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Well, first post in over six months and I have to say John Terry has completely won me over.  He's been superb on and off the pitch this season, not disappearing back to London when he was out injured spoke volumes. If he was bought in to lift the spirits in the squad then it's mission accomplished.  Jack Grealish looking like a Premier League player in the Championship has been huge in our recent run too,  I wonder how many more points we'd have if he hadn't missed the first 20 games of the season with injury.  

 

Anyway, that's not why I've bumped the thread.  This is why I've bumped the thread:

 

 

I think I'm in the minority of people who prefer Adomah's goal to Connor's.  It's just a lovely move and you can see it's something they'd worked on in training. The run from Hourihane to open up the space for Adomah is great, the fact you can see Adomah looking and waiting before he starts his run is really nice.   Hopefully we get someome with that again before the season is out.  

 

Also: loving the stat that the last time Small Heath scored a goal at Villa Park it was the consolation goal in the 5-1. :)

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Well, this thread only seems to get bumped when people die and sadly today our former chairman, inventor of the package holiday and the bicycle kick, one Sir Herbert Douglas Ellis has passed away.   Seems kinda apt he died in a week where Villa made a managerial change.  RIP Doug. :(

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Promotion bump.  Been meaning to do this for a little while, since the final in fact, but now that the summer business is starting to swing I think it's time to post some thoughts. 

 

Firstly, what a season! I can't remember anything being as eventful as 2018/19, so many great goals, epic games, cult heroes emerging and hope being built. It feels like forever ago that somebody decided to toss a cabbage at Steve Bruce.  

 

Summer stuff though.  Seems to me that the management know there will be a lot of churn this summer and are trying their hardest to get stuff done early in order to give everybody a pre-season. Glad to see moves for the loan signings, Hause and El Ghazi confirmed so far for very reasonable fees. Can't see Tuanzebe coming back and I think the signing of Wesley Moraes has closed the door on Tammy being a Villa player next season.  Weirdly I'm not as bothered by Tammy as others, he was great last season but of the key players he was the one who left me frustrated the most often as there were multiple games we didn't get anything out of because he'd had a stinker. Obviously his goals got us promoted but I just can't see him getting 25 goals in the Premier League. Whether Wesley is the man remains to be seen but again, we've moved early and he'll get a lot of time at Bodymoor before we kick off in August.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Mings, I think a deal can be done but I'd rather have it done asap. 

 

Goalkeeper rumours won't go away. I think Nyland will be on his way out, whether on loan or not remains to be seen but I think it depends on how his injury heals. Rumours that Kalinic is looking to move have surfaced, he's not managed to hold a spot in the team and perhaps he's struggling to settle in England. Talk of Butland coming in, presumably he wants out of Stoke for the sake of his England career.  Steer did well last season at key moments but there are definitely weaknesses to his game.  It will be interesting to see what happens next. 

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Nice to be exited by the Villa again. 

 

That play off final took years off my life so the pressure to win something before I die grows more urgent. 

 

Its great that we finally have a back room team that have a plan beyond throw money around and cross fingers, and it is great to see business being done. I think everyone will be more relaxed when Mings officially arrives though. 

 

Im not expecting to pull up trees next season but as long as we can consolidate our Prem status, with our super rich owners, it will give us the chance to really kick on and hopefully become a player again. 

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Yeah, 2019/20 is all about staying up. You'd presume we'd be looking to be competitive with sides like Brighton, Southampton, Newcastle, Palace, Bournemouth (etc) as well as the other promoted teams. I kinda fancy Sheffield United to have a good start for some reason.  40 points is the first priority and if we do have the money to spend then it takes three or four transfer windows to get a squad capable of competing with the top half. 

 

*Edit* 

 

Looking like season tickets are going to be capped at 30,000 this season, the club are over 23000 after one day of sales (including renewals, obviously). Previous highest was 27500 in 2008/09. 

Edited by Naysonymous
Season ticket stuff
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Loads of rumours that Cahill will join on a free. A pairing of him and Mings would be ok. Don’t want him to be given some ridiculously long contract, and be lumbered with his wages if we go down. Hopefully, the new board are more sensible than Randy.

 

We need a decent defensive midfielder to allow Grealish and McGinn to play farther forward. There’s rumours of Ampadu on loan, but he’s too young and untested for my liking. And then there’s his moustache.

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  • 1 year later...

Annual bump.  Pleased to see I was right about Sheffield United, still trying to process how we managed to stay up.  Staying up was huge as I think it really offers us a platform to build upon, and if the owners are going to put their money where their mouth is then maybe we really can get back to where the club was a decade ago.  It's hard to break down the season coherently, I'm certainly not going to sit down for a couple of hours and compile an article but there is probably a lot of interesting stuff which could be said. 

 

Firstly I'd back Smith for another season.   He's had two jobs to do in difficult circumstances,  get us up and keep us up and he's managed to do both. We've been lucky, but the fact remains he's met his brief in both seasons.  The winning streak last season was incredible, the last four games this season were great too, especially considering Smith had to deal with losing his father to Coronavirus during the lockdown.  I've got a feeling he generates a good team spirit around the place and I think that has contributed to getting us over the line both last season and this.  I like the fact that he (somehow) managed to adapt to the reality of having no squad depth in the Premier League.  We played well so many times at the start of the season and lost, and we could have easily ended up like Norwich who got relegated because their manager valued principles over pragmatism.  We did pretty well at shutting up shop after the lockdown despite having two shit goalkeepers at the back and two strikers who couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo up front. The results came from the training ground, and if you were being cruel you could say it was a gamble that paid off but the reality is that we will be in the Premier League next season. 

 

 

We do need to spend though or we're fucked.  Coming up with the squad we came up with meant major surgery was required last summer.  38 games later and I'd say there is a core of players which seem pretty good.  I think Mings and Konsa are promising, McGinn's early season form was great, as was Douglas Luiz's run in. Grealish was fantastic.  Hopefully Tom Heaton will mange to play 38 games next season.   

We sailed close to the wind going into the season with only Wesley as a striker.  I still remain unconvinced and I'd like to see us buy a striker who can scored 15+ goals.  We desperately need pace though, I don't think El Ghazi is good enough and despite scoring a couple of really important goals in the run in I'm not convinced by Trez either.  If we are going to spend big then it's got to be in this area of the pitch first.  I'm not here to name names, we've got a recruitment department to do that (though I'm unsure about them too, I'd like to see a more analytics driven policy than what we've got now with Suso and his list of contacts). 

I'm 50/50 on Grealish.  We won't sell cheaply, I'm unsure who'll come in.  Can't see him heading to Manchester United any more, Bruno Fernandes has closed that door and Covid has taken a lot of money out of the market which reduces the number of suitors.  I don't think he'll move sideways to a club like Everton or Southampton. Maybe Spurs or Arsenal would come in but are they going to make us an offer we can't refuse?  

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I’d agree with all of that I think. I’m still not sold on Smith as the long term future but you are absolutely right about him fulfilling his briefs so I think he has to be given at least a crack at next season. 
 

For me getting a striker is 100% priority number one. A proven striker is required no more punts. 
 

I think Grealish stays unless someone comes in with crazy money. If we’d have gone down fair enough but we don’t need to sell him now. 

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I don't think for one second Smith is the man to lead us to Champions League glory or anything but I am a huge believer in having a stable ship over the summer. We've not had that in years and the 'periods of adjustment' we tend to go through while the clock is running always cost us.  The 2020/21 season kicks off in six weeks, presumably the players are going to have at least a couple of weeks off as holiday but will be expected to come back fairly fit.  I think getting points on the board early is vitally important because then you can play without pressure.  We've got three sides coming up from The Championship who will have to invest heavily in the squad and/or change their system and I'd like to have a big of a cushion in points on them as possible.  I'd like to see us get 45-50 points next season which is good enough for lower mid table.  If we become harder to beat (we lost 21 games in 2019/20, which was one more than Watford who went down) then that's half the battle, and I'd like to think if the squad does become settled then instead of needing three or four players for the first team we can get by with one or two and our relatively young squad (the oldest outfield player with 1500+ minutes was Conor who turned 29 in February) can develop as a unit.  

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  • 1 month later...

Another summer of activity in the transfer market then, we’ve quietly spent £75m on new players so far. I really like Watkins, some people think £28m is too much but it seems half a dozen clubs were in for him which drove the price up.  I don’t know too much about Cash and Martinez but the reaction of Forest and Arsenal fans to them moving on gives me hope.  Traore announced today, I’ve got reservations on that one as he seems to promise more then he delivers.  Grealish extending is something I’d half expected as we were going to have to offer him the money he’d get elsewhere.  I’m confident we can look at mid table this season if the club don’t suddenly forget all the lessons learned during the project restart run.  

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I think Watkins is going to do well and one of my Arsenal supporting work mates is proper gutted at Martinez leaving. Keeping Jack was the most important thing so glad that has been sorted. Rumours abound of a big hush hush signing as well but trying not to get too exited about that. 
 

I’m hoping for a less stressful campaign this year. Last year I said I’d be more than happy with 17th but the way we went about it was torture. 
 

A nice mid table finish without really flirting with the bottom three would do me just fine this year. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Fucking hell.  I think we had like 30% possession against Liverpool.  9 points from 3 games.  It may say something about the past few years, but every step towards survival is the only perspective I have on this.

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Won at a canter today. That's not a good Newcastle side but there were moments in that game where we were dancing through them at ease and clearly had 3 or 4 more gears left in us.

 

Great to see Watkins back on the scoresheet. He's been excellent this season and even though he has had a barren run he was still playing well and working for the team. And Traore, that goal... Traore is a difficult player, he's capable of skill that would shock prime Ronaldinho one second and completely unable to control the ball the next, and he's absurdly one footed but he's scored 2 great goals with his weaker foot now. But you can't deny that he's on a run of form right now.

 

This is a side that can do things this year. And we're strengthening. Hourihane has gone on loan with everyone's best wishes (absolutely world class left foot, but the rest of his game at Premier League level is limited) and we're bringing in Sanson, who looks to have a fair bit about him and in his prime. And we've still got Wesley to come back.

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I’m optimistic about Sanson . Recent buys have all turned out to be pretty astute. The first team is good, but the bench looks thin. Sanson  can play in a number of midfield positions, so will be a useful but.

 

Smith has done really well in actually coaching and improving players. Players who I thought were miles off the quality we needed now look the part. Konsa  and Targett are the obvious ones, but Nakamba looked a much better player when he played yesterday.

 

This is the most positive I’ve been as a Villa fan since O’Neill.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thought I'd wait for the gruelling run of fixtures to end before posting my thoughts on the first half of this season, games were coming so thick and fast I felt it could define our season.   Six games in seventeen days (starting with an evening kick off and ending with a lunchtime game) is about as tough a run of fixtures as we'll face this season and taking 9 points from them is a decent return. Tempting fate here but we've got a run of fixtures coming up where we should be looking to put decent points on the board before shit gets real again in April.   The table is still really congested and predicting a place where we will finish is going to be almost impossible but we are on for 60+ points and I'll be delighted if we take that.  

 

As for the players? Well, I'm happy across the board.  The back four and goalkeeper are rock solid, every single one of them has had an incredible season, Emi has to be in the running for PFA team of the season and he looks a bargain already, Targett has gone from convenient scapegoat to being in contention for an England call up. I don't think Konsa can have too many people in front of him too. Mings still has a gaffe in him from time to time but when he's good he's an absolute colossus and Matty Cash looks like he's been playing Premier League football all of his life. 

 

I think we can still get overrun in midfield at times. Everybody is a good player but for some reason I feel teams run through us too easily, especially when we go with a 4-3-3 rather than the 4-2-3-1,  McGinn does blow hot and cold as does Ross Barkley, hopefully Sanson will start getting  a bit more game time now the club can actually do some stuff at Bodymoor Heath. I figure that since Covid outbreak when the training ground was closed and then the crazy run of fixtures which probably meant we were doing recovery days and travel days there really hasn't been much time to do regular training since Xmas. Sanson definitely hasn't had much time with the team since he signed so it makes sense why he's being eased in. I don't think we will permanently sign Barkley unless Chelsea only want to recoup the £15m or so they paid for him. We'd be fools to break our club transfer record if that's what they are asking. 

 

Further forward? Jack remains one of the best players in the Premier League right now.  If I were a club in the Champions League looking to buy someone to improve my attack then Jack Grealish would be right at the top of the list of players to sign. Hopefully we can keep him in the summer but I'm not daft and I know he belongs on the European stage.  I'm really happy with Watkins, even when he wasn't scoring he looked a threat and probably would have had a couple more goals if VAR didn't penalise him for being millimetres offside. 10 in 21 games is a decent return for his first half season in the top flight, getting to 20 isn't beyond the realms of possibility.   I'll be interested to see how Wesley fits into this side, it seems like he's still a long way off but I can see potential for Ollie moving out wide while Wesley plays centrally and if Wesley continues dropping deep then Watkins still has scope to get into the six yard box.   The other forwards all strike me as players who can look exceptional on their day but will never show the level of consistency which makes them top six level.  

 

Really happy with Smith. There's a vocal minority on Villa social media who seem to think every problem can be solved by making a substitution and get annoyed with Smith when he doesn't make changes. I figure he knows the squad and football better than we do so I'm still on his side there.   The summer will be an interesting time, if we can keep everybody then I dare say we will be an attractive club to join for top players for the first time in over a decade.  I'm just fearful we lose Jack and Douglas Luiz. 

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