Writer: J P Fear
Date:Saturday March 18 2006
So how do you judge that one?
We have injuries - Angel, Berger, Baros and obviously Laursen.
And we have viruses - Phillips, Milner, Hughes (off after 28 mins), Hendrie and maybe more that we don't know about.
So to judge that performance on the players on the field all being fit is one thing, but if some of them are carrying knocks/virus and were willing to play for the cause, well, it makes it just that bit more difficult.
O'Leary said after the game that he knows what he wants to do, but he'll have to wait and see. The suggestion is a lack of money and the 'takeover' situation being the main cause of our problems.
We have a Denmark international keeper. Holland and Sweden international defenders, two other defenders who have played for the England U21's and one who plays for Ireland. Not that bad a defence is it? Well yes, today it was. In fact it was more than bad, it was dire. Now is Ellis to blame for that? Not really. He is to blame for the lack of cover, but lets not let the manager continually hide behind the situation that we all know about.
Everton will not get four easier goals than they got today, the only surprise is that they didn't get more.
The game started slowly and was fairly tame for ten minutes, then a free kick from Everton's own half was floated forward, Beattie beat Ridgewell to the ball, no other defender put in a challenge and he headed to McFadden, lovely finish, 1-0 thank you very much. Bouma was just left standing and no defender closed down or marked McFadden.
Villa then rallied, a Steven Davis shot was cleared off the line by Naysmith. Villa floated a corner over for debut boy Gabriel Agbonlahor to neatly head, only to be cleared off the line again, then Davis took another shot to be, yup, you've guessed it, cleared off the line, this time by Cahill.
Everton nearly caught us on the break with a decent shot by Osman which Sorenson parried away instead of holding. It could have gone anywhere, lucky for Villa this time it didn't go straight to an opponent.
A few minutes later and our defence once again fell apart, in fact they were left standing. A throw in reached Beattie. It reached Beattie because he was keen, eager and determined. None of those words would apply to any of our defenders today. So Beattie won the first ball and flicked it on, Ridgewell completely missed the ball which went to Cahill to slot in. Bouma was once again left standing and no other Villa player was challenging. Dire man marking, dire cover and a total lack of understanding. They basically missed the first, second and third ball. 2-0 and to all intents and purposes, game over. Bouma picked up a nasty cut in a collision (after the ball had gone in!) and had to go off for stitches. Hughes then had to go off as he was struggling with a virus. On came Jlloyd Samuel.
Ooops, 3-0. Jlloyd was beaten for pace and failed to put a tackle in, the Everton player (missed who it was) crossed it in, Ridgewell once more missed it and Bouma was again miles away. Bang, Osman, goal number 3.
And that was only the first half!
The second half Villa came out and tried to make a game of it. Our man of the match was Gabriel Agbonlahor, although it has to be said, the competition wasn't stiff. He scored an excellent goal from a wide angle following a pass from Hendrie, who I have to say looked fairly lively. The goal was class and this young lad (19) has a bright future. Villa did then huff and puff and try to break Everton down, with more luck we could have made the end interesting, but unfortunately we ended up getting caught on the break for Cahill to get a brace and the humiliation was complete.
Plenty of O'Leary out chants were heard, Ellis was watching on thoughtfully. Would be nice if the Chairman sacked himself and took the manager with him. In a straight choice I'd still prefer Ellis gone, he has brought the club to its knees, or 14th anyway, but if a new lot ever do come in, I just hope they clear the decks and start again, either that or give O'Leary shed loads of cash, as he has proved he isn't a tactician or a motivator of players, he is what he said he wasn't - a cheque book manager.
I won't rate the players, on today's performance I don't rate them! But it is impossible with a virus doing the rounds to know who was truly paying at their 'peak' and who was trying for the cause but failing due to illness. The game next week against Fulham could prove crucial, lets just hope we get a few players back to fitness, either that or hope that other results go our way, we are nearly safe, but nearly isn't safe enough.
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Date:Saturday March 18 2006
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