Grealish on his way? Unless…….


THE stories have started already, slowly the drip feed has begun – Jack Grealish is wanted by the Premier League.

Tottenham are said to be back in for the Villa skipper although surely that would depend on Maurico Pochettino’s destination this summer.

Leicester City? They were always mentioned in the days of Claude Puel and before the club’s recruitment officer left.

Would a top six team other than Spurs go for Grealish?

And when the stark reality of Villa’s financial situation is analysed, another season in the Championship would not improve it.

The same restrictions that threatened to send Villa into administration last year would still apply.

And that is with new cash-rich owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris at the helm.

The spectre that is FFP would not ease up, but clearly the wealth at boardroom level would be enough to ensure that the bills get paid on time.

All the indications are that Grealish may have to be sold just to keep the Villa ship steady again this summer.

The upside of that of course is that Dean Smith will have the funds to go and rebuild his Villa squad. Expect bids for players such as Brentford’s Neal Maupay to be targeted this summer.

But there is one way for Villa to keep hold of Grealish – win promotion.

Even now, after three wins on the spin ahead of the home game against Middlesbrough, it will be some feat if Villa get into the play-offs, reach the final at Wembley and then beat the likes of Leeds, Sheffield United or Norwich.

Impossible? Of course not with Grealish in this sort of inspirational form and players such as John McGinn responding with goals of his own.

But it looks as though the only way to keep Grealish would be for Villa to gatecrash their way into the Premier League.

Grealish was clearly disappointed that the new ownership blocked Spurs’ attempts to sign him last year.

But it seems unlikely that would be an issue this time – and the money would be welcomed.

The latest figures show that Villa are not out of the woods yet when it comes to their financial state.

So Grealish’s current form comes as a double edged sword. He could just be the man to turn Villa’s play-off hopes into reality.

His three month lay-off means he is fresher than most players with his ability in the Championship – even if it means he gets targeted by opposition markers more than most.

But if Villa fall short he will have altered the Premier League to his obvious talents,

Derby dilemma for Dean

By Graham Hill

DEAN SMITH suddenly finds himself with a midfield dilemma for the Blues derby at St Andrew’s this Sunday.

From being without the likes of the injured Jack Grealish and the suspended John McGinn, Smith now has four players battling to make the starting line up for the Second City Derby.

Smith may have huge problems in defence with Tommy Elphick the latest player to be ruled out – it is a six week lay-off for the centre half after he was injured against Derby on Saturday.

But the Villa boss has an embarrassment of riches in midfielder with Smith’s play-off hopes lifted by last weekend’s 4-0 hammering of Derby County.

So, what should he do?

The return of a raring-to-go McGinn could also have the same effect as Grealish had on the team against the Rams.

It would be difficult to change things from last Saturday. Unless Smith has a particular set up in mind of course.

And while it will be tempting for the Villa boss to tell last weekend’s team to ‘go again’, it is worth remembering that Blues are unlikely to play as badly as injury hit Derby did.

The Rams were suffering horrendous problems with illness and injury. And boss Frank Lampard had to make six changes to his side.

Blues, despite last week’s defeat at Hull, are a more settled outfit and still have an eye on the top six despite the threat of an EFL points deduction hanging over them.

If Smith wanted to freshen it up again, he could bring back McGinn – but then who misses out?

Grealish? No way. He is set to captain the side at St Andrew’s. Glenn Whelan? Are you kidding? He was a contender for man of the match against Derby and has impressed in recent weeks, Conor Hourihane? Surely not.

He also impressed against Derby, scored twice and admitted the return of Grealish freed him up to play his normal game.

It’s a nice problem for Smith to have, but one he must get right with Villa unable to afford any more dropped points if they are to make the play-offs.



WELL done Tyrone Mings for stepping up and saying what the rest of us are all thinking.

The on-loan Bournemouth defender is not short of offering up an opinion to the media.

And this week he admitted that the team all need to be ‘pulling in the right direction’.

Strong words from a player who’s only been at Villa Park for a few weeks.

They say sometimes a work in progress needs to be ‘viewed with fresh eyes’.

And that seems to be exactly what Mings is doing here.

It’s interesting that the club also seemed to give their backing to the quotes which appeared in an interview on the official website.

Maybe somebody, somewhere wants the message out there.

Mings is as good a man as any to deliver these home truths.

He is a Premier League player after all and arrived at Villa Park with a decent pedigree and a career hindered only by his injury problems.

And he was quick to point out what might be holding Villa back.

He said: “We need to pull in the same direction and ultimately try and achieve the same goal at the end of it.”

So, is he suggesting that there are people who are not pulling in the same direction?

At the moment, the last couple of results have suggested that. I honestly hoped that the comeback against Sheffield United at Villa Park would have been the springboard to a revival over the second half of the season.

But the defeats to Brentford and West Brom showed it was merely a false dawn.

On the face of it, the Blades comeback was brilliant, but it was two points dropped and, over the course of the game, probably should have been three.

Of course, Mings has been a part of all this. An impressive debut at Reading seemed to suggest tat Villa’s defensive problems were going some way to being solved.

But I am concerned about the underlying reason for some of those quotes.

“Every player has a responsibility to give their all. That’s all I’m doing. If everyone does their job then hopefully the team will benefit from that.”

Again, there is the suggestion that perhaps everyone is not pulling their weight behind the scenes.

It has been a problem at Villa Park for the past few seasons, we know that only too well.

But if this is the impression Mings gets after being here less than a month, then I worry about what you’d find if you scratched beneath the surface at the moment.