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Villa Only Play 45 Mins

Aston Villa
1 - 1

Villa Park


Attendance: 36 407


First half? Atrocious, diabolical, a disgrace to the mighty claret and blue. Seriously, that bad and worse. I sent a text to a mate who was fortunate enough to have to miss the game due to work, I said we were crap. I hadn't realised he was watching it on Sky, he answered 'we aren't that good'. Picture a tenth rate Wimbledon and you'll get the picture. Brian Clough once said something along the lines of if football was meant to be played in the air he have put grass in the sky. Hoof, hoof, hoof. Sorry, it will never work, not in the modern game. If a berk like me knows it, then why can't the people that matter at Villa see it? Two wide men with a striker up front might work if you have the right quality midfield, but when a player like Lee Carsley can bosses out lot, then we end up with five in the middle and one up front who can try as hard as he does (and John Carew tries 110%) but it will never produce anything.

Everton were so quick out of the blocks, something you'd have expected us to be at home, that we never really looked in it, in fact they looked a quality above our lot WHICH THEY ARE NOT. Ok, first half, as said, a disgrace and if not for Gary Cahill, who appeared to make every block all game, the score would have been out of sight with no chance of getting back into the game. Did we even have a strike in anger during the first half? Certainly not one that warranted a save that is for sure.

Second half we had a bit of luck, Gavin McCann was dropped/injured/rested (no idea which, no interest which) and Patrik Berger took his place. I must say Steven Davis was unlucky to also come on for the woeful Stiliyan Petrov, I felt sorry for the Bulgarian last night, especially in the first half, because his performance was embarrassing and it looked like it would be kinder to 'rest' him to take him out of the glare. Seriously, when you can't even pass five yards, well not to your own player at least, then something is seriously wrong.

Second half we came out fighting, when we come out fighting and the players look like they are interested, win, lose or draw, I have no complaints. Seriously, all I want to see is the passion from the players who put on the magnificent claret and blue shirts. Anyone, no matter their ability, that can't give 110% for their astronomical wages, should sling their hooks. Hopefully that is what Martin O'Neill and the coaches will instil in these players, just show some pride and passion - and some forward passing, and all will be well... or at least better.

The atmosphere changed in the second half, first half the players were booed off (not something I'm a great advocate of I must admit, but I guess you pay your money, you take your choice). I assume they had a roasting (not that sort) from the boss at half time, as their attitude was much better and it was Villa making all the forward plays - unless the ball went to Petrov obviously, he only passes backwards - sorry, I'm not on the back of this player, he showed against West Ham early doors (see how I know all the footie lingo eh!) what a fine player he can be, it is just for the rest of the season he has been very much less than 'fine' and should have been dropped long before last nights performance.

It looked like no matter how much we huffed and puffed, the ball just would not go in, loads of forward play but no real cutting edge and when we found cutting edge Tim Howard was more than a match. Then up popped Gabriel Agbonlahor to slot in what was a well deserved equaliser, we had most of the play in the second half and confidence wise, the players needed to get at least the draw from the game. We did that and so 'job' done.

The shame of it is, if Villa realised you are allowed to play 90 minutes with the passion and attacking football, we could actually be fighting for a European place now, not scraping together points to avoid the relegation battle.

Some players at Villa are just not good enough, that isn't the fault of our manager, he needs time to put his stamp on the team and next season will be the time to judge how well we are moving forward. However, there are - as far as I can see - no excuses for some of the performances like Liverpool, Fulham (a) and the first half last night. No excuses at all. The players should be able to get the basics like free kicks, corners and simple passing right. Quicker this season is over and Martin O'Neill can really get to work the better. Lets just hope that includes plans to get rid of the long ball tactics and to get the team passing the ball on the ground. Then you might well see more happy faces filling Villa Park and more happy faces leaving Villa Park.

Match stats: Click Here

Star Player

Gary Cahill. No contest, first half kept us in the game.

Player Ratings

Thomas Sorensen 6

don't think he was to blame for the goal although I've not seen the replay, looked like the defence were all ball watching and caught cold.

Phil Bardsley 5

certainly no Delaney. Not the grade Villa need to take the next step unless he learns very quickly.

Olof Mellberg 6

much more involved than of late and not so much of the hoofing.

Gary Cahill 8

kept us in the game, not sure how much he and the other defenders were to blame for the first goal though? This guy could be an immense defender.

Wilfred Bouma 6

played well, can't get forward as much as he might like because the centre of our midfield is so weak.

Gareth Barry 6

seems stifled by the formation with a 'winger' in front of him.

Gavin McCann 4


Stiliyan Petrov - 4


Ashley Young 6

not sure where his best position will end up and not sure where he was meant to be playing last night, looked like he started closer to Carew but soon went wide and left Carew alone. Went off injured after 20 minutes of trying to run off a knock he picked up.

Gabriel Agbonlahor 7

didn't do that much during the game, got lost on the wing as not much ball was passed over to him, but popped up with the all important goal and what more can you ask of a striker - as played on the wing or not, a striker is what Gabby is.

John Carew 7

puts himself about, needs someone to feed off him. Gabby, Luke Moore or Juan Pablo Angel would all do the job I'm sure (I'd love to see Angel have a chance up front with Carew, but it seems obvious Angel's time at Villa is now over).

Maloney (on for the injured Young)

Too soon to judge, has a long way to get up to the Prem speed and standard and hasn't had much match time of late due to illness/injury. Looked like he had some pace about him.

Patrik Berger (on for McCann) 7

Once again helped change the game, would be great to see him start a game.

Manager Rating

Martin O'Neill. Jumped 20 feet into the air when we equalised. At times I'd loved to have read his mind during the game. He knows major changes are needed, some of the play last night looked like it baffled him and JR and SW. Certainly baffled many of us fans and I can't see how the performances have gone so bad after the time the coaches have had with the players. Major summer shake-up needed.

Writer:J P Fear
Date:Tuesday April 3 2007
Time: 1:02PM

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Leave Young on the bench, BRING IN MOORE! try what we did at the start of the season with Moore and Gabby except having Carew rather than Angel. Come on Martin.
03/04/2007 13:16:00
Can't agree with this, Cahill and Mellberg looked dodgy, our full backs looked OK. I'd prefer Ridgewell in the team, but like Davis MON doesn't seem to want to try either. Fans always want a scapegoat and the current favourite is Petrov (why boo players whilst they are playing?) - he was great in the 2nd half, so based on this match review must have had a rating of zero in the first! Carew was majestic, could have had a couple with a bit more luck.
03/04/2007 13:19:00
Cahill MOTM are you sure? Cracking player, but his worst game so far if you ask me.
03/04/2007 13:22:00
I have a cunning plan Mr Blackadder... read on .... give the players half an Orange before the game, a good rollicking before they take to the pitch with the advice, "you must do better this half" come half time do the same again and the Villa will play 2 x second halfs ergo a brillian 90 minues, Oh yea try playing Luke Moore up front with Carew.
03/04/2007 13:34:00
No way was Cahill MOTM. I like the lad and think he has played out of his socks this season, but last night was probably the worst I had seen him play. Bouma continues to impress me but there can be only one MOTM for me, and he only played 45 mins, BERGER. We are a far better team with him in it and its was no co-incidence that we played so much better in the second half when he came on at half time.
03/04/2007 13:42:00
I agree Jonah, Berger was the one man who seemed to have time on the ball for Villa and played some quality balls. Wasn't very impressed with Carew, thinks 7's a bit kind!
03/04/2007 13:49:00
I agree with jonah that Berger was MOTM, who changed the game. Cahill was not so good (6), too many fouls, poor jumping etc. Petrov was great as def mid in the second half after crap first one (4/8). I want to see Berger, Moore and Maloney in the starting line up against Blackburn.
03/04/2007 14:05:00
Berger and Maloney added some urgency to the team. McCann simply isn't good enough. Petrov got better as the game wore on. Bouma was steady. Berger has to start against Blackburn, he is not afraid to try things. Plus he has quality which is sadly lacking in the midfield area. Wholesale changes are needed in the summer. Starting with a new goalkeeper and 2 central defenders.
03/04/2007 14:15:00
Watched on TV over here and agree 1st half Carew was the only one with skill and quality effort. But as soon as Berger got the ball in the 2nd we turned around. We fed of his confidence, his touches and turns are in another class. What I love about watching him as well is his insight he plays the ball to feet with players surging forward. Magnificent. Carew looked strong and has great touch for a big man he was a little unlucky not to get a brace the ball did not fall for him. Barry also superb in the 2nd, dont know what happened in the 1st with him?
NY Villa
03/04/2007 14:22:00
Cahill looked dodgy? Blimey Tarzan, we are a million miles apart on that one!!! He made so many blocks in the first half it was untrue!
The Fear
03/04/2007 14:24:00
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