Thoughts and issues regarding the past and present of a great football club by "The Chronicler".

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Fresh Green Shoots

The game (at Dresden) seemed not to be going Villa's way, and then suddenly up pops Green to send in a bending missile which was craftily placed. Within 30 seconds and Hutton hops down the wing like a 2-year-old, skilfully evading two tackles, and pops the ball onto Green's head for what was a 'sitter'. Game over.

Dresden, in truth, wasted opportunities to at least draw the match, but Villa showed enough composure to win through.

But it's in the last two pre-season matches that Green has showed that he has the hunger to show 'em how, scoring 3 goals from about 4 or 5 opportunities, and generally showing good skill, though overdoing it sometimes. He looks as though he really wants to banish last season's enforced absence out of his mind and get cracking in a new season. He must surely be in the line-up at the start of the first match of the season, at Hull.

In the last two games, however, Villa's defence has not looked tremendously strong, and that could be Villa's Achilles' Heel. But in most other positions there appear to be signs that the newcomers of the last 18 months or so have now settled down and are playing as a team. I expect the oldsters Whelan and Jedinak to share the burden as the main rock in midfield, with Hourihane and Lansbury prompting hard. However, there certainly are youngsters capable of providing flair and energy in that department. And even Jack might get through another season with us, but I'm not counting on that. A £25m+ fee will surely purchase his services, and he wants his career to get going as well.

The only other real concern is the main striking role, with a lot of dependency falling on Kodjia's shoulders. Can Kodjia dovetail properly? Will he repeat his scoring form of the season before last? I wonder. And I'm not feeling positive about Hogan ever coming good.

I feel that that the squad lacks a couple of players - in defence and in the attack - for me to feel supremely confident about this season's outcome, but I still think it's a season that we should enjoy.

Well, we'll soon find out!


Thursday, 26 July 2018

A Breath Of Fresh Air!

Well, I can say that I can breathe more easily now that I've learnt that Steve "The Imperfect but Experienced" Bruce stays as Villa's managerial leader into the future. And also because Edens, one of the two new big investors, has stated: 
“We want to see Aston Villa restored to the highest levels of English football and do everything we can do to be good stewards of that.
“We think that nothing happens overnight. that was my experience with the Bucks and I think it'll be consistent with what it is here.
“We have very lofty goals for the club, the organisation and the fans and we want to be the best partners possible for that.”
Last night's run-out against West Ham showed that there's a distinct gulf between Vila's level and that of a Premiership club, but it was encouraging to see the later subs coming on and showing more urgency and a little more potency, with Green scoring a peach of a goal late on.

So, here we are. A new season about to open and every possibility that we'll be happier at the end of this 46-game season. It's by no means a certainty Villa will get promotion this time around, but so long as we're a bit more fortunate on the injuries stakes and so long as we'll find an adequate replacement for Grealish (for surely he'll still go), there's every reason to feel upbeat about the possibilities.

The two new investors clearly have a realistic attitude and now I feel a lot more confident about the club's ability to get there.

But, proof of what's on offer is only found in the eating!


Friday, 20 July 2018

Let's Hope For Brains at VP - As Well As Some Cash!

News that Dr. Xia seems to be at an "advanced" stage of negotiations with a Middle East consortium fills me with mixed feelings. The main one being that this would be the third takeover by a non-UK concern and, frankly, the club has not progressed since the days of the "Ellis OUT!" banners. The warning I issued then - all those years ago - was to be careful for what you wish for, and that fear, unfortunately, transformed into a reality.

One of the concerns for me now is that I understand that one of the groups interested in taking over at Villa Park, and which has effectively been rejected, is UK-based and includes people that are Villa supporters. Despite any shortcomings they might have, my feeling is that route would be preferable to another overseas takeover. But, of course, it's Xia that's in the seller's driving seat and can do what he wishes. Unfortunately.

But as someone has blogged or tweeted: "It's not billions [money] that's required but football brains!" Well, the reality is these days that you need plenty of cash as well to be even a reasonable success in football, but "brains" clearly have been in short supply at Villa Park this last 10 years or so.

So, we are left with a cloudy future no matter what happens now. All we can hope for is that the future shows at least a few sunny spells.


Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Money Worries Put Aside At Walsall

Amidst the financial chaos at Villa Park football is still being played. Only against fairly low minnows, mind you, but footie nevertheless and last night it was a 4-1 win at Walsall, with Villa utilising what appeared to be virtually the first choice team in the first 60 minutes barring those not yet back from World Cup duty. Albeit that Grealish may now have played his last game, and strong rumours of Chester leaving as well. To add to that there is the possibility of players like Jedinak, Bjarnasson, Albert and Kodjia also going to bring in some much-needed 'readies'.

So was last night's team performance anything much to go by? The main thing that caught my eye was that Villa were playing good purposeful football and along the ground. That was good to see, and players like Hourihane (hat-trick hero but two of 'em were somewhat lucky!), Lansbury and Whelan looked pretty much on song.

But I was looking a lot at Jack Grealish. He is a well-balanced footballer without a doubt, and with some skill, but against a team like Walsall he should have taken them apart and yet he seemed short of pace and shooting accuracy with which to do so. Though he would suit Villa well in the upcoming couple of years, my feeling is that if Villa can get £20m-plus for him then it would be money well earned. That's not to say I don't want him, it's just that I do not see him as being a great player: but perhaps life at Spurs may improve Jack. I think Villa can make progress without him, especially as others are coming through the ranks.

Kodjia, I have to say, is disappointing me. He seems out of sorts with the rest of the team. By now I would have expected him to come bursting onto the scene again, but against lowly Walsall he hardly had a meaningful touch.

And that's the real story I think. That despite all the talk of major players going, there remains a residue of experienced and young talent that can still make strides. For me the main worry is the centre-forward spot and whether that can be filled properly.


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Maybe There Is A Future?

Well, having regained a little composure after the trauma of recent weeks, a little cogitation causes me to be calmer. No, I am not now full of hope exactly but at least I'm not feeling the worst is about to happen to Aston Villa.

We seem to have had an assurance that the Doctor is staying; he's not selling-up. How he intends to run the club and whether he's dispensing with a separate CEO person is not clear right now; this remains a concerning aspect. Bruce is also staying. So, in terms of club management, there are some matters to be resolved that we can't read into just now, especially with regard to the finances. And selling the best of the players to help deal with this matter, including Grealish, seems to be the way that's needed. That, therefore, leaves the players we have left and the potential this forthcoming season.

For those who have argued that we should build from youth, this must surely be the time of striking when the iron is hot - to get those promising youngsters into action, combined with some of the more experienced players that remain. It is to Hutton's credit that he has wanted to stay after proving that, at this level at least, he has a lot to offer after all. And we appear to continue to have players like El Mohammedy and probably also Jedinak and Hourihane to put out on the field. It would be nice if a fully recovered Kodjia is available.

So, with an admixture of the younger players, the future cannot be so bad. My main concern is in the centre-back department and if Chester goes, as he might. That would be an important slot to fill properly. 

As for the possibility of promotion this season, well, it could be - but maybe not. It could well be there are a couple of seasons to go before we can talk more confidently about that. Until then, let's enjoy seeing the growth of some youngsters.