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The villa boss

The Villa Boss Must Plot Bonfire Night Victory

The Villa boss Dean Smith must light the fuse that ignites a spark into his Villa players on Bonfire night. And he needs the spark to last the whole 90 minutes and not just fizzle out when they face Southampton. Dean Smith will need to call upon all of his experience, if he is to rejuvenate his young guns’ confidence ahead of the game.

The players owe him a big performance so hopefully they will pay him back with a firework display of their own. After all, form is temporary and class is permanent. Smith knows his players cannot afford to fail like Robert Catesby and his co-conspirators did in 1605. As coming away with anything less than three points, could well see his tenure come to an abrupt end. So he needs to decide which players to put his trust in given the enormity of this game. But that is easier said than done given the current Injury list. 

The Villa boss will need to drill his players this week. To prevent them repeating past mistakes and make sure they get the basics right. They must also show bravery on the ball. Recently they have been very tentative and chosen to play the sideways or backwards pass. Our movement needs to be better off the ball. We need to give the player in possesion options. And be prepared to put ball into row z if need be. Come the end of the evening the result is all that will matter. Because neither the Villa faithful or Dean Smith will care about how Villa got the win.

Smith Out The Hot Topic

I cannot end this post without mentioning the current hot topic among the fanbase. “Smith out”. We are all aware managers have a shelf life and some believe Smith has come to the end of his. Look, my loyalty is to our great club, I only want what’s best for us. And if that means, the only way we get to compete at the very top is to part company with Dean Smith, then so be it.

But if it happens, I don’t want any sideways steps. We’re again a Premier League club so let’s see our owners back up their aspirations and ambitions by bringing in a top manager to take us to that next level. Their happy to spend big on players so let’s see proper investment in the most important position within a club.


62 Responses

  1. AVFCVillablog

    Fantasy football never been so popular 🤣🤣
    The lengths some go to hey

    What would Stevie Gerrard as villa manager outcome be Simulated

    To have a look Birmingham Mail simulated the remainder of this season and the entirety of the next in Football Manager 2022 with Gerrard in charge of Aston Villa.

    Birmingham Mail set up this simulation, and arranged for Steven Gerrard to replace Dean Smith at Villa after 11 Premier League games and simulated until the end of the 2022/23 season to see how the English manager performed over one and a half seasons.

    Gerrard’s favoured formation is a 4-3-3 wide with one holding midfielder – the same formation he’s used throughout his time at Rangers and in the Liverpool academy.

    The 41-year-old manager’s playstyle revolves around pressing high and sending most of the forward play down either wing – a similar tactic to his boyhood club’s current manager, Jurgen Klopp.

    So, where did Villa finish in both of Gerrard’s seasons? Let’s take a look.

    Villa’s 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons under Gerrard

    Gerrard was able to turn Villa’s fortunes around after joining the club during the November international break, as he led them to a top-half finish in the Premier League, finishing 9th in the table.

    Villa were knocked out in the third round of the FA Cup to Middlesbrough, allowing Gerrard to focus his efforts on the league for the second half of the season.

    The 41-year-old achieved this impressive league finish without any financial backing or new signings in January, instead, using the squad available to him when he joined the club.

    At the end of the 2021/22 season, Football Manager 2022 put together an overall best Villa XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics.

    This is what Villa’s best XI looked like at the end of the 2021/22 season as predicted by Football Manager 2022.

    Watkins Buendia
    Sanson mcGinn

    Young mings tuanzebe cash

    Villa’s best XI under Gerrard in the 2021/22 season.

    Gerrard switched Villa into his preferred 4-3-3 formation with a holding midfielder, as Sanson and McGinn acted as two box-to-box midfielders in front of Douglas Luiz who was used as a deep-lying playmaker.

    The former Rangers boss used a mix of youth and experience in key areas of the pitch, relying on Ashley Young in defence and Danny Ings upfront to be leaders on the pitch.

    Gerrard looked to strengthen his squad ahead of the 2022/23 season, and wasted no time in doing so as he spent over £100million in the summer transfer window.

    Gerrard brought in Ryan Kent and James Tavernier from his former side Rangers ahead of his first full season in charge at Villa, adding to his options in attack and defence.

    The 41-year-old also raided his boyhood club, Liverpool, as he signed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for £20million and Kostas Tsimikas on a season-long loan deal. Gerrard also brought in former Liverpool teammate Philippe Coutinho from Spanish giants Barcelona.

    Other deals included Conor Gallagher signing for £33.5million, Boubacar Kamara for free, Amine Gouiri and Danilo for £8.75million each.

    Gerrard let Morgan Sanson, Anwar El Ghazi, Marvellous Nakamba and Wesley all leave the club on permanent deals, as Emiliano Buendia moved to midland rivals, Wolves, on a season-long loan deal.

    So, how would Villa perform in Gerrard’s first full season at Villa Park?

    Villa finished 8th in the Premier League at the end of the 2022/23 season.

    Gerrard led Villa to an 8th place finish in his second season, improving their goal difference and moving up one position from their 9th place finish last season.

    Gerrard’s side scored three fewer goals but conceded six less compared to their 2021/22 season, as the new signings proved to work out well for Villa.

    Villa’s impressive season didn’t stop there, as Gerrard took Villa to the FA Cup final for the first time since 2015, and beat Newcastle United 3-1 at Wembley with goals from Leon Bailey and summer signing Amine Gouiri.

    Villa’s performance in the domestic cup competitions in the 2022/23 season.

    Villa’s FA Cup win was their first since 1957 and eighth FA Cup title in the club’s history.

    And of course, the FA Cup win also meant Europa League football for Villa in 2023/24, bringing European nights back to Villa Park.

    In terms of player performances under Gerrard, Leon Bailey contributed the most goals and assists combined with 10 goals and seven assists in 37 appearances.

    Ollie Watkins was the club’s top scorer with 11 goals in just 21 starts, as he was heavily rotated with the likes of Gouiri and Ings.

    New signings Coutinho, Gallagher and Oxlade-Chamberlain chipped in with plenty of goals and assists as well throughout the season, proving to be solid signings by Gerrard.

    At the end of the 2022/23 season, Football Manager 2022 put together an overall best Villa XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics.

    This is what Villa’s best XI looked like at the end of the 2022/23 season as predicted by Football Manager 2022.

    Gouiri Bailey

    Danilo Coutinho

    Targett Kamara Konsa cash

    Plenty of Gerrard’s summer signings feature in the 2022/23 best Villa side, with Danilo, Kamara, Coutinho and Gouiri replacing the likes of Ings, McGinn, Mings and Sanson.

    Overall, Football Manager 2022 predicts that if Villa were to appoint Steven Gerrard as their new manager to replace Dean Smith, Gerrard would use his resources to improve the squad depth and add competition to each position, leading Villa into the top half of the Premier League, along with an FA Cup trophy win.

  2. Vancouvervillan

    Talk about out of the frying pan !
    I’m sorry but I find it hard to believe that even Smith’s staunchest critics would have wanted SG to take over. I just don’t see the logic in such a complete gamble.
    First time since NSWE took over that I think we’ve panicked. I don’t believe it’s an ownership panic entirely, I wonder if Prurslow is coming under ownership pressure and felt he had to react?
    I also find it difficult to believe that SG is Lange’s ideal choice?
    I also find it strange that SG is in fact a “manager”, Beale is the head or 1st team “coach” as I understand it.
    Not really making too much sence to me from a regime that up until now has made perfect sence and I’ve been 100% behind.

    As always I will support any appointed Villa manager and give him a fair chance but worrying times in general for me.

    An appointment of someone who’s overachieved on limited means and knows what it takes to get a team into Europe would of made much more sence to me. If there is, or was limited options out there to fit that remit then why not give Smith a chance with the players fit until Christmas?

  3. AVFCVillablog


    Having saw the bookie odds earlier 1/25 to then seeing J Percy tweet it looked like Stevie Gerrard appointment was nailed on. However what really swung it as being possible was half hour ago i received a call from family member saying Stevie G was at the Belfry.

    So From being seen in London earlier to now at the Belfry well that makes sense and also Fabrizio Romano is also reporting Aston Villa are preparing paperworks and contracts in order to confirm Steven Gerrard appointment as new head coach. Agreement now at final stages, Gerrard & board working on staff details.

    So I now believe we can fully expect an announcement within the next 24 hours

  4. AVFCVillablog

    The odds are so short now 1/25 so unless SG has a Unai Emery moment it’s looks like a done deal.

    I’m not pro Gerrard but if he’s appointed he will get my support. All appointments carry some risks, it’s just that some carry more risk than others. Dean Smith’s was a risk who I advocated and supported from day one.

    So I can’t sit here and slag a guy off before he’s even been given the job, especially on them lacking PL experience, because experience guarantees you nothing. Whoever gets the gig will have more experience than me or you and hopefully they will take our club forward and ultimately leave us in better shape than when they arrived just like DS did.

    1. Vancouvervillan

      Yep, like you I’ll support any AV manager, but I really don’t understand such a big risk.
      I had thought the plan would be to try to push us on this season, ie not being prepared to give up on Europe after a fairly big investment, I assume ownership is putting some pressure on Purslow.

  5. Vancouvervillan

    With a reported 20 odd strong coaching staff and a director of football in Lange, if we don’t get this appointment right Purslow is going to come under increased pressure very soon.

      1. Vancouvervillan

        Do you think Gerrard would be on Lange’s shortlist?
        I just don’t feel comfortable about this situation moving forwards, first time i have felt this way since NSWE took over.
        too many cooks ?

        1. AVFCVillablog

          My previous comment was tongue n cheek, I don’t think Johan Lange duties stretch to him having a say in who is appointed Head coach.

          I believe Purslow’s gets to choose from shortlist and our Owners will rely fully on his judgement call before giving the green light on his selection

          Johan Lange role is the same as jesus pitarch’s before him a sporting director, and not to be confused with a director of football.

          1. Vancouvervillan

            Fair point, but again I find it hard to think that Lange wouldn’t have at least some input or opinion. If it’s SG then imho clearly he hasn’t.

  6. Vancouvervillan

    I still have to believe ²that reacting so quickly and sacking Smith was to get a manager in who would offer more in as far as a real concerted effort to get us a European spot. West ham and now Newcastle are offering competiton to a league that was already the most difficult to qualify for Europe in.
    I like Potter, Silva, Parker, they at least offer some tactics and attractive football but I don’t see them as capable of lifting us for a European push and privileged ex players certainly won’t.
    We have to look at the teams in Europe who have overachieved with young players the Leipziegs, Ajax, Villarreal, Atalanta’s.
    NSWE won’t invest for ever and it’s getting g more difficult every season.

    1. AVFCVillablog

      Sadley unless the hierarchy change remit I cannot see anythink other than it being an underwhelming appointment.

      I still old slim hope for a nice surprise though.

  7. Vancouvervillan

    I really don’t want an underwhelming appointment otherwise what was the point in sacking Smith before Christmas?
    I think Newcastle have proved its difficult to get the ideal candidate through the door, it’s not just about money.

    I’m just worried we’ll end up with someone, less experienced, less qualified, less capable and with no track record.
    The initial attraction to Henri (if true) concerns me.

  8. AVFCVillablog

    V V

    Maybe this can cheer you up🤣

    Danny Ings signed without anyone knowing a thing, not even his own family.

    So I very much doubt that anyone outside of the club has any idea what’s going on regarding our search for a manager.

    1. HenleyVillain

      The fact that Gerrard has not yet come out saying he’s not interested tells me that he very well may be. The Purslow connection and the timing of Smith’s sacking suggests they already have someone lined up.

        1. HenleyVillain

          So would I if I were him. Doesn’t make him a bad manager. He will have something to prove, just like Deano did. I don’t see any reason why this appointment won’t work like our last one did (at least for a good while)

      1. AVFCVillablog

        From a journalistic view of course they’re angle would be the Liverpool connection.

        But in reality Purslow spent longer working alongside JT & Deano he was appointed sporting director in june 2009 till Oct 2010 he then became a non executive director & special adviser by Feb 2011 he had left. that’s less than 2 years at pool holding two positions.

    2. Vancouvervillan

      I’d agree with that. Just find it amazing who some fans might be prepared to settle for.
      Sacking Deano has to be for a potentially better option.

      1. AVFCVillablog

        I know some of our fans think the likes of Diego Simeone, Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Mancini, Erik Ten Hag, Joachim Lowe, Ralf Rangnick, Mauricio Pochettino, Julian Nagelsmann, are gettable because of our owners but the reality is we have a small pool of underwhelming candidates to choose from, just look at who Toon ended up with.

    1. Vancouvervillan

      The fact you appear to be concerned about what Danny Murphy thinks and villa fans in general for the most part seem happy enough if it’s Gerrard is sad, embarrassing and small time, my God how far we’ve fallen.

      1. AVFCVillablog

        I’ surprised my humor was lost on you VV
        Think about it – how would Danny Murphy still slag us off if his old m8t was in the hot seat

        In regards who our owners appoint will no doubt tell us alot about their ambitions or will it?

        Fans will obviously speculate but i dont think our owners have invested in the youth setup to now change their buisness model so i dont see them going for a Mancini etc I fully expect an underwhelming scott parker type appointment

      2. HenleyVillain

        I can’t see that the appointment of Gerrard, if indeed it is he who is to be the new custodian, is retrograde. I was not in favour of sacking Smith as you well know but now that’s done, I reckon we could do a lot worse than Gerrard. OK, success at Rangers would be easy enough for anyone with a little competence, agreed. But in all fairness, it doesn’t actually mean he won’t be up to the task at VP. Certainly I don’t agree that it’s either embarrassing or small-time.

          1. AVFCVillablog

            He’s another Tim Sherwood for me, but if he rocks up he will get my support. Still gutted they pulled the plug seemed premature and this appointment needs to be correct to vindicate Purslow

          2. HenleyVillain

            Yep. I could manage Rangers – only one team to beat in the league, so it’d be very easy. Still no reason to deride Gerrard though. For starters, he will have more respect from a lot of players (more at least than Deano, just because of his status in the game). As much as I loved Smith, he let himself down a tad with his Brummie accent. Perhaps we should look upon a Scouse twang as an upgrade? Nobody has ever had more respect from me than the late great Ron Saunders.

  9. Vancouvervillan

    I’m a little underwhelmed by the rumours of our next manager, but i’m hoping that will change with the eventual appointment.
    My take is Smith has progressed us but maybe not as fast as the club envisaged?, sentiment & some good times apart, the overall stats clearly suggest Smith struggled without JG.
    Perhaps they felt pushed on by Spurs appointing Conte?, the Newcastle threat ? Maybe they think by acting early it will give them a greater chance at getting a top manager before any chance of Europe totally disappears?
    It’s taking a chance to dispense with Smith as a steady hand that ticks a lot of development boxes but lacks maybe that knowhow and experience to coach a top team. Which is why i’m hoping we are going to try to get a top, top manager in, otherwise I’m not sure I understand the point.
    I have no idea who that will be and I don’t get a say 😎 but surely we have to aim high.
    Is a Den Hag (example) type manager, hyped for man utd or top six candidate gettable for us?
    Like i say I’m hoping but I get the feeling i might be underwhelmed.

  10. AVFCVillablog

    Dean Smith releases Statement via LMA

    To be appointed the Head Coach of Aston Villa, the club I supported throughout my childhood, was and remains something I am extremely proud of.

    “My initial remit was to try and lead the club back to the Premier League within a two-year period. Sitting in 15th position in the Championship when I arrived in the October, managing to lead the team on a record-breaking ten match winning run and into the play-offs, where we would eventually win promotion thanks to a memorable day at Wembley Stadium, was without doubt an achievement that I will always look back on with pride.

    “Having led the club back to the Premier League ahead of schedule and at the first time of asking after three years in the Championship, the next challenge was to help overhaul the squad and create a group good enough to survive that all-important first season back in the Premier League and, in doing so, I believe those achievements allowed the club to accelerate its ambitions to become an established Premier League club.

    “My belief was that we would continue our progression this season. I understand the football industry and of course, I respect the owners decision, but I felt that with important players soon returning to full fitness we would achieve a top half finish.

    “One of my roles as Head Coach at Aston Villa was to improve individual players to enhance on-field performance for the team. Playing a part in developing a player who would be transferred for a British record transfer fee, along with creating a pathway for a thriving academy, are all areas in which I feel I’ve more than contributed. I hope the culture and environment that has been created at both Bodymoor Heath and Villa Park will continue to flourish.

    “I would like to express my gratitude to the owners, Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, in giving me the opportunity to manage this special club. I would also like to thank the CEO, Christian Purslow, with whom I enjoyed an excellent working relationship as well as the two Sporting Directors I worked alongside, Johan Lange and Jesus Garcia Pitarch. To the coaches, staff and players, my sincere thanks to each and every one of them.

    “Finally, to the Aston Villa fans who showed me nothing but love and support from my first day in the job to my last, a heartfelt thank you from my family and I. The Aston Villa board’s aims and ambitions are to take our club back into European football and I would love nothing more than seeing the club achieve that. I’ve always said that I was simply a custodian of this great football club, and my aim was to leave it in a better place than I found it. I believe that together we have achieved that.


    1. Vancouvervillan

      He certainly left us in a better place than he found us.
      Got to find a manager now to lead us into europe to justify the change.

  11. Vancouvervillan

    I guess there’s going to be some huge speculation as to the next appointment, I really hope they take there time and get it right.
    I don’t want every name we’re interested in all over the press like Spurs or Newcastle and see us then settle for a 6th or 7th choice !
    We should be looking at European clubs that have overachieved and are in Europe regularly.
    I want a manager/head coach that we can all see as a huge improvement on Smith because well we’ve made the move now so let’s aim high & long term.
    So I guess a “name” (accent and all), proven, capable track record, able to develop the kids and a winner.

    Should be easy right 😎

  12. HenleyVillain

    Stolen from another blog. But I liked it so much !

    Bare with me, I’m imagining I’m Smith here for a while …
    F**k me, you lose my best player, fail to get me the top midfielder I wanted, sign a striker who plays a different system, a short arsed champo winger and a lazy looking Jamaican who’s no better than AEG, then throw in an attacking coach while my attackers are all injured and to top it off then add some idiot who thinks he’s just invented the long throw and you expect me to win !
    There I’ve said it.
    Thanks Dean, good luck mate.

    thanks VV 😉

    1. AVFCVillablog

      I’m Surprised that VV forgot to mention that Bailey-Ings-Buendia had only been on a pitch for all of 35 minutes together 🤣

      1. Vancouvervillan

        It was a bit of fun, but yeah I wanted really to highlight what a tough time he’s had since the summer. Jack going was the biggest blow I think but injuries to his replacements as well as other issues haven’t helped.

  13. Vancouvervillan

    Well that was a dreadful performance, I don’t think I’ve ever seen us give the ball away so cheaply. Not one player I can say had a good game.
    Passing and movement is just pathetic, for all the money we’ve spent there are no players on that park that are comfortable on the ball.

    I don’t understand how we can have 5 coaches on the bench and can’t get a message to the players without a note ! Embarrassing.

    I don’t blame Smith entirely but something is clearly very wrong if our huge coaching team can’t get a tune out of these players. The recruitment team also need to be questioned, we didn’t need to spend 200 million to get that poor standard of player, does anyone actually scout these signings or is it just data analysis?

    Not sure where we go from here, I kind of knew it would be difficult with Joe going but it seems no one else can keep the ball or drive us on with possession based football and that means we’re rapidly heading towards a relegation battle.
    I suspect Smith will pay the price and rightfully so, he’s ultimately responsible.
    This kind of performance simply can’t continue.

  14. AVFCVillablog

    Terrible 1st half what we got to lose in putting faith in kids like archer carney & ramsay because seniors are woeful

    Bailey at dreadful doing the dirty work poor cash bei g run ragged

    El ghastly take before hes sent off shocking useless waste of space

    I would take a pt now cant see us getting anything though

  15. Vancouvervillan

    Under the circumstances that’s probably about the best team to put out there. If we want a reaction from players, dropping them for kids is not going to work.
    Hope we see some improved play from all.
    COYL !

    1. Vancouvervillan

      Currently our 2nd highest goal scorer from last season 😉
      Bidace and Archers possible late dubs when others tire.
      Given his limited options I think he’s picked the right team. Our most dangerous players bar Ings are starting, not sure we can ask for much more.

      1. AVFCVillablog

        Not sure who you expect smith to magic up to play midfield have you seen the options on bench he’s got to choose from Ramsey or Carney like they’re the answer blimey mate let’s keep the score down if were gonna lose

        And after hause’s calamity challenge last week he deserves to be dropped as well

        Hause & young were the senior outfield players I was refering to.

        1. AVFCVillablog

          Well Sanson Ings Luiz covid related so not available

          Anyway even if he was fit to play he would not be match fit so expecting sanson to make a difference is desperate🤣

          Tuanzebe as had a few stinkers granted but let’s not kid yourselves hause has been digging up trees

          I get it all about opinions let’s jusr hope the only one that really matters as got it right

        1. Vancouvervillan

          But it’s the sensible management of players we need is it not ?
          Why play a CB out of position unless you have to.

  16. AVFCVillablog

    Didnt this Villa team keep 15 clean sheets last season which is remarkable for a premier league team. I still say our biggest problem is we have still not found a way to play without JG.
    Trying to fill Jack’s boots is weighing heavy on Buendia’s shoulders and it shows in his performances.

    Fans need to accept were a team in transition. i know losing one player shouldn’t have such an impact on a team but everythink we did good came through jack. We all remember how we struggled when JG was out injured

    Can Smith fix it ? I want to believe he can. Is Smith lost without Jack ? It looks that way. Obviously there are other reasons like injuries and players not performing for me I dont care if we concede 3 tonight as long as we score 4

    Memories of Delph getting the winner in a 3-2 win at the Dell a few seasons back what a screamer that was.


    1. Vancouvervillan

      Some glimpses of Buendia last game, switching wings and some clever play, hopefully that will continue.
      He needs time just like the other new recruits problem is not sure we have time ?
      We still haven’t played our best front four in the right formation yet imho.

  17. Vancouvervillan

    I think we might struggle again on Friday. I’d love us to rebound with a great winning performance but with the injuries, suspensions and match fitness issues for the new players I can’t see it. Telling on Sunday was when Ramsey went down he turned to Young for MF, he doesn’t trust Carney or the other Ramsey.
    Midfield is a huge issue, can’t believe we didn’t address this with some of the Jack money.

    I checked its actually 11 wins total since the beginning of the year, 3 this season. Not what we had hoped for. 😕
    I think given we’ve played well at times he might get longer if he loses again Friday, but regardless of injuries if the poor results continue he’s going to be on borrowed time.
    Christmas ?