Sheriff Kimbo's Monthly Musings (5)
Okay let me start by asking WHY OH WHY haven`t we signed anyone yet in January? ;o)
December; what a mad month that was! The month opened with a good away win at Pompey to send us into the semi-finals of the League Cup, and we followed that up with a comfortable home win over Hull. Obviously the absolute highlight of the month followed with that win at Old Trafford, but the two victories after away at Sunderland and at home to Stoke gave many people belief that we were on the verge of making a huge statement to the Premiership.
Of course, we`re the Villa. So the worst case scenario happened; we lose to Arsenal and Liverpool, Liverpool beat Wolves and the 8 point gap is down to 2. The Arsenal defeat was frustrating in as much as if Fabregas had never made it on to the pitch it would have probably finished 0-0. The Liverpool defeat was really frustrating because one stupid mistake and we lost a match that we didn`t really deserve to.
Both defeats, plus various draws against Wolves, Everton, Spurs and Man City have left me making the same 4-5-1/4-3-3 argument that I have been making for a long time. But I have to accept that MON is a 4-4-2 man and therefore it begs the question; just what is MON looking for in January?
The difficult place we are in is that the type of players that can really kick us on are the unattainable, special players. That is not to say that quality additions would not be welcome - it is generally the opinion of many Villa fans that we need another striker. But do people really think that Carlton Cole, Craig Bellamy or Robbie Keane (the names I have seen suggested) are going to make THAT much of a difference? They can help, of course they can, but I generally fear that we will struggle to get beyond where we are whatever happens. That said, player-for-player, I would take a lot of our first XI against anyone after the top 3.
Basically we are in a really frustrating position. If we don`t finish 4th but Spurs or in particular Man City do, they have a much better bargaining position in the summer. The squad we have isn`t that bad AT ALL and has mostly improved every year under MON, contrary to what some of his detractors will say. I would, player for player, take more of our best XI that Liverpool`s best XI, for example. But they have two exceptional footballers in Torres and Gerrard. I genuinely believe that if they were in our team then we would be competing at the very top end of the table. I am not saying we would win it, but I think we would be up there.
So what is the point of all that? I guess that January often seems to disappoint. I guess that we will struggle to get players that are better than what we have. I guess that I am intrigued as to what is in MON`s thoughts (although that is a regular one, not just January!). I guess that when all else is said and done, we are capable of obtaining Champions League football this season, and I will not be amazed if we do just that, but we will probably fail - not until after raising expectations, though.
After all, we are the Villa!
Some other random thoughts... I will be very disappointed if Barry Bannan does not get a new contract... Marc Albrighton should have started more games than what he has this season; really James Milner should have been in the middle all season... Given that I went to my first game in 1988, I am technically in my 4th decade of attending Villa games, even though I am 28! haha... Salifou is off to the African games then. Never has such a low-risk, low-profile signing caused such heated debate... One of the pleasing things about our defence mostly being sorted this season is it has largely stopped people talking about the sale of the undeniably-talent-but-a-bit-over-rated Gary Cahill... It was nice to see Delph and Delfouneso (There is definitely some 'Delpho-uneso` headline waiting to happen there isn`t there?) start and play very well on Saturday… I think that`ll do for another month… Just when you think it`s safe I`ll be back in February…