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Aston Villa 0 - Manchester United 3

Villa Park

23/12/2006

Attendance: 42 550

Stuffed Like A Turkey

Martin O'Neill said after the 3-0 loss to Manchester United this afternoon at a freezing Villa Park, that the first goal 'knocked the stuffing out of us.'

True, and in the second half Villa were stuffed like a turkey.

The day started off brilliantly, the appearance of Villa legend Ron Saunders set the tone for the fans and the atmosphere was buzzing. Villa came out of the blocks quickly and - yes you've guessed it - if not for poor finishing, could easily have made their early pressure pay.

Mellberg had reverted to the centre of defence with Gary Cahill preferred over Liam Ridgewell. Aaron Hughes was played on the right and Gareth Barry on the left. The midfield was made up of McCann who put in a great effort, Petrov who again was anonymous, Steven Davis and Craig Gardner. Up front we had Gabby playing virtually as a sole striker and Chris Sutton just behind.

Ok, I don't usually go into the who was where's in a match report as it is easy enough for you to see from the match stats: Click Here However, you compare our team to Manchester United's. First half we held our own but United were playing within themselves, I'm not saying if we were able to finish one of our good patches of play we'd not have worried them, but basically they had another gear to step into and so it proved in the second half.

Men against boys springs to mind.

Lets be fair, Rio Ferdinand is a world class defender, Ronaldo, Scholes and Giggs are world class midfielders and lets not even talk about Shrek being 'rested' on the bench.

We can't complain that when these players got their chances they took them, and to be fair you could do little but applaud the second goal by Scholes, it is was just pure quality, trust me, if you haven't seen it, watch it on the highlights, you won't see many better.

HOWEVER - yup, there is some bite coming, what you can complain at is the fact our strikers don't shoot. I don't care if it is Gabby (who looked totally isolated up there today, especially against the quality of Utds defence), Sutton, Angel or Baros, they are neither fish not foul if they don't shoot. Villa have had a habit for more seasons than I can remember of trying to walk the ball into the net. Sorry, it isn't going to happen. Then there was the midfield, in the first half they closed down the United players and McCann especially snapped at their heels very nicely. So what happened in the second half? We went to sleep, gave their players far too much time on the ball and we were punished.

O'Neill was totally right, the first goal knocked the stuffing out of us and that came from an attacking position for Villa where Aaron Hughes, who in my opinion was dire today, dawdled on the ball instead of passing forward, from there you just knew what was coming and the bright counter attack resulted in Ronaldo, the last man on the pitch you wanted to see score, converting an easy chance. How? HE SHOT THE FECKING BALL TOWARDS GOAL.

From there, Villa fell apart. They had to push forward to try to get something out of the game and obviously teams like Manchester United are more than able to allow opponents to come forward and then hit them on the break. Scholes goal was something special and the third was a simple tap in for Ronaldo, a man with more gel in his hair than is on sale in Sainsbury, that said the time I needed gel in my hair is a dim and distant memory........ ahhhhh, happy days.

This wasn't a wake up call in all honesty, because everyone at the club surely knows what has to be done? We are a million miles away from teams like United, although having said that, this was a poor Man Utd team when you compare them to teams of old. The likes of Fletcher and the awful Ji-Sung Park really aren't what you expect of them - sorry, I was talking as if I cared. Villa need quality additions, the board know that, the manager knows it, the players know it and the fans sure as heck know it. The days of a full Villa Park could easily be around the corner, but we need quality to do that. None of the lower league stuff, we need like the likes of Darren Bent, proven goalscorers not those that 'might' fit in. We need players to excite and players of a certain level, if not we'll continue to try to punch above our weight and the likes of Man Utd will continue to be a million miles away.

Lets hope January brings some cheer, as this is a mid table team and none of us want mid table, at least we now have a board who concur.

Our poll asked what the result would be, 31% said we'd win, 46% got it right with a loss and 23% predicted a draw.

Star Player

Ron Saunders, true class.

Player Ratings


Kirally

no idea, don't think he could do anything about the goals.

Aaron Hughes 5

totally average, not what we need if we want to start winning things, gave away the ball for the first goal.

Gareth Barry 6

not as influential as usual, more influence in midfielder.

Olof Mellberg 6

ok.

Gary Cahill 6

preferred over Liam Ridgewell, think he just has the edge as he is also decent going forward.

Stiliyan Petrov 5

just no influence or input. Seriously, am I missing something, do correct me if I'm wrong? He will improve because he has to improve, at the moment he can't be impressing at all?

Gavin McCann 7

not sure why he came off, either injury or tired, as he was the only midfielder really closing down and tackling.

Steven Davis 5.5

gave the ball away too much.

Craig Gardner 5.5

only young, still learning his trade, difficult.

Chris Sutton 5.5

played deeper today, ran his legs off but very little threat.

Gabriel Agbonlahor 5.5

too isolated up front on his own, had a few chances to shoot but didn't.

Juan Pablo Angel (on for McCann)

Nothing to say really.

Nephew!

Loved taking my nephew Bailey down again, shame in 5 visits he still hasn't seen us win. One day Bailey, one day.




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The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday December 23 2006

Time: 7:21PM

Your Comments

Bit harsh Mr Fear? No it isn't. I totally agree - Hughes was nowhere, Gabby looks lost once he has the ball or tries to deliver too quickly and as a result looses possession. Thought Steve Davies was better than a 5.5 but Petrov - where was he? Apart from a few wayward shots I didn't notice him - Ok I was near the back of the Holte upper but still couldn't see much of him. Main gripe of the day though - many of our fans. OK it was 3 nil down but with 8 minutes and extra time left our fans were streaming away. The team at least kept going - the only place many of the crowd were going was home. Disgraceful.
Gordonsleftboot
Walloped! Absolutely outclassed. Finishing let us down again, we just dont give ourselves a chance. I've long said we need two quality strikers, and I still believe that. What we have right now just isn't going to cut it for us. Still, we've known all season long, or at least we should have, that right now we're an average mid table side, nothing more. MON hasn't been fooled, and he'll put us right. But today we were way behind United, very much second best.
glensider
I m gloomy - 8m for petrov ? - whats happened to agathe ? - now we are linked to another celtic old boy - Viduka. and MON is forewarning that he may have to get more short termers in to tide us over ???? You all had a go yesterday - but if MON doesn't land a top notch striker in Jan - then really nothing has changed. I know clubs don't want to sell there best players, and there is competition from other clubs - but this will be the case in August as well . - Weve waited long enough - there can be no more excuses - we need quality players now - I know it isn't easy - but thats why MON was appointed - to do what lesser managers couldn't.
qKing
Villa - we expected more from you :-)
merlin
What a ******** goal. Scholes has *****ted all over Zidanes volley from a couple years back. Well i dont know what else to say, he were beaten...well
AussieVilla
Gardner only 5.5??? I thought he was the best player for us (well maybe McCann but you get the idea) - we had bite in centre mid for once - they were both getting stuck in - i wouldve given him 7.5 at the least
Miss_Aston
 

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