Fulham and Villa share the spoils
'Give it two minutes and Fulham will score`; and right on time Fulham
equalised. How could I be so confident in predicting Villa conceding
so quickly? Well the last three visits Villa have made to Craven
Cottage have seen us draw; and each time we seem to have this game within our grasp, before we decide to let Fulham back in. Of course a
draw here is no bad thing, and with the pitch and the ref conspiring
against us, I think I am ok with this result. The point though is we
should be winning these kind of games, and you know everyone knows
this. If we want to get better, draws like these should be things of
So how was the game? It would be hard to get very excited about this.
We played ok, but nothing to raise us above Fulham. To me we seemed to enjoy much more of the ball, but we failed to actually make that
count. Fulham seemed to have much more of a plan and be less wasteful with the ball, and that's why they scored after the excellent Carew had scored for us. As usual the defence decided that actually
watching the opposition and the ball were not the important thing.
Why the hell can`t we defend set pieces? I am starting to come to
the conclusion that Mellberg isn`t such a commanding presence, infact
perhaps despite all this talk of a new contract he probably shouldn`t
be a Villa player. We like him because he doesn`t like the blues,
because he looks like a Viking and must be part of some kind of
Scandinavian master race. Well he might not have been at fault for the
goal, but he`s been rather unconvincing for a couple of seasons. At
one moment in the second half he took a free kick. He didn`t look to
see where he was pumping it; and within a few seconds it was coming
back. Laursen looks such a better player, but as is normal we didn`t
see him play for a whole game. Bardsley looks solid, but nothing
more; surely there are better players out there? Bouma is growing on
me; he still looks unfit (he seems the happiest player when play
stops and he can get a drink), but his timing at tackling seems to
have improved greatly.
Now the pitch didn`t help our midfield one bit; it made the game very
scrappy, and I don`t think it helped Maloney and Young playing in
advanced wing positions. Both seemed to have pretty average games,
and offered little support to Carew, who often had to plough a lonely
furrow. Young in the second half showed that he has an incredible
work rate that was a real positive. Maloney on the other hand,
mostly passed me by; it did occur to me that perhaps he would have
more suited to Fulham, than the new Villa, but after just two games
its far too early to call. Petrov and McCann had ok games; Petrov was
better than he`s been, but I am still waiting for him to make his
mark on these kind of games like he did at West Ham. Is he just not
settling? Short of confidence? I admire MONs persistence and faith in
him, but I am still unsure of him. Barry I thought had a quiet game,
but his class is always obvious; if only he had a bit more pace! His
vision and awareness and his determination to be involved make him
the best player we have had all season.
And then on to Carew; he produced another great performance; his
strength and skill set him apart. He offers so much more to the team.
Sadly he was far too often isolated, far too often he couldn`t pass
the ball to anyone, because they weren`t anyone there. As Young was
out wider we saw little of the partnership that looked so fruitful
against West Ham.
And the subs; Cahill continues to look assured and can only get
better. Gabby undoubtedly should been played in the centre (I was
surprised that Luke Moore wasn`t on the bench); his technique and
crossing still leave something to be desired, and I wonder if they
will ever improve that much, but his pace is a real asset,
particularly towards the end of a game
Overall it looked that the holiday in the sun, had left our team just
a bit too relaxed and unfocussed. Hopefully the rest will come in
more use in the next few weeks. We need to be better than this, but I
am sure we all know that, no one more than MON. I can`t believe that
some of these players will be with us next year; the rebuilding still
needs to be done.
But in an average game; the fans were exceptional. They sang and sang and backed the team all the way. Its a real pity that the game just
didn`t match up to them.
Report by Paul Barnes