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The Newcastle match and Watford today

Everyone that has read or followed this blog for any period of time will know that I'm a big fan of as little change as possible. By that, I mean managers need time and that we shouldn't be bringing in lots of players every transfer window just because we can and that we should coach and develop what we have.

I know, very easy to write.


But changing the manager always brings disruption and if we can not do that so often, I believe it's better for us. With Dean Smith, we got better every season and I was convinced we'd get better this season and I don't think it a coincidence that he was the longest serving manager since we were challenging for top four. And since then, we've had nine managers. Is anyone really surprised we've spent time in the Championship?

And I'm writing about change this this morning (actually Wednesday) because when I logged into my news feed service, all I saw was stories about players Steven Gerrard was interested in bringing to the Club. And in my head, I defaulted to my position that Steven Gerrard is our manager and he should be managing what we've got and all these rumours about new players, should be treated as such.

But at exactly the same time, I need to write about why this can't be allowed to happen. We have a very decent bunch of players that finished eleventh last season. I predicted under Dean Smith that they would finish 8th this time. I still think we can and certainly 9th and because change happened, nobody is going to hold the current manager to it and you could argue that this season, because it's his first and it's not all his, it doesn't even count.

But the football has been horrible of late and the performance against Newcastle was pub standard. We need and we should beat Watford today. And I think it starts with a new captain. I think it stars with the players having a plan. And I think Steven Gerrard is working on both.

Part of this post, that I deleted this morning, was about specifically why change is tough on players. Players are not the brightest and when new managers come in and change stuff, it's why they need time. Players need time to learn and do. We got the bounce a new manager often brings but now we're in the learning stage. This stage, with some managers doesn't last too long, with others it can.

Steven Gerrard has this season to get his message across and it can't all be about tempo. We need to see a style of play become clear. The system is clear, but there has to be an underlying plan and that, I'm not seeing yet. But I'm sure it will come.

And we know there are going to be changes. But they have to now be kept to a minimum and we have to all accept that change takes time and that by the end of this season, he would have gotten his message across, so we can strengthen with one or two players. And we have to then get better a little before the following summer, he can bring in another one or two.

If it doesn't happen this way, he's not going to succeed. He's to young an inexperienced and there has to be some limitations placed on him so he learns at the right pace. We all would have won one of nine trophies in Scotland managing Rangers. Some might say winning only one isn't enough. We didn't, we trust Steven Gerrard, but in managerial terms he's still learning so someone (hopefully our CEO, don't laugh) will provide the stabaliser wheels for the next two or three seasons.

I'll be back with team news but we have to win today. If we don't, (I really do need to check my maths on this) Dean Smith could have a better win rate at Norwich than Steven Gerrard does at Aston Villa by the end of the day. And yes, admittedly, that needs Norwich to win at Anfield, but that it's possible (I think) should be reason for worry.

Match facts from the BBC

Head-to-head

  • Aston Villa's solitary defeat in their past nine home league games against Watford was by 3-2 in November 2015 (W6, D2).
  • Nonetheless, Watford have won four of the five most recent league meetings - including by 3-2 on the opening day of this season.

Aston Villa

  • Aston Villa have only won once in seven competitive fixtures since Christmas, taking five points from six league games during that period.
  • They have scored in 12 successive Premier League home matches, their longest streak since a run of 16 between May 2007 and March 2008.
  • However, Villa have conceded 18 goals in their past eight home league fixtures, one more than they had in their previous 17 at Villa Park.
  • Excluding the three promoted clubs, Aston Villa's tally of 12 Premier League defeats this season is a joint-high alongside Everton.
  • Danny Ings has scored four goals in his last three league appearances against Watford.
  • Philippe Coutinho can become the first Villa player to score in each of his first three Premier League home appearances.

Watford

  • The Hornets are enduring the longest current winless run in the Premier League, taking just two points from 11 matches since beating Manchester United 4-1 three months ago.
  • They can equal the club top-flight record of five consecutive games without a goal, set in October 1987.
  • Watford's five most recent Premier League away wins were under five different managers: Javi Gracia, Quique Sanchez Flores, Nigel Pearson, Xisco Munoz and Claudio Ranieri.
  • They are the only side yet to score from outside the penalty area in the Premier League this season.