Aston Villa - O'Neill's Everton Verdict
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O'Neill's Everton Verdict

Martin O'Neill has described todays attacking display as an 'absolute dream' as we took a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Everton.

Easter commitments got in the way of me watching the match today, but judging by the comments on the message board we can consider ourselves unlucky to not have taken all 3 points, although it appears on reflection a draw was the fair result even if it was the result we didn't want.

Speaking on the official site O'Neill explained the obvious, that taking 4th place now was going to be extremely difficul, but that we were in no way going to give up on the fight.

'I thought we were fantastic. Going forward we were an absolute dream but defensively, we were not-so-clever.

'It was high entertainment and a fantastic game - and we should have won it at the death with a great chance.

'We fought back from both 2-0 and 3-1 down. In terms of character and determination, in the run we have been in, it was fantastic.

'We went to Old Trafford and played how we have most of the season away from home. We got great confidence from that and took it on this afternoon - at least going forward. However, we conceded three goals at home. You shouldn't need to score four goals to win a game at home.

'In terms of catching Arsenal, we are certainly not going to down tools and give up the fight.

'If I look at it after their win at Wigan, I accept it is going to be hard. But we won't give up because Arsenal still have some very difficult games to play.

'I certainly haven't given up hope - not at all.'

Nice to see our attackers back in the grove, but as O'Neill rightly points out we should not be conceeding 3 goals at home if we have dreams of the Champions League.

It has to be addressed, but I'm thankful of attacking form is coming back now. What we need are more performances like this to tally with 3 points taken in games.

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The Journalist

Writer: Mike Field Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday April 12 2009

Time: 7:13PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
'Lerner, committed to a programme of investment in his American football franchise Cleveland Browns, would also like to see the average age of the squad reduced.' saw this in a mirror article and it made me laugh. and apparently half our squad are going to be sold this summer! shows what absolute tripe some journalists write. can't believe they are allowed to print lies
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12/04/2009 19:46:00

ric112 There are forums to post on , why don't you use them ? this is a match verdict by MON !
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12/04/2009 19:54:00

I was all set to come on here and give MoN absolute pelters after reading headlines that he'd conceded 4th place to Arsenal. But I shouldn't be surprised to read that actually that isn't the case at all - further evidence that ricc112's point about journalists writing tripe is time and again self-evident. Going on my predictions for each sides remaining fixtures, if Villa were to prove me wrong again next week and beat West Ham, having drawn today, that would overturn the 2 point lead I predicted Arsenal would have at season's end. What I'm trying to say is that should we gain maximum points from 6 eminently winnable games, we have a chance (and it's a greater chance than it otherwise would be if Arsenal hadn't lost both Gallas and Djourou). That said, I think we have no chance. And lastly, in my view, if we do finish 4th, it'll be in spite of MoN, and the many inexcusable mistakes he's made, rather than because of him. Much improved performance today - though defensively still inept - against a far superior team to the one we faced a week ago. For that, the players, and I stress it is just the players, deserve credit.
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12/04/2009 20:19:00

I thought this write up worthy of a larger audience, so here's the link: Barry WAS inspirational. He's had technically superior games to be sure, but he still showed great all-round football ability, and more importantly, and more impressively, the heart and desire the article writer emphasised. How anyone has ever doubted Gareth's love for the club is beyond me, because in every game he's played he's given absolutely everything (even if the vagaries of a team sport sometimes make that difficult to discern). He is unquestionably a Villa great (and given the calibre of player to have earned that tag, that is a wonderful achievement in itself). Had he not found himself serving the club during some of its darkest days (even given the descent into the old 3rd division), we would be witnessing the unfolding of the most distinguished playing career in Villa's modern history. If there is one man who is beyond rebuke, it is this man. I'm going to have to stop there because I'm beginning to well up...
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12/04/2009 20:28:00

Saw the match live and have watched on Setanta since. Setanta made some good observations pre match namely the record before and after the Laursen injury. We need him back playing for the run in, and we need to find a replacement for the future, cos we have not got anyone close to him yet. Also the Cahill goal should have been disallowed for fouls on Brad and Curtis, and we should have had at least one of the penalty claims in the first half. Should have been 4-2 to villa - at least.
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12/04/2009 21:06:00

Can't wait for MOTD2, few more beers and I might think is was 4-2 to villa!
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12/04/2009 21:07:00

Albarnista totally agree about Barry, thought he was immense today. Battled to the end, won more headers than I think I've seen him win in a game before and was technically, clearly the best player on the pitch. When he wriggled through two players and played a peach of a ball to Young with the outside of his foot was quite the moment. The pen was never in doubt (despite setanta tempting fate by changing the score before it went in!) And to finish his reaction when he scored that pen should be enough, his passion for us is clear. I for one can only wish him well if he gets the chance to play at the very top at what will be the near twilight of his career. In a complete non related point, a friend of mine ripped off a Villa bracelet I had kept on for two seasons and since then we haven't won a game. I know a lot of people blame the change of tactics and lack of squad size but I honestly think I might be to blame, and for that I am sorry. UTV.
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13/04/2009 03:09:00

MON summed it up perfectly, very good going forward, shaky at the back. I think that a draw was a fair result, in a game between the undisputed fifth and sixth best teams in the land. Both clearly someway below the 'top four' though.
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13/04/2009 05:44:00

Thank god MON recognises we need some quality defenders. Cahill and Fellani get on my nerves. Both dirty cheats to make up for their lack of ability
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13/04/2009 12:28:00

Agree with almost everything you say - possibly including the business with your bracelet! However, may I suggest that Barry won't be nearing the twilight of his career for a while yet. He's just turned 28, but given he's never been blessed with pace, has a masterful footballing brain, and is a model professional, I can see him playing at the very top at least until he's 35, which is another seven years! Tragically, I think 'at the top' looks like it won't be with Villa. But eighteen points left to win, so you never know...
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13/04/2009 13:37:00

Medzy, MoN might recognise we need some good defenders, but let's remember that he's bought 5 out of our 7 defenders, and Laursen, and perhaps Bouma, are arguably the best of them - though I'm sure Luke Young would have something to say about that. So would you trust him to bring in the right players, given that he has - arguably - an 80% failiure rate? For what it's worth, I don't think our defence is getting nearly enough protection from the midfield, which is partly a personnel issue, mostly a tactical issue, and wholly a Martin O'Neill issue.
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13/04/2009 13:41:00

Its good to read the many points of view especially about our leaking defenders but i've not seen anyone comment on Friedel's poor form and inability. Last week at Old Trafford he was shocking in their first goal.....standing unsited behind the wall when he should have been on his line. Against Liverpool too he fluffed about and was'nt sure of himself...and same against Everton at the weekend. I think he forms a very big part of our leaking backline. I'll go out on a limb here and say i was more at ease with Sorensen.
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13/04/2009 21:11:00

But the defenders we have arent 'leaders'. They run about like headless chickens because theres nobody out there to sort them out. With Laursen going through a bit of a Ledley King situation and Bouma struggling we need to start getting serious defenders in and build the squad with quality. I agree that Friedel doesnt seem too sharp to react sometimes but he does make some top saves. I dont think Freidel has much confidence in his defence. Hokey cokey would be perfect for covering the back 4 when/if Barry leaves but Petrov wont give us enough going forward. We need more options......
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13/04/2009 23:16:00

it just seems to me that playing a virtual 4-2-4 formation is just too gung ho in this league (milner and ashley are hardly known for their defensive paly). I think MON needs either to drop one of the wingers or else drop a forward and play a more defensively minded midfielder.
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14/04/2009 12:05:00

144 not sure if you watched the game but JM and AY both worked their socks off tracking back, Shorey had another good game (2 on the trot!) and LY was outstanding as usual. The problem was through the middle. Barry and Petrov are both good on the ball but offer very little defensively allowing the Everton midfield free access to our centre halves who looked like total strangers
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14/04/2009 12:57:00

AV i completely agree JM and AY do both work extremely hard (but are still more suited when going forward) which is why it is such a difficult decision to make a change to the formation. But it must be remembered that when we were on our winning run we were just playing with one true forward. So perhaps we should consider going back to that.
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14/04/2009 13:41:00

I trust M'ON to pick the right team, but as fans we offer our opinions on what is wrong/right at any given time. Personally I feel that having 2 players in JM and AY who hug the touchlines, leaves GB and SP exposed in the middle of the park. They are often competing against 3 or 4 people. JM and AY work extremely hard up and down the line but that doesn't help in the middle battleground. It is to both GB's and SP's credit that they do so well against the odds. Reverting back to the formation of SP just in front of the back four will give us the security that the back has been lacking for weeks. The goals against tally is not down to just the defenders/goalkeeper. It is the lack of protection that they have been getting. I think it is also interesting that in the two games Shorey has played not one of the 6 goals conceded has come from his side. Then having an attacking right midfielder (Gardner, Sidwell, Okey Cokey) supporting Milner and on the left, Barry supporting Ashley Young gives the team balance, shape and a defensive platform on which to build. You then have 1 attacker (Carew, Gabby, Heskey) being supported by 4 attacking players. It pains me to say it, but in not to disimilar ways to Murderpool play with Torres supported by Kuyt, Gerrard, Alonson and Riera. The players are then interchangeable in this formation so that they can be rested if needed. For example Gabby can play the wide attacking role giving Milner a break. Carew or Heskey can both have spells leading the line. You can call this formation anything really because some people will say it is 4 -5-1, some say 4-4-3, others may say 4-1-4-1. But it doesn't matter as long as Barry and Petrov are not left to try and cover all of the ground between Milner and A.Young. Seems simple to me, but if was that easy then I am sure the management would be doing it. On a positive note, I often critisise Villa Fans for being fickle, so credit when it is due. At 2 - 0 and 3 -1 down on Sunday the crowd (well the Holte End, because those in the Trinity only make a noise when they are moaning) stayed with them. No banging of seats, No 'what the f*** is going on' was heard, just good old 12th man support. And didn't it make a difference?? Why can't we be like that more often?? However I do have a couple of negatives. With the game on a knife edge and considering the late drama at so many games this season, why was the ground approximately 30% empty before the asst referee had even held up his board to indicate that there was 4 minutes left. Why anybody would leave the stadium before the end is beyond me. Personally I think it is an insult to the club, players and the shirt. No doubt these passionless fans will be demanding that the club be signing more players for them to turn their back on in the future. Secondly we haven't had a home game for 4 weeks, it was a big game, the weather was good, but we still had 2500 unsold tickets. I suppose that many will still expect us to be signing some good players in the summer. We don't actually help the club sell itself though do we??
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14/04/2009 13:45:00


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