Date: 21st August 2019 at 6:00pm
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The 100% ‘un-ofish-al’ news round-up!

With the transfer window now firmly “slammed shut” and a couple of matches under our belts already, it’s perhaps an opportune moment to catch up on some of the news around Villa Park in the past few weeks.

Partnerships galore

Hot on the heels of announcing Kappa and W88 as the club’s kit and principal partners respectively, we now have partnerships with Purity Brewing as the official beer supplier, Virgin Trains as the travel partner.

Purity is a micro-brewery close to Aston, located just 30 miles south of Villa Park in Warwickshire, and “will supply a range of draught and packed award-winning ales and craft beers across the stadium concourses and hospitality areas. Purity have also commissioned an exclusive Pale Ale to mark the club’s return to the Premier League, which fans will also be able to enjoy at Villa Park.

Virgin Trains will offer Season Ticket Holders and Members 20% off ALL rail fares – not just journeys to watch Villa play. The deal allows you to save money whether you’re coming to Villa Park, watching us away from home or visiting any other area of the UK via to arrange your discounted journey, where you’ll need your Fan ID. The discount applies to advanced fares only.

Charity matters

In more interesting (and heart-warming) news, Acorns are back in the picture as official charity partners for the next two seasons alongside Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Great stuff.

The AVFC Foundation, meanwhile, are looking for fundraisers to enter the Great Birmingham Run on 13 October. Click here for more information.

Coaching changes

The news that Kevin MacDonald has been relieved of his position following an inquiry into bullying and abuse of youth players will have met with little sense of sadness by many – quite how he was allowed to remain at the club for so long, despite continual accusations of wrongdoing, should be a source of huge embarrassment to the club. Good riddance.

Meanwhile, incoming to Bodymoor Heath is West Brom Academy goalkeeping coach of 19 years, Mark Naylor, who will link up again with Neil Cutler at Villa .

More from the talking heads

The pundits have been out in force, pronouncing on Villa’s less-than-great start to the season, results-wise at least. Stan Collymore has come up with an interesting suggestion to help out the misfiring Wesley Moræs, suggesting some one-to-one coaching from the prolific Emile Heskey might not go astray – he guarantees it!

Elsewhere, rent-a-quote pundit and former Villan Chris Sutton has piped up on Villa’s start to the season, spouting nonsense about Dean Smith having ditched most of the promotion side: “You look at the team that got them promoted, there are not many of those players that are starting.” Er, have you actually seen the team-sheets Chris?

Sutton is down among the bottom-feeders of punditry for me, along with the likes of Robbie Savage and Danny Murphy. Come back when you’ve done your homework Chris.

Player talk

Elsewhere, former players have been lifting the lid on their time with Villa, although in one case, he’s still actually a Villa player so some may find his observations disrespectful. Micah Richards spent more time on the treatment table than on the pitch, but speaks fondly of his time at Villa and claimed the club blocked a number of potential moves away from B6.

Scott Hogan, on the other hand, feels he has to prove a lot of people wrong following his so-far unsuccessful time in claret and blue. “It was a difficult time and I didn’t enjoy one bit of it, I just didn’t fit in. “I’ve been written off by a lot of people who don’t think I’m this and don’t think I’m that, that I’m a waste of money and all this. I’ve got a manager who believes in me. He is a great guy, a great manager and there are great lads here who want me to do well. It’s up to me.”

He’s certainly right about one thing – he didn’t seem to fit in. A shame really, I think there is a better player in there than we got to see at Villa Park and I only wish him the best – hopefully we can recover at least some of the arguably excessive transfer fee we paid Brentford.

Bjorn Engels has been talking up his blossoming partnership with Tyrone Mings: “He speaks a lot on and off the pitch with me. He’s a great guy with a lot of qualities. For me, it’s nice to play alongside him. It feels good to have such a top player next to me.”

And finally, Thomas Hitzlsperger has been reminiscing on his “very special time” at Villa in a lengthy interview with the OS. “Villa as a club were fantastic. They helped me a great deal and made it far easier for me to settle in. Once I got into the first team, life in claret and blue was just fantastic. I have such fond memories of the people there – the players and the staff – and the fans. It was special.”

Great to hear from ‘Der Hammer’, who also had a spell at Friday night’s opponents Everton after he had left B6. Speaking of which, let’s take the opportunity to recall this belter from the Magic Man from 19 years ago (albeit at Goodison Park).

One of these from one of the Supers or ideally Wesley and our season might get up and running. Keep the faith.

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