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Glensider At Anfield

5 - 0
Aston Villa



Attendance: 44 131


Five of us piled into the car on Mothering Sunday, yours truly the unfortunate designated driver today, as we headed off on the 90 plus mile trip to merseyside, destination Anfield. Not a happy hunting ground over the years for the claret and blue boys, in fact in all the trips we've made there since the mid-late sixties, we've only returned home to Brummagem celebrating a victory on two occasions.

No worries or concerns today though. Secret weapon Mike has joined our away-day brigade, my brother in law over visiting from the good old U.S. of A., who has accompanied us on three previous trips to Anfield, and has yet to see us lose (one victory, two draws). He was also sporting his 'America's No1 Villan' sweat shirt, and he alone out of the five of us, was confident that his unbeaten little streak would continue, and we'd be making the return trip back down the M6 singing and in celebration. I voiced the opinion that our lucky omen was going to be one very unhappy colonial cousin later this evening, but he'd hear none of it. 2-0 to us he confidently predicted. Yanks! You have to love 'em.

Neil Young was serenading us loud and proud as we journeyed to the north-west, while the discussions and debates in the car centred around 'what's gone wrong, why its gone wrong, and how we're going to get ourselves back on track'.

As always we've all got differing views, about the players, the tactics, the manager, the board even, and we all thought that we could pick a team to go out and roll over Liverpool later this afternoon.

If the club had only listened to us over the years, our trophy room would be packed to the ceiling with World Club Championship trophies, european and domestic honours just too many to recall, and playing staffs throughout the last few decades, the envy of every major club out there.

Plenty of Villans headed north, plus the odd few 'Liverpool vehicles', which were receiving plenty of banter and abuse, but it certainly seemed as though our travelling following would once again be heavy in numbers, while loud and vocal in support.

So all we needed now was for Mart to select a starting line up, capable of testing The 'Pool to the limit, hopefully picking up a point or three, and also putting some belief and pride back into the club following the recent set-backs and reversals.

Starting line-up:-Friedel, Reo-Coker, Davies, Cuellar, L. Young, Milner, Petrov, Barry, A. Young, Heskey, Carew.

Guzan, Shorey, Knight, Gardner, Salifou, Delefouneso, Agbonlahor on the bench.

So in came Curtis Davies and John Carew, replacing Zat Knight and Gabby Agbonlahor respectively. Carew starting alongside Heskey, interesting one that. A partnership probably worth looking at, although the general consensus amongst ourselves and the supporters in our vicinity, was that today probably wasn't the right time to check it out. With few attacking options or alternatives open to us though, there really weren't many routes open to O'Neill, as he attempted to give us that finishing ability that has been so lacking in recent weeks.

Latecomers were still making their way into their seats in the Villa section as we fell behind to a seventh minute strike.

Reina hammered a long ball downfieldfield, where Nigel Reo-Coker, chasing towards his own area hesitated, allowing Riera to get goal-side of him. Nigel upended the winger, giving Rafa's boys a free kick, just outside the box, to the left of goal. Gerrard whipped the ball in towards the far post, Alonso, I think it was (others said it came off a Villa defender), flicked a header onto the crossbar - and with no Villan alert enough to react, Kuyt thumped home the rebound to leave us with an uphill task. If only we'd have all known that 1-0 down was as good as it was going to get all afternoon, we could have vacated our seats and the stadium, jumped back in the car, and headed back home there and then. Saving ourselves the humiliation that was about to unfold before our eyes.

We were under the cosh for the opening twenty minutes, lucky not to fall further behind, but then Ashley Young sent a low hard cross into the six yard box, a cross that Big JC was close to sliding home. Less than sixty seconds later Petrov and Milner worked the ball well down the left, Carew getting on the end of the resultant cross, only for the Pool keeper to palm the ball wide of goal. Nice bit of football though, and we started to think that we might just be working our way back into the game.

Gerrard was booked for a bad challenge on Davies, before JC again brought a fine save out of Reina, the keeper at full stretch to keep out Carew's header that looked destined to bring the scores level.

On 32 minutes though we fell further behind. Reina setting up Riera to send a crashing volley past Friedel and into the roof of the net. 2-0. Head in hands time.

Friedel them almost gifted the home side a third, giving the ball straight to Arbeloa when attempting to find Luke Young. Fortunately the pass to Torres was misplaced, a certain goal averted, and we were able to breathe again.

Not for long though. A couple of minutes later, Reo-Coker upended Riera in the box, up steps Gerrard, its 3-0. Game well and truly beyond us. Damage limitation time.

Luke and Gareth added to the misery of the first half by both getting themselves booked, and by the time the half time whistle sounded, it had turned into a thoroughly miserable afternoon for all connected with AVFC.

I think though that its fair to say that probably for twenty minutes or so of the first forty-five, we'd actually looked the better team, yet there's no argument to defend going in at the break 3-0 down.

Shortly after the restart it was 4-0, Gerrard sidefooting home an Alonso free kick, rolled a yard or so to the Reds skipper, following a challenge by Cuellar on Kuyt on the edge of the 'D'.

On the hour Heskey was replaced by Gabby, the latter given a warm reception by the travelling Villans, but a couple of minutes or so later it`s the home fans who are cheering again as Liverpool go 5-0 up from another Gerrard penalty, a spot kick awarded for Brad Friedel bringing down Torres as the Spaniard attempted to round him. Red card for Brad Snr, Brad Jnr on, Nigel Reo-Coker hauled off.

Poor Brad Jnr. His first premier league action see's him beaten by Gerrards well placed spot-kick. He hadn't even enjoyed the experience of handling the ball in open play.

We tried to rouse the lads with a rendition of 'We're gonna win 6-5'. Well we had to do something to take our mind off the surrender on the pitch, and singing seemed as good as anything.

Craig Gardener replaced Carew on 90 minutes, yet still found the time to get himself booked, but I think that everyone was past caring by then.

As we left the stadium and headed back to the car, one scouser had the nerve to request of us, 'For F***'* sake play your reserves at Old Trafford next weekend. That lot you had out there today have no chance of doing us any favours'. You had to laugh. Crying was the only alternative.

Right, my marks out of 10, on an afternoon to forget:-

Player Ratings

Friedel - 5


Cuellar - 5


Reo-Coker - 4


Davies - 5


Luke Young - 6


Milner - 5


Petrov - 6


Barry - 5


Ashley Young - 4


Carew - 7


Heskey - 4


Guzan - 6


Agbonlahor - 5



not on long enough

Date:Monday March 23 2009
Time: 8:12AM

Best of International Football News



Another corking match report, going to miss these when you and your American family drag you over to the states to live. I may well ring Obama and get you deported.
23/03/2009 08:21:00
I am sick of seeing players being played out of position to start with, but what bothers me more to be honest; what is Heskey doing in the pitch? I have nothing against Heskey at all and agree he was smart business, but his presence on the pitch, and effect on our system or team dynamic is too much of a change for us at present. Heskey will get his chance, but I do not believe he has a divine right to start week in week out for the sake of the team. That said Carew is much more of a goal scoring threat than Heskey will ever be Ė all you have to do is look at their goal scoring records. But to be honest, you donít even have to bother Ė just look at our recent results with Heskey playing in the team, something isnít right, and why does he play so deep? We may aswell have another midfielder on the pitch, which at the moment I would rather. Also, why try and fix a system that wasnít broken by introducing Heskey into it? There is a time and a place for Heskey in our system, and it just isnít now. I am not blaming Heskey, just suggesting he isnít what we need at present. We need goals, and Heskey doesnít score enough of them. In my opinion, which last time I checked I am entitled to; we are completely destroying Nigel Reo-Coker, as we have threatened to do with Carlos Cuellar in recent weeks. Part of me just doesnít agree with having to play such a handful of players out of position born out of necessity. What is the necessity anyway? Itís more to do with where and who the buck stops with, and as much of you wont like this the buck stops with OíNeill. We have had an issue with the right back position for nearly three years, and the problem hasnít been rectified - end of. OK, Bouma gets injured, so you panic and buy Shorey, fine. He had a shaky start, but recent performances indicate real progress, but fundamentally if you live buy the sword then you die by it. Play Nicky Shorey if you have to, so L.Young can play where he is meant to be playing Ė right back. Or even ask Gardiner to play there for you, he has done it for us in the past and at international level with the U21ís Ė plus Gardiner has to be due a start. Cuellar looked so much more confident at centre half, and as for Knight Ė credit to him, recent performances have been superb. Simply put; Nigel Reo-Coker has to be played in his preferred position which is smack bang in the middle of the pitch with Petrov (awesome week in week out), and Barry (he will leave unfortunately), which in turn will also aid Milner no end, giving him the extra man behind him to help him advance more, and give him more service, which has been lacking so much recently. When Young is so consistently marked out of games, why donít we switch service to Milner more? We rely far too heavily on Ashley Young, and opposition teams, and managers alike know this. Donít get me wrong, such attention and man marking will only help Youngís overall game but so much reliance on him hampers us. Not to mention the fact that at the moment itís either played through Young or hoofed over the top when we go into panic mode. All of this leads to one answer for me personally, 4-5-1, it worked superbly in the first half of the season, also at the end of last season when we were hammering teams, and it will work again. Start Carew up top on his own with Young playing around him again in his free role. Introduce Reo back into the midfield with Petrov & Barry, the defence will sort its self out, with Gardiner, Shorey available, and from what I am being told Bouma & Laursen are very close to a start. What bothered me most yesterday was that OíNeillís tactics were laughable, at best again yesterday, anyone who thinks otherwise need to take their OíNeill tinted specs off and for one second realise that he is a mortal man just like the rest of us. He eats, sleeps, drops the kids off, *****s, showers, and shaves! Also he makes mistakes HE IS ONLY HUMAN, AND NOT INFALLABLE. He has taken us so far, and the best season in 20 years, but such baffling decisions recently lead to such questions. I personally fear patience is wearing thin with such perplexing tactical decisions. After devaluing the UEFA Cup in the fasion that he did, I still feel the cost of that gamble was far too high for us in the long run, and the cost is being beared now. Back to basics, back to 4-5-1 if we are to stand any chance whatsoever of Champions League qualification, or even finishing 6th at this rate.
23/03/2009 08:48:00
Stig of the Dump O'Neil brigade? Sorry could not resist that. But seriously I agree with everything he says, especially the fact that 3 years on we have no settled right back. Someone in football told me earlier in the season that Villa would blow up. Why? Because MON is a motivational manager- he gets results by motivating his team. However as the season wears on, this wears off and then the lack of tactical nous shows. Interesting thought. Comments anyone?
23/03/2009 09:02:00
Good match report, Glen. I doff my hat to any Villan who drives to a game listening to Neil Young! I think Stig has said it all, really. This current malaise goes back to missed opportunities in the January window and the ridiculous decision to throw in the UEFA Cup towel which has clearly had an adverse effect on the players as well as the fans. MON's tactical nous - or lack of it - began to seriously worry me against Chelsea. The game was crying out for a 4-5-1 set-up to stifle the Chelsea midfield...then came the naive inability to shut up shop against's been downhill ever since...Ok, we can live with Mart's eccentric square peg theories when things are holding up, but serious questions need to be asked not only about his handling of Shorey but also his blinkered reliance on Gabby for 90 mins of every match when we have Harewood sitting on the for the shocking inability in this, his third season in charge, to find a competent right-back, well, don't get me started...Don't get me wrong, I think O'Neil has been tremendous so far but there needs to be some serious re-building in the summer when Barry goes so Mart has to get it right...otherwise it'll be a case of the needle and the damage done!
23/03/2009 09:30:00
So what's the answer Gordon? Sack yet another manager?
23/03/2009 09:31:00
I blame the fans.
The Fear
23/03/2009 09:57:00
I am a massive fan of MON, but imo he has made some poor decisions recently. Not to go 4-5-1 at Anfield was surprising at least! I also agree about Shorey. Give him a chance, the balance to have a left footer at left back will give better attacking options as well. I still believe 100% that MON is the man to take us forward, but perhaps he is on a 'learning curve' as well because he hasn't managed a big club (in England) before and been under this sort of pressure to achieve. (Celtic completely different). Can't go without having a moan about Liverpool though. What a dump the ground and local pubs are. Toilets locked, don't want to serve non locals, no food in pub and runs out in the ground. No wonder they want to move stadium. Makes us realise just how good Villa Park is!
23/03/2009 09:58:00
i don't think anybody is calling for MONs' head, but some of the decisions he is making are strange. no settled right back in 3 years is a joke. we should have two! the player out of position thing is also a joke. its the premier league isn't it??does MON think his amazing man management skills will magically transform someone from an out and out midfielder to a backman?? nobody is that good a manager. what is strange is that all this is persisting week in week out. even the use of Heskey which is blatantly not working.
23/03/2009 10:05:00
I am not calling for his head, he has been brilliant for us, and want him to be backed, but I think the buck stops with him totally for our demise. he knew how many games we had to play when he went into the intertoto, fa cup, carling cup, league etc. 3 or 4 players in jan would have helped us no end. pay over the odds but it would have helped cement our chances in the champs league and no doubt helped securing barry. plus a whole array of strange/inept tactical decisions has shown him up recently. One thing I will never forgive him for is giving up on the UEFA Cup.
23/03/2009 10:16:00
the way liverpool are playing at the moment it needs something special to beat them! chin up lads at least your not going down!
23/03/2009 10:23:00
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