Villa 3 – 1 Barnsley; Whatever you think, you can’t knock it.

If I’d had time to do a preview, it was going to be something along the lines of “well, we beat the Tykes 3-0 on their patch, so surely we can expect the same today?”
To then counter that it just doesn’t work like that and anything was likely to happen, because it’s the Villa after all, isn’t it?

I saw via my phone during a smoke break, that we’d gone one up after just five minutes via Scott Hogan.
And that was the last I heard/saw until I was driving home and listening to WM on the radio, where to my delight I found we’d won and Hogan had got another, along with a third by Hourihane, very ably assisted by some incisive play by Jack Grealish.

I feel I should hold my hands up a little here.
It wasn’t so long ago that I said I couldn’t see Scott Hogan ever scoring many for us, as although I thought he makes all the right runs, so we don’t play to suit him.
Likewise Grealish, who I’ve acknowledged is a cut above anyone else we have at the club, yet I never felt he’d be the right player for Aston Villa and would be better suited elsewhere.
Well, that’s now two good games on the trot they’ve had, with Hogan now scoring 4 in three games and Grealish apparently pulling the strings again.
It’s seriously beginning to look like I might have been totally wrong on both counts and long may it continue.
I guess I’m just fickle.

It’s the same on my views of Steve Bruce really and my opinions will vary depending on how we’ve performed and more importantly, the results we’ve got. After all, the latter is all that counts, isn’t it?

Which yet again, just goes to show what a funny old game it is.
How long ago was it that we were 10 points off second and all looked doom and gloom?
I said last week, that we were beginning to look in a very decent position and with Wolves losing and Derby drawing, we’re looking even better today.
My point here is, that although I’ve blown hot and cold with regards to Bruce, so I’ve consistently said that I believe he’s the right man for us.
As it stands, I can’t see anything changing my mind, even if we fail to get promotion this season.
If we do fail, well, that’ll be another story.

I gave my Derby workmate some abuse/banter about the Bristol City result this morning and when it stopped, he admitted that in his eyes the race for second is now between Derby and us.
What was more interesting, is that when I pointed out that Derby have a seriously bad recent record of running out of steam in the last couple of months, so he conceded that I was right and it’s a worry.

I also temporarily have in my midst, a couple of Smoggy supporters, who after a very brief conversation, seem quite knowledgeable. Plenty of room for a bit of banter there, I reckon, which is great, because I love it.

Not much else to say, except all us Villa fans will no doubt be very content for this weekend.
Well, I’d be a lot more content if I didn’t have to work tomorrow; but we can’t have everything can we?

I’ll take automatic promotion as compensation, ta very much.

Please let it be so and we worry about being in the Prem if it happens.

Of course, I’m too long in the tooth to take anything for granted, which raises another point.
I heard a Wolves fan slating his club for having a monster pre-game fireworks display today, where he felt like they were celebrating without having won anything and maybe slacked off.

It’s a good point. While we’ve done nowt yet, so we need to keep the effort at 100%. Which Bruce himself suggested was a bit of an issue today, where we were also a bit slack and apparently let them back into the game too easily.
This is the part I like about Bruce and what makes him the best bet currently.
He’ll let them know we can’t afford that, in no uncertain terms.

And there I think I really have finished, although lots of thoughts/possibilities are streaming through my head.

Enough.
Well done lads and Up the Villa!

Oh and well done you people who have kept the debate going in my absence.
That’s the whole point of the site, where any stuff I chat is only meant to raise a few points.
It’s great to see you all move things on and update each other, as well as myself.
Cheers.

112 Comments

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  1. B6 January 20, 2018 at 8:11 pm . Reply

    Forget second, we’ll win this division.

    Whilst Wolves may have the best team we def have the strongest squad.

    Wolves will finish in the playoffs with us and Derby going up.
    UTV

    1. Andrew January 20, 2018 at 9:54 pm . Reply

      Difference is, Wolves have money to spend to make their team better. And the best agent around on their side. They’ll slip up on occasion but I wouldn’t get too hopeful they’ll slip up enough for us to take over 1st.

      1. badger123 January 20, 2018 at 11:31 pm . Reply

        Tut tut, Andrew, you really ought to know better.
        Spending means jack in this league, as we saw last season.
        This league is most about who has the most bottle, imo.

        While I very much doubt we’ll catch Wolves now, you never know.
        I think it was 2003 that still haunts them.

        And while you can always improve things, so I think our squad isn’t too far away from what’s required.

        The point is, it’s still all there to be played for, imo.

        1. Andrew January 21, 2018 at 1:06 am . Reply

          Oh I’m starting to believe we can get 2nd, and you’re right, we spent a lot and screwed up. But I believe Wolves have proven so far that they know who to sign. 18 games is a lot but Wolves have only lost 4 games all season, we’d have to hope for them to lose at least 4 while we win every single game left and an 11 goal difference. That’s a big hope. But I agree we’re looking decent.

          1. B6 January 21, 2018 at 6:16 am .

            We’ve gained 5 points on them over the last 2 games.

            Have a little faith Andrew.

            UTV

          2. Andrew January 21, 2018 at 8:50 am .

            Wolves still have to completely collapse and we have to be perfect. If within the next 10 games we’re within a win of taking them over, then I’ll have that faith. But I’m far more confident we’re going up, and Agnew has done wonders with how we use possession now.

  2. Bill Pearson January 20, 2018 at 9:23 pm . Reply

    Grealish has seen the light, he was just like all young men are enjoying life, I think he now realize what talent he has, he was the man in the middle today and run that position, I’ve been reading the reports and all are saying he’s come on a bundle, may it continue. UTV.

    1. Hitchens60 January 20, 2018 at 9:45 pm . Reply

      Bill – I agree but I think there is another aspect that’s very important and seems to have developed since his kidney injury. He’s definitely bulked out and is stronger and fitter (his work rate and tracking back is vastly improved) than he’s ever been. Add to that, that he’s now playing in the number 10 role rather than out wide and we have the makings of a very special player.

      Just needs to add a few more goals – never satisfied are we?

  3. Villain1 January 20, 2018 at 10:15 pm . Reply

    2 things that have a made a big positive difference:
    1) Steve Agnew – overall the team is more positive and less likely to sit back. We’ve cut that dreadful caution at all costs approach which has been the Bruce trademark. I strongly believe this is down to Agnew, as is Hogan’s improved confidence
    2) The removal of Whelan from the starting 11 – Bjarnasson greater energy and movement has benefitted the players both infront and behind him. Whelan starting is worse than playing with 10 men because his stupid errors always are going to cost you goals. Bruce bringing him on today was a worrying sign, as he shouldn’t wear a Villa shirt again IMO.

    If we can keep Hogan fit, Whelan out the team and get Grealish hitting his potential consistently for the first time, 2nd place is achievable.

    1. Owen January 21, 2018 at 12:25 am . Reply

      Whelan started 3 of last 4 so I think your being very harsh.

    2. originallondonlion January 21, 2018 at 10:21 am . Reply

      All players make mistakes, how damaging the mistake is depends on what cover you have. Whelan’s colleagues are not expecting him to screw up so nobody is playing to pick up the pieces from his errors. If you remember Delph playing for Villa he was a perfect example. He is a good player but he would often join in the back line with nobody behind him or expecting him to lose possession. But Delph would try a midfielder’s trick to beat an opponent. Failure led to a goal. A defender in that position would hoof the ball clear.
      Right now though Bjarnasson is playing better than he did when he arrived and Whelan is playing worse, so the swap is merited.

  4. Bill January 20, 2018 at 11:15 pm . Reply

    Grealish man of the match in my book. He’s really maturing and looks very comfortable in the centre of the park. The whole team played very well though. Even the Icelander seems to have found a role.
    UTV

  5. nath January 21, 2018 at 7:34 am . Reply

    i thought this site would be happy we are within touching distance of promotion places. we also proven we can beat the top 6 7 8 sides now. which wasn’t the issue for me. i said also from day one top two was were we should be finishing. its not over, but its so pleasing we have finally knitted into a better side than the side which started this season indifferently.

    for those that remember last time we played this level, we were one of of the best and biggest clubs in the division. but it was far from easy back then. only gaining promotion on the final day. first half of season, we couldn’t win at home. it was only the away performances which kept us in touch.

    myself and a few posters have been a little critical over players not working with possession and without. this was a small gripe and had justification, nobody cant say this has not been addressed. whether its the new coach or things finally clicking into place. we still are not the best team in the division in certain areas. movements is much better, but still behind a few other teams. working without ball / pressing is better but is not the best again in this league.

    grealish was brilliant yesterday, i believe if we mess up this season, he will be sold to the premiership. he is that good, their will be about 10 premier clubs all wanting a player who can unlock defences. hogan is another player i am delighted to see him come good. i never doubted him, it was always if we could managed to support him. i doubted this because we just never reached the areas he thrived in. crosses were never flashed in front of goal. but we are now supporting him with real chances and hes scoring what a coincidence

  6. nath January 21, 2018 at 8:08 am . Reply

    b6 and myself both predicted only 2 correct from 5 selected fixtures. if their is anybody out there can do better, lets have it. try to post on thursday / friday morning . b6 your selections were again good prices and worth a punt hard luck,

    1. B6 January 21, 2018 at 9:46 am . Reply

      Always next week Nath. 😉

  7. Bill Pearson January 21, 2018 at 9:40 am . Reply

    That incident with the ref put a smile on my face, one for the archive that, Elohamady what’s your thought on him ? me looked a bit suspect getting back but attribute to crossing a ball now and again, Nath not a gambling man but I’m sure someone will come forward to help, well I said two players will be in shortly , I can say this, the Man utd player was at the match, he was seen being greeted by Johnston and his car drove up to the doors with his family, interesting that.

    1. originallondonlion January 21, 2018 at 10:10 am . Reply

      Bill others have posted for weeks that Hogan was a good player not getting the service he needed to show it. This is true and I can explain the mechanics of it.

      The problem Villa had since Albrighton was sold was the lack of quality about crosses from the right wing, there was no right winger so they were coming from the fullback. Elmohamedy and Snodgrass have cured that. What Hutton was dong was lobbing over a high cross on a 45 degree diagonal trajectory. Meaning that Hogan had a 135 degree angle between the ball and the goal. Now the right winger is getting much further forward and is often laying the ball back or at worst crossing at right angles. Hogan can keep the ball, goal and defenders in view without turning his head.

      1. Bill Pearson January 21, 2018 at 10:40 am . Reply

        OLL, I agree that he is more clinical with his cross but I noticed Barnsley was attacking us on our right side and centre , don’t get me wrong he is a better player in his roll than Hutton, so why if it happens are we seeking a player from Man Utd. ?

        1. nath January 21, 2018 at 11:11 am . Reply

          that utd player wont be a replacement for elmo or the first choice centre backs or even the holding midfield position. he will be a small part squad player, his arrival would allow villa to cover squad player departures.

      2. CA Villan January 21, 2018 at 1:32 pm . Reply

        Sad thing is Albrighton wasn’t sold, Lambert let his contract expire and released him. Good luck Stoke!

    2. nath January 21, 2018 at 10:16 am . Reply

      i am after some tips as my luck is rubbish this season. b6 is picking similar to myself and he has done this before i can tell. i don’t want the obvious odds on tips. its only a five fold bet so i need fairly good prices above or just below odds on.

      this man utd player we have been linked with, i am told he is a very good player. haven’t seen him myself, but mates that have seen him think hes a good prospect. one liked him to brown, thou he never fulfilled his early promise. he is apparently not just a centre back. can play number of positions even in midfield.

      Elphick and Ritchie De Laet and maybe Birkir Bjarnason could all leave if their values matched. this utd player could cover them all, its not ideal but maybe our finances need to be balanced.

      promotion is crucial this season, nothing else matters. we get promoted and we get tv money guaranteed. we then can prepare for the premiership and that will mean a new squad etc. but we fail this season we have no tv money no parachute. they will sell grealish i reckon to cover the lost revenues, clubs offering 25mill above will be vultures circling our best assets and we sell sell sell

  8. nath January 21, 2018 at 10:27 am . Reply

    its not just we were crossing from too deep. not getting to the byline crossing parallel to goal line. our wide men especially snodgrass were cutting inside too often, the team are now attacking the wide areas, much more than before christmas. where we were really easy to stop as we were attacking them in ones and twos. now grealish and the full back are helping our both wingers to reach the better crossing areas.

  9. DSVilla January 21, 2018 at 12:37 pm . Reply

    Fantastic 3 points. Hogan is the real deal and is finally getting a run in the team and the service he needs. Is it me or are we getting more men forward in attack? The players look as if they are enjoying it too, and are showing more belief. Maybe it is down to Agnew but I don’t really care as long as we play like we all know we are capable of.

    Grealish seems to have matured. Nice for him to be making headlines in the sports pages rather than elsewhere.

    If we continue to improve we have a great chance of automatic promotion. i really wouldn’t fancy the play offs. Way too much stress!

Right or Wrong? What do YOU think?

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