What We Learned as Aston Villa Fans After Stoke Flop

Another home defeat in a potentially winnable game and more questions being asked (and answered) of Tactic Tim’s tactics. What else did Aston Villa fans learn from a week with another forgettable performance and result?


The Villa performance might have generated more shots than under Paul Lambert’s regime, but the end result and the feeling left in the stomach of fans on their way home after another defeat at Villa Park with no goals scored was the same.

[Sherwood’s] admitted he’s still looking for his best XI. That is scary.

Whereas Lambert stubbornly refused to change anything, said we were excellent, and planned to go again, Tim Sherwood is honest in his appraisal, drawing just short of the line of “bloody awful”.

While telling fans he can turn it around, he also points the finger at a player who might not even exist – a creative talent to lift the team. On paper he has plenty to choose from: potential creators like Grealish, Gil, Veretout, Toure and maverick striker Ayew – but none has shown they can be relied upon week-in, week-out. Because of this, while lamenting over injuries, form and match fitness, he admitted he’s still looking for his best XI. That is scary.


Stoke are known as a hard-working squad that gets it done. They weren’t impressive but they made Villa look second best. That’s scary too.

As was pointed out by every pundit on the job, deciding to experiment with three centre-backs against a team that only plays one forward looked to be a tactical error. Putting tough-tackling Alan Hutton as right-back ahead of attack-minded, poor-tackling Leandro Bacuna, given the extra defensive cover, might have seemed to be a strange decision too.

Perhaps there’s more to be gained from picking a formation, sticking to it, populating it with the players he feels fit the system best, and replacing those in it only when they become unavailable. This might be the best way of actually GENERATING a best XI – giving players a chance to play and rewarding them with successive selection while challenging the rest of the squad to step up and force them into the match-day squad.


One of Sherwood’s smarter decisions of the week was to keep Grealish out of the England camp get-together. If he’s really going to challenge for the England squad, he has to first secure a spot on the Villa starting team. The distraction of him deciding on a national squad is over. The rest can wait until he’s ready for the next step.


It appears that Villa played a behind-closed-doors game against Burnley this week, presumably to assess the fitness of fringe players, try something different and keep players active. There was no mention of this from the Villa PR machine but Burnley provided coverage through social media. Again, if this is going to help Sherwood figure out who his best XI should be, it’s all good. Sadly the goals came from a free-kick and a penalty, which doesn’t help bolster any confidence in scoring from open-play, but…


Charles N’Zogbia continues to show himself up as the pretentious flop he has always been by celebrating collecting his wages – upwards of 63 grand a week (meaning Villa have spent over £13 million on him) according to his latest round of tweets – while doing as much as he’s ever done in a Villa shirt: nothing.

Perhaps he is entitled to be bitter – it’s certain he would be allowed to leave for free should some poor sucker want to take on all his baggage – but as nobody wants him, he’s left sulking and winding up Villa fans online. Should he ever return to Villa Park, he’s guaranteed himself a warm-welcome to rival anyone who ever played for the Blues.


Follow Adam Keeble on Twitter @keebo00

Follow MOMS on Twitter @oldmansaid


  1. Tim is tactically hopeless, this is why he doesn’t know what his best team is. At least he is honest though!

  2. So you criticise lambert for not changing anything and then you want tim to do the same…hmm…but my point is you shouldn’t criticise lambert for being stubborn, well you can still criticise both of them for always playing narrow and not playing wingers, but like you said, there’s more to be gained in sticking to a formation, except that the change should come in the set-up and that is playing wide and with wingers

    • Lambert would field a team that created maybe two shots, one on target, lose, tell the fans we were excellent, field the same team and expect things to be different. Sherwood’s teams have created more – they just can’t finish (which to your point is in part down to having a targetman but little service from out-and-out wingers – which is ridiculous).

      I’m all for stability, but Sherwood can legitimately point to individual mistakes for (some of his) poor results. Lambert was delusional in thinking a team that couldn’t create even half-chances would somehow magically become a creative force while yelling at players like Grealish to get back to help the defense.

      I’m not happy with the results but I would rather blame mistakes with tactics and player brain-farts than stubbornly flogging a dead horse and telling the fans “we’ll be fine”. Tim should ignore what the fashionable tactics are, field a conventional line up to play to the team’s strengths including a creative midfield with wingers, instill some fear into our opponents – especially at Villa Park which used to be a tough place for opponents to come and is now as welcoming as a Premier Inn, and win some bloody games even if it means getting more direct.

  3. Let me get this straight. Timotei was allowed to choose which biscuits he could buy at Lidl’s…top shelf, if you’re a good boy… but not where he could shop for biscuits ie Waitrose…or Fortnums, even. Are we f*****g Nabisco now ?? “Which cookies make me the most money”?.

    *If* all/any of this were true – one can just imagine Fox’s elevator pitch – “think of them as financial instruments, timelord”. More disturbingly, there’s no apparent motive for this story to have been leaked by the bored – so it seems we are back to the eastern intrigue that marked Timmy’s brief sojourn in NW London. Which would invariably also mark the beginning of the end.

    (Comment also faxed to the Bham Mail)

  4. Tim doesn’t pick the best team in the first place, so how or why would he stick with that team until someone becomes unavailable?. Gil is obviously the best and most creative player we have, but he rarely gets picked in the starting line-up. Tim is either staying loyal to the ‘hard work in training’ ethic, in which case, Gil is one of those players that only produce the goods on match day. If Tim knows that (and he’s had enough proof), he should start Gil every time (if fit). Last season, and the start of this one, seems to prove that N’Zogbia (last season) and Agbonlahor are good trainers, but rarely deliver the goods on match day, surely Tim can see this?

    Maybe the other reason that Villa’s attacking flair has been curtailed, is the introduction of Ray ‘square balls’ Wilkins as coach. He made England look rubbish in the years he was picked for them, but as a London player, he had to be picked (preventing flair midfielders like Cowans and Mortimer from being picked), and consequently England won sweet f.a.

    If Tim is truly running the team, he should put Micah Richards at right back and either Crespo or Okore at right centre back, Clark left centre back, Amavi left back. Gana left centre midfield, Veretout right centre midfield, Gil (the number 10) centre midfield, Grealish left wing, Gestede/Kozak centre forward and Adama Traore right wing. Subs: Crespo/Okore, Gestede/Kozak, Sinclair, Ayew, Westwood, Lescott, Bunn. Guzan is obviously the goalkeeper, but would like us to buy someone better. If Tim stuck with this team to begin the matches, we might just start winning again, although I wouldn’t hold my breath, as Tim seems too stubborn to listen to others unless it’s Uncle Fester!

    • I gather nobody has taken a look at the Villa bench in recent
      times ! It’s not Wilkins who is constantly talking ?? tactics to Tim but Robson our chief coach whilest Wilkins & Parks who last season was constantly barking orders to the team sit intently watching the match
      As for selecting the “best players” there’s and old saying that the best team is the one which will win you points and that may not be one composed of your “best players”

  5. No doubt Nzomnia and Adebayor would have been amazing together. We’ll never know.

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