Villa – Blackburn; Bruce in last chance saloon?

Back to the proper footy then and it’s Blackburn away tomorrow.
The good news is, it’s a 5.30pm kick off, so I’ll get to see it.

Straight into team news and it’s not good on Blackburn’s part, as Dominic Samuel and Ben Gladwin have been pretty much ruled out for the season. Jack Rodwell is unlikely to make it.
On the plus side (for them), Bradley Dack might play after recovering from a knee problem.

The news on our part is that Hogan is ready and of course, Tammy Abraham and Yannick Bolasie will be available.
Which makes things interesting, as our striker and winger situation suddenly look pretty good.

The big question for me is does Bruce go with one or two up front?
I’m guessing Abraham is guaranteed to start and Hogan won’t get a look in.
I’m also guessing that Kodjia will be dropped and it’ll be Abraham up top on his own, scratching for bits, just as Kodjia often does.
If so, I think that’ll be a mistake and I’d like to see Abraham and Kodjia given a stint together.

Bruce has often talked about how we should go two up front, but let’s see if he does it, now he’s got the chance.

If Bruce goes one up front, I predict the fans will be on his back straight away.
Why add another striker if we only ever go with one ineffective one, because we don’t play to his needs, anyway?

If we’re going to use wingers to keep lobbing the balls in, either get a battering ram who might get on the end of them or double your chances by putting two strikers in there, in my opinion.
But what do I know?

It would seem I know nothing about defence, along with most of us, if Bruce’s “I know what I’m doing” attitude is to go by.
I’m the same as the rest of us, in thinking that letting De Laet go out on loan is quite bizarre, especially when coupled with Elphick also being loaned out.

But at the same time, I can partly see why these players have gone.
I strongly suspect that Bruce was told that the only way he could bring players in, was to balance the books and both defenders were touted as being on high wages.
It all makes sense on paper, as for whatever reason, Bruce just doesn’t rate (or most likely just doesn’t get on with), the two defenders.
Which is fine. That’s the manager’s prerogative to play the players he thinks are best suited to the team.

But to so unbalance the squad is for me, bordering totally unforgivable.

A poor result here won’t immediately cost Bruce his job.
But should we lose, the clamour for his head will make his sacking very hard for our owners to resist in the near future.

I’ve previously said that I don’t think Bruce has long left as our manager.
But I’d be very happy if he proved me wrong and we go on a monster winning streak.
That’s all I want to see. The Villa winning.
Whatever manager we have doesn’t really matter, although it would be a plus if we played with some verve and panache.

My prediction?
We need a confident performance and to get back to winning ways quickly.

One each, if our defence can have at least an average game.

102 Comments

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  1. Holte66 September 15, 2018 at 10:13 pm .

    Hourihane seemed a bit dejected after the game when interviewed. Probably feels hard done by being dropped despite scoring consistently. I like McGinn but will he score as many goals? Could Bruce change his ways and play a 4-4-2 to accommodate them both, or rotate them better than he is at the moment. One thing is certain and that is anything other than a Villa win at home to Rotherham should see him instantly dismissed. If you have Sky you can watch the game on the red button.

    1. Big Fat Ron's Claret & Blue Army September 15, 2018 at 11:42 pm .

      Hourihane being dropped is one in a long list of errors by the manager. For me, McGinn is straight replacement for Snodgrass, not Hourihane, so no logical reason to drop him. His record of goals and assists speaks for itself. Bruce has weakened the team by taking him out. While we’re on it, ‘Super Jack’ is not a 30 million player – never has been. What does he actually contribute? Goals? Nope. Assists?

      Anyway, I don’t think we can go up this season with the way things are. Bruce’s comments about promising Axel he’ll play are disgraceful. Nobody has a right to play, least of all players who are not even Villa’s. Likewise, his comments about ‘stockpiling’ defenders were equally baffling, as were those about Bree and Jedi (penny still not dropped?) playing there.

      Bruce should swallow his pride, go for broke, and play a team that looks something like this on Tuesday:

      Any GK (all not good enough – Bruce’s fault)
      Hutton LB
      Elmo RB
      Chester
      Axel (nobody else unfortunately – should’ve been Elphick)
      McGinn (right)
      Hourihane
      Grealish (free role behind strikers)
      El Ghazi (left)
      Kodja
      Abraham

      …with the aim of smashing Rotherham and making a statement. Once 3-0 up, can put a holding mid on to protect, but not before! Lots of crosses, lots of through balls, lots of goals please!

      UTV

    2. Hitchens60 September 16, 2018 at 7:16 am .

      Holte – on present form I think Hourihane offers more than Grealish who did very little in yesterday’s game?

      Given that Bruce is not about to drop Grealish why not, as you suggest, play Hourihane with Grealish and McGinn at home to Rotherham with McGinn acting as the DM?

      Sky pundit comment – ‘I don’t see a team here’ is right on the money and a massive criticism of Bruce. We might have the ‘best’ squad of players in the Championship but football is a team game – if you can’t sort it Bruce then move over for someone that can.

      1. Saddened September 16, 2018 at 8:48 am .

        I agree with the pundit H60, some managers would salivate over coaching our squad of players – complete lack of cohesion and no tactics.
        He WAS a promotion specialist, but the game has moved on and Bruce’s tactics haven’t – he needs to go now, before we have another wasted season.

    3. Big Fat Ron's Claret & Blue Army September 16, 2018 at 9:11 pm .

      Hourihane being dropped is one in a long list of errors by the manager. For me, McGinn is straight replacement for Snodgrass, not Hourihane, so no logical reason to drop him. His record of goals and assists speaks for itself. Bruce has weakened the team by taking him out. While we’re on it, ‘Super Jack’ is not a 30 million player – never has been. What does he actually contribute? Goals? Nope. Assists?

      Anyway, I don’t think we can go up this season with the way things are. Bruce’s comments about promising Axel he’ll play are disgraceful. Nobody has a right to play, least of all players who are not even Villa’s. Likewise, his comments about ‘stockpiling’ defenders were equally baffling, as were those about Bree and Jedi (penny still not dropped?) playing there.

      Bruce should swallow his pride, go for broke, and play a team that looks something like this on Tuesday:

      Any GK (all not good enough – Bruce’s fault)
      Hutton LB
      Elmo RB
      Chester
      Axel (nobody else unfortunately – should’ve been Elphick)
      McGinn (right)
      Hourihane
      Grealish (free role behind strikers)
      El Ghazi (left)
      Kodja
      Abraham

      …with the aim of smashing Rotherham and making a statement. Once 3-0 up, can put a holding mid on to protect, but not before! Lots of crosses, lots of through balls, lots of goals please!

      UTV

  2. Bill Pearson September 16, 2018 at 9:59 am .

    I’m surprise Hitch thinking Hourihane has more to offer than Grealish .Grealish is a model midfielder in my eyes but when he dropped back to cover Taylor’s roll things upset the play.Hourihane has the talent to strike a ball and get it to curve and was a superb piece of skill.but I think Gealish has quolaties to the likes of (as said on tv) Gascoigne with body movement .it’s only what I think Hitch.

    1. Hitchens60 September 16, 2018 at 2:01 pm .

      Bill, I agree with you on the the tactical change – I’ve said before in each game Adomah has been subbed we’ve conceded shortly after. He provides protection on the left side of our defence – yet he gets a lot of criticism and Bruce likewise for playing him, yesterday exactly the same – Adomah off, Kodjia on and Grealish asked to do a job he’s not good at.

      On Grealish himself he seems to me to be going through the motions and is not the player he was at the end of last season – where’s his drive and energy gone? Hourihane might not be as gifted but he brings energy and he scores plenty of goals and, just at the moment I think he dies offer more. In my very humble opinion Grealish needs to up his game. Bill, I think you remarked on it yourself that his failed move to the prem might well have demotivated him.

  3. nath September 16, 2018 at 10:22 am .

    better team performance yesterday, but still massive room for improvements. players still yet to gel into a functional team. but second half i saw a better team performance, draw was fair result.

    i think Hourihane offers more than grealish BUT only as the up and down midfielder and also on current form. i can[t understand restricting grealish, having him play as a conventional midfielder. means hes wasting energy on stuff hes not really good at, hes not the best without the ball, tracking / seeing danger or even tackling.

    we are still lacking without the ball. slow with the ball hopefully these issues will be eradicated when they gel. good to see axel play cb and i think bruce was always going to play him there, he just wanted him to get fully match fit and work on him in training for the position. i thought he coped pretty well.

    teams like sheff utd and blackburn were targeting our lack of teamwork, they both exposed our fullbacks with clever movement, yesterday grealish was caught in left back area, was caught piggy in middle with two attackers who had all the time in the world to cross. this happened twice but same was happening on the other side. this is indication of lack of communication on field, it should amend itself with time, same with the blackburn corners they caught us lots at the back post and villa did not catch on to this tactic.

    1. Hitchens 60 September 16, 2018 at 6:45 pm .

      The only comment I would make Nath is last season we saw Grealish up his game both in terms of an attacking (and gifted) midfielder creating chances but also in his tracking back, tackling and being generally a more physical presence.

      Maybe it’s just me but watching him that energy and commitment seems to be lacking. Is it because the whole move to Spuds thing has demotivated him or does he need to be constantly ‘loved’ which I suspect was provided by Terry not Bruce.

      Sir Ron used to say that if he wasn’t ‘booting Morley up the backside’ Morley would ask him what he had done wrong – Morley needed the constant attention of Sir Ron to perform at his best. Is that the same for Grealish?

      Players say that Bruce is a good man manager but I’m not so convinced.

      1. nath September 17, 2018 at 6:49 am .

        i have watch grealish closely and this season and he is slightly below on form. . last season he was excellent, while hes still better than most hes not quite at races, i think its because hes sulking from his dream move falling through as well

        what i worry about is players like grealish and say el gazia are given roles which will involve working back and giving cover for their full backs. last two teams we played have targeted this to good effect. we end up with a 1 on 2 out wide. fullbacks are being dragged away from their position and we were left with grealish at fullback and no other cover. this issue needs to be addressed or we will never managed to win games.

        maybe we should play 433 have three centre midfielder which will do the dirty tracking back and this leaves the 3 up front to do the attacking and less tracking. grealish is not a centre midfield in my opnions yes your right he did last season try to do this part, but hes not effective at this part of game. its a waste of talent.

  4. Sidforever September 16, 2018 at 12:09 pm .

    The team lacks an identity, a style and a cohesive formation.

    First we have the nonsense of Jedinak playing at centre half, resulting in another Tuanzebe a centre half at right back and a right back Hutton at left back. Three out of 4 defenders in the wrong natural position. 1 defeat and 3 league draws later, Bruce over ones his stubbornness and plays the natural defenders in the right position.

    Too defensive minded. Elmohamady and Adomah currently offer very little going forward. It appears they are picked on their defensive qualities of covering left and right backs. Play Bolasie and / or El Ghazi. This would provide pace and allow a more effective link to the striker.

    The team I would pick is:

    GK: Nyland
    LB: Hutton or Taylor
    RB: Hutton / Elmohamady
    CB: Tuanzebe
    CB: Chester
    MF: McGinn
    MF: Grealish
    MF: Bjarnason
    MF: Bolasie
    ST: Abrahams
    ST: Kodjia

    Bjarnason playing a more defensive role. Grealish to push forward and Bolasie chop and change on wing like Tony Morley used to do. Abraham’s and Kodjia would provide a nightmare for any Championship defence.

    Bruce needs to get this right immediately. I doubt if he has more than 3 matches left if the same dross is served up.

  5. Pat 57 September 16, 2018 at 3:33 pm .

    After supporting him all last season I’m now hoping to hear news of Bruce’s departure on Monday. With this squad we’re not going to get relegated but with this manager I fear we won’t get promotion so a change should be fairly risk-free.

    I’m grateful to Bruce for saving our socks and getting us out of the deep hole we’d dug for ourselves after getting relegated but with new owners and money potentially available we desperately need to go up a level.

  6. Bill Pearson September 16, 2018 at 4:47 pm .

    It’s an awful thing to support a team and demanding a managers job and I’m in support of any fan that wants him out. We’ve gone through hell over the last 10-15 years being the underdog in the game. Bruce has made some unbelievable cockup and his excuses are an insults to the fans. Again after he hears a call for his job comes back saying, we’ve had 6 players gone and our new players have to adapt to the way we play and it takes time. It’s about time he understands its the way he’s asking them to play is 20 years out of date into days world. Sorry Bruce as Pat57 said ,thank you for keeping us up but its time to go forwards, Bruce your not the person that can do that, time to go.

  7. Hitchens 60 September 16, 2018 at 6:36 pm .

    Did the owners listen to the fans when they came on board?

    Will they listen to the fans now?

    Or is it all media hype?

  8. Holte66 September 16, 2018 at 6:53 pm .

    I agree with the majority on here that now is the time for Bruce to go. Ideally he should have gone during international break, but now the new owners will have had time to see that Bruce and all his coaching staff are falling below the standards our club requires. I look at the league table and see Brentford sitting in 2nd place and playing good football with a small budget, and think what could Dean Smith do with our players. He has a system that his team, despite a lot of them getting picked off during transfer windows, still perform beyond expectations. Bruce on the other hand has one of the most expensive squads in the championship, yet still look like a group of individuals. He has managed to upset our two best goal scorers from last season, and always blames the influx of players he has signed need time to settle in. He doesn’t mention that it was his choice to bring in a lot of loan players, which will only work if success is immediate. This season he is gambling on loan players again whilst freezing out the up and coming U23s. Even Bruce should manage to get a win against Rotherham, but anything less then surely the new owners have to act.

  9. Johndoyle September 16, 2018 at 7:39 pm .

    What is going on the Brice ball suckers still about defending this useless fat sad sack of shyte, 1 – 1 with a team that is run bybfucking indian chicken farmers who were playing in league 1 last season, this old dinosaur has not got a clue, shyte management and shyte tactics, shyte team selection week on week, players that we need being shipped out, good players not even being selected on match days it is beyond a fucking joke how this club is being run a bunch I beleive a 10 year old with a couple of seasons on the management game football manager would have more clue than this old shyster Bruce fuck him off now or we have a real chance of becoming another bcfc he even lets players on loan who we need to go this fucking old dinosaur is past it send him to the scrapheap with the other old same merry go round managers who are out of touch with modern football, villa fans wake the fuck up and see what is happening

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