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Remi Garde expects a response and an improved performance from his Aston Villa team against Watford. Garde’s first defeat as manager was a heavy 4-0 loss to Everton last weekend in a game where Villa were three goals behind at half-time. The display was poles apart from that which earned a goalless draw at home to Manchester City in the Frenchman’s first match in charge prior to the international break. Garde did not go as far as to suggest that Saturday is a must-win match for Villa but neither is he underestimating its importance. He said: ”It is a huge game but it is not the end of the season, nobody will be relegated at the end of the weekend. Well I hope, if that is so then we are in more trouble than I thought! ”It would be a huge boost in confidence for us to win this weekend. We want to, of course, win this game and we are going to try and do it in the way we want. ”But we will also accept a victory in the last minute, I have no problem with that. ”The first minutes will be important for everyone but the result at the end will be more important.” Grealish has been dropped but s ome good news for Villa is the return to fitness of Jores Okore from a knee injury and the defender could be in the squad for the first time since the FA Cup final in May. Forward Gabriel Agbonlahor (calf) will be assessed. To make matters worse, just hours after the defeat young midfielder Jack Grealish was photographed partying on a night out and did not return home with the rest of the squad on the team coach – a breach of club discipline which has resulted in the 20-year-old being left out of the squad against the Hornets. Despite the result at Goodison Park, Garde felt Villa could take some encouragement from their second-half showing and he wants his players to begin in that same vein in front of their own supporters on Saturday. ”The first half (at Everton) was quite disappointing for me,” said Garde. ”I thought that after the first goal we didn’t resist enough, lost too many challenges and didn’t create any chances at all for the first 35 minutes. ”In the first 35 minutes I didn’t see players who want to fight for the shirt. This is not the way I want to play, we were a little bit shy. The team is new and does not really know each other yet and we have to work hard to get to know each other. ”But the reaction in the second half was much better and this week in training we have been working hard. I am still very pleased with the way we train. ”I think we can do better than we have done and I hope we can improve on Saturday because it is my responsibility to find some solutions quickly, because we need them.” Villa are without a Barclays Premier League win since the opening day of the season and are rooted to the bottom of the table, five points adrift of safety. Press Association
Published on August 30, 2017 at 12:34 am Contact Tomer: [email protected] | @tomer_langer,Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt was a flashback to what happened frequently last year, and what will likely happen even more often when the season begins Sept. 1 against Central Connecticut State.Philips wasn’t consistently in the slot his first two seasons. He was nearly everywhere else. He arrived as a running back, the position he started at when he was at West Haven (Connecticut) High School. He also contributed as a kick returner, and assumed the role of the primary “hybrid” under then-offensive coordinator Tim Lester in 2015.In head coach Dino Babers’ up-tempo offense, he found a home at inside receiver, a place where he feels confident in his abilities as a playmaker. His 90 catches last season would have been the most ever for an SU receiver if not for the 94 grabbed by teammate Amba Etta-Tawo. With Etta-Tawo gone, Philips is poised to be one of Dungey’s top weapons.“I want to be the best receiver in the ACC,” Philips said.Even though he lined up primarily in the backfield at West Haven, the goal was to get him the ball in space. It’s why his high school coach Ed McCarthy ran jet sweeps with him and instructed his quarterbacks to throw him the ball in the flat. Philips set school records in touchdowns (88) and total offense (6,182 yards).When Philips was in high school, McCarthy watched many Mid-American Conference games, because they were frequently broadcast during the week. Unintentionally, it familiarized him with the Bowling Green offense run by Babers.“I almost knew that he would be the slot receiver (when Babers was hired at SU),” McCarthy said. “He’s made for that position really. I thought it was a perfect fit with him in the offense.”Babers said that during his first practice at SU, he and his staff instructed players to line up at whatever spot on the field they wanted to play at. Philips stood with the wide receivers.Wide receiver Steve Ishmael predicted Philips would excel if given the chance at receiver. They have been roommates for three years and now are the two senior wideouts who will be tasked with leading the offense. They spoke about this season as soon as they got back from winter break last year, Ishmael said.Philips said that earlier in his career, when he was being moved around a lot, he did not mind it. But from the first game last season, in which he set a school record with 14 receptions against Colgate, he knew he had found his permanent spot. After the breakout season he had last year, he is left wondering what might have been.“Now that I think about it,” Philips said, “I wish I had the time to really get used to one spot. When you’re at one position, you get to learn it more, you learn the ins and outs and you get to improve at that position. It’s (playing multiple roles early in his career) a blessing because it allowed me to show how versatile I can be, but at the same time I wish I could have stayed at one position.”To reach his individual goal of being the best receiver in the conference, Philips started working out at BreakOut Athlete, a local training facility that works with Division I and professional athletes.BOA has become known for its explosiveness training, director Frank Quido said, with the majority of its clients being football players who want to get faster off the line.It was initially difficult to develop a training regimen for Philips, Quido said, because he was already such a gifted athlete. But what stood out to Quido was Philips’ willingness to buy-in wholeheartedly to the training program, regardless of some of the untraditional exercises and equipment.“You know, most people when they come to my facility, this training is so much different than what they’re used to,” Quido said. “But he embraced everything I asked him to do. Never questioned why, never complained this was too hard.”The two worked together for about a month. In one drill, Philips stood behind a tackling dummy and Quido, standing on the other side, threw tennis balls both to the right and the left of the dummy. Philips stood in place, seeing where the balls were coming from and catching them to improve his hand-eye coordination.In another exercise focused on explosiveness, Philips ran on a treadmill while leaning forward until his chest touched a pole.Courtesy of Frank QuidoPhilips said he feels faster and stronger than he did a year ago. Junior Kielan Whitner has noticed it too. Whitner has played safety before for SU and is currently transitioning to linebacker. In both roles, he matches up with slot receivers in practice. This summer, in guarding Philips, Whitner said the hardest part is the bevy of moves that Philips can put on, forcing a defender to not key in on just one.“He got faster and more explosive off the line.” Quido said. “… We’re going to see him getting much more separation from defenders than we’ve ever seen before.”Philips is still learning on the job. He struggled in his shift trying to get off press coverage. He did not realize how important it was to use his hands before the throw is even made.McCarthy said, in retrospect, it’s a shame that Philips could not have redshirted his freshman season. Philips said he wishes he could have played in the slot all four years.With Etta-Tawo gone Philips recognizes that defenses might key in on him as the top target. His definition of being the best receiver in the ACC means being consistent every single game, not having a “rollercoaster” season. And even though he has been doing this for only one year, he is confident he can reach that status.“He just adjusts to things quickly,” Ishmael said. “He’s an athlete, he’s a football player and he’s been big time for us.”He proved Ishmael right a year ago. Now, to reach the postseason goals that he and Ishmael discussed, he needs to adjust to his new role. He needs to be big time.Banner photo by Jessica Sheldon Comments Ervin Philips burst off the line and went to block linebacker Shyheim Cullen. Eric Dungey took the snap and faked a pitch to running back Moe Neal who was split-out left.Syracuse’s first-string offense was scrimmaging against the second-string defense at the start of a practice inside the Ensley Athletic Center. On the first drive, the offense went three-and-out, drawing roars from the rest of the defense standing on the far sideline. To start the second drive, Dungey looked only toward his toward his speedy slot receiver. As Cullen bit on the fake pitch, Philips planted his left foot and burst right past the now flat-footed line linebacker, catching the ball thrown to the open space down the middle.