Writer: Mike Field
Date:Saturday April 18 2009
Martin O'Neill has said on the official site that he is furious that we were denied a late penalty, and the chance of taking all 3 points today.
Funnily enough I thought we had 90 minutes to take all 3 points myself, considering we scored so early I don't think it was a lack of a penalty that lost us the game it was our inability to put the match beyond them and as usual comical defending in the final 10 minutes that we can thank for that.
Anyway, O'Neill focused on the stoppage time event where it seems James Tomkins 'punched' the ball away whilst under pressure from John Carew.
'It was so clear. You have to be bale to see those. Their player clearly punched the ball away. It is not even as if it brushed up against him.
'But that's the way it's going for us at the moment.'
Going for us - are we again reliant on freaky own goals and penalties in order to win matches?
O'Neill described the way we attacked today as 'exhilarating'. Must be honest, I thought it was anything other than that.
We had plenty of attacks and plenty of chances but again we didn't really look dangerous. One of those days where we'd keep huffing and puffing and you'd have put more money on players being in the 6 yard box and putting it wide.
Kind of how we've looked all season to be honest, it's been a long time since you really thought we would attack and score, we've lost that edge.
'Going forward we were exhilarating - really brilliant - but we were unable to see it through.
'Brad made a good save early on and then we played very strongly after that. We broke forward and had countless chances - with Ashley and Gareth going very close.
'To be honest, with 25 minutes gone, we could have scored five. We were unable to get that second goal, which would probably have seen us through.
'We are just out of the habit of winning. I think we have been absolutely brilliant in the last three games but we have taken just two points. Winning, like losing, becomes a habit. But I think we deserved more this afternoon.
'The performance was absolutely outstanding going forward and we are highly entertaining, probably because we are unable to close the games down. It would be great if we could.'
The last few games have been entertaining, but we haven't been all season despite our PR. And yes we need desperately to close games out, take our chances and secure points. We haven't been doing that and we've been lacking in that department all season.
We can talk about tranfers until our hearts content, but we don't have players on the bench who can change games. The closest we get are players who are out of form or who simply haven't performed when they have started.
We can attack for 90 minutes but if we miss guilt edged chances, and fail in the final ball it counts for nothing. That is what we are suffering from at the moment, we are too wasteful.
But O'Neill is right 'Winning, like losing, becomes a habit.'
I know I'll get shot down again but hey ho - that habit was broken against CSKA and we still haven't recovered.
Coincidences are often just that, but there's no denying we lost our way after the UEFA capitulation and the question on many fans lips at the moment.
If we are challenging the Top 4 again next season, we will throw the Europa? O'Neill already said in the circumstances he'd do exactly the same thing, so could we be in for another season where we lose our spark and the players potentially rebound against a decision to not challenge for silverware.
Especially when it had been built up into such an event all season?
Date:Saturday April 18 2009
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|1.||Pride of Lions||962|
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|Crystal Palace||1||-||0||Aston Villa|
|Man Utd||4||-||1||Aston Villa|
|12. West Ham||35||10||7||18||-10||37|
|14. Hull City||34||10||6||18||-9||36|
|15. Aston Villa||34||9||8||17||-14||35|
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