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The 7500toHolte Roundtable: Can Aston Villa keep the good times rolling?

A new-look roundtable kicks off, as Villa kick on.

Aston Villa v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

We talk about some awesome stuff in our little private corner of the internet, our Slack Channel - but we never publish anything from it. So you’re missing out on awesome tidbits, and other things. We’ve decided to post some of our conversations to our website. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

How does it work? I (James) will pose a question to the group, and the group will debate and discuss it. We post the results here!

First up? After two big wins, can Aston Villa keep the good times rolling?


Question: After two big wins, can Aston Villa keep the good times rolling?

Phil Vogel:

“Can? ... sure. But the last year+ doesn’t inspire any confidence that it will happen. But boy -- if this team gels they can beat anyone in the league. Do players like Hogan, Jedinak, and Elphick keep their places?”

Aston Villa v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Alex Carson:

“Yeah, when we talk about Villa maybe having the best squad in the league, this is a perfect example of that. So the answer is definitely “yes” that they can, but will Bruce stick with the tactic? The one thing that encourages me is that the upcoming run is pretty weak — Villa should be the favoured side in every one of our next five matches, bar Sheffield United away.

I really think the key to it all is the Grealish/Hourihane partnership ahead of Jedinak. Those two were both afforded so much freedom today, and our attack really reaped the benefits of that freedom.”

Sean Evans:

“Hopefully...and they should. The way Villa performed today, they looked as if they could beat anyone in the league.

I agree with Alex, Jedinak holding in the midfield allows our attacking talents to have the capacity to do just that. Surely Bruce will keep this midfield going forward. Also, we really are dealing with some key injuries. Getting players back in ideal world will make us to be even better.

Whatever the future holds, that was a fun way to spend the holiday. Some of the best attacking football Villa Park has seen in quite awhile.”

Robb Jones:

“I think today showed that they can, should, and—not to be such a sourpuss—they should have done before now. I doubt when we match up against the other promotion candidates that we go 5-0. Since Bruce couldn’t have played this lineup due to injuries to Mile and Jack and also because he’s refused to, Bristol had no reason or need to prepare for it. That won’t be the case against Wolves or Cardiff later on whose sides will be prepared. The luck is that those matches will be at Villa Park.

Though I doubt the goals will continue to come in the bunches we saw today, and though I doubt we continue to get this excellent play from Alan Hutton (and Tommy Elphick who has earned matchday status when John Terry is back) like Alex said, the tactics today were suited for the talent and we should continue to create chances.

No more playing for draws. Even if we lose a match, pushing the pace and playing front-footed should earn us 3 points more often than not.”

Aston Villa v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

James Rushton:

“I think maybe Bruce's insecurity in the role, and the way he punched out, has naturally lead to a more progressive style. Look, Villa played great possession stuff today, with a patient build up. Usually, we are trying to stuff the direct approach down the throats of teams. I'm all for this. Really am up for it.”

Matt Booher:

“If Bruce wants to stuff it to the fans by opening the side up to play attacking football, I’m all for it.”

Phil Vogel:

“In the end. Bruce can punch all he wants if the performance and the pitch looks like it did today.”

James Rushton:

“Have to agree with that, Phil.”

Aston Villa v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Alex Carson:

“And with our table position, we need to play for wins, not draws. If 90 points is still the target for second, Villa still need 46 points from 21 matches. That’s either 15-1-5 or 14-4-3, unless you think we’re only going to lose once.”

Matt Booher:

“I think most of this “crisis” boils down to a difference in expectations. I think most fans would prefer automatic promotion over the roulette of the playoff. I think Bruce sees his job as Top 6 and see what happens. So when Villa sits 8th and 9 points from automatic promotion - fans see a problem. Bruce looks at it goes were only 3 points from the playoffs with half a season to play.”

Alex Carson:

“Yeah, and I think there's a certain level to which Bruce is right on that. Sure, you'd love to find yourself first or second at the end of the year, but it's really hard to do that, even for good teams. When you look at the struggles of Middlesbrough or Fulham or (especially) Sheffield Wednesday this year, our situation starts to look a lot better. The flip side of it, though, is that before this weekend, there was little evidence that would've made you believe Villa _could_ win the playoff even if they got there, given poor results against other top sides.

And the important thing that I think a lot of us keep in the back of our head is that the club will be in a bad financial (well, FFP) position if promotion isn't won. I think the club would be hard-pressed to keep some of our top players and would become reliant on our youth coming through -- which, you know, might not be the end of the world after all. But it's a hard sell to supporters when you've spent the kind of money Villa have and have the talent Villa do. To lose Kodjia or Adomah or Chester because you have to meet FFP obligations, and to miss out on promotion because of it, would be a punch in the gut if you feel like you didn't give promotion your best shot this year.”

Robb Jones:

“Matt, I think that’s a really good point. It’s totally my expectation that Villa just play well—not necessarily that they bag goals and win 5-0 every week. Sometimes you miss opportunities like how earlier this season we lost points because Josh Onomah and I believe Andre Green missed wide open nets, but that just happens sometimes. As a big NBA fan, the old quote, can’t remember who to attribute it to, is to “write the story when the balls in the air” meaning that sometimes they go in and sometimes they just don’t. My frustration with Bruce and our spot in the table was that there was nothing that was showing we knew what to do to get the ball in the air, not that the ball wasn’t going in, y’know?

But with that said, the RDM times generated chances but didn’t get results and he got panned by a lot of fans and lost his job because of it, so I do sympathize with Bruce there. There is a segment of the fandom that just have a lust for goals and victories and anything that doesn’t get us that should be jettisoned. Maybe I just think that group is smaller and maybe Bruce needs it for motivation. Like Phil said, if it keeps him up for it and pissing off Lee Johnson I’m fine with it.”