Sunderland Tame The Lions
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I don't think that it is they don't care, it is just they are shattered and I would think some frustrated at the outdated 90's tactics. It is these outdated tactics that frightens me the most, well that and the managers inability to bring in the required bodies despite funds being available.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.
Scott Carson 5
Craig Gardner 6
Martin Laursen 6.5
Zat Knight 6
Wilfred Bouma 7
Gareth Barry 5.5
Nigel Hokey Cokey 5.5
Ashley Young 6
Shaun Maloney 5.5
Gabriel Agbonlahor 5
John Carew 6
Marlon Harewood 6 (on for NRC 57)
Osbourne (on for Maloney 74)