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Glensider at Eastlands

Manchester City
2 - 0
Aston Villa



Attendance: 40 137


Well apart from the disappointing fact that we simply weren't anywhere near good enough, certainly for a team with Champions League ambitions anyway, I don`t really know what to say following that depressing evening at The City Of Manchester Stadium.

Should the alarm bells be ringing? I don`t know. Suffice to say that despite a much improved second half performance, which still in truth left a lot to be desired, we failed to repair the damage caused by a completely ineffective, and way below par first half offering, that had the travelling Villans shaking their heads, and loudly voicing their concerns. It was a lack luste showing, a showing that saw us very lucky to go in at the break only 1-0 behind.

We simply didn't turn up until the second half got underway. We had lacked fight, spirit, and confidence, the latter I guess the result of our recent stutter, a stutter that needs to be addressed and rectified, before the stumble becomes a heavy fall.

I must admit that I'm even more disappointed tonight, than I was after Stoke City's two late killer blows on Sunday afternoon.

I think that I had tried to convince myself that Sundays shocker was a one-off, just one of those crazy ninety minutes that befall every club throughout the course of a season. 'We'll bounce back at Eastlands' I confidently assured all who would listen, but, when it came down to the crunch, we didn't. And the very fact that we didn't is worrying, and has to be a concern.

Martin named the same team that started against The Potters, Friedel, Cuellar, Davies, Knight, Luke Young, Barry, Milner, Petrov, Ashley Young, Heskey, Agbonlahor.

On the subs. bench we had Carew, Delfouesno, Reo-Coker, Gardner, Shorey, Guzan, and Harewood.

Mark Hughes fielded a weakened City side, minus Richards, Bellamy, and Robinho but it was his men that stepped up to the plate, delivered the goods, and eventually ran out 2-0 winners. I thought that Ireland, Wright-Phillips, and Elano were outstanding for them, the three best players on the pitch by far.

I have no complaints. We were well beaten. We created very little, only having our first shot on target in the 70th minute, a Gareth Barry volley, parried for a corner by City keeper Shay Given. It was Given who was in goal for the opposition the last time we were beaten on our travels, the 2-0 reversal at St James Park, and arguments raged on the way home as to whether he had an even easier night tonight, than he did on that cold night in the north-east last autumn.

An excellent claret and blue following yet again, vociferous throughout with their vocal encouragement, and we weren't even put out of our stride by the 'You're Not Going To Istanbul' chants from the City faithful. A lot of worried faces amongst those travelling Villans though as the game progressed. We're not used to being second best when we're away from Villa Park.

With some very tough games fast approaching, our credentials are obviously going to be thoroughly tested, and more performances like this evenings effort, just wont be acceptable.

'Too many players being played out of position' complained the guy in front of yours truly, while his mate responded with the observation that the players look tired and jaded, 'they lack the spark that they showed earlier in the campaign' he continued.

'No, key players are not performing, and we're not getting the run of the ball, and the breaks that we once were', chipped in the friendly elderly dude from Shrewsbury who sat next to me.

We had no threat in the box. Even though we poured forward second half, we didn't look convincing. We didn't suggest that an equaliser was within our capabilities.

We didn't play balls over the top, to make Dunne and co turn, giving Gabby and Ashley the opportunity to use their pace. Gabby notched a hat-trick on opening day against this shower, but tonight he never had a sniff. He looked way off the pace, but he wasn't the only offender wearing the claret and blue at who you could level that criticism.

Too many simple passes went astray, we failed to control the ball, we mistimed tackles. Is the pressure getting to us? After all, a top four place is virgin territory to most of our lads.

John Carew's arrival second half (he replaced Curtis Davies) certainly helped liven us up somewhat, but no doubt MON had had some sharp words to direct at his charges during the break. But even with Carew in the mix, we didn't look like taking the game by the scruff of the neck.

We simply had no answer to a spirited and determined Manchester City team, no ideas of how to get back into the game once Elano had put the home team 1-0 up from the penalty spot midway through the first half.

The superb Shaun Wright-Phillips goal at the death was a deserved reward for the man who had tormented us pretty much all night long.

Well fellow Vital Villans, the hard work begins now. The easy part has been getting where we are, the hard part lies ahead. MON has to lift his squad, get them back on track, firing on all cylinders, and up for the task of taking three points off Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday week.

None of us wants to see almost eight months of graft, excitement and success, go up in smoke.

It wont. Our destination is in our hands. A top four place is ours to throw away. Come On You Lions!

I'm trying to be positive and upbeat, but we all know whats ahead, and we all have our opinions as to where our destiny lies. I'm not fooling anyone, nor attempting to.

Right, for what its worth, here's my marks out of ten for the players performances.

Player Ratings

Friedel - 7


Knight - 6


Davies - 4


Cuéllar - 6


Luke Young - 5

Milner - 5


Petrov - 5


Barry - 7


Ashley Young - 6


Agbonlahor - 5


Heskey - 5


Carew - 6


Date:Thursday March 5 2009
Time: 8:53AM

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So we were borlox again, becoming a bit of a worry for the rest of the season.
05/03/2009 09:04:00
Becoming Col8 it has been a worry since the Blackburn game, it was obvious at Ewood that can create chances but are incapable of putting them away, we need new strikers its that simple, thats if we are lucky enough to finish 4th and keep Barry and Ashley!!! Good article once again GS!!
05/03/2009 10:17:00
Hi, really hope you break into the top four this season just to shake everything up! We'll be joining/replacing you there next season (hope it's the former). Talking to a Villa fan yesterday and he'd heard it was a dunne deal that you're buying 2 out of Richards, Sturridge and Johnson. Any truth in this? Wouldn't you rather have Vass back?
05/03/2009 12:27:00
I feel sick
05/03/2009 16:27:00
We were terrible. I knew even if we'd scored I could hardly have raised a cheer, I was that deflated. However, if second half Villa had been on the pitch from the start the result would at least have been more in the balance. It is amazing what a difference a couple of players can make, and I cannot for the life of me understand how MON cannot see Gabby is not a striker He cannot be relied upon to even get to the ball under pressure in the 6 yard box, whether with his head or his feet he misconnects far too often. Gabby has done great, MON has done great, but unless tweaks are made to respond to what is happening then it will be MON giving it away like a damp squib rather than at least going down fighting. My 2 tweaks - Gabby out or rested, whichever you want to call it. Fonz in. Plus Gardner given an opportunity to bolster the midfield when that is what is needed. Would it work. No idea. Might it . Yes. Will keeping things as they are and playing the same team over and ove again when things are consistently gong wrong. NO. A couple of tweaks please Mr Stubborn. For all your greatness, please don't throw it away.
05/03/2009 20:45:00
Reading back my comments penned last night after arriving back from Manchester, I think it came across how bitterly disappointed I was. In the cold light of morning, things dont usually look as dismal and worrying, but that was not the case in this instance.
05/03/2009 22:08:00
Agree with Stennyvilla. Something HAS to be changed. This just isnt working. We had 3 strikers up front and none of them were doing anygthing or even looked dangerous. Why won't MON take players off that just aren't performing? Heskey and Agbonlahor were non existent. They just can't play together. Its NOT working, so something needs to change! Why an earth MON decided to salvage what little drive we had in midfield by putting Milner as a Full back I cant imagine. We looked much better when we had a packed midfield and Agbonlahor as a lone striker. We can't just keep fielding the same old team, especially ineffective Heskey, and just hope it works well, and possibly justifys his acquisition. Heskey is a good player, but not how he is being used at Villa. Together with Owen or other strike partners, he has his uses despite not scoring many goals himself. But at Villa he is very ineffectual. Lets try the Fonz, or even give Harewood another chance. They can't be worse than Heskey, Agbonlahor and Carew at Man City! Secondly, we have to stop playing good players in wrong positions! That just isnt working either. Even if Shorey isnt playing so well, the defence looks more solid, and effective in the Full Backs coming forward when we play Shorey - Davies - Knight - Young. So why keep bringing Cuellar on a right back? He may have been better than Davies as CB against Man City, but as a RB he is a waste of space! He causes more danger than anything else! IF AT FIRST YOU DONT SUCCEED..... TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT!. Like Mouriniho, you have to be brave sometimes!
06/03/2009 16:07:00
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