Writer: J P Fear
Date:Saturday December 30 2006
Attendance: 26 669
I've got my grumpy hat on today, Christmas has gone (wahey) now I have to pretend to be cheerful over New Year (it is just a tick of a clock, it makes no difference, move on!!!!!!!!) so excuse me if I'm not all sweetness and light, especially as I've not taken any pain killers for a while and Villa are proving to be a pain in the neck!!!!
Ouch that defeat hurt today, we needed those points and I actually think there was a good degree of arrogance in the Villa performance today, they went 1 up and thought they'd won. Well, wake up boys, you aren't good enough to cruise and teams like Man Utd who are good enough to cruise NEVER DO, they go for the jugular, we go for a suicide mission.
Villa are now 9 games without a win, that is the worst we've been in seven years. We have four losses in a row and have Chelsea and Manchester United coming up. Unless I'm very wrong (and please God aka Paul McGrath let me be wrong) that will make it six on the trot and cement our position in the lower half of the table.
So why are we all being fair with Martin O'Neill? Why aren't we baying for blood and jumping up and down in anger? If this record was being done by David O'Leary (remember him? No, I'd rather not either) we'd all be spitting feathers (why do people spit feathers? Can't see I've ever seen it, mucus on the other hand....... I digress.... In fact I think I'm stoned).
The reason is, in the words of the Carpenters, is we've only just begun (now get that song out of your head) and this IS NOT Martin O'Neills team. Fine, we started the season great, went 9 unbeaten and that has given us the grounding to hopefully mean we won't be sucked into another relegation battle BUT there is still lots to do and MON will be the first to admit it. He must be desperate for the January transfer window and even more desperate for the summer as it is the summer where the major changes will take place. I'd bank on 5-6 players in and a few of our deadwood players leaving come the summer, quite what can be achieved this January remains to be seen.
Back to today. The first half was a non event, Villa were on top but didn't - I don't even need to finish this sentence really - make enough clear chances or have any real shots. We got the break in the form of a penalty that at first glance looked harsh but on the replay was spot on. 1-0 at half time and quite rightly so.
Now, Villa will surely go for it, pepper Charlton's confidences and score a few more? Not a bit of it. Gabby missed a header from four yards out, or more to the point headed it straight into the ground and in the dying minutes was one on one with the keeper following a good run by McCann and decent positioning by Gabby, only to shoot wide. As soon as it left his foot I groaned, it was the perfect (second) chance to get the win and unfortunately he fluffed his lines. He is only 19 everyone will cry. I don't care, he is preferred ahead of Angel and Czech Republic international Milan Baros, so when he gets a chance, as a Premiership striker he HAS to take them. Don't get me wrong, I think he is an outstanding prospect, he could well become our Thierry Henry (seriously he could) but those two chances today cost us the win, especially the second because from that missed chance Charlton went up the other end and a former Bluenose buried us. Difference between our guys and theirs is they weren't afraid to shoot and ours were, in the whole match we had 2 shots on target TWO SHOTS? Just SHOOT, it isn't that difficult, Darren Bent proved that, one long ball, one chance and into the back of the net it goes.
2-1 to Charlton and I bet they couldn't believe their luck. There is a great deal of work to be done. If it was me (and thank god it isn't you all say!) I'd have given Baros and Angel at least a month together to show what they can do, not this constant changing. Gabby hasn't scored in 11, Baros has but is now back on the bench. Now that is either because of a bad attitude in training or possibly that he is off as he isn't fancied? He was our top scorer last year, surely a run in the team and the right supply and he would once again score? I'd also have brought back Lee Hendrie (not my favourite player as he often wastes his talent), who is finishing his loan deal at Stoke today (and I believe set up the first goal). Long term he isn't the answer, but at least he is experienced and could have done a job.
Oh, and from the moment that Gareth Barry got sent off, the Villa didn't look anywhere near the same team, I hope the rumbles of swap deals involving Barry are just pie in the sky, I'd hate to see him go, although I'd love to see him move back to midfield where he is far more instrumental. He did deserve a red today, he gave the ball away cheaply, Cahill fell over letting Rommedahl thought and Barry chopped him down instead of leaving it to the keeper.
Ramble over, O'Neill knows the job at hand, just hope we can bring in some bodies in Jan. The rumour that Alan Smith is coming from Manchester United on loan for six months would at least bring us a winner, and one who is nasty and snarls at that, something Villa very much lack.
Date:Saturday December 30 2006
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