Writer: Michael Bakewell
Date:Monday March 2 2009
O’Neill Can't Polish a Villa Turd.
By Michael Bakewell
Over the past week Martin O’Neill has crossed the line with the travelling masses, and respective fans alike into the realms of personal accountability, not a good place to be, with any fan. However, on the face of it, ‘the meal’ gesture is very generous one, however, once depicted it has a certain irony to it.
The 300 or so that will be in attendance must have initially wondered where would they be dining, initially their pent up rage and anger being pacified by such a warm, fuzzy gesture, and then it became crystal clear. The PR machine at Villa Park had sparked into life, and tried to combat the fans initial knee jerk reaction with another knee jerk reaction, fighting fire with fire so to speak. I personally would have viewed this as an insult, the club almost treating them with contempt, that the invite extended to them is for the Holte Suite at Villa Park, and enjoying food in an establishment that is already heavily subsidised by them, and every other fan for that matter.
The Moscow gamble was followed closely with a tasteless serving of Stoke at home, and a full strength, fully rested Villa team incapable of holding onto a 2 – 0 home lead. I personally feel for Carlos Cuellar after his 2nd half performance yesterday, simply put, he lost his head yesterday after the first 20 minutes of the 2nd half. Any of the 40,000 in attendance would find that hard to disagree with. What is particularly difficult to understand is at the risk of his confidence suffering even further, and being played out of position week in week out O’Neill should have done the responsible thing and substituted him, protected whatever remained of his shattered confidence. With a substitutes bench packed with Shorey (switch L Young back to right back), Coker, and Gardener (like for like); more than enough choice to replace Cuellar with, and balance up and tighten up the defence. Also to stabilize the passing play up the right flank to allow Agbonlahor & Milner easier penetration into the channels instead of Cuellar panicking and looking inside at every opportunity, and losing possession time after time. Also, as always we relied too heavily on the wide play and dead ball delivery of Ashley Young. Our overall game is becoming too predictable.
Moreover, Zat Knight (AKA Franz Beckenbauer) couldn’t be expected to do the work of two of his defensive partners yesterday, as Davies was shaky aswell, especially after the introduction of Fuller. It almost looked yesterday that Davies is still suffering with a knock and reoccurrence of his shoulder problem. Credit to him for battling on as best he could. Moreover, the Gardener and Reo-Coker gave enough choice to tighten up the midfield with and bring off a remarkably useless and widely ineffective Agbonlahor, whose performances in recent weeks have been seriously indifferent. Some opinions suggesting he has became lazy, a premadona suffering with the dreaded ‘Lamborghini Syndrome’. Back to Franz Becke….. I mean Zat Knight; his form and game has been superb since getting his chance in the absence of our Captain Martin Laursen – long may it continue. Moreover, long may Stilian Petrov’s form continue, he was awesome yesterday, and MOTM by a long way. Overall, a very commanding display from Stan – again.
The manager is equally as responsible as the players, and he should have done more to protect them yesterday, as this show was very much the Managers gamble. If not for his completely baffling inability to make effective substitutions, it is his own stubbornness and belief in his players, Ala Arsene Wenger. A guy who sits behind me joked that Carew was coming onto play right back! Enough said.
I love O’Neill but this week has been the worst in his reign for 3 years, we sacrificed a completely win able tie in the UEFA Cup for what? To draw at home to Stoke with a fully rested first team squad? NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I thought football was about winning trophies? And however the club, The General, or the manager tart up the Moscow farce, it will never sit well with me, EVER, and many would find that hard to disagree with. Like I said, it is down to personal accountability, and if we fail in our attempt to secure 4th and a Champions League birth, what then? The price of O’Neill’s gamble is just too high, and the cost? Even Randy couldn’t afford that.
On Wednesday night we need a knee jerk reaction from the Manager and the team, because ‘the meal’ aside, on goings at Villa Park and in Moscow over the past week have left a very, very sour taste in everyone’s mouth – pun intended, of course.
Date:Monday March 2 2009
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