There is talk and I have to emphasise that it is just talk, that we are going to sign Clermont Foot defensive midfielder Yacouba Sylla. I know, I hadn't heard of him either.

So, what have I learnt; well, he is 22 years old and plays in the second tier of French football. And who knows, he could turn out to be a fantastic player. I'm just not so sure he is the type of player we need now.

Let me explain why. Right now we are second from bottom in the Premier League. That's right, we dropped a place yesterday and we are bottom of the current form table. What we need now are players with bags of experience and proven Premier League or European stage qualities.

But don't get carried away with my view. This Yacouba Sylla could be the very player we need to get us out of this mess, but it is a massive risk. Some of the people that visit this blog could have played in Ligue 2 it's pretty much the equivalent of the third tier in England.

But again, that doesn't mean he isn't the one. But we have fourteen games left this season and we need players that know how important these fourteen games are and have the experience to guide us. This isn't a time for longterm thinking, this is a time for thinking about the next fourteen games.

Could this man keep us up?

More signings are coming

And that is why I've started this post, because today is going to be interesting and I believe we will bring in two or three of those players that have experience and I think we're going to see rumours flying around everywhere.

We're 19th and bottom of the current form table. You don't need to be a genius to see we need to strengthen and unless we do, I think there is a very good chance we will go down. I also don't think I am alone in that thinking and I think things will happen.

So, right now, what are the other rumours I've read this morning? Here is a list.

  • Kenwyne Jones
  • Mohamed Diamé
  • Rolando

I've probably missed some but there you go for now. We need three players today and I fancy that the Yacouba Sylla deal is as good as done, so two of those above (personally I do't think the Jones deal will happen unless we lose a striker so we all know why we are linked to him) and that will be the day.

It's a bit sad though that we have to wait until the last day of the transfer window. We've dropped ten points this month and got knocked out of two cups. Maybe if we had acted early, when we all know we had to act, things might have been different.

Updates and speculation

So, I've left my comfort zone of not talking about speculation, but today is a bit special and as such, Twitter is going to be a bit mental as will, I suspect, the comments below. I'm going to have Twitter open on another screen today hitting refresh, as well as NewsNow and BBC. Updates will come, but expect something to happen.

Author: Damian
Damian started The Villa Blog as a passion project quite a few years ago while he was living in South Africa. Now living in Sweden, it continues. He's originally from Chasetown and grew up when supporting Villa meant there was a real chance of silverware at the start of every season.
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  • honestly though we could beat Everton tomorrow with a good debut from Cilla then nick a couple of points here and there.Our confidence will be sky high and i could see us beating QPR and Reading back to back then and staying up by 4 or 5 points.The whole team and club will be buzzing and RL splashes the cash in the summer and we start off on a terrific run next season and everyone will be laughing about this episode.You know what happens then dont ya..............the alarm goes off and you wake up in your bed at 6 am realising youve got to travel miles to a ****hole ground away in a championship game :):):):):):):):):):)

  • Ok, the only scrap of comfort from yesterday is that I think the penny has dropped with Lambert and we will play the last 13 games lining up in a 4-4-2 / 4-5-1 variation.

    By abandoning the five at the back formation, playing with two wingers (Zoggy and Dawkins?) and playing with two defensive central midfielders (Sylla & KEA / Delph) I think a lot of the problems with the defence get solved.

    From a defensive perspective, under a 4-4-2 / 4-5-1 formation Lowton/Bennett/Lichaj can focus on defending rather than feeling that they need to provide the supply from the flanks for the forwards. I'd be tempted to play Herd at RB and switch Lowton to LB too.

    In midfield if Sylla and KEA/Delph can start bossing the CM, then that too will protect the back four. Personally, I don't want to see either Bannan (or Ireland for that matter) in our CM again for the rest of the season and possibly never again.

    We obviously need to keep on scoring goals but frankly Bent, Benteke, Weimann and Gabby should have enough firepower to score the goals we need. So that means that Zoggy, Dawkins (who I read is a winger), Holman and Carruthers need to start providing the service from the flanks again.

    IF we can do all of that effectively then we have a good chance of staying up. If Lambert continues to (i) persist with the 5-3-2 formation / wingbacks and/or (ii) confuse the players by constantly tinkering with formations then I think we are doomed.

  • Guest - KrisAVFC


    I wouldn't get up at 6am on a Saturday even if the team were in my bloody Kitchen...They Can Feck off!!!

  • Well we all wondered what our surprise signing was going to be. Little did we know it was going to be Stephen Hawkins, that's some bloody surprise that !!! ;);)

  • Guest - jvilan

    has lambert been caught with his pants down plenty rumours when at norwich celtic.only explation for what is going on

  • jvilan - that is a really stupid thing to say.

  • Guest - BPE

    The scene: Offices at Villa Park transfer deadline day. Paul Lambert is briefing his secretary through his interpreter: Wee Bilbo Bannan.

    PL: Right you know the plan. We offload Bent to Stoke in return for a couple of their defenders and use the extra money to buy a quality midfielder. The Villa fans will start to think I’m the new Messiah again after this goes through.
    Sec: Er...Mr Lambert, Stoke have just rung to say that the Bent deal is off.
    PL: Oh God. What do we do now?
    Sec: Perhaps I might suggest Plan B sir?
    PL: What do you mean Plan B? There never was a Plan B!
    Sec: Hmmm. Well Spurs have always helped us out in the past.
    PL: Give them a call quick!

    (5 mins later)
    PL: Well?
    SEC: It was a bad line but it sounded like they have someone in America called Stephen Hawkins.
    PL: What the guy in the wheelchair?
    Sec: Well, he does have an American accent.
    PL: Won’t he be a bit slow?
    Sec: With all due respect, I think he’s quicker than Richard Dunne....Oh hang on someone in Accounts reckons it might Richard Dawkins.
    PL: What the guy who doesn’t believe in God?
    Sec: Think so.
    PL: Well that’s gonna mess up my half time team talk.
    Sec: Why’s that?
    PL: Well if we are winning I tell the lads it must be a miracle and if we’re losing I tell them we’re gonna need a miracle.

  • Bobvillan - do you know if Dawkins is a winger or does he play more centrally / 'in the hole' etc?

  • Guest - alan

    There is only one person responsible in this mess and it's Randy Lerner. end of. Get out of our club.

  • The Championship will seem like the world cup to Sylla.

  • Guest - The Black Pearl

    Considering all of the above this might sound silly but i fancy us to beat Everton this weekend.

    I think Lambert has finally discovered the proper formation and im expecting a good game from the Sylla lad.

    A 90 minute preformance instead 0f a 45 minute one.

    20 blippers on villa to win @ 8/1 sees a nice return of 160 wohoooooo

  • Guest - expat007

    I thought we had signed Stephen Hawkins!!!!
    At least maybe Stephen Hawkins could help The Villa now they are in their own Black Hole! Also given the latest advert he could provide Aston Villa with some sort of insurance?:(:(

  • I really hope the penny dropped with Lambert in the 2nd half against the barcodes, and that he realises our only hope is to play 4 4 2/ 4 5 1 otherwise we are gone.

  • Guest - expat007

    The Black Pearl

    Considering all of the above this might sound silly but i fancy us to beat Everton this weekend.
    No that does not sound silly to me, in fact when at my next visit to my psychiatrist I will see if he agrees!

  • ♫ surprise surprise, the unexpected hits you between the eyes ♫........according to Cilla.

  • We've got Cilla I hear Holly Willoughby is coming in the August window - surprise surprise!

  • People always slag of players that they've never heard of!

    People were mostly saying the same thing about Belgian international benteke. It's kinda like you all think you're the best scouts on the planet, you think I've never heard of him, he plays in a rubbish league, he must be ****.

    I know we needed a centre back, I know we needed some experience, how can you write off any player you've never seen play before they've kicked a ball? It's a kind of snobbery that alot of so called football fans fall for. And yes they might turn out rubbish, the thing is I don't claim to know, like a lot of you fools are.

  • Guest - expat007

    How do the Bookies make any money as they have not got a clue about football; Lambert now money on and favourite to be the next Premiership manger for the chop and The Villa 2nd favourite for the drop?

    Arry Houdini is at 40 to 1 for the chop, there are many on here that have express their views on the QPR manager, now is the chance for them to cash in!!!!:(:(

  • Randy Learner : Benteke at least played a decent standard of football not French Ligue 2.

  • Well, the bare minimum we needed was a defensive midfielder and it looks like we've got one. Let's hope he can give us some presence in midfield. No playmaker signed so unless Ireland plays every game, we're still not going to be creating enough chances to stay up.
    I dunno - you look at how much business the teams around us have done and you despair really. Championship here we come by the looks of things. :(

  • Clearmont Foot average attendance: 3985, its going to be a bit of a culture shock.

  • Guest - The Black Pearl

    "No that does not sound silly to me, in fact when at my next visit to my psychiatrist I will see if he agrees!"

    Funny stuff, ill hold my tongue and reap the rewards when the bet comes in.

  • Guest - KrisAVFC

    3985, its going to be a bit of a culture shock.

    Fail to believe there is more than 4000 fans that are still going to VP...!?

    And if there are, why...?

  • I would love to be stood next to Mr Lerner if the previously unthinkable happens and Villa get relegated, just to see his face when he realises his investment has just lost 70m pounds and will lose an awful lot more in the years to come. I think it's time for him to forget his connections with this country and leave us alone.

  • Guest - expat007

    Randy Learner

    People always slag of players that they've never heard of!
    I must give you credit for trying as you can be very trying!

    Last night I was in my local French bar and the majority are keen football fans. Unfortunately most of the jokes were on me. Went something like this:
    ‘not only do we not know who Sylla is, has Clermont got a football team?’ ha ha ha
    NB: Rugby Union is the sport that’s followed in Clermont.
    ‘If Aston Villa are that desperate Gerome is available’ ha ha ha
    NB: He plays for the local side in the second division of the local leagues.
    ‘We got Joey Barton and you got, who was it’ ha ha ha!
    NB: That was the Bar patron a mad Marseille fan. For the record Barton considered a top man over here.
    ‘3 million Euros, you could have had the whole French 2nd league for that and change’ ha ha ha

    Not only are The Villa a joke in the UK they are now a joke in France.

  • Can always look on the bright side.

    Non of our players could have done an Odemwingie yesterday, as no one is interested in any of our players..

    I hear that Paul Gascoigne bought Peter Odemwingie a can of lager, some chicken, a mobile phone and something to keep him warm whilst he was sitting outside QPR yesterday.

  • It's definitely a sink or swim attitude taken by the club from the looks of things. They'd rather take the approach that if they go down, they'd rather go down having not taken on huge financial obligations and should they survive, PL will get funds in the summer to continue what he's trying to do and the club will back him in that.
    The general consensus last night was that the January fee's are vastly inflated due to the nature of the January window and anyone buying someone in January is more desperate. Very interesting to note that no clubs made a bid for Diame at West ham in the end and most on here wanted him desperately to sign for us. Well, nobody else seemed to be particularly desperate enough to want him and hence, today, he's still with West Ham. The chairman of West Hams' son was tweeting to say that no bids had been recieved despite loads of people reporting that 2 clubs had activated his clause in his contract. Shows what a lot of sh*t comes out of twitter, just as much as good info. The difference is that with the age of information that we live in now, there's equally as much bad as there is good and that add's to peoples woes.
    Anyway, I just want to say that I can only hope that either of the 2 players that have been shipped into the club can make some kind of impact. I fear for the new Sylla chap and that by tomorrow evening, people are going to be calling him the biggest load of garbage to grace a football pitch. However, we might be really lucky. It is possible to find the odd gem out there and just because of where he came from, doesn't mean he's not up to it but I do fear for him, I really do. The guy from Spurs.....well, lets see. to be at Spurs at 25 years old (thats the age I've seen he is) and have never made an appearance for the first team etc, is quite odd. I can only imagine that someone at Spurs thinks alot of him as normally, they'd bomb him out I'd have thought, by now.
    I guess we'll find out soon enough.
    I dont expect to see the Sylla guy start tomorrow. Barry Bannan will probably get the nod again unless Delph is back and he partners Westwood. Sylla will probably be on the bench and will get a run out as a sub. Benteke wasn't started when he joined and came on as a sub. Not sure about Dawkins, maybe he'll get on the bench but cant see anymore than that unless he puts in an unbelievable training session performance today......

  • Sylla getting a run out after one of Lambert's half time talks? I think he would be better off starting the game!

  • NickC - I don't know whether you've seen Lambert's comments this morning but I really wouldn't be suprised if Sylla starts tomorrow and I think Dawkins will definitely come off the bench.

    I think the following read is a well balanced view of what we should expect from Dawkins.

  • Guest - expat007


    Dawkins plays anywhere up front and if he stays clear from injury will be a good signing. Also think he can go on a free in summer.My mate has seen him number of times
    How can you or your mate possibly know how he plays. Is your Mate in San Jose wherever the fu*k that is! I think you are making this up!!!!

    So far in this country he has played 11 times for Leyton Orient in the 2008/8 season and San Jose Milkshakes 53 times. Who the **** are the San Jose Boneshaker's and he has never played for the Spurs. Cant even see where he has been a sub for Spurs.

    If he was 19 or 20 I could just about take this on board, but he is 25 years old and I wonder why he will be a free transfer.

    Spurs must be rubbing their hands for getting rid of him and his wages.

    A few years ago you could not have made this up about the Villa, even the Blue Noses wont be able to take this in.

    JUST IN:
    Villa have just signed two Chinese from the local takeaway, Wee Wong Wonce and How Wong Cince.

    That’s Pathetic I know, but it is suitable when it about The Villa.

  • Well apparently Dawkins contract at Spurs runs out at the end of the season.
    He surely has to be better than Albrighton.
    Does this mean Dilbert will ditch the diamond formation and allow N'zog and Dawkins to use the full quoter of the pitch?

  • The MLS is not the Premier League looking good there means nothing, this is a world away from the MLS.

  • Guest - expat007

    You have made a good argument, but why should you think that Lerner will find cash next season wherever league The villa are in I don’t know.
    If he was genuinely concerned about Villa playing Premiership football he would have done all he could to keep us up, its wishful think on your part.
    Lerner must be totally disillusioned and can only be waiting to walk away recovering most of his investment. What he will leave behind is anyone’s guess, me I can only fear the worst.

  • Jonnah - yeah I think/hope/pray we'll see a more conventional 4-4-2 tomorrow.

  • Guest - KPR

    Just a few points. Paul Lambert is tactically inept, he signed Bennett and Bowery for some unknown reason and insists on playing Barry sodding Bannan even though he is awful. In general I sing off the same hymn sheet as most on here, but I do have a couple of points I feel should be made:
    1) Calls to bring back John Gregory or Graham Taylor show that some Villa fans view the past with rose tinted glasses. When they managed the club (Taylor his latter endeavour) we spent a fair bit of time labouring down the bottom of the league, losing 3-1 in the F.A cup to an at the time woeful Sheffield United side etc, etc. They are NOT the answer. By the end of their respective times, they had about as much support as McRelegator last season and Lamberk.
    2) Give our new signings at least a chance! Must be great for them, signing for a new club and having people saying why are we signing s**t players without having actually watched them play. Sylla played for the same youth team as Patrice Evra, and we weren't the only interested party. I've watched some footage of him playing and he gets stuck in which is what we need, give the guy a chance before you criticise him.
    3) 2 years ago, people were berating houllier for signing Kyle Walker from spurs on loan. "cant get into the spurs team" we said. "we need quality not unproven youngsters" we said. Look how well he turned out. Who's to say Dawkins and Sylla won't turn out like that.
    4) Look at the positive here. Signing a winger (Dawkins is NOT a striker) and a defensive midfielder screams 4-4-2. If we stick to 4-4-2 consistently, I think we have a good chance of survival.
    Now, before the inevitable abuse starts, I want to point out that I'm just trying to see the positives. Surely any Villa fan should be trying that now. I'm certainly not saying support Lamberk, fatty and Randolph, those parasites need to go, but at least support the players. Except Bannan, Bennett and Lichaj. Don't support them. Useless trio of pillocks.

  • expat007: agreed what difference does 7 months make? if he is prepared to spend in the Summer why not now wtf is the difference and does this idiot realise how much he is likely to lose of his precious f*cking money?

  • Guest - werd

    experiments with formations either work well or fail badly, and surviving relegation should be possible for any mildly competent side. we need to just play everything straight, get our half decent guys on the pitch, and keep our heads. now isn;t the time to mess around, as with our goal diff every point is vital. we've got wet spam, qpr, reading, etc ahead of us, and if we're consistent we'll be harder to beat and may just cling on.

    then unleash the protests in the summer.

  • Guest - expat007


    I am of the opinion that it will not matter what is The Villa starting team, their subs or the shape that Rab C Lambert decides on, I cant see us getting anything out of this game.
    Lets all face up to it, this Villa side is not Premier quality, possibly not even good enough to make the Championship play offs. We are in the laps of the Gods, and I can see no reason for them to look favourably on us.
    You know what they say, ‘the Lord looks after him who looks after himself’ we have not done very well in that department so why should he give a fu*k!

    Please don’t look at the weekends fixtures or you will crap yourself!

  • 4) Look at the positive here. Signing a winger (Dawkins is NOT a striker) and a defensive midfielder screams 4-4-2. If we stick to 4-4-2 consistently, I think we have a good chance of survival."

    I agree and said much the same earlier.

    I disgaree with you on Lambert being tactically inept. I've said before I think that he's very tactically aware its just that the players can't do what he wants them to do. He is definitely at fault for expecting too much / too soon from a group of young players. Its this stubborness in managers that often makes them great managers when things go their way, but when they dont it normallyu leads to relegation.

  • Guest - belcs

    I'm sure I saw a small piece yesterday saying Weimann had criticised lamberk's tactics, maybe the players are turning against the useless dour prat now.
    Can see Weimann going for sure when we're relegated. Why stay here under lamberk, playing under a clueless buffoon who can’t even speak clearly without mumbling in his deluded tone ‘we’ll be fine’. Not only is lamberk a dreadful manager, but he is extremely patronising.
    Any player with ambition will leave, just like any fan with ambition will boycott this farce.

  • Clermont Foot are 14th in Ligue 2 in France on 25 points, whatever we have seen in Sylla would appear not to have worked so far this season, they have a -8 goal difference, out of the frying pan into the fire.

  • After last night I've decided to call it a day on the villablog. Many of you haven't been here for long. I've been on the blog for 3 years. I think the only people that have been here for the same amount of time/longer is RayK and Bobvillan, windofchange (?), possibly Randy Learner and of course taglor. Over the course of the three years I've had constant abuse from taglor. He waits until I log on and then has a go. Last night was the final straw and I flipped. His comments were very distasteful and he doesn't contribute anything to the blog but negativity and personal digs. Many of the older bloggers have left this site to join others. He'll now turn his attentions to his next victim. Try to ignore him. But after a while you will get sick of it. I've been commenting a lot less on here because of it too just lately. I came on the blog very frequently yesterday because I enjoy the transfer window and only sent through what I found from twitter from reliable sources (Kendrick, Nursey, Abraham, etc.). Still don't know why taglor hasn't been blocked. I don't claim, nor have ever claimed, to be 'in the know'.

    But anyway, thanks to Damian who does a great job to keep this site running. Have also had some good debate and banter with the likes of jcv (who has also gone), RayK, vancouvervillan, bobvillan, Randy Learner, windofchange, Vital_Loans...sorry if I've missed anyone. And lastly, best of luck for the rest of the season. We're going to need it. Remember you can always criticise the Chairman, CEO and manager, but always back the team.

    This is the last post from Bahamavillan. I'll be reincarnated somewhere else under another name so as to avoid people finding me. In the unlikely event taglor is ever blocked I'll happily come back. But until then, all the best and over and out!

  • Guest - expat007

    Guest (KPR)

    Now, before the inevitable abuse starts, I want to point out that I'm just trying to see the positives. Surely any Villa fan should be trying that now.
    As far as your ‘I want to point out that I'm just trying to see the positives’ I cant see any! I predict that the two signing are not good enough, it’s a no brainer for Christ sake. One was playing a French side in a very poor French league and the other is a total non entity at Spurs. As for the rest only three or possibly four are Premiership class.

    The ‘Surely any Villa fan should be trying that now.’ as I have said before we find the Villa very trying, very, very trying!!!

    Definition of trying;
    annoying, upsetting, irritating, fatiguing, stressful, aggravating, exasperating……..

  • Guest - Drainpipe

    KPR - completely agree that we have to give the 2 new guys a chance. If they don't work out then its hardly their fault. That will be down to the manager who brought them in and the chairman who restricted who we could buy. Like most people, I am really upset (but not surprised) with the lack of transfer activity. We are stuck with what we have got now though and we have to support the team as best we can (well apart from Bannan of course cos he's turd)

  • expat007

    I think Lerner will fund transfers in the summer come what may. I think this season has been so completely different but we've had our expectations of it but our expectations and the clubs are totally different. The summer signings told you that PL has his idea of what he wants to do and how he wants to do it. Unfortunately, it's very very painful and totally frustrating for the fans and the club to an extent but they should know whats happening to be fair, it's just they cant say.
    Generally, Jan purchasing is costly and driven by blind panic. I think that Lambert was told from the start that the club have to move in a different way and the wage bill needs to be driven down further and the any new signings to be of a certain type that is thinking about the future in both age and costs etc. We'll probably end up following the mould of being a club that develops players for a while and the big clubs will cherry pick the best of them. The only way that might change will be with an owner who is prepared to plough in the type of funds to bring the club up to the higher levels. Look at what Man City have spent to get the Premier League title but even now, they're struggling to keep it. Man U have got themselves up to that level and consistently buy top quality players to keep things going. They're not out there plumbing the depths for lots fo cheap players. Think about how nice it would be to be signing Robin Van Persie for £25 million or whatever it was........ we're so far from that it's not true.
    Sooner or later, the club need to have a long term strategy and I think it was to be given a budget to build a team from the start to a certain mould. We as fans, are not happy but the project will take time. Time is not 3 months or 6 months. I guess it will possibly be a couple of seasons till you see the way the team are going but it remains to be seen as to whether the powers that be have the balls to see it through under the constant barrage of abuse they'll take from the fanbase. I include myself in the fanbase and am not happy with whats going on. What fan is happy seeing their team beaten so frequently. However, if you can step back and take your fans hat off and look at it from further back, I think what I'm saying makes sense. Living with the way its going is certainly difficult and very trying. If you can look back one day and think, I remember when we went through that really bad time and can remember signing that crappy French player and the reject from look at us. It's just so difficult to accept.
    Aston Villa mean so much to so many fans and during the season, your team can make your whole week good or really bad and right now, it's bad week after bad week but just a win would make everyone feel a little better and 2 wins would start to build a little hope. Right now, it's just about as bad as anyone can imagine and feels like it really cant get much worse.
    Let's see.......

  • Guest - KPR

    expat007: Before you start, I'm a teacher, I know exactly what "trying" means. If you were aware, Kyle Walker wa a non entity at spurs aswell aswell. Total nobody. We gave him a chance, now England first choice right back. Amazes me how people pick and choose when to accept MLS players. If we had signed Landon Donovan people would say he's a good player, Dawkins has been very good there but nothing. And if people go with L.A galaxy won the MLS cup blah blah blah, San Jose recorded more points and more wins in the season, it just happens that MLS operates the play off system for a winner. I'm not saying they will be good enough, but YOU DON'T KNOW WITHOUT SEEING THEM! to say a player isnt very good because he's playing for a crap team....excuse me? I can give a massive list of good players who have played for crap teams. a single player cannot make a team, so give the boy a chance. Sincerely hope you eat humble pie at the end of the season, because I'm so exhausted of being negative, and getting myself down complaining about how we have a squad who need a lot more time together than we can afford, or that we have a terrible owner and C.E.O, a manager who isn't doing the job etc. I'm trying something novel, its called supporting the club I love and supporting the players who play for that club, even if I think it is being run into the ground. If we want to protest about it and kick up a fuss to force changes I'm all for that. But lets leave it till the season is over. Last thing these players need now is more upheaval from fan protests etc. Doing that mid season never works. Look at Blackburn. It seems a lot of people are so set on us going down, we havent got a chance mentality and all that they want to see us go down just to be proved right. It's ridiculous.

  • Guest - Tunna

    Total boycott of next home game will get media attention and the yanks attention.

    Shall we???????

  • Although the start of a gulet cruise is aboard a lovely gulet, the remaining images that completes the portrait are also the destinations that gulets sail and cruise to; then you add the finishing touches with the right crew that provides the services to pamper you, and voila! you have yourself a Mediterranean style Blue Cruise to enjoy.

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