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Sunderland Tame The Lions

Aston Villa
0 - 1

Villa Park


Attendance: 42 640


Well, that as a game was shocking and even more so when Sunderland came out with the win, their first away one of the season. I'll repeat that, it was Sunderland's first away win of the season. Before Villa obliged they had 3 draws and 12 losses. I have to be honest and say their away fans were in excellent voice and deserved something to celebrate. The Villa fans also turned up in their droves, another sell out, only to be subjected to a tired and jaded team performance from a tiny squad with no options on the bench.

The lack of summer spending - despite the constant talk of a signing being just around the corner - has caught up with us as most of us knew it would. You also have to look at January, although it was a quiet transfer window for most clubs, and wonder why we only bought one player and why that one player - Wayne Routledge - doesn't even figure on the bench? If I was Randy I would be VERY nervous of giving MON money, sorry to be harsh but Scott Carson is a liability and should have been dropped weeks ago, Stiliyan Petrov after two seasons is apparently still settling in, Shaun Maloney isn't the grade, Zat Knight was an average defender at an average club and has very little hope of improving on that, John Carew shows himself only in fits and starts and then we have Salifou who rarely even makes the bench and Wayne Routledge who since January hasn't been on the bench once (or at least not that I can remember).

I'm not sure you can really criticise the Villa players, I don't think that it is they don't care, it is just they are shattered and I would think some frustrated at the outdated 90's tactics. It is these outdated tactics that frightens me the most, well that and the managers inability to bring in the required bodies despite funds being available.

As you will see from the stats Villa only managed three shots on target. This against a team who are still in danger of relegation.

Villa, as we often do these days, had the lions share of the ball but the fancy passing has no end product and the hoofing towards Carew and a very off colour Gabby Agbonlahor will only rarely pay off surely? We've basically been sussed, have a tight back four blocking the balls launched towards them and you have Villa struggling. John Carew early on did nearly score a wonderful goal with the ball being flicked over his head but it was not to be and that was our main chance for the entire game.

It has been a valiant attempt by the players who in some cases have over achieved (and that might well get me slated) but you can't help but wonder 'what if' as the 4th spot was there for the taking with Liverpool having an awful season by their standards. Will it be there for the taking next year? Some of the clubs like Spurs won't - you would assume - have a mare like they have this year and there will once again be more spending in the summer by the managers capable of bringing in decent players so it could prove to be a very tough call to be in with the same shot next season.

I'm not over reacting, this was just one game, but then so was Fulham, so was Middlesbrough etc etc. MON said when he first came that he had to get up to speed. He isn't there yet. I pray to Paul McGrath that he gets there very quickly and sorts things in the summer, the last thing Villa need is for the manager merry go round to start again and we have seen improvements this year, so all is not lost by any means, but a club this size can't keep promising jam tomorrow, we need the butter on the bread first and I'm really not sure it is there yet.

Looking on the bright side, we have an easy 3 points next week as we visit Manchester United at Old Trafford - well lets face it, we wouldn't visit them anywhere else would we?!

Lets hope we can rally, it would be a shame to see the season go out with a whimper because despite some obvious disappointments, the lads have done us proud on many occasions this season and do deserve to be in the shout of 6-7th. Not sure we could handle Europe as we stand at the moment though.

Star Player

Man of the match: Wilfred Bouma, he got stuck in.

Player Ratings

Scott Carson 5

He might be a top prospect but at the moment he is a liability who seems devoid of confidence and flaps about like Mr Flappy of Flapsville. I'd personally send him back to Liverpool, job done for them as he has cost us more than enough points recently to ensure we are nowhere near them. NO NO NO I'm not suggesting shenanigans but I've never believed one Premiership club should be allowed to loan a player to another. Haven't seen the highlights but looked like he had come out of his box and handled the ball, he really does have some strange rushes of blood to the head.

Craig Gardner 6

ok considering he is not a right-back

Martin Laursen 6.5


Zat Knight 6

just ok

Wilfred Bouma 7

best player for us today

Gareth Barry 5.5

looks shattered, we lost the battle in midfield again today

Nigel Hokey Cokey 5.5

looks shattered, oh hang on I've already said that about Barry...! Why won't be shoot when in range?

Ashley Young 6

He has stopped going to the bye line and crossing, why? And why is MON playing him on the right when he is best on the left?

Shaun Maloney 5.5

not at the races today and again MON switched sides with him and Young.

Gabriel Agbonlahor 5

take off those stupid red boots, stop strutting around like a star and start grafting which is what you did to get into this position. Nowhere near England class at the moment but then again, he is a young lad, learning, over used and tired. I said a few games ago he should have been rested after returning from injury and I stand by it!

John Carew 6

Nearly scored a sublime goal, trouble is nearly doesn't show up in the league table. For such a big bloke, he doesn't half get pushed off the ball easily. If he ever finds some consistency he could be awesome, then again the service to both strikers is useless at present.

Marlon Harewood 6 (on for NRC 57)

Comes to something when the Villa faithful are calling for someone like Marlon to save us. The guy cares and has the right attitude. Nearly scored and (without seeing the highlights to check) possibly should have?

Osbourne (on for Maloney 74)

didn't really notice.

Writer:J P Fear
Date:Saturday March 22 2008
Time: 6:37PM


Gardner 6? He was absolutely woeful! As was the whole team except Carew Laursen and Bouma who deserves 6s. As for MON for the first time in 20 Months his management was pathetic.
22/03/2008 18:49:00
hmmm, MOn looks a frustrated figure at the interview, really damn shame we are suffering so late on, he needs to shake things up as best he can, possibly start marlon, sorenson or taylor and put gabby on bench, doubt he'll do it but please change the keeper for man utd game cos we'll get battered if carson is in goal, it'll be a horror
22/03/2008 19:04:00
Great article - could not agree more. Our strength in depth is poor and considering the 'not sufficient quality' players O'Neill sold my XI for today would have included Steve Davis, Cahill and Aaron Hughes. We have sold some very good players and have filled our bench with players like Osbourne and Salifou. There is just no competition for places - who of the XI that started today should be worried about their place for next Saturday - Maloney for Harewood maybe??? Gardner or Mellberg?? Its not good enough
22/03/2008 19:19:00
Lads, I did say some 2 weeks ago that Routledge needs a shout. I think Gappy or someone said to me that his confidence may not be right??? For CHRIST-sake... what better way to build the lads confidence by bringing him in game by game, 15 mins here & there.. But no MON has just not given him a glimse!! For me, we need a shake up. Small squad that needs a freshen. Get Wayne starting a get shot of Maloney. HE clearly isn't up for the job. Keep ash on the left and bring in WAYNE please for GOD-SAKE! Lets be honest, we haven't seen him yet, & he cant be worse than Dr. Petrov! Whats the point of buying Wayne if he's not gonna play?? Must be upsetting him more seeing Maloney playing & he's not gettin a look-in!!
22/03/2008 19:26:00
yes, heard another today say his confidence isn't right notaspur. Can't believe that and if that is true I give up! Imagine any of us going to our boss we can't work because of our confidence, would we get paid? Someone else did say today they think he is injured, that might make more sense. Surely a player at a new club just wants to play though and prove what they can do? Still looking forward to see what he can do when he is available, fit and confident though!
The Fear
22/03/2008 19:43:00
yeah jameslees, obviously only my ever so humble opinion (!!!!) but I think he is doing ok (not exactly massive praise there) judging by the fact there is no way on Gods earth he is a right back. Not his fault he is being played out of position!
The Fear
22/03/2008 19:44:00
WR isn't injured. Thats for sure. He's ready for selection lads.. And trained well in spain by all accounts aswell!! MON even said some-time ago that he wasn't far away from a start... Haven't heard jack since!!
22/03/2008 19:54:00
The better team won, the only surprise being that it took them so long to wrap up the three well deserved points. We were absolutely awful, third raters, nowhere near good enough. An absolute shambles in front of a 42,000 plus sell-out. Thats a tragedy in itself.
22/03/2008 20:50:00
Looks like both of us are paying the price for lack of options, we've been really struggling as we simply have 4 attacking players fit, the rest defenders or lee carsley who couldn't pass water. Yakubu, arteta, osman and fernandes have far too much pressure on them as we have nobody else sadly. Vic anichebe played today, he hasn't had one training session in a month. He couldn't run after 15 mins, but had to stay on the 90... One more injury up front and we are out of it... Luckily yoursleves and pompey fell today in games i thought you'd both win, a nice little let off. Given up on 4th now like...
22/03/2008 21:53:00
Has to be major changes for the next match, Carson out - taylor in, Gabbi rested - hare from the start, Salifou in for Reo-Coker, and Zat sidelined for our trusted return of Mellberg.... Bench Carson, Osborne, Routledge, Gabi and dare i say it Petrov.... and for good sake swap Maloney and Ashley to their rightful wings
22/03/2008 23:49:00
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