Aston Villa - Sunderland Tame The Lions
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Aston Villa 0 - Sunderland 1

Villa Park


Attendance: 42 640

Sunderland Tame The Lions

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I don't think that it is they don't care, it is just they are shattered and I would think some frustrated at the outdated 90's tactics. It is these outdated tactics that frightens me the most, well that and the managers inability to bring in the required bodies despite funds being available.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

The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday March 22 2008

Time: 6:37PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
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.
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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
Report Abuse
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
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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!!
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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
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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
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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!!
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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.
Report Abuse
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...
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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
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22/03/2008 23:49:00

little embarassing and looks like this poor run is actually real and the lack of competition for places is showing. sad but true. is MON short on ideas?
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22/03/2008 23:52:00

Fickle Villa fans as usual,every team goes through a rotten spell our squad size is hurting us but I dont see how the players can be tired when we havent had a cup run or played in Europe,its the players fault.We go 4 games without a win and MoN doesn't know what he's doing,if I were him I wouldn't bother with us.Carson needs to be escorted quietly from Bodymore Heath,given a packed lunch and placed on the first bus back to his next loan destination he has been a constant liability all season and is now costing us at least a goal a game.He is the new Richard Wright.
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23/03/2008 02:27:00

don't think there is much fickleness here pking just perhaps a desire to see something fresh in the squad. MON has bought in players that he doesn't use, fact. remember we lost to fulham as well. this game we were very average, so why not mix it up a bit? sure MON knows what he is doing, but we do look a little stale.
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23/03/2008 04:36:00

notaspur; your right about WR what better way to boost his confidence! however what better way to destroy him completely, by putting him into a side that is also low on confidence! MON will play him when he feels he is ready!!!!! So is this the beginning of the slagging off MON????? Because if it is we all need to think on a little to where he has brought us in the short time he has been here! we was relegation fodder the day before he signed.... we are now realistic euopean contenders! OK not this season but maybe next!!!!
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23/03/2008 09:32:00

different point of view pking, but the players do look shattered - otherwise what is the explanation for the start v Boro for example? Don't think anyone would disagree that the players are at fault as well, we praise the players / manager when we win, is it fickle to question or disect / criticise when we lose? Don't think anyone expects us to win every game but the best team won yesterday, their first of the season following 12 losses and 3 draws.
The Fear
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23/03/2008 09:53:00

I saw the whole game yesterday and I just don't know where to begin? Is it possible that we have been punching above our weight this season and our latest run is simply reflecting the way things are? It certainly looked that way to me. If aliens descended from space and had to choose the team that looked like relegation strugglers I would have to say that team was us. Aside from squad depth, I saw absolutely no leadership on that pitch. I think MON would have been hard pressed to say anything inspirational at half time after the previous two games and we needed a John-Terry like motivator to get things going. But all I could see was lots of dropped heads and a few shaking heads. Don't get me wrong but I am wondering whether Gaz Baz might be a little too mild mannered to wear the Captains armband. To give them their credit, both Coker and Harewood looked like they cared.
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23/03/2008 10:53:00

I think a shake up is needed big time. How about Taylor in goal, Laursen and Mellberg in the middle of defence. Now hear me out on this one.... Barry at left back and Bouma at right back. Could Bouma really be any worse that our other two right backs that aren't right backs? I can see him being better than Mellberg because he wouldn't drift into the middle of the park because he is a natural full back and he would be better than Gardner because Gardner is a bit too lightweight and positionally inexperienced. Then I think we should have Reo-Coker in a more attacking role and Petrov in a defensive role in the middle of the park with Gabby and Ashley on the flanks (maybe salifou if Gabby needs a rest) with Harewood and Carew up top. I think Harewood could motivate from start to finish on the pitch.
Report Abuse
23/03/2008 11:00:00

Coker in an attacking role???? The man can't or won't shoot.(or pass.) Harewood must start though. We have now ended Sunderland's and Fulham's barren run of points roling over and were bloody lucky against Boro'. Gabby looks like he is looking down on everyone and yesterday he had a chance to square the ball twice when in the area and the ball ended in the side netting for a goal kick. Our luck is running out.
Report Abuse
23/03/2008 11:23:00

personally I dont think MON has bought us that far, hear me out. If we have another run like last year and possibly end midtable again, for the money he has spent - is it good enoughh? and has he bought us that far?? Well look at the squad, only davies and young look like money well spent. As for the rest Harewood, Carew, Knight, Salifou, Petrov, Reo Coker, Routledge, Carson, Maloney - that is approx 30m spent on player who are not good enough, and some cant even get a game. I honestly dont think ive ever seen a bigger waste of 16m that ive seen in Petrov & Reo Coker, absolutely woeful.......... now for me Villa fans have gotta take the blinkers off, and MON needs to be questioned. Now im not saying that we should get DOL back, but if DOL had signed these players we wouldnt be saying, DOL is the messiah, lets give him a chance........... or would we? Personally, MON = massively overhyped and overrated.
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23/03/2008 12:13:00

30 mil is not that much money nowadays in the prem and most teams outside the top 4 pay over the odds for players that are not top quality,MoN has always operated like this in the transfer market so why is he gonna change now.Im as frustrated as anyone else especially with some of his signings (Knight replacing Cahill) but this is about the 4th time in the last 12 months that O Neill has come in for some very heavy critisism on this forum we then get a good result and everyone calms down again.We have one the best chairman in the world,a manager that players want to work with and who has made steady progress with us from the day he took over,and our youth acadamy is one of the most productive in Britain.The future looks very promising,I think this has been one of the most exciting seasons we've had in years.
Report Abuse
23/03/2008 12:42:00

His lack of spending in January when were in a position to push for champs league can only be described as negligant. When will we get that chance again? We have to, at some point, stop buying the unwanted players from average sides and go out and get some REAL quality that will make a difference. I was over the moon when we got mon but I am losing patience with total dissapointments transfer window after transfer window.
Report Abuse
23/03/2008 13:46:00

Can I just ask Villa444 if he ever saw NRC play 1, for west ham or 2 England U21's? Where he played a more attacking role, I think MON has directed NRC to play the holding role in midfield, I also think that GB could be the problem in midfield, NOT the way he plays but how his fellow midfielders play around him! I seem to think the same problem occured with Stan, maybe GB is a difficult player to play along side
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24/03/2008 16:39:00

where was you Adbo9 when we were fly a couple of weeks ago?????? we have a slight blip in form and people like you climb out from undre your rock to slag off MON!!!! you make me laugh!!!!!!
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24/03/2008 16:43:00


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