Date:Monday November 8 2010
The opening few weeks of November are often depressing ones. The nights draw in, so it`s dark as you drive to work and dark as you leave. The temperature takes a dip. The heating goes on (which instantly raises my grumpy factor because I wonder how much more gas is being used). Then up comes the Argos adverts two and a half months before Christmas, irritating supermarket adverts telling you to stock up now for the festivities and of course , and now Villa have to go and become a bit rubbish just to raise the irritable factor up to ten.
In the past few years we`ve been spoilt - it`s around about now that when we`ve looked promising and started to convince ourselves the March collapse won`t happen this time around. Only for it to happen. Again.
It`s a little different this time.
The pre-season that we had this year was disastrous. I`m not going to drag out the usual clichés about how important pre-season is to the players - but the lack of preparation for the season ahead, mixed in with the sale of Milner has been a complete nightmare. Having finally picked the new manager, he is now having to conduct his own pre-season - extra training to get fitness up, evaluating the squad he has, and implementing his ideas on the way to play - during the season itself.
There`s no point complaining about being put in this situation, or looking to attribute blame at this stage. There`s no point looking at luck, and complaining about refereeing decisions. Referees in this country sum up all that is wrong with the game currently - we should be anticipating these things. It`s more important for the team, players and staff to take a look at themselves and concentrate. That`s Richard Dunne cutting out the amateur errors that having been creeping into his game over the past year. That`s Stephen Ireland doing what made Milner such a great attribute - working hard in all areas of the pitch. That`s John Carew putting in the effort - yes we know you are off - but whilst you are still taking the thousands of pounds a week in wages you should be putting in the effort.
Through all this talk of an injury crisis, it`s the young players who are the ones looking like they are not only interested in dragging this club away from the relegation zone. Clark, Bannan and Albrighton have all put in dedicated, mature performances. Can the same be said of Ireland, Dunne, Sidwell and Carew?
I`m not going to get all gloomy and over dramatic - but Wednesday`s game is vital. Lose, even draw and we will be finding ourselves in the relegation zone in the next few weeks. That`s not a place where the club should be over Christmas.
Selling your best players and not replacing them is a recipe for disaster. We`ve done this over two seasons now, and it`s not looking good for Ashley Young`s contract this summer, either.
It`s time to stand up and be counted. We are being let down at the moment.
Date:Monday November 8 2010
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