Writer: J P Fear
Date:Wednesday April 19 2006
Attendance: 17 330
So, Villa got back to business last night after winning 'The Midlands Cup' (copyright Doug Ellis) and allowed Wigan - a team David O'Leary suggested might be going straight back down to the Championship - to do the double over us. Not only that but we gave Wigan their first home win of 2006. Why do we always oblige the opposition when they are on a bad run?
David O'Leary chose not to condescend the fans and reporters and sent Roy Aitkin to do the job for him. As per his last few interviews after we'd lost, he came out with the standard 'we should have won' line. It seems to me that O'Leary and Aitkin watch different games to everyone else and this time, The Independent seem to agree.
Independent: With the visitors reaching the highpoint of their season on Sunday and Wigan winning only two of their previous 14 games both sides seemed to be meandering towards the finishing line during a lacklustre opening before Bullard's fine strike in the 25th minute. Gary Teale and Jason Roberts combined and though Gary Cahill intervened his clearance fell in front of the midfielder who, from 25 yards and with both feet in the air, controlled a volley into the top left-hand corner of the Villa net.
They then quote Roy Aitken: 'We were in a position to win the game but once again we gave two slack goals away.'
They obviously disagreed as they go on to say: 'A fine effort in disguising the truth.'
Roy Aitken told the official site: 'That's a game we should have won.'
Should have, would have, could have, DIDN'T.
'It's a really hard result to take. But the simple truth is that we conceded soft goals at one end and weren't ruthless enough at the other end. This game really summed-up our season. The football we play, we don't have any problem creating chances, but we've not put enough of them away and that's frustrating.'
'The big positive is the emergence of the young lads. You'll gets highs and lows with young players, but the likes of Gabby Agbonlahor and Gary Cahill will learn from their recent appearances.'
Adding: ''We've got an honest group (copyright David O'Leary) with plenty of effort and commitment but we need more quality in vital areas at both ends of the pitch.'
We have £6.5million and £9.5million strikers with Kevin Phillips a well experienced back up. We have Luke Moore on 8 Premiership goals and an emerging talent in Gabriel Agbonlahor. There are teams above us who would love that set up. Fair enough we've had grave problems in defence this season but again, are we the only club to have suffered injuries? Do we not have more international players than many teams above us?
We are now on a run of five defeats away from home. We've not had back to back wins since last November (Sunderland away 3-1 and Charlton home 1-0) and haven't had three wins in a row since November 2004 (Pompey 3-0, Bolton 2-1 and Spurs 1-0).
It is all well and good making excuses, the art of management is to make the best out of what you have got, NOT talk constantly about what you haven't?
The Sun gave the following player ratings:
Sorensen 5, Hughes 6 (De la Cruz 5), Cahill 4, Ridgewell 5, Samuel 4, Milner 6, McCann 7, Gardner 5 (Agbonlahor 7), Barry 6, Angel 6, Baros 5. Subs not used: S Taylor, Bouma, Phillips. Booked: Barry, Milner.
Deanovilla's ratings were:
Sorensen - 6 - Not a lot he could do with any of the goals
Hughes - 6 - Average
Samuel - 5 - Back to his old self
Cahill - 6 - At fault for their 2nd and collectively for their 3rd. Looked pretty good other than that though.
Ridge - 7 - (MOTM) - Yes I know we conceded 3 but I thought he was excellent never the less. Coming of age at last?
Milner - 5 - Knackered
Gardner - 4 - Walsall bound?
McCann - 6 - Get in son.... less misplaced passes than usual.
Barry - 6 - average
JPA - 6 - The best he has played in a long time and yet at the same time incredibly frustrating and poor. Says it all really, his best days are well behind him.
Baros - 5 - Frustrated, not by the opposition but by his own team mates.
Agbonlahor - 7 - Looks quality! Agbonlahor down the wing like a torpedo! Crosses it in the air... for a new signing who's name sounds like Cascarino! ?
DLC - 6 - Not on for long
Sorensen: Couldn't do much about their 1st or 3rd goals, but was beaten at his near post for the 2nd. Thought he could have done better with that. Some very good stops though and organised his defence well. Good varied distribution too. 7.
Hughes: Not himself, allowed their wide men to run at him too much. A few tackles early on would have made them think twice. 6.
Samuel: Not as good as Sunday, some dodgy defending but good going forward. Tried to run rings around them out of defence, got tackled, and we conceded a goal. 6.
Cahill: Again, was in the right place at the right time to make some vital blocks and looked composed, but if he had just stuck a foot in at Camara would have stopped the 3rd goal. But still learning so he won't be Paolo Maldini every week. 7.
Ridgewell: Was very impressed with Liam last night, was constantly talking to all his defenders and was never afraid to make a tackle. As the 'senior' centre back he took the responsibility on easily again. Nice flicked goal too. My man of the match for Villa. 8.
Gardner: The game seemed to pass him by a bit. Made a nice incisive pass early on but seemed to confuse Angel for Baros; there was no way Juampi had the pace to chase that ball. Some hard tackles but not a game he'll want to remember. 5.
McCann: Gav's best game for AGES. Extremely committed, some real crunching tackles and some nice touches and passes too. More of that please Gavin, but don't try to score from 50 yards again!! 7
Milner: 2 games in 3 days after having an infected spleen is a lot to ask and it showed. He was knackered. Still, had a good game and a lot of our play flowed through him. Some good crosses, some awful ones, but I'd rather him in the team than out of it. Take a few days rest James. 7.
Barry: Was average in the first half, seemed to get isolated a lot of the time. Second half, in the centre of the park, he imposed himself on the game a lot more. Switched the play very well and it was because of his vision that Wigan were under some serious pressure in the last 20 minutes. 7.
Angel: If he was a boxer, he'd be called ring rusty. Knew what he wanted to do but his touch was heavy and overhit some passes. Took his goal well and might have had another but for a badly timed Baros pass. But his mind was definitely working and his runs were superb. A run in the team will do him, and us, a world of good. 7.
Baros: Again, he was full of running and scared the bejaysus out of them with his pace. Kept his head down a bit too much and was let down by a very dodgy Angel pass which would have been our 3rd goal. But with time, this partnership will click. We've seen what it can do already. 7.
Agbonlahor: Not a left winger apparently, but good Christ he looked good out there. There's no doubting his pace, but last night his control was far better than it has been of late. Great run and cross for Angel's goal. Very impressed. 7.
De La Cruz: Wasn't on for very long but got involved and supported Milner well. Excellent tracking of his man for a clearance from 3 yards. Yes, as a right back that's what he should be doing, but all too often right backs don't do it, so fair play Uli. 6.
Game stats: Click Here
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Date:Wednesday April 19 2006
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