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PLAYING THE VILLAIN

The first instalment of my FM19 Aston Villa save blog.
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Superclasico FC's avatar Group Superclasico FC 2018-10-23 22:19
00 7 posts joined Oct 22, 2018


Hi everyone, and welcome to 'Playing the Villain'. Football Manager 2019's full release is just around the corner, and for the new game I have decided to take the plunge into blogging my saves. I'll be uploading my blogs here on FM Scout as well as on my blog at https://superclasicofc.wordpress.com.

As part of this introductory post I’lll outline the reasons I chose to start FM 19 managing Aston Villa. I'll also to speak to the philosophies I want to implement during this save and the aspirations I have for it. So get yourself comfy and I'll introduce the save. I hope you come along for the ride.

LEAUGE FOUNDERS

A lot of fans talk about history, often pointedly so in the direction of Manchester City and Chelsea fans. However when it comes to history, few clubs have a legacy as illustrious as Aston Villa’s.

In 1874, four cricketers met under a gas lamp, and decided football would be the way they’d fill the dark, cold winter nights. Football owes a lot to the boredom of cricketers, which is why, as an ode to football, cricketers still to this day generously choose to share this boredom with whomever watches them.

1874 is a significant date, mainly because it means that Aston Villa was founded one year before Birmingham City. Back then Villa’s insignificant neighbours were named Small Heath Alliance, and to this day many Villa supporters are saddened they parted ways with that names suitably humbling prefix.

After eleven seasons playing against themselves got boring, so Aston Villa’s president William McGregor founded the Football League. It took him three years to do it, and in 1888 Aston Villa, along with eleven other clubs, began competing in the world's first football league.

Like your mate on his own Play Station when you go over to his place, Aston Villa spent a lot of time playing with their Football League and won a lot more than you did.



MANAGEMENT TEAMS

The man behind Aston Villa's immense success following the Football League's foundation was George Ramsay. Ramsay was at the helm of Villa before the modern role of manager even existed, and instead held the title of secretary. But Ramsay did quite a bit more than answer the phones and make tea for his boss. Over an incredible 42 years he won 6 FA Cups and 6 Division One championships, making Villa the most famous and successful club in the land.

What I find so interesting about this man was his focus upon collaboration. Ramsay’s ideas flew in the face of the idea that clubs should having a singular figure-head who controls much of the clubs on field affairs, a role which arguably died with the end of Wenger’s reign at Arsenal.

He used the skills and ideas of other to win, as Ramsay mainly handled player recruitment and transfers, and worked in conjunction with a specialist trainer who handled match preparation. There was even a committee with handled weekly team selection.



THE EUROPEAN DREAM

The late 70’s and early 80’s were without doubt the golden era of English football. Everyone is aware of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor, the management team which led Nottingham Forrest to back to back European Cups. However, Ron Saunders may lay claim to an even more impressive triumph.
In 1974, Saunders took over Aston Villa in the Second Division. The famed founders of the Football League had, in the years prior, sunk to the lowest point in their history, the Third Division.

In his first season at Villa Saunders won the club promotion back to the top flight, winning the League Cup in the same season. Seven years later, Saunders won the First Division title after an incredible 71 year drought.

The next season, Saunders resigned due to a disagreement with the board over his contract. The club was mid table in the league, but still alive at the quarter-final stages of the European Cup. His assistant Tony Barton, the original Roberto Di Matteo, took over as manager for the final months of the season and remarkably led the club to European Cup glory over German giants Bayern Munich.

If it weren’t for his resignation, Saunders would have completed the perfect Football Manger achievement; taking a club from the lower leagues to unprecedented European ascendancy. Perhaps dwarfed by the cult of personality that was Brian Clough, Saunders never reached the legendary status of his fellow manager at Forrest, but his incredible career at Aston Villa speaks for itself. The European Cup was his trophy, as the coming seasons would make evident.



ALL DOWNHILL

Any claim that Tony Barton may have had of being the mastermind of Villa’s European success came crashing down as two years later he was sacked. Then, the unthinkable happened. Only five seasons after their famous victory over Munich, The Villains where relegated.

Since then Villa became a mediocre side, plagued by instability, financial mismanagement and multiple relegations.

However, Villa’s most recent relegation sees the club teetering on the brink of disaster. In 2016, financial catastrophe and on field apathy combined to send the club down to the Championship. Aston Villa’s last season in the Premier League was pathetic, as the club registered only 3 wins and 17 points.

Relegation is never great, but 2016 was an especially bad year for it to occur. The following season, the Premier League’s TV revenue was set to rise by 50% which cost the club an estimated 200 million pounds. Astonishingly, the squad that was relegated from the Premier League were the 7th highest earning playing group in the division.

So, Aston Villa now find themselves at a cross roads. With parachute payments ending next season and the club narrowly avoiding financial meltdown this summer, the club desperately need to get back into the big leagues. And things don't look good, as at the beginning of the most crucial season in Villa’s long and decorated history cabbages have already been thrown. The Villains need a hero.



So in summary, Villa have all the hallmarks of the perfect Football Manager challenge; a huge club with an illustrious history that find themselves peering over the precipice of the Championship into lower league obscurity.

There is a clear goal for the save as well; replicate the achievements of Ron Saunders and take the Villains from the Championship to the Champions League.

Finally, a deep dive into Aston Villa’s history highlighted time and time again the importance of the assistant manager or, as Cosmo Kramer would put it, the “Ass Man”. From George Ramsay relying on a specialist trainer during Villa’s golden era to Tony Barton continuing Ron Saunder’s footballing principles and legacy all the way to European Cup glory, a good number two has always led to success for this club.

With this in mind, my assistant manager (who will be announced in episode two) will play a significant role in this save. From the club’s tactical identity to player recruitment philosophies, the Premier League legend who’ll fill the position of my assistant will shape the ideas and culture of Aston Villa’s next generation.



Stay tuned, as in episode two I'll announce who the mystery assistant manager is and discuss the philosophies we'll employ that will surely make us the villains of world football in more ways than one. Up the Villa.

Thanks so much for reading, and if you enjoyed please check out and follow my personal blog at https://superclasicofc.wordpress.com.
This post was edited by Superclasico FC (2018-10-25 11:39, 6 months ago)
Superclasico FC's avatar Group Superclasico FC 2018-10-26 03:49
00 7 posts joined Oct 22, 2018


AND OUR ASSISTANT MANAGER IS…

Before I introduce my assistant manager, I want to first discuss the role. Being the assistant manager is quite possibly the most thankless task in football, yet also one of the most important. To those who know, this statement isn’t particularly revolutionary, yet even football experts can sometimes fail to appreciate the level of influence the ‘number two’ has at a football club.

The names Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino are instantly recognisable to almost everyone with even the slightest interest in football. In fact, I’m sure you’re picturing the petulant Portuguese, the jovial German and the cardigan clad Catalan right now. However, how many of you recognise the names Rui Faria, Zeljko Buvac and Jesús Pérez?

The manager is without doubt the face of the football club. Equally, however, the head to which that face is attached will be the first to lay under the chopping block when things go pear-shaped. Naturally, this means it’s crucial for a manager to have a knowledgeable, experienced, complementary and trusted colleague working alongside him.

Having said that, it is often the backroom staff, led by the assistant manager, who ensure the continued success of a football club. Chelsea, is possibly the most volatile club by the metric of manager turnover. However, The Blues have generally experienced success throughout the Abrahmovic era, despite them going through managers quicker than Mourinho chasing Marco Ianni down the touch-line. In Carlo Anchelotti’s opinion, this is due to the backroom staff. When Anchelotti arrived at Stamford Bridge he wanted to bring his staff from previous jobs with him. Chelsea refused, yet as a result Anchelotti leant heavily on the experience of Paul Clement, who went on to follow Carlo as his trusted assistant long after his stint at Chelsea.

In contrast, when David Moyes took over at Manchester United he sacked Fergie’s coaching staff. The season prior, those coaches won the League with the Red Devils. By sacking them Moyes drastically changed the fabric of the club, and lost valuable relationships those coaches had with the players as well as the understanding they had of the club. It’s fair to say Moyes might still be regretting that decision.

So, let’s announce who will fill the important role of my assistant manager at Aston Villa. I’ll give you some clues. You wouldn’t want him to get to close to your missus or take penalties in the rain. He’s won every possible club honour and is a Premier League legend. He had a long club career, playing for a highly successful, well run Premier League stalwart (and Aston Villa). Yep, you guessed it. Aston Villa’s newest assistant manager is none other than John Terry.



JOHN TERRY

5 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cups, a Champions League title and 78 England caps isn’t a bad innings. In fact, it’s an incredible career. JT is without doubt a Premier League legend, but will he make a good assistant manager? Terry is very inexperienced in the role, yet as a relatively young and tenacious coach his attributes will no doubt improve.

Regardless of his coaching attributes, John Terry will have a major impact on how Aston Villa operate. In the days leading up to my appointment as Villa manager I spoke to John, and we began to crystallise some ideas as to how we will form Aston Villa’s tactical and cultural identities. We have a good squad at our disposal (tune in next episode for an in-depth analysis of our playing staff) and both John and I came to the conclusion that by developing a defined playing style and a strong club culture we stand a chance of doing big things this season.



TACTICAL IDENTITY

“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” – Oliver Wendel Holmes

I have absolutely no idea who Oliver Wendel Holmes is, but regardless, the man talks sense. And the ideas planted in the mind of John Terry are pretty good ones. Terry played under great names during his time at Chelsea, names such as Guillit, Viali, Ranieri, Mourinho, Grant, Scolari, Hiddink, Anchelloti, Villas-Boas, Di Matteo, Benitez and Conte. Chlesea do like to churn through the managers don’t they. And I didn’t even include the double ups. Anyway, the manager who undoubtedly had the most impact on Terry was Jose ‘The Special One’ Mourinho.



The former Chelsea captain has said that it was Mourinho that inspired him to go into coaching. However, Mourinho also inspired how Terry believes the game should be played and informed his preferred tactical outlook. John Terry, during his time under Mourinho sucked up Jose’s ideas like a sponge, inheriting his pragmatic, winning mentality and his counter attacking tactics.

As a result, throughout this save I will employ the tactical ideas of John Terry where I can. I’d really like to follow every piece of tactical advice JT gives me, but as we know that advice may be limited to him telling me that “we’re being seriously overrun in midfield” when we’re 3-0 up. So, as a minimum, I will use the formations which Terry played in during his time under Mourinho at Aston Villa.

The formations are the 4-3-3 and the diamond which Jose implemented during his record-breaking first season at Stamford Bridge. I’ll go into a lot more detail of how John and I will replicate these systems, but for now enjoy a nice nostalgic look back at Mourinho’s remarkably successful setups, which will act as templates for my time at Villa. I’ve already blue-tacked them to the walls of the changing room.






CULTURAL IDENTITY

John Terry is a renowned leader with the perfect mentality for an elite athlete. At Aston Villa, I want the playing group to be defined by professionalism, leadership, competitiveness and, most importantly the ability to sacrifice for the team. So, using John Terry’s mental attributes as the model, I will implement a strict recruitment criteria. This will ensure that we sign the right kind of players and ultimately create the best cultural identity of any club in world football.



The core attributes which I will use to evaluate signings will be determination, leadership, bravery and teamwork. Any player singed by Aston Villa must have an average attirbute value of at least 13 across each of these categorises, equating to a minimum required score of 52 out of a possible 80. This attribute score will make up what I refer to as the ‘Lion DNA’.



Culture is a word that is thrown around a lot in organisations, sporting or otherwise. John Terry, as a coach, will instil his professionalism on the club and hopefully develop an unbreakable winning mentality. Having clearly defined standards for the intangible concepts of team identity and personal attitude will, I believe, have a huge impact on Aston Villa’s success. The Lion DNA will also be taught to young players who’ve come through the youth system thanks to FM19’s new mentoring system. Hopefully it doesn’t mean all the players start shagging each other’s wives and girlfriends as well.

Thanks so much for reading. If you enjoyed please check out and follow my personal blog at https://superclasicofc.wordpress.com. Be sure to tune in next week when I actually get my hands on the game and assess the squad I've got to work with and begin my career at Aston Villa. Up the Villa.
This post was edited by Superclasico FC (2018-10-31 23:48, 5 months ago)
Justice's avatar Group Justice 2018-10-26 23:19
00 5498 posts 682 likes joined Feb 11, 2013
You've completely blown me away with the standard and detail of this story, bravo sir! I especially enjoyed the 'Lion DNA' part you have included so well. You have me captivated!
Superclasico FC's avatar Group Superclasico FC 2018-10-27 06:16
00 7 posts joined Oct 22, 2018
Thanks so much Justice, really appreciate the support.
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT 2018-10-28 14:04
gb 1859 posts 297 likes joined Apr 04, 2016
Totally agree with Justice, you have set the bar for newcomers! :P Best of luck with Villa and I'm really looking forward to what is to come from this.
mgriffin2012's avatar Group mgriffin2012 2018-10-28 18:27
00 2960 posts 459 likes joined Nov 12, 2013
Incredible story so far, graphics and detail is spot on! Keep it up and this could be something very special
Superclasico FC's avatar Group Superclasico FC 2018-11-06 00:28
00 7 posts joined Oct 22, 2018


THE BEGINNING OF A CRITICAL SEASON

As the board have informed me throughout my first weeks in the job at Villa, promotion this season is crucial. With parachute payments coming to an end and financial meltdown threatening to send the club down the Pompey/Sunderland highway, getting the Villains back to where they belong is more important than ever. This clubs needs to be in the Premier League.

Any successful campaign starts with a successful preseason, but this period is even more important for a new manager aiming to from a new identity for a football club. So let’s get into preseason shall we?

PRESEASON RESULTS



Preseason went very well, and drew my attention to tactical tweaks and surprising player performances. Overall, we player very well and showed good signs during preseason match, but I want to analyse two matches specifically in-depth.

The first of the two matches I want to look into is our tie against Paris FC. During our preseason tour of France we were scheduled to come up against a second division club which calls the city of love home. In keeping with the romantic Parisian spirit we graciously chose to share the honours in this game, despite our dominance. Against decent opposition we dominated the match, with significantly more chances and possession. However, we lacked killer edge with Scott Hogan upfront. Despite instructions to play through the middle and patiently work the ball into the box we seemed intent on crossing the ball, tendency which occurred 41 times.

This game proved that Tammy Abraham is without doubt our first choice striker. It also proved we need to improve our crossing, finishing and attacking patience when we have most of the ball. The latter of those three points is very important, especially considering, as a team tipped from promotion, we will control the ball in quite a few matches in the Championship.



Our second match against comparable opponents was our tie against Sunderland. Despite being in League One, the Black Cats have a very talented playing group, so the insights gained from the match are legitimate. Since the game against Paris FC we clearly improved our conversion of chances.

Much like Paris FC, Sunderland set up very defensively. However in this match we where able to create some nice, patient build up play when the counter attack wasn’t possible during spells of possession. Instructing our full-backs to cross less often led to us working the ball into the box more frequently. As a result, whilst we attempted far fewer crosses the attempts were more successful in the Sunderland match, as the full-backs distributed the ball to our wingers who inhabited the half-spaces.



SURPRISE PRESEASON PERFORMERS

The results we achieved during preseason, as you’ve seen, where decent. However, the most important function of preseason is to analyse players. Through the elevation of some youth prospects and heavy rotation, I was able to begin to build a view towards which players will feature in our best 11. Some where obvious, players whose class and talent predictably oozed in warm-up matches against mostly weaker opposition. These players will feature week in week out throughout the season proper, and in future posts you’ll get to know them inside out. Instead, I want to discuss the surprise achievers of preseason, players who’ve made themselves impossible to ignore with great performances on the pitch and on the training ground.

JACOB BEDEAU



A four and a half star potential always catches the eye, but what’s even more exciting about Jacob is his attributes. My socks where well and truly blown off when I saw his ‘Lion DNA’ rating of 54 at the age of 18. Pair that with some tasty, well-rounded defensive skills and I think we have a genuine future star on our hands.

The positive effects of the ‘Lion DNA’ are already taking shape, as Jacob consistently tops the weekly training ratings. He’s even got a couple of perfect 10/10s.

Bedeau featured pretty heavily throughout preseason, during which he scored 2 goals, received a player of the match award and earned an average rating of 7.38. Very impressive. However, he was mostly played at left-back. I’m currently training him to play the position, something I often do with left footed centre-halves, to add a more solid defensive left-back option to the squad.

I also chose to train Bedeau as a left-back because we really lack depth in the area. Originally, Neil Taylor was the only player in the squad who could play the position. We also lack depth at centre-half, so expect to see Jacob feature pretty heavily as rotation this season.

JAMES BREE



As with Bedeau, potential ability drew me to James Bree. But what made me really take notice were his performances during preseason. Bree amassed 4 assists and a goal in 5 starts during preseason along with a 7.53 average rating. I audibly gasped a couple of times at the quality of his beautiful curling delivery. 12 crossing doesn’t do them justice.

He certainly gets forward, possibly too much, but does so much more effectively than the Scottish Cafu (Alan Hutton). However, I anticipate us being on the front foot in most games this season, so Bree might just do the trick bombing down the right flank of Villa Park.

However, leadership of 5 leaves quite a lot to be desired. I’m hoping some qualities of Jedi Master Mile Jedinak will rub off on him thanks to mentoring.

CONOR HOURIHANE



Due to the fact that Bjarnason and Jedinak both had extended breaks at the World Cup Hourihane played quite a lot during preseason, and my word can the man strike a dead ball. 4 assists, one from a free-kick and 3 from corners. That’s what I’m talking about. If we’re going to make the most of 6 foot 4 Tammy Abraham then we’ll need Conor delivering set-pieces quite often this season.

I’ve seen quite a lot of Villa fans give the guy stick in real life, but in Football Manager the man can play. He likes a yellow card, but as backup to John McGinn, Hourihane will be a far more dynamic and versatile option than either Jedinak or Whelan.

TRANSFERS (OR TRANSFER)



Disregarding the signings which Steve Bruce made, which on the whole were quite good, the only signing I made was Morgan Fox. Without any transfer budget, I was pretty restricted. However, when I came in we severely lacked depth at left-back. Neil Taylor was the only player capable of playing the position naturally. Therefore, it was crucial we got in some back up, and the man we got was Morgan Fox. Signed from Sheffield Wednesday, Fox was a regular starter in the Championship last season. However the Welshman was, for some unknown reason, transfer listed this season. He is out for four weeks with stress fractures in his back, but without a significant history of injuries my scouts don’t see this as a major issue. With a ‘Lion DNA’ rating of 56, Championship experience and some decent, well-rounded talent Fox represents a decent signing. Especially considering he is on a loan with a future fee of only 600k, half of his value.



LION DNA RATING

The ‘Lion DNA’ is the mentality John Terry and I want to instil within Aston Villa Football Club. To find out more about the concept, check out my previous post. During preseason I analysed the squad’s mentality against the 4 criterion of the ‘Lion DNA’ to see what we’re working with. Overall, the squad’s make up is relatively balanced, with 12 players having the desired rating of 52, 10 falling short by a by a maximum of 7 points and another 12 falling outside both ranges. We do have some fantastic leaders within our squad who, through mentoring, will hopefully influence a cultural change within the squad. The singing of Morgan Fox, our first transfer based on the ‘Lion DNA’ criteria, also represents the beginnings of a requirement policy that will start to change things. However, for now, there is some work to do.



So, after a successful preseason the first eleven for Aston Villa has been chosen. I’ll go into more tactical detail regarding instructions and roles in future posts, but for now here is our shape and key players. This team will most certainly be changed throughout the long and infamously arduous Championship season. However, disregarding injuries and suspensions, this is my ideal starting 11.



Thanks so much for reading, and if you enjoyed please check out and follow my personal blog at https://superclasicofc.wordpress.com. Be sure to tune in next week when we start our quest for promotion to the promised land of the Premier League and try to avoid death by cabbage. Up the Villa.
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT 2018-11-06 18:14
gb 1859 posts 297 likes joined Apr 04, 2016
What an exceptional update! Setting the bar high for new users ;)
Justice's avatar Group Justice 2018-11-06 23:57
00 5498 posts 682 likes joined Feb 11, 2013
Quite a split in the squad when it comes to the 'Lion DNA', as to be expected though. It'll be interesting to see how many will be in the 'green', after a few years of your management!
mgriffin2012's avatar Group mgriffin2012 2018-11-08 07:42
00 2960 posts 459 likes joined Nov 12, 2013
Incredible style, the graphics look amazing and the concept is fantastic, hopefully the results on the pitch will match the high standard set by the writer!
Jack's avatar Group Jack 2018-11-08 20:23
gb 3381 posts 364 likes joined Mar 29, 2013
Honestly I pray you keep this going all year, your writing paired with your presentation as well as the save itself has me and pretty much every reader captivated. Sensational stuff.
Superclasico FC's avatar Group Superclasico FC 2018-11-08 22:55
00 7 posts joined Oct 22, 2018
Thanks so much everyone, I really appreciate the support.

It means a lot.

Stay tuned for episode 4, which I'll post this week.

In the meantime, check out my site at superclasicofc.wordpress.com
This post was edited by Superclasico FC (2018-11-11 09:41, 5 months ago)
Superclasico FC's avatar Group Superclasico FC 2018-11-13 04:30
00 7 posts joined Oct 22, 2018


COUNTER CULUTRE

Before we analyse our start to the season, let's look at the tactic we have been using. We're adopting a counter attacking style, inspired by John Terry's managerial mentor Jose Mourinho. There is certainly an emphasis on width in our play, as we aim to supply our arial threat Tammy Abraham, yet we do have flexibility in the style of our build up play. We can certainly score from quick breaks down the wing, yet our high-tempo, short passing has been able to carve our opponents apart through the centre as well.

One of the tactical levers which I have been pulling from the touchline will be detailed later in this post. But in terms of our wide play, there are some other specific tactical tweaks I have been using. In matches when crossing has not been so effective (due to the arial dominance of an opposition or their tireless tracking of our wide players) I have discouraged my full-backs from crossing the ball through specific player instructions. This helps the side to try and work the wall into the box and use the technical ability of our attacking midfielders.

Some nice partnerships have begun to develop within the side, and having a settled starting eleven and  largley unchanged tactical outlook has led to a great start to our quest for promotion.



POSITIVE START

It's been a really pleasing start to the season. Despite the fact we haven't had a perfect start, the tactic is clearly working.  It's safe to say we've been the better side in all our Championship matches, even when we dropped points against Ipswich. Looking at the league stats, it's quite clear why.

As a team that tactically look for over-lap and width, the fact we top the league for both cross completion ratio (with 22%) and crosses completed (with 52) is brilliant. We also sit equal top for chances created (with 18) along with Midlands rivals West Brom. Our deep defensive line and intense counter-pressing also seems to be working, as after 5 matches we've kept 3 clean sheets.



Away from the pitch, Tammy and I both received some awards for our efforts. 4 goals in 5 starts earned Tammy Abraham the 'Young Player of the Month' award, which will no doubt raise eyebrows at Chelsea. Maybe he'll join the countless former loanees and academy products in their staring lineup...



Not being one to brag, I was named manager of the month thanks our great start which sees Villa top of the Championship. Frank Lampard and Alex Neil, whose sides sit 2nd and 3rd respectively, finished just behind me and loom as worthy adversaries for the coming season.



But enough self congratulatory chat about awards, let's have a slightly more in depth look at our first 5 Championship matches.

HULL CITY

A classic counter attack finished off by Tammy Abraham separated the two sides on the day. However, the score line didn't  reflect our dominance against Hull City. Our 26 shots to Hull's 7 paints the picture. To control the match the way we did away from home in my competitive managerial debut was fantastic. However, only being able to score one from 15 shots on target (which included 6 half chances and 2 clear-cut chances) was a little disappointing.

WIGAN ATHLETIC 

This game had everything; set piece goals created by Hourihane and 'Super Jacky' Grealish, a Tammy tap-in from a quick counter, a Bjarnason wonder-strike and a comedy own goal. A cruel deflection and a poorly defended free kick led to Wigan's replies, but in the end they counted for nothing as we went away clear 5-2 winners.

IPSWICH TOWN

We followed our 7 goal thriller at Villa Park with a perplexing loss at the hands of the Tractor Boys. We had control of the match with 16 shots to 6 and 60% of the ball away from home. We started well also, but after Bjarnason missed a spot-kick in the 36th minute our heads definitely dropped, and we let in 3. Ipswich let us have the ball, looking to use our own counter attacking tactics against us, which worked well. But mentally we weren't at the races following Bjarnason's miss, which led to mistakes, which led to our first loss in the league.

BRENTFORD

A beautiful in-swinging corner from Hourihane aimed towards the head of Tammy Abraham at the far post got us the win against Brentford, who were 4th in the league at the time. We got the goal in the 8th minute, and looked to control the ball at home from then on in the match. A professional performance against a very good side.

MATCH IN FOCUS - READING

After letting the team know just how disappointed I was with their response to a missed penalty against Ipswich, I was pretty happy with how this match unfolded. I gave Bjarnason a final chance from the spot as our penalty taker, showing some faith in the Icelandic workhorse. Sadly though, in the 14th minute he let me down again, missing the target completely from the penally spot. Trying desperately to hide my frustration on the touchline, I demanded a response from Birkir the Blonde. And respond he did. Three absolute thunder-bastards from the edge of the box earned Aston Villa a brilliant win and Birkir a well deserved man of the match award.

Tactically it was an interesting match. We really burst out of the blocks, and went in at half time 2-0 up. However, as the timeless football adage goes, 2-0 is the most dangerous scoreline. As a result we maintained a positive mentality and looked for a 3rd goal, which came only 10 minutes after the break.

As a side, we look to counter-press with a very high tempo, and break forward with pace. That style of play takes a lot out of a squad physically, and knowing this I made a conscious decision at the start of the season to take any opportunity to lower the tempo and prevent fatigue during matches. The Championship is arguably the most competitive league in the world and features a gargantuan amount of matches. So, following Bjarnason's 3rd goal in the 55 minute we took our foot off the gas, dropped deeper and looked to close out the game against Reading.



We created 11 shots within the area, yet only mustered 1 after the 55th minute. Reading on the other hand took most of their 11 shots following our pragmatic tactical change. What was pleasing about this, however, was the fact that most of their shots where from range thanks to our tight, deep and compact line. A classic Jose inspired performance. JT loved it, and that's really all that matters.



DISAPPOINTMENT AT DERBY

Despite our great start in the league, there was disappointment in the League (or Carbao) Cup. The board wanted us to reach the 3rd round, but in our opening match in the competition we came up against Frank Lampard's Derby County. We struggled against our promotion rivals in what was a tight tussle of a match. The contest was pretty even, but the Rams certainly stifled our free flowing start to the season. A late shot from range that came off the post gave Derby the win, and left us feeling sorry for ourselves. The result and the performance made it clear Derby are the real deal, and also that we need to improve our level of performance against the better sides. But on a positive note, at least we can focus on the League now.

MICAH RICHARDS

Micah is a peripheral member of our squad, and despite his history as a captain at Man City he lacks the mental attributes of the 'Lion DNA'. So, when he came to me asking for first team football, I basically laughed in his face. James Bree, Alan Hutton, and Elmo all sit ahead of him in the pecking order, so I didn't hesitate to chuck him on the transfer list. He'll be gone by the end of January. See ya Micah.

PLAYER OF THE MONTH - BIRKIR BJARNASON

As you might of guessed, Birkir Bjarnason has won our player of the month award. He scored 4 goals from only 7 shots this month, making him our most effective player in terms of shot conversion. With a tackle completion ratio of 83% and a pass completion ration of 78% the Icelandic midfielder can really do anything. The perfect box-to-box midfielder.  But as a manager what impressed me most was his response to missing a penalty in the match against Reading. As a player with the 'Lion DNA' his resilience and mental strength was on show as he followed failure from the spot with an incredible hat-rick. Congratulations Birkir.



Thanks so much for reading, and if you enjoyed please check out and follow my blog at superclasicofc.wordpress.com. Be sure to tune in next week when we look continue our great start to the season and try to maintain our spot on top of the table. Up the Villa.
Justice's avatar Group Justice 2018-11-13 12:15
00 5498 posts 682 likes joined Feb 11, 2013
A strong start in the league, and an unfortunate result in the cup! You've build a good foundation to build off of!
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT 2018-11-13 17:59
gb 1859 posts 297 likes joined Apr 04, 2016
Strong enough start in my eyes there! Absolutely fantastic update, but I'm starting to come to expect that from yourself. Looking forward to each update as they come out, so far.

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FMS Chat

Stam
hey, just wanted to let you know that we have a fb style chat for our members. login or sign up to start chatting.