Writer: J P Fear
Date:Thursday August 20 2009
Martin O’Neill was right, no question. Well, according to him anyway! I guess - despite the fact it would be nice for us all to move on - the Moscow 'incident' was bound to crop up on the day of our latest European adventure. Some fans felt throwing away the game last season was excusable and others a disgrace. It has certainly left some questioning whether we will take the Cup games seriously this year and whether it is worth paying the money and turning up to support the team if not?
Martin O'Neill was obviously asked the question, I wish he'd had the presence of mind to say that it is time to move on, the reaction was noted but ultimately the decision on what team to field is his and his alone.
But nope, MON was right! 'I’m too long in the game now and I stand by the decisions I’ve made at the end of it all. For me, so much has been said about it that it’s mind-blowing, it really is mind-blowing that people are looking to that to explain what happened at the end of last season.'
Thing is, it was mind blowing, for me personally I don't think I'd ever felt so low as a Villa fan to think the mighty Villa could go into a game so badly unprepared and seeing silverware as unimportant. For others it was an understandable gamble to make the top four. There was always bound to be lots written and said about it, some will never get over it, others will but it was one of the single biggest managerial decisions made in the history of Villa.... in my ever so humble opinion.... as we surrendered a good chance of actually winning something (and wouldn't his reputation as the messiah just have been cemented with some European glory?)
He told the press including James Nursey at The Mirror that it has been blown out of proportion! 'people started saying that your whole season faded because of it, when in actual fact it was how we were trying to keep the season alive by utilising the players in the best way.'
'People were saying some of the younger players would need a rest and suddenly when you don’t go with the strongest side and you give them a rest then you’re wrong because of that. If we had come back from that Moscow game having put a full side out and let a two-goal lead slip as we did against Stoke City the following game then people would have said that we should have played the young players in Moscow.'
Trouble is we came back and lost, if's and buts I guess but for me it was a shocking thing to have done and I am sure that many of the rested players - remember Gareth Barry saying that week he didn't feel at all tired or jaded - wanted to play and actually win something for themselves, for the fans and for the club.
In The Express he was a bit stronger saying "I’ve never seen anything rumble on so long in my life. I don’t see the logic attached to it. There has been seemingly endless criticism from people who would have been the first to criticise if it had gone the other way."
"Even if I had gone with the strongest side, there was no guarantee we would have won. Much has been made of it and if people can’t see my particular point of view, I can’t do anything about it and I’m not going to even try. I think it was pretty obvious."
Seems a gulf between his thoughts and some Villa fans thoughts, difference is, he is the one that makes the decision. I'm not sure people have any agenda other than seeing Villa win though, so these comments aren't the most helpful really. Certainly not much respect for any of us who paid good money throughout the campaign to support him and the team? Flags one week and much excitement, surrender the next?!
Moving on, hopefully we'll do the deed tonight v Rapid Vienna and we can all... including MON who could at times show a bit of understanding and humility (?)... move on.
Date:Thursday August 20 2009
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