Writer: J P Fear
Date:Sunday August 31 2008
Attendance: 41 647
Well, I must admit I'm confused...! I thought we drew against a team who have finished in the top four for the last ten odd seasons. I thought we'd battled and in patches looked by far the more likely to win. I thought we cancelled them out and snuffed out most of the threats from them and I also thought that most of our players gave their all today to compete against a club who are regulars in the champions league and who have spent millions and millions of pounds more than us assembling their team.
How wrong I must have been as listening to the Tom Ross phone in on the way home, it all seemed doom and gloom with some of the players being slated and many fans whining about all sorts.
When did the memo go round that Villa have a Paul McGrath (God) given right to win and why didn't I get a copy?
From start to finish today Villa competed, we definitely gave as good as we got and I'm sorry, I don't care that Steven Gerrard wasn't playing, they aren't a one man team are they? Their players are worth millions, they have plenty of world class and international players but rarely if ever did you feel that they would get the better of us. Villa are still building, today although we could have won a draw is not exactly a disaster, hopefully the players will have got a bit more belief from today and will keep building up so they really do realise they are a match for any team on their day and that they don't need to fear any opponents.
I say we could have won and sorry to point fingers but John Carew had the best chance and just 'passed' it towards Liverpool's goal. That chance was far easier than the great goal he scored against Stoke, so why so tame? That proved to be our main chance and unfortunately our star striker fluffed his lines. That said, I'd rather see someone fluff their lines rather than the other - Gabby Agbonlahor - just strutting around, usually totally out of position and mostly ten paces behind where he should have been. The supply might not have been great today but he did not help the midfield one bit by not running into decent positions and threatening.
That is the only criticism I can come up with, the one striker was pretty much a liability - which is such a shame after the great hat trick to start the season - and the other tried and tried but missed his best chance. I guess you can say he just flicks the ball on all day but then, if the likes of Michael Owen (hint hint Villa, go get him!!!) was on the pitch he would feed off those flicks all day long.
I really enjoyed the game, I thought it was one of the best 0-0's I've seen in years, maybe I'm just in a chilled mood and having a laugh with he people around me at Villa, but I don't think so, I think it is just that the belief is returning and whereas in previous years Liverpool would have come and been guaranteed 3 points, today we walked out disappointed not to have taken maximum points ourselves. Is that not progress in itself?! Some seem to forget just how good Liverpool's defense is.
Some have said that both teams played for a draw. I don't see that and especially Martin O'Neill tried to shake things up and made changes. Both full backs were brought off with Nigel Hokey-Cokey - who had a storming game today, what a difference a new right sided midfielder makes ! - and Gareth Barry, who wasn't as bad as some would have you believe, moving back to make way for Craig Gardner and Milner. Some have asked why the full backs were brought off? Well, Shorey was only just back from injury and Young is only just getting to know the team. It might have been a slightly confusing change but at least MON was trying things and bringing on James Milner was a sign that MON was trying to win the game.
I've just eaten three packets of sweets and now feel sick. I digress...
The only thing I'd question is why Gabby wasn't brought off to give Harewood 10 or 15 minutes to give the Liverpool defense something to think about. But then I'm sure MON, who knows a little bit more than me about his players, would point to the Hare's no show on Thursday in the UEFA cup game. That said, he is an impact player and Gabby wasn't exactly doing anything. Again, it just shows how much we do need another striker, just over 24 hours to find one, tick tock, tick tock! I reckon we'll get one you know.
So some see this as a wasted opportunity, maybe it was, but to come out of Villa Park disappointed that we'd not got all three points against Liverpool is a sign that Villa are on the way back and you have to applaud the fact we kept a clean sheet. So whilst others aren't happy, I've thoroughly enjoyed the day, I'd obviously have loved to see us win it, especially if we'd knicked it right at the end, but hey ho, things are on the up and I'm loving it!
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Date:Sunday August 31 2008
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