The Week In Villa #11 (31/10/08 - 6/11/08)
Friday, 31st October
Attentions start to turn to St James Park on Monday. Steve Sidwell or John Carew are widely tipped to replace Stilyian Petrov, who got injured at Wigan. For the Barcodes, Michael Owen is available for selection again, which is worrying as he has an annoying habit of scoring against us.
Reports suggest Martin O`Neill is looking to bolster the squad in January. Quotes from the man reflect on the great business we did in January 2007, where we brought in John Carew and Ashley Young, and suggest he is hoping for more of the same this time round, albeit acknowledging that it is a difficult window to do business in.
Saturday, 1st November
MO`N admits the off-field problems at Newcastle helped him land James Milner, and he believes he will justify his £12m transfer fee.
Elsewhere, results go our way to give us great chances of going third with a win or fourth with a draw come Monday night.
Sunday, 2nd November
We`re linked with Daniel Sturridge of ManCiteh and Kyle Naughton of Sheffield United. I`d be delighted with the former, and know pretty much nothing of the latter!
We also announce a link with RGS Worcester and The Alice Ottley School which will see The Grange site become a regional base for the club, in regard to community activities and talent identification for girls and boys. Nice to see.
Monday, 3rd November
I can accept losing matches. I can forgive bad performances, and I am realistic enough to know we can`t always win or play well. What I have a real hard time dealing with is lack of effort, and tonight, the 2-0 defeat to Newcastle will stick with me for a long, long time. I think the last time I was this angry at a performance was 3-0 away to Doncaster in the days of DOL.
The simple fact is, Newcastle wanted it more than we did. They worked harder, and we got what we deserved. We had a great opportunity to go third, and to really mix it up with the top 4.
I feel angry, hurt and let down tonight, and I can only hope that on Thursday, the players start to pay back the massive debt they have made for themselves this evening. What an absolute disgrace.
Tuesday, 4th November
I barely look at any media, but I do see a quote from MON saying that we played some 'lovely, free-flowing football` the previous night. While we did have some good chances (Gabby had one great chance that he messed up in such a manner that you`d even be angry at a schoolboy for doing the same thing), I am afraid our manager is wrong on this occasion.
In better news, Ashley Young finally signs a new contract.
Wednesday, 5th November
Reports suggest that MON will be making changes for tomorrow. It will be interesting to see what happens, as to be honest I think probably only Martin Laursen and Luke Young deserve to keep their place after that rubbish on Monday!
Stilyian Petrov is still missing, James Milner is added to the injury list, and both Marlon Harewood and Isaiah Osborne wont be making rare starts as they have new babies to deal with!
Thursday, 6th November
A much changed team gets a solid 1-0 win. It was a very pleasing result and there is now every reason to suggest we could win this group. We won through a fluke of a goal, but we were good value for that lead at half-time and defended well in the second. Liverpool won the Champions League with performances like the one we put in tonight…
As for the players that came in, I felt all of them gave a good account of themselves. Brad Guzan made some excellent saves, Steve Sidwell put in a good shift and Craig Gardner was unlucky not to score. Curtis Davies and Zat Knight managed to look pretty solid. I reserve the highest praise for Moustapha Salifou though, who I thought had an excellent game. He worked extremely hard, used the ball well and put in the type of performance we`ve come to expect from Petrov, who I felt we missed big-time on Monday.
It will be interesting to see who he leaves out on Sunday. Most the players that played could feel hard done by to be left out, although you would certainly expect Martin Laursen and Gareth Barry to come in, probably for Zat Knight and Craig Gardner at least. Personally I would like to see Brad Friedel play purely because he will break Frank Lampard`s record of 164 consecutive Premiership appearances.
I`m hopeful of another win on Sunday. Fingers crossed!