Writer: J P Fear
Date:Sunday March 15 2009
Attendance: 41 205
Football can be such a great game, it can also be cruel and just at the stage Villa fans started to believe, the stuffing has been knocked out of us!
We got sucker punched by two late goals when we played Stoke, I say played, I actually mean battered Stoke but that doesn't show up in the league table!
Today we got caught by two early goals, one in the 4th minute of the first half and one in the 4th minute of the second half. The second goal was what damaged us the most and our heads dropped in the second half totally the opposite to what happened in the first half where we - despite being one down thanks to the much maligned Jermaine Jenas - dominated the half.
We huffed and puffed but just couldn't blow the Spurs house down though - in more sensible language, we had the majority of possession, we had the most shots - sadly mostly off target - but just could not score. Petrov had a couple of good chances, the one only just over and the second very tamely sent towards the keeper. Ashley Young also tried a couple of times to place the ball into the top right hand corner but again, it wasn't to be. That isn't to say Spurs didn't have their chances either but we did seem to break the quicker with Heskey hitting the corner of the crossbar and post late on in the half.
Sadly for Villa, attempts and possession doesn't really mean a great deal when you can't convert your chances and within 4 minutes of the second half we were done for. Bent scored and the majority of the next 40 odd minutes were to prove frustrating to say the least.
Villa don't have a plan b and rarely change things, in fact I do fear we've been sussed, I said it on the way down to the game that I fear next season that teams will be far more aware of what we do and it will almost be like the 'second season syndrome' of newly promoted teams where they are no longer a surprise package. What I hadn't realised is it has started happening already.
Having just watch some of the highlights, what does strike home is when the commentators said that Spurs weren't playing that well today and yet they still managed to beat us AT HOME. That is where we've sadly failed somewhat this season, what was fortress Villa Park is now 'here you go lads, have a point or 3 from us'. The frustration of the crowd maybe isn't helping but then I'm not sure the manager criticising is going to go a long way to help either, it isn't all of us booing - or in the other case cheering when Gabby was brought off. MON moaned on the BBC saying Gabby was booed when he was brought off. He wasn't. There were cheers. Now that might not be the nicest thing but then a lot of us were clapping the young lad Fonzy coming on and others were cheering for the fact MON decided to make a change, not necessarily against the player.
Ho hum, things aren't overly happy but that is surely just frustration? Frustration and worry from the manager, the players and the fans that we've worked so very hard this season and are now seeing the hopes of finishing 4th coming to an end.
John Carew was brought on late when it did look like a game made to measure for him, especially when he has scored recently and Gabby is 12 (?) with just 1 goal. Then again, only one man makes the decision and that man isn't me - and we can all thank the good Lord Paul McGrath for that fact! Carew's goal was a little bit too little too late and after a lack luster second half when you would think we'd have just gone hell for leather but it might have earned JC a start against Liverpool at Anfield next Sunday. Then again, you can never second guess MON, so who knows?!
The one difference between the managers, as far as I can see, is that Harry Redknapp made a change in the first half because Zakora was being skinned by Ashley Young. Arry brought on Corluka and to be fair the change made a major difference and the threat of Young was all but snuffed out. MON on the other hand rarely changes anything and today when he did change things it became a bit farcical.
We ended up with a right-back who had been played at left-back in central defense. We had a central midfielder who'd been at right-back moved to left-back. We had a right-winger in James Milner moved to right-back only to then be moved back to the midfield with Craig Gardner, a central midfielder put at right-back. When Delfouneso was brought on my dad did say he thought that Friedel was going to be brought off - luckily that didn't happen! Then again, JC did come on at the expense of Zat Knight - who had another decent game, so maybe it wasn't such a far fetched thought?
Fact is, you can't keep moving players all over the place and playing them out of position, not at this level, not in the Premiership. Then again, what do I know, I'm just a fan - a non booing one though, so that has to be a positive surely!?
Player ratings? No, not today, too difficult as their first half ratings would be totally different to their second half ratings and at the end of the day, it is late and I'm all Villa'd out for the day.
Still, at least next week we have a nice easy visit to Anfield, you know Villa, they are bound to win that one aren't they!?
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Date:Sunday March 15 2009
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