Writer: J P Fear
Date:Sunday January 7 2007
Unjust Extra Time City
Attendance: 74 924
Lets not prolong the agonies, they are a different class to us. It is world class versus mid table class and to nearly come out with a draw was to be commended. Their midfielders are all worth around £15-20million each, ours would possibly fetch around £2-3million tops, so we can't be too hard on them, especially the younger ones still learning their trade. At the moment we are slightly in limbo, as the team isn't full of high quality players who can match the better opponents but we don't have the meaner snarling hoofing players either. There has to be a transition and in the meantime we've just got to hope the current players keep showing willing and showing heart. Today they did that and deserved at least a draw.
I don't like five across the midfield, especially in a cup game, but then I'm not the manager with all eyes on me and all the pressure. I can understand the theory of it but we aren't equipped enough to use the wide men well enough to feed the front striker so I'd rather we stuck with 4-4-2 and had two strikers, one maybe just behind the other. That said, in the first half we didn't have any strikers on because, unfortunately, Juan Pablo Angel once again didn't show up, only time I saw him was in the first minute where he was outside the box, could have shot but passed instead, why? His control was shocking although to be fair he is never helped with some decent supply.
I've banged on about Milan Baros for a while and as soon as he came on we looked different, he was in place to take an Osbourne pass if only Osbourne had passed and not shot, that chance in the second half really should have been in. And then he took a chance when he got in the right position at the right time. Feed him the supply, he'll score. No doubt we'll see him sold in the next few weeks and we'll be worse off for the fact as he is potentially our biggest star, then again, Villa have never handled their stars correctly have they?
This was a battling performance from Villa, the defence was solid and deserved far more for their efforts but I couldn't help but think what a fantastic learning curve it was for Gary Cahill (20) and Liam Ridgewell (22). Sure they made some mistakes but they also made some very important tackles; as did Wilfred Bouma who I kept an extra close eye on after the indignation of my 5.5 rating for his Chelsea display. Sure enough, in defence he was solid and saved a sure goal early on from Shrek. Trouble is I've never said he can't defend, I've said his distribution is woeful and that is surely part of his job? You win the ball back and then you get it to one of your players, if not the pressure come straight back on you. First half he passed the ball up front to no one,the ball came straight back and Villa were under pressure. Later he passed to no one and the ball went straight out, the ball was right back up our end and more pressure. Second half a great pass right across the pitch, trouble is there wasn't a Villa player within 20 yards of the pass, ball straight back up........ you get the picture.
Put simply, Villa fought like lions today but have to try to learn to hold the ball up not give it straight back to the opposition.
The pundits on BBC were forced to admit that Villa played well, begrudgingly obviously as they kept saying Man Utd hadn't got into top gear without considering it might have been how we played that prevented them from getting into top gear? Admittedly Utd missed a few chances but a lot of that was due to the pressure our defenders put on them.
A return trip next week in the league, play like that again lads, maybe we might even have a new signing or two to play as well - hopefully not in the mould of the totally out of sorts Stiliyan Petrov though.
Match stats: Click Here
Our prediction poll results, 29% said we'd win, 21% that we'd lose, 50% were sadly spot on with a loss.
Date:Sunday January 7 2007
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