Writer: J P Fear
Date:Tuesday April 3 2007
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.
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Date:Tuesday April 3 2007
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