Villa 4-1 West Ham; A different game

Some of you might be old enough and perhaps a bit zany, like me, in having been Python and particularly Eric Idle and Rutles fans.
In which case I’m going to quote George Harrison and say “I’m shocked and stunned. Stunned, very stunned.”

This is how good I thought we were.
It was all quite strange, really.
The first 20 minutes bored me witless and it was like both sides were checking each other out and I was moaning like mad that it was all too slow and lazy.
But then I began to see another side to our game.

On the face of it, all we do is pass backwards.
But then I began to realise that West Ham had absolutely no answer to the way we were playing.
Teams are geared to the opposition going forward and attacking. But we didn’t do that.

I expected Moyes to counter our game somehow at half time, but he didn’t, which I find intriguing, because he’s no mug.
I’m not convinced it’s a system that will win all the time, but we actually outdid Spam’s midfield in any metric you like put out there, regardless of anything that the likes of Sky might say.

I haven’t seen anyone else say this yet, but I will;
I was in a bar full of Spammers.
I told them they’d just been taught a footballing lesson by a really good manager, who’s managing a very good side, that’s only going to improve.

And not one of them disagreed.

Make no mistake about this.
West Ham were spanked today.

Maybe we’re not as bad as I think we are, after all.

Anyone else harping back to the Sir Ron days?


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  1. John Read
    John Read October 22, 2023 at 10:33 pm . Reply

    Villa’s game plan under Emery seems to be to bore the opposition into surrender. Trouble is it bores the fans too.
    Every few minutes of excitement is preceded by 15 minutes of mind numbing nothingness. Players look for the safest, least daring pass, usually sideways or backwards. It’s infuriating to see a crossing opportunity ignored in favour of a return to the halfway line. It’s gutless, safety first football. Possession just for the sake of it. The results are undeniably excellent. But the style if play is sleep inducingly awful.

    1. Ardent Villain
      Ardent Villain October 22, 2023 at 10:42 pm . Reply

      I was saying the same – last season – but we’ve scored 23 goals in just 9 prem matches so far this season: that’s more than Mancs, Arsenal, L’pool, Spurs and Brighton (OK, Spuds have only played 8 so far). Only Newcastle have scored 1 more.

      We can hardly describe that as ‘safe’ or ‘boring’.

      1. John Read
        John Read October 23, 2023 at 8:04 pm . Reply

        It’s a quandary for sure Ardent. We are seeing the best results and goals for many years. And when the team string it together it’s a joy to watch. But the other 75 minutes of tedium are a high price to pay. And playing out from the back is frazzling my nerves. Ditto, Martinez playing chicken with oncoming forwards then rushing a pass to a defender who is tightly marked. I’ll never understand it or like it.

    2. BFR
      BFR October 23, 2023 at 5:59 am . Reply

      It’s called controlling a football match, John. Enjoy it.

      1. John Read
        John Read October 23, 2023 at 8:12 pm . Reply

        Youre right BFR, it IS controlling the match. But It’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Football is supposed to be entertaining and exciting. Endless sideways possession on the halfway line is not entertaining or exciting and certainly not enjoyable.

        1. The Chronicler
          The Chronicler October 24, 2023 at 8:26 am . Reply

          IS that what football is supposed to be? Is that historically true? Yes, you and I may like it to be buccaneer-style and if you’re content with a mid-table finish then so be it. But we, I think, would prefer to see Villa up with the other latter-day achievers that have won everything since 1992! Even in the Cups our attempts in the 4 finals have been largely pathetic since 2000.

          If you have a George Best or two in your team that can scythe through packed defences that would be great, but I don’t think that level of skill is quite there yet at Villa.

          For what it’s worth, the great Villa teams of long ago did not always play the buccaneer-style game. There are many records of how the old Villa had to tactically play their way through a game in order to win it.

          For the record, I didn’t see that much of the sidewards-backwards play by Villa in the West Ham match and, as I say, they only do it when they see a packed defence in front of them. Hence, until Villa obtained the lead through some intelligent passing Villa, (i.m.o.) were entitled to play a patient game.

          I prefer that approach than play the gung-ho style only to lose the ball for the opponent to break away and score.

          It’s about time we re-asserted Aston Villa as a great club by actually winning trophies rather than pussy-footing around. In my opinion!

          Importantly, the Villa are quietly re-gaining the respect of the football world in a way not seen since Ron Saunders. I liked BFR, but he never won a really major trophy did he (other than the FA Cup – the FL Cup is never the same to me)?

          1. John Read
            John Read October 24, 2023 at 4:04 pm . Reply

            “Is that what football is supposed to be ?”
            You don’t think football is meant to be exciting and entertaining ?
            That’s an odd viewpoint. What’s the alternative ?
            I don’t understand the prevailing mindset on here that possession football equals success while ‘buccaneer’ football equals failure.
            Bucaneer doesn’t have to mean blindly punting the ball upfield in hit and hope style. To me it means having more bravery and adventure and not spending ten minutes in the centre circle making safe three foot passes while the fans read their programmes for something to do. You are right in saying Villa don’t have the players to scythe through packed defences. Even if we did they probably wouldn’t be allowed to do it under the current masterplan. (Grealish at Man City being an example.) But nor have we got the players to play possession football. I’ve had heart attacks watching us mess about at the back and give the ball away. Ditto with Martinez playing chicken then urgently passing to a tightly marked defender who loses the ball.
            Ultimately, sport is all about differing opinions. ‘You pays your money and takes your choice.’ My opinion is that possession football is boring – even if the results are excellent.

            1. The Chronicler
              The Chronicler October 24, 2023 at 4:38 pm . Reply

              John, with respect, your comments seem to suggest that we’re watching the finished article. I’m sure it’s not. Emery’s work is evolving and so far it’s mostly been successful. I’m sure he knows there’s still a good deal of improvement to be achieved.

              Whether buccaneer football wins trophies (other than domestic Cups) is a moot point if you don’t have the players to successfully execute that approach. In the meantime I’m content to be bored for 15 minutes of the match if it means winning by 3, 4 or 6 goals.

              1. John Alan Read
                John Alan Read October 24, 2023 at 6:40 pm .

                Thanks Chronicler,

                Granted it is early days yet. After just one year, Emery has turned us from relegation to European candidates. There is no denying he is a genius. (A flawed genius in my humble opinion.) Possession football is here to stay. It is not just the Emery way, it is the modern football way. We will surely improve with better players and a few seasons of practice. But even watching other teams do it leaves me cold. Maybe we should resume this debate in a year or two when we’ve won the Champions League. Hopefully we’ll do it with exciting one touch passing football and not too much time spent in the centre circle. Vive La Difference !

              2. The Chronicler
                The Chronicler October 24, 2023 at 7:51 pm .

                Luv the comment about winning the Champions League next year! That’s tongue-in-cheek I’m sure, but I do believe it can only get better.

      2. John Read
        John Read October 23, 2023 at 8:18 pm . Reply

        You’re right BFR. It is controlling the match. It is also like watching paint dry. Football is supposed to be entertaining and exciting. Endless keep ball on the halfway line is neither, and certainly nothing I can enjoy.

        1. John Read
          John Read October 23, 2023 at 8:32 pm . Reply

          Sorry for the double post. There doesn’t seem to be a way to edit or delete !

    3. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand October 23, 2023 at 4:36 pm . Reply

      Sorry John but there’s no way I can agree with your summing up.
      Let’s go back to Remi Garde when villa played with absolutely no identity, we looked like a bad Sunday morning outfit ultimately leading to relegation.
      Enter potato Head and his championship Globe trotters, buying anyone of any consequence in that division and still playing like a bunch of disorganised amateurs.
      Enter Smithy, a vast improvement gets us were we need to be but all a little hit and miss, from the sublime to the ridiculous, no consistency.
      But still, thank you Smithy.
      Enter Mr G – enough said.
      Enter Saint Unai –
      Matches 85 – Wins 46 – Draws 18 – Losses 21 – Win % 58.54
      62 points from 31 games – 154 goals for – 109 against.
      John, add some silverware and it’s about as good as it gets.

      1. John Read
        John Read October 23, 2023 at 8:29 pm . Reply

        I can’t argue with the results or your assessment of previous managers. But I will never enjoy safety first keep ball. It makes my teeth ache.
        NB. Ref silverware. Emery threw away one of our best chances of silverware by fielding a weak side against Everton. He’s done it in Europe too. We have no strength in depth which is a worry.
        NB. Potato Head bought us John McGinn for £2m. So he’s saved from total damnation.

        1. The Ron Saunders Stand
          The Ron Saunders Stand October 23, 2023 at 9:08 pm . Reply

          And nota bene more 😁

  2. 1874 was a good year
    1874 was a good year October 22, 2023 at 11:22 pm . Reply

    As one of the pundits said today you usually get teams that are good at attacking but they leak goals. Then you get teams who are good at defending but find goals hard to come by. Villa are good at both.
    As for some above calling Villa ‘sleep inducing’ I have to 100% disagree. If the whole idea of the game is to score goals then we’re certainly doing that but we’re also managing the game as all the best teams do. I note that Man City were sometimes accused of the same thing at times but they haven’t done too badly, have they?

  3. Sidforever
    Sidforever October 23, 2023 at 8:08 am . Reply

    Unai is educating Villa players and us the fans. Before Unai we loved what I call “The Tony Daley” approach to football. It was fast, exciting but rarely had an end product!

    Unai comes along and educates the players. Keep the ball but continually probe and weight to move opposition players out of position or wait for one of them to switch off and pounce. When Villa get this opportunity they go for it. Look at the number of goals we are scoring. 11 home wins on the trot, second only to Man City in Premier points in 2023 and in Europe.

    I like Unai’s style of play. We play higher up the pitch and press the defenders and goal keeper into mistakes.

    And just think this season all this has been achieved without 4 key players from last year: Mings, Moreno, Ramsey and Buendia. With Moreno and Ramsey to return in the next few weeks I expect us to become even better. The two together will strengthen our left hand side. Moreno with his ability to get behind the defence and Ramsey’s ability to run through defences.

    So yes this is a different style of play, but it is superior to anything I’ve witnessed at Villa Park in the last 40 years. I’m

  4. The Chronicler
    The Chronicler October 23, 2023 at 8:40 am . Reply

    This debate is so interesting …. combined with the fact that we all seem to be wrinklies … that I feel obliged to join in.

    I claim some seniority by having been witness to Danny Blanchflower back in 1953, and Tommy Thompson and Johnny Dixon to boot. My favourite-ever player was Gerry Hitchens – he remains firmly my number one and I wish that Ollie had a means of srudying Gerry’s game. Not that Ollie is a bad player – he most certainly isn’t.

    But, yes, styles and playing conditions have changed so much. What I do miss is the level of sportsmanship – I saw a recording of Bobby Charlton in the 1966 semi-final v Portugal. After scoring a goal an opponent actually shook hands with him!

    But as to the current Villa. They are getting themselves together. It’s not quite all locked together yet, but I do believe it can only get better. I like the ride.

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 October 23, 2023 at 7:57 pm . Reply

      As you might guess, Hitchens is also my all time favourite – was fortunate to see him score twice on my first ever visit to VP in 1960 (although we could only draw).

      1. The Chroicler
        The Chroicler October 23, 2023 at 8:25 pm . Reply

        You were honoured! The game you saw might have been against Blackpool when Gerry chased down England’s right-back Jimmy Armfield, stole the ball from him and then cracked home a marvellous shot from a tight angle. Result 2-2 though, despite Gerry’s 2 goals.

        There were two games for me that season that stood out. The first when beating Blues 6-2 (Gerry hat-trick). The second the last game of the season when Johnny Dixon was recalled for his last game and he played a blinder, with Gerry scoring 2 as well in a 4-1 win.

        Up to that point Villa were a useful looking side that may well have won a trophy or two if Gerry had stayed. Him leaving interrupted development i.m.o.

        1. Hitchens60
          Hitchens60 October 24, 2023 at 7:34 am . Reply

          Spot on – Blackpool it was – 2-0 up at half time if memory serves correct. Taken by my ‘uncle’ who blamed me for us not winning and vowed never to take me again 🙂

          As he got older it was my privilege to take him – and yes, he did take me on many more occasions.

          Great memories.

    2. John Read
      John Read October 23, 2023 at 8:59 pm . Reply

      I don’t quite go back as far as Hitchens. So my favourite player would be a toss up between Willie Anderson (who came through Man Utd with George Best) or Brian Little. I think Little gets it. And his Villa team as a manager was one of the best to watch.

      1. The Chronicler
        The Chronicler October 24, 2023 at 8:40 am . Reply

        Gerry was just an out-and-out striker who I love above Little and others (like Cowans) because of his sheer single-minded approach to getting goals. 42 goals in season 1960-61, and his scoring of 10 goals over only 3 matches in 1959-60 is truly memorable.

        Not so sure about Willie, but Little and Cowans (and Blanchflower) were great at a different level and I loved them too, but it was Gerry’s sheer character that causes me to think mainly of him.

        But everyone has their own favourites.

  5. Gerry
    Gerry October 23, 2023 at 10:11 am . Reply

    Boring!!! I watch Formula One for the crashes, cock ups in the pits. I have always watched Villa but now you can’t take your eyes away waiting for those Rolls Royce moments. Zaniolo’s through ball inside the full back for Digne. McGinn’s controlled pass for Ollie to run on to and score. Ollie , not just once laying the ball back but twice, Konsa on their goal line winning a penalty and more and more and more. There are no mondays anymore.

  6. Ardent Villain
    Ardent Villain October 23, 2023 at 11:37 am . Reply

    I don’t know whether Badger & John are just playing Devil’s advocate here and winding us up, but if not, I think it’s time for some perspective.

    It’s now late October (not two weeks into August) – and we’re already / only (depending on how you look at it) a quarter of the way through this EPL season.
    We’re 5th in the table, but only 2 points off the top (Mancs & Arse), outscoring almost everyone else in the division – and no, I don’t think that any of the teams above us have had a ‘bad’ start to their seasons either.
    As Sidforever has pointed-out, we’ve done this without 4 key players who would in the normal course of events have played most of the time in most of our EPL games.

    And yet some people think we’re boring because we don’t play kick’n’run like everyone did back when we were all growing up.

    Of course it could all go pear-shaped by next April…

    In the meantime, think of what we’ve experienced between MON going in 2010 and Emery arriving a year ago: the games under McLeish (anti-football anyone?), Lambert, Garde, Di Matteo, Bruce (not all, tbf, but we were only in the Championship) and Gerrard.

    I know which I prefer, so enjoy it while it lasts.

  7. Texas Villan
    Texas Villan October 23, 2023 at 2:31 pm . Reply

    So definitely enjoying the debate on the style above, but a couple of things stood out to me yesterday…

    Our set piece delivery is awful right now. Every single corner we get, I dread because the ball comes in low, misplaced and feel like we’re missing so many opportunities for danger. What happened to Dougie’s pinpoint accurate corners scoring goals for us? And I also HATE when we waste an opportunity for delivery, play it short and let someone else fluff the delivery in the box. If the plan was for them to deliver the corner, just let them take the corner! I don’t see the point.

    Secondly, I was vocal about our defence from pre-season, watching Emery tweak things worried me. I was also seriously concerned about Torres’ ability to adapt to the league, but the last 3-4 games, I think he’s started to look really comfortable and the partnership between he and Konsa looks really strong. I actually thought Cash had a bit of an off-game yesterday and it seemed most of our play started at the centre-back and it really worked.

    I’ve watched too many players with ACL injury just never get back to the player they were – so the above is really important to me, as I genuinely don’t think we’ll ever see Mings back to the player he was; which is heart-breaking to me as he’s one of my favourite players.

    1. Ardent Villain
      Ardent Villain October 23, 2023 at 3:10 pm . Reply

      Definitely, they have tried to be a bit too-clever with some of the corners recently – like you, I think we’ve wasted a few.

      And like you, I do fear that in Mings we’ve lost one of the most influential players we have, probably for good. By the time he’s fit-enough to play at all, he’s likely to find it quite difficult to get back into the team, against the likes of Torres, Carlos, etc.

      While we’re talking about the defence: Digne and Cash may not be the most solid defenders ever (which I think was shown in the beating we took at Anfield) but they’re definitely adding to our attack. I’m sure that I saw a stat somewhere in one of the ‘papers’ over the weekend that said Digne has made more crosses into the box so far this season than anyone else in the league.

      I’m old enough to remember that we had one of the original ‘wing backs’ in English football under Sir Ron – in the form of John Gidman; he could actually do both attack and defend pretty well, but I do recall some fans even back then saying that he should stick to one or the other!

      1. BFR
        BFR October 23, 2023 at 7:16 pm . Reply

        Steve Staunton is my personal favourite for best wingback. If Roberto Carlos had scored the goals Staunton did, they’d been on every best goals compilation available…

    2. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand October 23, 2023 at 3:26 pm . Reply

      I’d agree with that Tex, never quite the same and time isn’t on his side either.

  8. OLL again
    OLL again October 23, 2023 at 3:21 pm . Reply

    I am staggered to read The Chronicler recalling football in 1953. That being the last coronation year – I was asked this year what I remembered about it apart from QE2 coronation. Answer: Chicken-pox and face-planting in the isle of a trolley-bus. The initial acceleration of 8 wheel electric traction a painful novelty to a kid who had only known diesel buses.

    I agree with Ardent that today’s pitches make Villa’s style possible. We have improved at playing that way since the season started so the return games v Liverpool and Newcastle are eagerly awaited – can they tonk us again?

    I did not find it boring! Prior to k.o. I was nervous – West Ham had been a real bogey team under Moyes. They started confidently but the Villa move that ended with Ollie dragging a shot wide shocked them because they had been taken apart without losing a physical challenge.

    Texas makes a good point. Would Mings with one guaranteed gaffe per game get back in the side, or Buendia who gets brushed aside? Finally: Moreno – would he? Because Digne has been brilliant since he returned.

    1. Bum Bum
      Bum Bum October 23, 2023 at 7:07 pm . Reply

      Digne has been a revelation. Can’t disagree there.

      1. Hitchens60
        Hitchens60 October 23, 2023 at 8:02 pm . Reply

        Possibly not (Moreno) but we could do with cover and choices at left back where we are vulnerable to an injury to Digne.

    2. Ardent Villain
      Ardent Villain October 23, 2023 at 8:15 pm . Reply

      Digne has been brilliant going forwards all season; a large proportion of our play in recent games has been down the left, and he’s been at the heart of most of it.

      All of which makes it seem strange that there were so many ‘rumours’ in the latter stages of August that Villa ‘wouldn’t stand in his way, etc.,’ if he was to go back to France.

    3. John Read
      John Read October 24, 2023 at 2:47 pm . Reply

      Badger, I agree with you 100% And you are definitely not a lone voice.
      I go to the matches with quite a few ‘youngsters’ – 19 up to 50ish.
      They too are often bored and critical of the endless ‘keep ball.’ Like me, they get infuriated when the chance of a cross or an exciting pass are ignored for a safety pass back up the field. The lack of adventure, imagination or the bravery to try something daring has been replaced with robotic football that must follow the masterplan.
      Yes, we get the occasional burst of excitement but the longwinded tedium to get there is unbearable.
      As we’ve seen with Grealish at Man City, the mavericks who get fans out of their seats have it trained out of them until they become another clone passing sideways and backwards. I would guarantee that if a team played ‘old fashioned’ football, eg. Ferguson’s Man Utd or Keegan’s Newcastle, the fans would love it and realise how tedious the modern possession game is.

      1. BFR
        BFR October 24, 2023 at 7:53 pm . Reply

        John, I fully understand what you’re saying but it simply does not work like that any more. If we tried that we’d be relegation candidates. It is sad, I agree, but better we succeed doing it the modern way than fail as we usually have in recent times trying to be something a. We don’t have the players for and b. Wily coaches and good players will exploit all day long. The style of play you’re looking for sounds something like a Mr Timothy Sherwood attempted. I’ll allow you to draw your own conclusions from that.

        1. John Read
          John Read October 24, 2023 at 11:09 pm . Reply

          I’ve said elsewhere on here, I don’t understand the attitude that buccaneering football (for want of any other description) equals failure. To me, that betrays a defeatist attitude and also lacks imagination. A good coach playing that system with good players would be a match for most ‘possession’ teams. You are right, we don’t have the players to do it now but nor do we have the players for possession football. (A rock and a hard place.)
          * I liked Sherwood and what he was trying to do. He wasn’t given a decent chance.

  9. BFR
    BFR October 24, 2023 at 5:12 am . Reply

    Badger, all very well in theory if we had unlimited players who were actually cyborgs who can’t get injured and won’t ever get tired from the heavy fixture schedule. Unai manages each match accordingly and we also agreed recently that he’s managing the season. Even the very best teams don’t play full throttle for the whole match.

    Anyway, a huge match away to Spurs at the end of November. Let’s hope we’re still in the mix in a month’s time. They are clearly benefitting from having no midweek European games this season…

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 October 24, 2023 at 7:43 am . Reply

      That’s the ‘worry’ if we continue to progress in Europe although at this point in the season with a relatively small squad (primarily because of injuries) I think Emery will continue to ring the changes on Thursday.

      I was listening to a MOMS podcast in the week and it was suggested that – following the owners remit – Emery is focussed primarily on qualifying for The Champions League particularly with the possibility of England being awarded a fifth qualifying spot this season.

      1. Ardent Villain
        Ardent Villain October 24, 2023 at 10:50 am . Reply

        Agreed. It’s clear from the European & cup games we’ve already played that we don’t have the quality in depth (and that is largely down to the big injuries we’ve already seen) that we need at the moment.

        As soon as the likes of Olsen, Tielemans and Dendonker are named as starters, you know that we’re going to struggle in the game. Hopefully we will see Ramsey back soon, at least that will add more options, but I do worry that we still lack real quality cover for Cash and Martinez 9to name just two).

        The days of Sir Ron using only 14-15 players across a whole season to win the league are unfortunately long gone…

  10. 1874 was a good year
    1874 was a good year October 24, 2023 at 1:37 pm . Reply

    I find this debate about ‘swashbuckling’ football a bit strange. Of course, the most important thing is that we’re winning and that we’re also scoring bucket loads of goals, but why do people find the way we play football unattractive?
    Playing possession football generally wins games (and don’t cite Leicester as an example, they were a truly a once in a century phenomenon). It works for all the top teams just watch Bayern, Barca, Real and Man City for example.
    What I don’t get is that I actually find this type of football attractive. It shows that here’s a team that knows what it’s doing and who are intelligent enough to follow a plan set by an elite manager. Passing sideways and backwards at times is 100% better than giving possession away and letting the opposition control the game. Of course, if that is all you did it would be boring. However, biding your time, controlling the game and then striking when the chance presents itself can IMHO be quite fascinating to watch.
    It puts on display the skills of our players and the mastery of our manager so what’s not to like?

  11. Holte
    Holte October 24, 2023 at 6:58 pm . Reply

    It’s an interesting debate regarding the current style of play adopted by Emery. Initially I admit that I found it dull to watch but just like the players themselves, I feel like I’m being educated in the reason for the possession, even if it’s backwards and sideways.
    The sole purpose is to let the ball do the work and tire the opposition in having to chase to win the ball back. It’s a case of slow, slow, boom!
    Remember the old days when the goalkeeper could pick the ball up from a back pass? That was also dull to watch. Martinez now has to play the ball with his feet and his confident in his ability to pass when being chased down. True it gives me heart palpitations but we do seem to be eliminating the errors.
    Emery is a year into his time at Villa and is now getting the credit he deserves. Our squad isn’t the biggest partly because of injuries but if we keep in the top 6 till January, then I’m confident our owners will bring in quality reinforcements.
    I was surprised by our ‘hammering’ of West Ham and bit by bit I’m starting to believe again. After 13 years of underachieving, could we be a team to shake up the big boys? As Kevin Keegan said, I would love it if we beat them, love it! How great is it to see the likes of Sky and it’s biased pundits squirm as Villa and Brighton upset the establishment.
    Long may it continue.

  12. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum October 24, 2023 at 11:39 pm . Reply

    The way I see it is we do keep the ball but instead of making the same backwards or sideways balls like before, now we probe. It doesn’t take long for one of our players to find the most unexpected killer pass that none of us saw coming. It’s like watching a geometric puzzle coming to fruition. Astounding at times. Yes the first 20 minutes or so against Spam, we were finding our feet and rhythm. Them we moves up a gear or three…I was never bored.
    On Jack, like the revitalised Spuds, we were too reliant on one player and now both Villa and Spuds are ‘Teams’. And i don’t wish to be detrimental to Jack or Harry who are both great players but it’s about balance.
    I’m truly excited about January as i think we’ll see a couple more great additions to the squad. Usually teams get a new manager bounce, but Emery’s continuation this season is again astonishing so he’ll be backed once again considering the loss of so many first teamers.
    Lovely stuff!!!!!

  13. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 October 25, 2023 at 7:13 am . Reply

    Badger, John – if Emery suddenly morphs into Sherwood and we start playing ‘buccaneering’ football with risky long passes or cross field balls – by the way is that hoof ball – and start losing, dropping down the table which I believe is what will happen; will you applaud or complain?

    As an example I cite Brighton (who you might hold up as an example in your arguments) and who we dismantled 6-1 or Spam 4-1 by playing through their lines.

    Now, against Spam we lost control in midfield for around 10 minutes after they scored – giving the ball away on a number of occasions – and looked very vulnerable; in fact before Watkins superb goal they looked the more likely to score.

    Football is about scoring goals – 17 in four home matches – and all sport is surely about winning?

    I think I’d like to stick with the Emery we have.

    1. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand October 25, 2023 at 4:19 pm . Reply

      I wasn’t going to enter this debate well in fact I’m not but what I will say is the stats speak for themselves. Any manager with a win % exceeding 58% is (Imo) doing something right.
      Boring? I think not. Boring is getting spanked week in week out, playing with any identity and that was AVFC not so long back.
      Maybe a bit of a reality check is in order?
      We come so far in such a short time so maybe some are suffering with cognitive dissonance?

      1. Ardent Villain
        Ardent Villain October 25, 2023 at 4:54 pm . Reply

        OK, I’m repeating myself (again…): If anyone wants to recall what ‘boring’ was really like, just think of any game under McLeish or Lambert.

        It really wasn’t that long ago, and we usually lost, as well!

        1. The Ron Saunders Stand
          The Ron Saunders Stand October 25, 2023 at 7:01 pm . Reply

          Remember McNose against Man ure?
          McNose’s master plan was to park the bus in a feeble effort to stall Man U’s creative juices but whoops the plan goes awry after a mere 20 minutes when they unforgivably put a spanner in this work of footballing genius and score.
          Then the worst 70 minute borefest of non-football possible ever witnessed at VP unfolds.
          Now that’s boring football.

  14. Holte
    Holte October 25, 2023 at 9:05 pm . Reply

    I’m not quite old enough to remember but my brother who is 10 years older than me says that if it wasn’t for injuries, Keith Leonard would have been a great striker for us. If anyone remembers him on here, it would be good to hear other opinions on him.
    His misfortune lead to Andy Gray signing for us and he turned out alright!

    1. John Read
      John Read October 25, 2023 at 10:46 pm . Reply

      Leonard was an excellent footballer and the first player I remember who had a huge throw in that could reach well into the penalty area. Very exciting.

    2. Ardent Villain
      Ardent Villain October 25, 2023 at 11:22 pm . Reply

      I do remember him (although not the long throw) in a brilliant combination with Brian Little, especially the season that we were promoted back into the 1st Division.

    3. Ardent Villain
      Ardent Villain October 25, 2023 at 11:31 pm . Reply

      You’ve also jogged my memory about another superb player from that same period who had his career cut short early; John Robson, who was daignosed with MS at the age of 28 and had to stop playing.

    4. 1874 was a good year
      1874 was a good year October 25, 2023 at 11:57 pm . Reply

      Keith was a terrific forward and, from memory, was quite a physical unit. Unfortunately, he was one of the very many exciting young players who got injured and never really recovered from it. For those who think that modern players are mollycoddled, they should remember the thousands of young hopefuls in years past who got crocked at an early age because of small squads, too much football and no medical science.
      Thankfully things are better today in that respect.

      1. Ardent Villain
        Ardent Villain October 26, 2023 at 11:15 am . Reply

        1874, agree completely. You mention “too much football” – how true.
        In that 1974/75 season there were 42 league games in the 2nd Division, we also played (only) 3 FAC games, but on the way to winning the League Cup we also played 10 games (because of replays and 2-legged semi-finals).

        That’s 55 competetive matches, and in those days the season itself was not spread out through 10+ months of the year as it is now. Looking back now, I seem to remember Villa games almost every Wednesday night throughout the season, although that may just be a distorted memory on my part!

        Add to that the state of most pitches, especially by the time you got to the winter-proper, and it’s quite amazing that many players did actually manage to have lengthy careers at all.

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