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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Aston Villa 0 - Fulham 0

Villa Park

29/11/2008

Attendance: 36 625

Freezing Frustration At Villa Park

Sometimes you come out of a 0-0 cursing the lack of effort from players but today, despite the boos from some of the Villa fans (what the hell was that all about?!) I don't think you can level that accusation at any of the players today.

Fine, we wanted the 3 points, but no win is a given in the Premiership and Fulham came and did what we often do, get men behind the ball (at times they forgot there was another half to the pitch and had ten men back frustrating our chances) and then try to score on the break.

Ok, it was a freezing day, the fans were expecting a home win and we did squander a good few chances, but as the Rolling Stones once said, 'You can't always get what you want'



So I'm not totally sure why the team had to listen to boos at the end? Maybe it was aimed at the manager, that might have been slightly fairer because one up front at home is really negative in my opinion and especially in the second half it should have been clear that changes were needed and a more conventional 4-4-2 might just have freshened things up in the last half hour. That said, if we'd taken a few of our very good chances, all would have been so very different.

Are the options on the bench so bad that we couldn't throw in a sub or two to shake things up? Makes you wonder why Marlon Harewood was bought, I hope he is allowed to leave in January because it is pretty clear he has no chance at Villa. To be fair there were a good few of us saying he shouldn't have had a chance in the first place (no offence as I think his attitude is bang on but....) What today did illustrate is if we truly are going for fourth this season, we HAVE to buy a striker, or even two, in January. Easier said by a fan than done by a manager maybe but we missed out on a top class on last January (Jermain Defoe) and have to move heaven and earth this year not to make the same mistake. If we don't do that, then games like this will continue to bring 1 point instead of 3.

The first half was slow to get going, Villa were on the top from the very start without totally dominating and chances were at a premium. It was also clear that the white shirts of Fulham weren't exactly going to be adventurous. They came for a draw, they got a draw, job done and no criticism of them, they shut up shop and it was up to us to break them down and although we got through a few times, the chances presented weren't taken.

The worst misses were from Steve Sidwell who seemed slightly off today, his passing was awry and his shooting boots had been left in the dressing room. I bet he couldn't miss an open goal by a header again if he tried! Schwarzer who made a number of good reflex saves in the second half especially to deny us, was left stranded on his right hand post and the rest of the goal was there for Steve to direct the ball into the back of the net but instead it went flying over. In the second half he had another chance, probably not quite so easy, this time with his feet whilst one on one but again it went high, or wide.. or wherever it went, where it didn't go was the back of the net. To be fair the ball didn't sit that nicely for him and I'd reserve judgement until I see some highlights as to whether that was a truly missed chance or just bad luck!

All in all a frustrating afternoon, the manager will be frustrated as will the players as those extra points could have really served us well and put us to third (with the others playing tomorrow) but I don't feel let down by the effort of who was on the pitch. Maybe slightly by the tactics but then, I'm not a million pound a year manager, maybe he has his reasons and with John 'sick note' Carew unavailable, the options up front were limited, suppose it is down to each individual to decide who is to blame for that!

Not sure some of the heckles of 'this is rubbish' etc around and about the bench were correct, it was far from rubbish, just freezing and frustrating and the odd sub to give a fresh challenge to Fulham might have been the order of the day.

Star Player

Gareth Barry.

Player Ratings


Brad Friedel 167

Made one fantastic reflex save with very strong wrists to save a certain goal and also tipped another over the bar which was dipping in. Congrats on setting the new Premier League record for consecutive games.

Curtis Davies 7

Looked solid

Luke Young 7

Fitting in very nicely but why is he having to play at left back?!

Martin Laursen 7

Does he ever miss a header?

Carlos Cuellar 7

Far more comfortable in defence than going forward so a bit out of place at right back but a clean sheet says it all

Gareth Barry 9

Don't care what anyone says, some of his passes today were world class, the one instinctive pass to Young deserved a goal at the end of the move, yeah go on, flame away, I love Bazza!!!!

Ashley Young 7

Worked hard but at times seem to telegraph what he is doing.

Stiliyan Petrov 6.5

A hard working performance but had a couple of great opportunities to shoot but instead made another pass, shame really because when he has his shooting boots on, we all know what he is capable of.

Steve Sidwell 5.5

An average performance from a good player. Still say he'll end up a very important player for us.

James Milner 6

Not on top form today but he never gives up and keeps trying.

Gabby Agbonlahor 7

I do think he is now putting in the effort but one up front at home (not his fault) isn't ideal and he was often isolated as he is too quick for the rest of the team + he would end up on the wing with the ball but no one to pass to.

Manager Rating

Martin O'Neill 5 hero when you win, not so much when you don't and don't try some tactical changes. 1 up front at home is a bit negative against a team like Fulham surely? Looked very agitated on the touchline today.

Opponent Rating

Roy Hodgson - At least someone on the crowd got him to smile, he always looks so sad and down! lol

Poor Me

I am thinking of changing my after shave a I got 'stood up' before the game at The Holte and then to add insult to injury, after the game as well...! Is it something I said!

Was good to bump into Mutt_Mann and his two lovely daughters, Villabrownie and Mr VB, James06, Lee Barnett who had THE best hat on and the ever young meyouldy!




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The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday November 29 2008

Time: 7:58PM

Your Comments

Did the match reaction for the Obersver, so Vital Villa should be mentioned tomorrow, can't remember what ratings I gave (always find it difficult when we've drawn) but think I've said similar to the above! 9 for Barry, I really did think he was bright today, I would have to look at the replays to see if he missed a chance or two as some are saying in the forum.
The Fear
Any other player ratings by the way?
The Fear
How can you give MON 5 ? Please look at the rating defined below. A formation that doesn't work, and the choice of 7 to change the decision does not equal "5 - Average, the least expected". Sorry Martin i only blame 1 person for dropping 2 points today. Frustrating.......
HolteEnder43
Brad - 6 did everthing he was asked to do. Luke -7 good solid job at left back. Laurs - 8 did very well against Zamora, not the easiest player to mark. Curtis -7 made some good tackles. Carlos - 6 OK, came forward more, getting used to the RB role. Barry- 9 , superb, especiall the pass to ash. Stevie Sid -4 should have scored , didn't command the midfield like he can. Stan -5 did OK but not upto his form of the rest of this season. Jimmy 3 - and i am being kind. Ash - 2 what happened to our usual star ? poor crosses, predicatable attacking , easily tackled, s**t free kicks, and less said about the coreners the better. Gabby 6 - tough job up front on his own. The subs..........all 10 because they did nothing wrong. MON - see above.
HolteEnder43
I personally thought Ash was one of our better players, together with Barry. Ash put some cracking deliveries in all afternoon and there was just no end product. Can't blame him for that. By the definitions below, i'd have put him as an 8 for that game. Barry agreed MOM, but needs to practive his headers....what on earth was Sidwell doing missing that....one of the misses of the season for me....
YatesyVillain
something that you are all missing here I think.......Fulham are playing really well at the moment.....recent results have been .....beating Spurs....drawing at Liverpool......so all in all I dont think you did as bad as you all think......
lincolnblue
If there was ever a game to highlight our need for an extra striker (or 2) then this was it, most of our chances fell to barry or sidders they seemed to get up there enough for youngs crosses but a natural striker or big john would have scored a hatful yesterday.
Tez86
Fulham are in good form but the amount of chances we had you expect someone to put them away...If we had won this then people would have started talking about us as a genuine contenders for 4th(depending if arsenal get beat 2day of course) however I think the pundits will all be talking about our lack of quality and that maybe next year we might be up there....
Tez86
Where was Nige, not even on the bench!!
Villan444
we must buy Podolski!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
rhymez1
flu villan444. JC was hamstring and back problems.
The Fear
where is podolski then rhymez1
The Fear
On c-o-l-d days like yesterday, if the Villa are not going to get us out of our seats by scoring, then at least they should provide us with hot water bottles!!!
the_lergy
Wot about James Bullard...? The Villa did not get the ball off him once. Mind you, they probably realised that he was probably the only player of footballing quality in their team and decided it was better to mark the players he would pass to, but if Villa had got on him more, perhaps one or two more interceptions may have taken place, and goals resulted. Ah, what have I said ... they didn't have their shooting boots on yesterday!!!
the_lergy
could've done with big john in the air i reckon...
NorthcliffeBandit
sorry we let you down chaps and lost to Arsenal!
merlin
Freidel - 167 - I didn't realise he was quite that old!
merlin
Merlin that was out of order to give the Arsenal all of the points . Mr Fear as always it was a pleasure sir and the girls told me they thought we only drew because you failed beat out the message in morse code so MO'N knew when to make that change.... lol
Mutt_Man
the way villa keeps bottling it in the promise land that is 4th place or higher...makes the thought of Arsenal missing out on champions league football and disaster seems less every day,you should be looking over your shoulder coz there are a few teams catching you up
fran merida
4th is a 'whoever bottles it less' competition between us an le arse it would seem!
NorthcliffeBandit
bullard was my motm and shwarzer is the luckiest player on the pitch he fumbled everything and had big john been playing then i imagine three points would have been ours utv
askpaul68
Hello Mutt-Man, are you still laughing after your gross underestimation of the Whites? Still wishing you all the best to break the 'big 4' tho!
Edens
Fulham certainly proved that they are no longer mere push-overs when on their travels. They deserved their point, no doubt about that. Hodgson has them very well organised. They looked strong at the back, competitive in midfield, and they carry a threat up front. We weren't at our fluid best, far from it, but credit Fulham for that. We didn't do anywhere near enough to win, missed two or three excellent opportunities, yet in truth never really looked capable of picking up all three points.
glensider
Agree that Gareth Barry was arguably our top performer on the day, despite missing a couple of clear opportunities, that on another day he would have buried. Stan Petrov ran him close, but I think that Gareth just about shaded it.
glensider
All I've got to say is that if Crouch was on the end of any of those headers then we would have routed them! Buy him and another flair midfielder like Geovanni and we're pushing hard for that 4th place. Who's with me!!!! ;-)
koolbill
Yes Edens i am still laughing but that is a medical problem... ;) I will say that you gave the formation that we put out a run for our money but as many have said if we had put away the chances we had we would be 3rd now but that was not to be so hey hoe. Oh and thanks for the best wishes we seem to be getting a lot of them this year ......... i wonder why.
Mutt_Man
When you have Barry playing as a lone striker its not surprising you fail to hit the net.
col8
 

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