Solving another equation


You’ve seen them and many of you have tried to work them out. The percentages, brackets, emoji symbols (today’s modern day hieroglyphics). Of course, I’m talking about the coded, cryptic tweets of our very own Dr Tony Xia. How many of the equation’s have you tried to work out?

For some, they are seen as a joke, yet others love the intrigue and the replies come flooding in ranging from carefully thought out answers to the bizarre and crazy. I have to apologise for replying with Efan Ekoku in times gone by.

It also doesn’t help being a Maths teacher by trade. I see an equation and I have to solve it. I’ve been tempted to set my gifted and talented pupils a paper based on Dr Tony’s tweets just to see if any of them can see the imminent arrival of Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo to Villa Park.

However, the equation I’m most interested in today is very simple, yet we still stand divided on what the answer is to this ongoing problem.

CM = ?

In an ideal world, I’d love to tell you the perfect answer and there are plenty of options that can be combined. Below, is a list of some potential answers and there are others too that I haven’t included for now. The task is as follows:

I’m giving you an option of picking two or three of the following midfielders to fill the central roles assuming our formation will be 4-4-2 or 3-5-2.

Henri Lansbury
Aaron Tshibola
Conor Hourihane
Jordan Veretout
Mile Jedinak
Leandro Bacuna
Gary Gardner

Some of these have played in other positions but all have featured in the centre at some point. It’s a tough debate to have and as always we’d love to hear your thoughts as it sparks some great debates.

As mentioned earlier in the article, I’m not giving the answer but suggesting a few based on some of my own thoughts. It is an equation for you to have a think about.

Firstly I’m assuming that Jordan Veretout will be off. Personally, I don’t have any feelings towards this I don't think Veretout will be here to be part of the equationeither way. He was part of the team that came down, not as good as Idrissa Gueye in my opinion and have we seen enough to know exactly that he’s the solution? He also seemingly wants to be off and if there is anything we need most, it’s players that want to wear the shirt and run through walls for the club during difficult periods.

Gary Gardner hasn’t shown a lot for a long time and when I think of the unfair abuse that was hurled at Ashley Westwood (the likes of which I will never condone for any player) it makes me wonder if his days are numbered too as I can see people becoming frustrated. I always hope for more from Gardner too due to his love for the club and coming through the ranks.

The other assumption is that Mile Jedinak will be holding his own role in sitting just in front of the central defenders. The statistics speak for themselves when you see the aerial duels, tackles and points gained when he played versus when he was absent.

The two that I’m expecting to play in the central midfield most next season is Henri Lansbury and Conor Hourihane but I do feel guilty of reading into their past statistics too much.

Lansbury played 1459 minutes for us last season, only one minute less than he did for Nottingham Forest. He contributed 6 goals and 3 assists at Forest, yet we are yet to see either in a competitive game. His passing percentage and success rate in the tackle dropped too.

His success at Forest came with a more advanced role, being allowed to add to the attack and get strikes in on goal. I feel since coming to Villa Park, Lansbury has been sat back too far and used as more of a holding midfielder at times.

Conor Hourihane had an equally frustrating time, not getting consistent game time, although he did bag a goal. He arrived off the back of scoring free kicks and long range efforts as well as assisting most weeks.

I’m hoping the summer and more time to bed in with the squad and Steve Bruce will have the desired effect upon our results this season.

But maybe the answer to the equation isn’t necessarily the players, but the intent and style that Steve Bruce chooses to field.

If you know the answer please let me know and whatever you do, don’t reply with Efan Ekoku as that’s my thing when I don’t know!


  1. Although alluded to here, we seem to have signed the right players – Lansbury, Hourihane and even Tshibola, but Bruce has this love affair with playing defensive (dull) football. I am a season ticket holder and attended all but one home game last season, and only enjoyed watching one (Brighton). Yorke and Dr. Xia are (in my opinion) correct, the championship is hard if you think it is, a typical self fulfilling prophecy. When i watched Burton Albion, amongst other teams, pass us off the park, i really wanted Nigel Clough to join us and explain to the Villa coaching staff and the players the philosphy of attacking, passing, attractive football. I also realise that this post is about the mid-field, not about Bruce, Calderwood or the playing style, but they (playing style) and personnel go hand-in-hand, we have the right players, not the right attitude. Signing players like Whelan will most likely only exacerbate this situaton. Who can see a future for attack minded midlfielders at Aston Villa? Last words – remember Lansburys debut? trying to play forward and attack the opposition? how often did we see that after his first game?


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