Writer: J P Fear
Date:Sunday January 15 2006
The words of Villa fan Laurence, taken from the Villa Listman forum sum it up far better than I could:
'The fact is that West Ham are an average bunch of players who came to Villa Park and destroyed us. There can be no excuses.'
Totally right, there can be no excuses, but one thing you can guarantee, with O'Leary in charge of the club, is there will always be excuses. When he isn't telling the fans how fickle they are, having a go at a couple of fans near the dug (doug) out who 'dare' have the temerity to criticise him, or telling the players how honest they are, we get the excuse book thrown at us and the press get told - by him - how good a coach he is. David, if you are good, you don't have to tell others, they will tell you.
Villa have played 22 games and have a pathetic 25 points to show for it. We have yet to beat a top 10 side and have only six wins in total. We have seven draws and nine losses. Read that again. We have yet to beat a top ten side. Pathetic. The whole situation at Villa is a shambles and there needs to be two swift exits from Villa Park. Doug Ellis, looking more frail by the day but still telling journalists half his age that he can beat them at tennis (Borg was great at tennis as well Doug, rubbish in business though) and O'Leary.
The first half was a pretty dull and scrappy half, West Ham broke with far more speed and endeavour and should have been one up within a few minutes when Etherington just had to kick the ball straight to put it in the back of an empty goal. Instead he sliced it and it went directly to a poorly positioned Sorenson. Davis was putting pressure on Etherington, but nevertheless, how he didn't score I don't know. Was that the wake up call? Would that get Villa playing to their ability? NO. Hit and hope. Or more appropriately hit and hopeless.
O'Leary, in fairness, has severe limitations at Villa. The bench was very poor apart from a £9.5million striker, there were no other options. But you can't help but question why Milner was on the left, why Davis was on the right, especially when it seems obvious that he is a central midfielder. Out wide he was lost and Konchesky skinned him on several occasions. Why - when O'Leary tells everyone that if you play well you stay in the team - was Hendrie dropped after a good performance against Hull? Why was Bakke - who was apparently only 80% fit and lasted only 12 minutes before hobbling off - preferred over our own player? And why is O'Leary so desperate to keep Bakke at Villa when he has such dire injury problems? A great sadness for the player, he would be great if he didn't have such a poor record with injuries, but that isn't our problem.
The run given to Luke Moore has also produced nothing for Villa. He had his chance against Hull and did next to nothing, that should have been his stage to terrorise and tear their defence apart. Moore had a very poor game again yesterday, he contributed little and looks to have no confidence. Mind you, Baros unfortunately wasn't any better. He got into the right positions several times but tried to place the ball and each time the keeper was able to gather the weakly hit shots.
There was little pressure for the West Ham players and although Villa tried to get forward, they were simply incapable of breaking the way West Ham were. When you think we face Spurs and Chelsea next (not to mention a battling Port Vale team in the cup) your claret and blue heart can only sink. West Ham were able to out fight and bully our players and the team looked like a frightened rabbit in the headlights.
The worrying thing is, our set pieces are awful and our corners rarely get passed the opponents first defender and yet we are told that we have a good coach - mostly by the coach it has to be said. The distribution was also poor - and as much as O'Leary boasts about our recent wins (against average opposition, lets face it, who doesn't beat Sunderland for instance) he won't look at the dire season as a whole. He came to Villa to prove he wasn't a cheque book manager and yet moans constantly about having no money. He knew what he was coming into and has failed to put any real pressure on Doug, in fact he has done the opposite and taken the pressure off the 82 year old chairman. I can't see a manager like Big Sam doing as badly with the players we have. We might not have a massive squad and some of our players could well be tired, but for goodness sake, you look at how many internationals we have in the team. It isn't exactly a basement bargain squad is it?
Anyway, the much maligned Jlloyd - who fans just love to hate it seems, no real idea why - put in a good cross for Hendrie (who came on to replace Bakke and is soon off according to reports) who neatly headed the ball in. 1-0 at half time and we could consider ourselves very lucky.
I could go into great detail about the second half if not for the fact I spent most of it yawning. West Ham basically hammered us. Delaney and Mellberg fought hard, although some criticism goes to Delaney for not following Zamora for the first goal, he would still be my man of the match for his passion and determination. 10 more of him on the pitch and we'd be laughing. A free kick - that might have been a bit harsh - was given against Hendrie for hand ball. The ball was whipped in and Zamora popped through our defence unmarked to beat the flapping Sorenson - who came for the ball and then decided to go back.
The second goal was a well taken Harewood penalty after the referee - Phil Dowd - decided Delaney had handled the ball. It certainly looked like he had, the replays show it may have been a bit harsh, but then again, if it had been a West Ham player doing exactly the same, we'd have screamed blue murder if we hadn't been given it.
Yet to beat a top ten side. Yet to get our takeover. Yet to get a decent replacement for Brian Little (who left 3 managers ago now!). Yet to see the ambition that Doug so often tells us he has and yet to attract the 6-8000 missing fans back to Villa Park. I think there will be a fairly long wait for them to return with this type of football, there may be more joining them.
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Date:Sunday January 15 2006
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