Villa Blog

Leicester Defeat, What Does It Say?

The result on Sunday was a Leicester defeat; what does it say about Aston Villa and Dean Smith. We lost to a Leicester team in 3rd place who are 6 points clear of 5th. They are comfortably in the Champions League positions, so surely this is not an unexpected result nor a bad result? If you only look at the league table and compare our points to this time last year, then it appears we are doing really well. I agree we are doing really well, and I am very happy with where we are. However, I feel we could be doing better, and I also feel the future path could be brighter.

What Was So Bad About the Leicester Defeat?

The biggest issue I have with Smith’s management is his inability to promote young players into the squad. This is not a new gripe and something I have written about numerous times before. BigFatRon summed this up nicely in a post on the last Leader Blog. He said, ‘if Leicester can start young lads, why is Smith starting Elmo? Time to be brave likewise with ElGgazi and Trez, at least youth will bust a gut trying’. This is a nail on head stuff, and I cannot agree with any more wholeheartedly with BFR. We have the youth, and they are good enough. They showed this against a full strength Liverpool in the FA Cup. We were 1-1 till the 60th minute and then conceded 3 goals in the space of 5 minutes.

Louie Barry

I am not suggesting making wholesale changes to our starting 11. That would be dumb. I am though saying we should be making wholesale changes to our bench. I think it is unforgivable that with the bench numbers increased to 9 that each of the new places did not go to under 23s. Louie Barry is just about as certain to be a footballing star of the future as any 17 year old on the planet today. He has just been voted Premier League 2 player of the month for January. This was on the back of 4 league goals in two games plus the goal against Liverpool in the FA Cup.

Louie Barry

Louie can play as a striker and can also play on the left wing. Most of his career to date has been on the left wing playing a similar role to Jack Grealish. For the life of me, I cannot understand why he is not a bench player and developing as Jack’s understudy. If Jack gets injured, then who replaces him? We have nobody in the squad that looks anywhere near capable of standing in for Jack. Guess what, Jack is now injured and out for 4 to 6 weeks, and we have no replacement. This makes me really angry.

The Young Ones

It is not just Louie Barry that should be 1st team setup. We need more of The Young Ones. As BFR said, Elmo is too slow. Smith should be bringing in the likes of Kesler or Hayden to replace Cash. Though some smart people (unlike me) would have known that Kesler and Hayden are, in fact, the same person ๐Ÿ˜€. Either way, there is at least one RB that Smith could have played on Sunday ahead of Elmo. BFR also mentioned Trez and ElGhazi. I like both of these players, and they are adequate squad players to be used as substitutes when protesting a lead. They are not game changers, and they are not good enough to be used as subs when chasing a game. Nor are they anywhere near good enough to be in the starting 11.

I can understand the argument that neither are the young ones good enough. After all, they are only kids and do not have Premier League experience. But how will they ever get experience if we don’t integrate them and if we don’t play them? What will make them think they have a future at Villa if they can’t see their progression path? If we can accept that Trez and ElGhazi are not good enough for our starting 11 and we still start them, why not start the kids? Wouldn’t the longer-term rewards be far greater if we can turn a few kids into 1st team starters?

Summer Transfer Window

This summer, we need to buy two full backs as Elmo’s, and Taylor’s contracts are up. I am completely ruling out renewing these contracts, and if Smith suggested renewing them as a good idea, he should be sacked on the spot. We also need an AM, a Jack back up, and we need a winger. 5 players at a potential cost of 100m to 120m. Just imagine if, between now and the end of the season, we convert two of the kids into men?

If Kessler and Barry show they are good enough for a bench spot rather than buying new players. This could save the club tens of millions in the summer. But on top of that and more importantly, to the fans. It would give us what we what. We want to see our really exciting bunch of kids grow into men and perform in the PL for the 1st team.

Leicester Defeat: The Game

I only managed to see the first half of the game, so I will not comment too much on the game. I had to help one of my kids with bloody homework. We were awful and looked like we were on for a bit of a hiding. I will admit I didn’t give too much pushback when asked for homework help. It does appear that I missed the better half which we actually won 1-0. Barkley is just not the player he was before his injury. This is very concerning, but it should help us with transfer decision making in the summer. He needs to up his game or spend some time on the bench. It is such a pity. Without question, he was our 2nd best player in the first half of the season, and I would love to see that player return.

A loos of form for McGinn isn’t helping matters either. To be honest, before his injury Jack wasn’t playing too well either. I think Desperate Dan suggested that maybe Jack was carrying his injury in the games leading up to the Leicester defeat. This sounds entirely plausible and just shows that we need more rotation and squad depth. We need The Young Ones.

Midtable Mini-League

I must admit that I am starting to dislike the midtable mini-league. I like its idea, and I like how we can compare ourselves against the teams we are competing with. The bit I am starting to dislike is what it is telling me.

Midtable Mini-League

I am starting to really get pissed off with West Ham and David Moyes. In my opinion, they are punching above their weight which admittedly is a little like us. However, they are punching above their weight with consistency and are pulling away from us. They are now sitting proudly in 4th place with dreams of Champions League qualification. Since GW 19, they have scored 10 points to our 4 points. That is quickly becoming an insurmountable gap.

Everton is the team I have always believed as the team to catch in the mini-league, and they too are pulling ahead of us, having outscored Villa by 7 points to 4 since GW 19. If we have any aspirations of finishing 7th, then we simply must start to close the gap on these two.

Worryingly, two teams that sit below us in the mini-league, Arsenal and Wolves, have also outscored us in recent weeks and are now each within one game of taking our 8th place in the Premier League table.

A Ray Of Light

The only positive is that Spurs appear to be going backwards. I have Spurs as a Top 6 team, and they are in real danger of relegation to the midtable mini-league. If they do get relegated, they will be replaced by either West Ham or Everton in the top 6. If this happens, we will have one less ‘performing’ team to try and overtake. This gives us hope, and we are only 5 points off Everton, who currently occupy 7th place, and we have 2 games in hand. The opportunity for European qualification is still there for us. But Smith must start to get things right if we are to have any hope of grasping it.

UTV

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HenleyVillain
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HenleyVillain
12 hours ago

Just seen the pre Leeds press conference.
Looks like Deano is sure we can win games without Jack.
Glad to see ha has more confidence than I do.
(or maybe it’s just blind hope) !

HenleyVillain
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12 hours ago
Reply to  Begley

Interesting and amusing ๐Ÿคฃ

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
10 hours ago
Reply to  HenleyVillain

Kind of feel sorry for them really. Ownership we’ve had it could so easily have been us in decline, thankfully we’ve bounced back.
Birmingham is the 2nd city, we should have two teams in the top league. I get tired of Merseyside, Manchester & London derbys always in the media’s sights, besides who doesn’t want a guaranteed 6 points in the PL ๐Ÿคฃ

Vancouvervillan
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1 day ago
Reply to  Begley

I think the way Leeds play they won’t miss them as much as we would with similar injuries. Got to get a handle on Bamford this time and break up their play, why I’d like to see Marvelous in the team.

HenleyVillain
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1 day ago

I think they are a much better team with Phillips in it. We are giving the ball away far too much. If I can see it, then you would hope that the coaching staff can too. I would prefer to see Ramsay in for Barkley and Nakamba in for McGinn but Smith won’t even be considering that. I think he made a big mistake promising to get Barkley back into the England squad, as now I think he feels he must play him no matter what. Hopefully I’m mistaken about that. I wouldn’t mind seeing Konsa playing at RB with Engels playing alongside Mings in the centre. Smith most likely won’t be doing that either. Certainly the main change I would be making is taking El Ghazi out of the squad as I really don’t think he is up to Prem standard.

Vancouvervillan
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1 day ago
Reply to  HenleyVillain

Im expecting few changes tbh. Phillips yes probably I do like the young German stand in they have though whose name escapes me. The lad subbed early after his yellow card at VP. I guess what I’m saying is they have been developing their squad longer and not 1st time Phillips missing.
Not sure how you drop McGinn but appreciate your view on that.
Myself I’d be pushing him into Barkleys position.
As per my team suggestion I’d start Traore in Jack’s position & rest Luiz for Nakamba, Trezeguet to start in front of what will be Elmo. Be great to see Barry on the bench as a bit of a wild card.

HenleyVillain
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HenleyVillain
1 day ago

I wouldn’t mind betting he keeps the same team as last week. He has form in this respect, preferring to make as few changes as he can. Especially after what he thought was a decent performance. I for one didn’t think it was decent but hey ho, it’s only his ideas that count ๐Ÿคฃ. I think there is very little chance of any of the changes I/we would maybe like to see.

Bigfatron
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1 day ago
Reply to  HenleyVillain

All good points

Bigfatron
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Bigfatron
1 day ago
Reply to  Begley

What about Smith is he still available for us lol

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
2 days ago

Thought I’d have a stab at my team for Saturday, feel free to rip apart ๐Ÿ˜†
Unlikely Smith will change formation and I’m not sure he should given overall success so far this season …

Martinez
Kessler, Konsa, Mings, Target
Nakamba, Sanson
Trezeguet, McGinn, Traore
Watkins

Subs to be used …
Barkley, El Ghazi, Ramsey

Muz1
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Muz1
1 day ago

Going by DS comments regarding Barkley earlier in the week I think he will start him.
That side is not a bad shout, plenty of energy in there which will be needed against Leeds, not so sure DS would make that many changes in one go. If he does make a change to the starting line up its usually just the odd one

Vancouvervillan
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1 day ago
Reply to  Muz1

Yeah, pretty confident Smith won’t change much.
As you say my idea was too inject some energy we’ve been lacking.

Vancouvervillan
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1 day ago
Reply to  Begley

Thought of Traore strolling around centrally passing back to the midfield scares me, I think McGinn, leash off, a much better option. We know he’ll start Barkley though. Trezeguet would bring some energy which was my reasoning as would Barry on the left side, but I do think maybe a little too soon for him and a slap in the face for El Ghazi. My idea was to try Traore on the left with El Ghazi a natural sub replacement, think Targett is much better to work with a skillful player ahead of him.

Last edited 1 day ago by Vancouvervillan
Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
1 day ago
Reply to  Begley

I think you mean 7 minutes ๐Ÿคฃ

Bigfatron
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1 day ago

He has mixed up his dreams he was ready to mount Karen and he seen her stockings ,old stock from her bosses ๐Ÿ”›๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ”š๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿคญ๐Ÿคญ๐Ÿคญ

Vancouvervillan
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1 day ago
Reply to  Bigfatron

Yep you’re right, if it’s the Karen dream, 3 minutes then ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ

I suspect Karen hands him the match ball as well in that one.

Last edited 1 day ago by Vancouvervillan
Bigfatron
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Bigfatron
1 day ago

I would swap mcginn for luis other than that happy with ut

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
3 days ago

Good post, agree with most of that, I certainly think Kessler should be starting on Saturday instead of Elmo who struggled.
If we are starting the same formation then Smith gas to sort out which of McGinn & Luiz ventures forward and how they cover each other. I’m still shaking my head at the room Maddison & Pereira we’re given. Maybe it is time for Nakamba to steady the ship at least there’s no doubt between the two who’s going forward to join in, it won’t be Nakamba.

I think what’s disappointing is we couldn’t play the kids with the risk of relegation on the line last season, but surely we can integrate a couple now with that risk gone ?

It’s been a great season but what hurts is having seen some great performances we all know it could have been so much better. Not getting maximum points from the teams we should be beating seems to hurt even more, especially when we see the West hams & Wolves &
Everton’s able to do this, ugly or not.

Seems my defending of McGinn has stirred a few up, he was voted motm on b’ham live with the best rating of 7. We all have different views and opinions but I don’t think there is any denying he was the best midfielder on the day, even if you don’t think he was our best player.
Smith needs to push him forwards imo and have him influence the game like he has in the past and did against Chelsea.
Trezeguet, maybe not the most skillful winger, but he brings energy & work rate. Isn’t that exactly what we are missing lately ?

I wonder about the impact of no fans as well, don’t think Barkley would be acting quite so petulant in front of 42,000 fans. Results league wide suggest all clubs are missing the fans, the lift & accountability they bring to the players is a big loss.

Don’t think Smith will be going anywhere, he’s hardly done anything wrong tbf, what he does need to show me now is some ability & risk taking to change things up.

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
3 days ago
Reply to  Begley

Think injuries to Inngs & more telling Vastergaard have hurt them, both will need some time to get up to speed.

Muz1
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Muz1
3 days ago

What can sometimes be annoying is DS picks the same 11 wherever possible even when players are clearly out of form. He also mainly uses the same subs each game and seems reluctant to mix things up, which means the other subs are just there for show, which must be a bit disheartening for them knowing they have very little chance of getting on.
I, like you, would like to see one or two youngsters given some game time, as I dont think we are good enough yet to finish in a European place and we are safe from relegation, barring a miracle..
Playing the same team and same system teams are working us out and nullifying our strengths. We need to have a plan B in games where we are struggling with plan A.

HenleyVillain
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HenleyVillain
3 days ago

Another good post Begley, I think you have it right when you say we are punching above our weight in the same way that West Ham are. We had always realised how little depth there is in our squad and now that we have injuries to key players on top of a loss of form from some of the others it is hitting us harder. Maybe West Ham will be beset with similar problems in the last 13 or so games. Hard to argue against the call for some of our youngsters to get game time but I think Smith, like many before him is a little too scared of losing his job and is playing it safe. Wrong call for me but perhaps if it was our head on the block we might see things a little differently. And it’s not really Smiths fault that we have three players in the middle of the park who aren’t firing on all cylinders. You didn’t really miss much in the second half btw. They took their foot off the pedal and allowed us more time on the ball. I think if they had pressured us as they did in the first half they would have won a lot more convincingly.

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
3 days ago
Reply to  Begley

I wouldn’t read too much into that other than it’s probably very wise to get out of the aviation business right now.

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
3 days ago
Reply to  Begley

๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜†
Messi rumours get to me, he’s done, well past his best and at 33 I would suggest his options away from Barca are extremely limited.

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