. Avatar
      badger123 November 4, 2018 at 5:29 pm .

      Perhaps I am a bit harsh on Grealish, Bill.
      Personally, I think he’s a great player that offers something totally different to any other player in our squad.

      But I’m only conveying thoughts I’ve seen on other sites, in that Grealish slows down the attack because he takes too many touchs and often leaves the shot until it’s too late.

      It’s a strange one with him, but I just feel he can score and assist much more than he actually does.
      I think if he were to go to the likes of Spurs he’d be another level of “different gravy”, because he’d have quicker thinking players around him.

      Not that I want him to go!

      1. Avatar
        Bill Pearson November 4, 2018 at 5:43 pm .

        Hi Badger, get what your saying but my thoughts are with other players like Kodjia for one. Grealish is the player to keep, some of the others have to show some guts.

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