Villa 2-2 Bolton Report
Attendance: 33 263
Bloody hell I got wet! That is the problem with sitting on the front row I guess! Still, you can't get wetter than wet and within the first minute the rain didn't seem to matter as Phillips scored the first of many this season following a very good move finished off by an excellent cross from Hughes. Villa were up and running, or at least that is what we were allowed to think for 90 seconds. I did say to my mates maybe we should go now whilst we were happy, but we weren't quick enough and despite McCann and Mellberg marking Davies they still managed to give him enough room to turn and shoot. 1-1. A few mad minutes later and the Villa crowd were silenced from their early joy, this time Laursen and McCann were marking Campo but again the Bolton player got the space and time to shoot. Mystifyingly one of our smallest players - Solano - was on the post but couldn't jump high enough to clear the ball. FFS, it isn't rocket science, if you are going to have a player on the line, you'd make sure he is tall enough surely?
Still, that sinking feeling was soon corrected, despite the continued deluge of rain, with a great volley from Davis. 2-2 and only 9 minutes gone. This match was going to be a cracker right? Wrong. The conditions were difficult, the pitch was slippy and tackles were slightly harder to time, although some of the Bolton players tackles were pretty horrific, that pratt Diouff really will end someone's career. Anyway, the game, in Kevin Phillips words, 'fizzled out'. There were chances, although Villa only had three shots at goal all game (and only 2 on target), same story as last year - especially when you see that Bolton had 13 (6 on target). Bolton were just a bit too strong for us really.
Bolton ruffle feathers, they are a very big and physical team. When Villa played the ball on the ground all looked well, we put some good passes together, although Barry and McCann managed to end most nice moves with poor distribution. However - and we did this last season as well - Villa insisted on hoofing the ball forward far too many times. Angel was definitely as out of sorts as he was last season and questions are starting to be asked about him, however, hoofing the ball towards him will never reap rewards, never never never. Surely, after this amount of time in charge, the manager would have figured that out? Phillips was a class above anyone else on the pitch, he is eager, tough and gets into the right positions, maybe when Berger is fit he will get more of the sort of supply that he needs. Yesterday however we had far too many balls whipped in to areas where we had no players. As I say, Bolton are a big team, so it was obvious, if you are going to lob the ball forward towards our smaller players - and our team did look small yesterday - that the big Bolton defenders were going to be able to soak up the pressure all day long. Obvious to everyone apart from our players and management team perhaps.
DOL was rightly fed up with the poor marking for our two goals, he said that they had practised all week, but what he didn't do is attempt to change anything. Angel was having a mare, so why not look to the bench ....... Oh yes, I see his point. We had a typical Villa bench with few quality options. That said, Luke Moore should have been good for a 30 minute run out and as Davis was being easily nudged off every ball, maybe Jumper Jumper would have been good for a 30 minute chance to impress as well? You have to ask what Berson - the man we chased for months remember - has done wrong, if he can't make that bench then he will, I assume, not be playing a part for Villa again?!
We were the home team, we should have been going all guns blazing for the three points, unfortunately we weren't. Villa looked like the away team settling for the draw, Bolton were the ones chasing the 3 points and to be fair, with a possible hand ball by Aaron Hughes (it would have been tough but I've seen them given) and a definite goal from Nolan who was so clearly onside when the ball was passed, Bolton can feel very hard done by.
So what about the rest of the season? More performances like that, hoofing the ball forwards with a hit and hope tactic, and we'll be in trouble. Defenders can soak that up all day and then the ball does comes back our way the defence looks shaky. They have too much pressure on them and they won't be able to keep being relied on, we need to play the ball on the ground, get some decent passing football going - the sort that DOL says he trains them to do - and try to build our moves not rush them. Then we need to SHOOT, just pepper the goal, it can't be that difficult for players who are paid top money to do just that? It seems perfectly obvious to me. It also seems perfectly obvious that we need 2-3 new players. Some say Ellis and the board have lied, others (like Franksy on WM) say DOL has the money he just isn't spending it. To be fair, I don't give a toss who is doing what, JUST GET SOME QUALITY IN, otherwise it is going to be another mediocre season and a top 10 finish is far from assured. Then the natives will get restless, more protests will be called for and the same old Villa pattern will continue.
I did enjoy yesterday though, I'm determined to try to stop looking at the big picture and start just enjoying things match by match, it is a shame we have been reduced to the moaning and the negativity that I heard across the ground before kick off, and if the board don't see that the fans are now voting with their feet (it should have been a sell out on the first day of the season, not nearly 10 000 down) then ......
Curry, Dilshad Alvechurch, 9