Writer: J P Fear
Date:Sunday December 23 2007
Attendance: 41 455
Its been a good weekend for me, we had the Vital Villa meet up at the Holte Pub on Friday night, steak, beer and good company, then some more beer. What more can you ask for?
Then to the game on Saturday, no matter how bad the times have been at Villa, as soon as you see the stadium you can't help but get the buzz and remember WHY you bother. Now the times are a changing the excitement is higher and the atmosphere is ten times better, that all makes for a much better match day experience and is long over due.
You see, with too much beer in the system, I just ramble... Sod it, its Christmas and lets face it, most of you have lives and won't be reading this anyway!
Pie in stomach, I sat down with a mixture of optimism and trepidation, after-all, despite most of us thinking we'd win the game (or at least most around by me + the majority in our poll Win (64%), Lose (31%), Draw (5%)) we were playing a team who hadn't been out of the top five all season.
The start was a major worry, we were second to every ball and every time we got the ball we hoofed it back up to Man City to build another attack. These tactics have got to change, this is not what Champions League sides are built on, so hopefully with a few new arrivals we can see the ball played far more often where it is meant to be played, on the floor. Wasn't it Brian Clough who said if football had been made to be played in the air, God wouldn't have created grass? Probably not, it is probably a figment in my ever bemusing imagination.
The Citeh, who have fans much like us who back their team through good and bad, home and away - just that they don't talk proper like what we do (!) - ooh, Fairytale of New York has just come on.... took the lead and rightly so. At that point I thought they were going to annihilate us as they looked more like the home team with wave after wave of attacks and our boys chasing shadows.
Strangely though, as soon as their goal went in, Villa woke up and up popped the mighty John Carew to score a fantastic equaliser. He so very nearly had a second (albeit after seeing the replays having started the move by the use of his arm) which was superbly saved by Citeh's impressive young goalkeeper Joe Hart (son of Hollywood detectives Hart to Hart I believe!)
The rest of the game was Villa's for the taking if not for the fact we couldn't finish. It does appear that we still want to walk the ball into the net but the best chances and most attacking play certainly seemed to come from the mighty claret and blue. We even had a goal line clearance, or goal depending on who you listen to. Alan Hansen did a bit of tinkering on a computer and showed that it was a goal, but to be fair to the linesman, or assistant ref or whatever the heck they are called now, it would have been a tough one to give. Goal line technology anyone? Must be so easy to do and yet football remains oblivious to technology.
All in all the game wasn't a classic but it was a well contested game, although Citeh did shock me at how dirty they were at times. Is it dirty or is it just competitive? Maybe we need to start crunching in more as well?
The main person involved in the game was the referee. He was truly appalling and missed four or five fouls on John Carew, who was at one point decked near by where I sit, when he saw he hadn't been given a free kick he just looked totally bemused, laughed and got back up again. Martin O'Neill on the other hand went barmy and threw his bottle of lucazade with a rude word or two for good measure. The fourth official certainly had a busy game, bet he was dying to say to the Villa bench, 'look, it isn't my fault the ref is crap'! As Murph, who came in with me said, the ref was actually quite impressive due to the fact he was reffing the game AND inventing new rules for us at the same time.
Some have said in the forum that a draw v Citeh wasn't good enough. Said about Sunderland and I'd agree, but not Citeh, they have a canny manager who has spent the money available very well and has guided them to the top five whilst we still talk of being in transition. We missed our chance to be where they are in the summer, now all eyes are on Martin O'Neill in January, the pressure is on to bring in the quality we so desperately need - as he admitted yesterday (Villa Boss Left Cursing Luck) A right-back, a top class striker and a playmaker and we might just push in the second half of the season, especially as we have some easier home games coming up (if there is any such thing as an easy game in the Premiership)
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Date:Sunday December 23 2007
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