Villa 1-1 Blackburn
Attendance: 30 010
Yes, you read it correctly, 30 010. Looks like Villa fans are finally voting with their feet. If that doesn't send a message to the board, then nothing ever will. Villa are 18th in the attendance record league for their first two games of the season, with only 76.6% attendance to capacity.
But hey, 3 points. You can never complain at that! Villa also played, for the first 45 minutes, some impressively incisive football. The pass from Whittingham to start the move that resulted in a Baros goal via Phillips was superb. I could leave it there really couldn't I? Nah, you know me better than that! The problem we have is after going one up, we usually sit back, but for most of the first half, Villa attempted to get forward, at times they were too deep and a few passes that should have been made quicker and forward ended up going back to Sorenson, but on the whole, we had the lions share of the ball. Blackburn, without Bellamy and Dickov, looked blunt whenever they approached out area. They are also dirty b*stards and Hughes should be ashamed of the way he has them playing, still, he kicked a bottle of lucazade down the touchline so maybe he is just leading by example. Nice suit though!
It was good to see - in a non nasty way - Angel dropped to the bench. I'd have been livid if Phillips had to make way for Baros. Angel will now hopefully get some time to breath, the main pressure on him should be removed and hopefully he'll get back to enjoying his football, hopefully with some better service as well because that has been his major problem imho because to be fair, the service still leads a lot to be desired.
As for our two new strikers, they seemed to have an instant understanding. I guess that is what quality is all about and take it from me, these guys are quality. I think in Baros we have a real long term prospect, yes he may need to look up a bit more when going towards defenders, but that will come in time and I for one am pleased if we have a selfish striker who wants to take on defenders and shoot. As for Phillips, well, we should have had him all those years ago when GT tried and definitely 2 seasons ago when DOL first tried.
The second half was - as is Villa's way - a different story. I'm not sure if it was nerves for Villa chasing a first win in eight, or if it was that Blackburn woke up, they certainly improved when Jansen came on, but our shape and our passing seemed to fall apart. Mind you, we still managed the majority of real chances. Whittingham went close with a very cocky back heel, Phillips was clean through after Baros set him up only to hit the post - which is probably still shaking now - and Ridgewell also troubled the bar.
My worry is that we started to defend way too deep, the midfield weren't getting out quickly enough and had Bellamy and Dickov played, it may well have been a different story. But, you can only play who are in front of you, and despite holding on in the last few minutes where Blackburn's very (and I do mean very) poor striker Kuqi could have scored, only for Sorenson to deal with it, we took the three points which at the end of the day, is the main objective!
It is clear to me that we are in desperate need of a central midfielder. McCann - who will improve as he gains match fitness - was off the pace today, and Davis - who is a fantastic prospect - isn't quite ready for the argy bargy when the going gets tough. When the passes are zipping about he is fine, when the tackles start flying, he isn't quite as good. Mind you, if we are going to give youth a chance, then we need to be aware of this and give them time. If we are serious about Europe, then I would have thought we needed a central midfielder - Berson would be a good buy! - a further central defender and a left back to give Jlloyd some competition. If you think we are getting those by Wednesday, then please send me a tablet or two of whatever you are on! Not sure why no Jumper Jumper today, maybe he was injured, if not I'd have thought his presence in the centre of midfield could have helped, or would he have ended up being sent off for chopping down Savage? I guess either would have been good!!
I enjoyed the match today, I've started to try to chill, take each game as it comes, and try to forget the bigger picture. The second half we rode our luck, but it was sort of end to end and it was at least fairly exciting. Ok, that is probably damning in feint praise, but the main thing is we picked up the points. Lets hope that gives them something to build on because West Ham away won't be a walkover and Spurs are a different prospect this season with their ambitious purchases. I can still see a long season ahead of us, but with Baros and Phillips, as well as the promise shown by Berger when he came on, it may well be an entertaining one as well. If we can get going on an early season run, who knows where we could be by Christmas when the next £20million (copyright Mr Ellis) will be promised!?
Whittingham 7 - 5
Berger (69 for Whittingham)