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Aston Villa 1 - West Ham 1

Villa Park

18/04/2009

Attendance: 39 534

Villa Fail To Hammer Hammers

It has been a funny old season really! The home form has been fairly average and we've drawn too many games which is where the points have really been lost for a serious challenge on the top four. However if you take away the key stone kop defending we've at least seen some attacking football at Villa Park in the last two games.

Villa could have hammered the .,. err, hammers yesterday but then again, if you look at the replays it does appear that Brad Friedel had to make more of the serious saves - he did very well considering how totally amateur our two central defenders look. It just shows what world class players bring to a team, with Laursen in he makes any of our defenders look ok, without him we are seriously short of a solid central defense, if only we'd got Upson in our back line yesterday, now he IS a top defender!

I must admit I'm no longer nervous - or in some ways interested - about this season, without going over old ground after Moscow I basically have done what the team appear to have done, switched off! So for now I'm just going down to enjoy myself in any way possible and as a one off game, yesterday had plenty of drama.

We could have been one up within minutes when Nicky Shorey (who had a good game, at least going forward, what have you been doing not playing him MON?) made a great cross to Barry who shot millimeters wide with a glancing header. We kept going forward, although West Ham also didn't start too badly, but it was Villa who got the telling break with James Milner passing to Heskey who slotted the ball home. 1-0 and for most of the rest of the half, there was only one team in it. The only time we had to panic was when any West Ham player went towards our central defenders, they had obviously not met before today as they were pretty shambolic, which is a big worry when you think between them they have cost nearly 16million.

We had a few near misses, a couple appeared to hit the post, Ashley Young took an average free kick but got a second chance only to see the ball go on the wrong side of the post and then Heskey got a gift of a chance after a mistake by Noble gave him the ball with only the keeper Green to beat. Sadly he hit the post instead of burying it. If he'd taken that, I think it would have been game over. Ho and indeed hum!

The second half, in a sun soaked Villa Park, didn't really live up to the first, there were chances both ways and sadly where Villa failed to capitalise on theirs to kill the game, we rode our luck and our luck ran out. A corner was cleared, put back in by Dyer and Tristan buried the ball into the back of the net with a smart glancing header.

DAMN!

Villa really still haven't learn how to kill games and a draw has done us no favours at all. Now we have to depend on Everton not winning to stay 5th.

We did have a clear penalty at the end when John Carew was through one on one with the keeper only for the useless ref Rob Styles (he was awful for both teams throughout the game and should be very embarrassed this morning) decided a West Ham defender was allowed to push the ball out of JC's way. However, no matter how angry our manager was, you can't really just point to that as to why we lost. We lost because our central defenders were shambolic and our forwards were unable to bury their chances.

Still no idea why some of the Villa 'fans' decided to boo the team off. Wallies!

Star Player

My steak and kidney pie, it really was spot on.

Player Ratings


Brad Friedel 8

if not for him we'd have lost

Luke Young 6

got caught a few times but then he was covering for the hapless two in the centre most of the game.

Carlos Cueller 4

simply awful, get a grip

Curtis Davies 4

awful, you can't be great one week and a pub player the next, get a grip!

Nicky Shorey 7

great going forward, not sure if he was so great getting back, it appears the coaches and MON weren't that pleased, I think that is what they were going on about (difficult to believe but I could be wrong there!). But he worked tirelessly and nearly created a great early goal. Just can't see why he's been humiliated by the boss most of this season?

Ashley Young 6.5

had a few good moments but his winding runs are being picked up much easier by defenders at the moment.

Gareth Barry 6.5

one fault with Gareth is he won't shoot often, the great midfielders weigh in with goals, but still a good contribution as you always expect from the skipper

James Milner 7

tireless

Stiliyan Petrov 7

crunched in with many necessary tackles

Emile Heskey 6

an extra point for scoring but no more because he missed a couple of other good chances which would have put the game out of reach

John Carew 6

difficult one, he did look up for it, he was a handful, but when he got in good positions (two headers, the second especially should have been at least on target and a close range shot) he fluffed his lines. We have to have the ball in the back of the net more, just look at the table and see our goals scored compared with the top teams.

Delfouneso

(on for Heskey on 70)

all ok, nothing of major note.

Gardner

(on for Milner who picked up a knock 80) ok

Milner really did have to be convinced to come off, he'd got a slight pull in one of his legs and kept signalling to the bench to be given 5 more minutes!




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The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday April 19 2009

Time: 12:13PM

Your Comments

Petrov's challenge on Noble was very poor, he was lucky not to get a red card!
Saul1
Anyone for Hangeland???.........
medzy
Watched the whole game on Fox and I've got to say.. how on earth didn't we win that game ?? We had *so* many chances to kill them off. Petrov was my MOTM, his footwork and passing were excellent. Shame that Carew and Heskey (goal aside) weren't able to convert the myriad chances we had. I know I'll probably get burned at the stake as a witch or something, but I think as well as a decent centre pairing, we need an entire new strike force. One that can actually score goals instead of blazing them over/around/underneath? at every opportunity. Alright I'm happy we didn't lose and I think the lads did ok, but one word springs to mind - wasteful. Come on Villa...
ExpatVillaShirt
shows that we do need some top signings in the summer. Vagner Love (I know it seems like a dream signing, pie in the sky type but I think we would have a chance) and Paul Scharner I think would be just the ticket.
Tallaght Villan
The problems we seem to have are all of O'Neill's own making, and given his record in the transfer market, there's not much hope of him making up for his tactical deficiencies by buying in quality players. I'm increasingly of the view that everything we have achieved is more down to luck than judgement. I am struggling to envision a scenario whereby we have someone other than O'Neill in charge come next season, and as such, I think next season is going to be a very damp squib. A real shame, because we seemed to have a real bright future in our grasp, though I guess that a bright future with O'Neill at the helm was never anything other than a mirage.
Albarnista
Just read some Curtis Davies quotes. He claims that this season will still be a successful one if we finish 5th. It's a strange comment, given that finishing 5th looks beyond us at the moment. I assume that, when we look like we're going to finish 6th (yesterday's draw was an excellent result if we were looking to cement a top 6 position), this season will still be hailed as a success as we will have achived automatic qualification for the Europa League. Just don't mention the massive spending spree in the summer, and every team above us (with the exception of Liverpool) performing to a lower standard than they did last season.
Albarnista
All is understandably negative to a considerable degree - but we should keep fighting, the season is almost over, but not yet. Unlikely things can happen, but only if you keep trying. So one game at a time and lets see where it takes us. I looked at the fixtures when we were 6 points ahead of Arsenal and said on here we would soon be below them. However if Arsenal lose on Tuesday to Liverpool we need to keep going. It's the best way of holding off Everton anyway. Results do come in runs, and both Bolton and Fulham had amazing end of season runs last year when noone could have expected it. This year can it be us and Sheffield United!
stennyvilla
agree Saul, had forgotten about that but I was in line with it (opposite side) and both my mate and me said 'he's off' and were quite happy when we saw just a yellow!
The Fear
really hope you are wrong about next season Albarnista (as you do also I'm sure) but fear the same.
The Fear
I'm pretty sure 2nd half was some of the worst football i've seen us play. I don't know what words of wisdom were said at half time but dear me we were shocking. After such a good first half too. I think the problem lies in midfield. yes petrov and Barry are good players but we need to be able to pass it around. We need to be able to take some pressure off our back four. We pick up the ball in defence, hoof it up the pitch, Carew flicks it on to no one and then we start again. Either that or we break on the wing, and Ashley Young is started to get sussed. We need someone in midfield that can truly run the show. Calm things down, influence the game so that the team feels comfortable passing it around. No wonder Davies and Cuellar are so *****e at the moment, they are under constant pressure. Saturdays 2nd half was so bad, we just sat back and let them come. WHO WAS THE HOME TEAM? If fans think this kind of thing is acceptable then i can't understand that. We got by with luck for a long time and without that luck, playing the way we have been this season, i wonder where we would actually be in the table. For me, Barry is not the captain. Not when you have reo coker, who could add balance to the midfield, sitting on the bench. he could have made all the difference on the middle of the park on saturday. He had a thing or two to prove against his old team. I think we have the players to achieve things but the tactics are not working right now. I love mon and think he is still the man to take us up there but not with the style of football we have played this season. More like last season but with better defending. Hangeland could be the answer. Quality, should have signed him when we were interested before Fulham did. I didn't boo on saturday but i did let and almighty "*****" rip from my mouth. Sorry i couldn't help it. I missed the Bolton game because i got stuck in London so this season my season ticket had brought me 4 wins. So forgive me for feeling a bit dissillusioned at the amount of money i spend watching the Villa. (trains from and to london every home game, season ticket, bottle of fanta for the match.....). Anyway at the end of the day it aint the end of the world and i think that booing is one of the main reasons that our team cant feel comfortable to take the win at Villa park
Thom85
your expectations are too high Thom85, Villa only ever play 45 mins of decent football per game, the difficulty at times is guessing whether the first half will prove to be the good or the bad half, in this case it was very much the good one!
The Fear
I think if he love MON and think he is the man, then you'll have to accept this is our style of play, I've never seen any of his teams play any differently and despite many saying he has real pedigree, I'm not sure he has ever competed at the top of the PL before has he?!? Hmmm.
The Fear
When Barry/Laursen leave us Mon will be under serious pressure to replace them so hopefully that'll be the kick up the backside he needs to get it right, otherwise we're doomed.........
medzy
Cant believe all the doom and gloom villa supporters, we are 5th in the league prob the best league in the world, alot of the best clubs in europe would not break into our top 4, we have a had a good season and given it a go but just missed out do you supporters want to be like newcastle blues albion etc, mon is a great mamager and yes does make mistakes but who else would you want, we need to give him more time, at least 5-6 years, lets try getting behind the team and stop the booing or ***** off and support the scum. Villa til i die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
astonsteve
couldn't agree more astonsteve. I was as frustrated as the next by the transfer window inactivity, the weird selections and tactics used this season and the game on saturday, but lets get real and realise how far we've come and how quickly, then take a look at the spuds for an example of what knee jerk changes in management bring. based on recent perfomances we need a commanding presence at the back and a change in midfield formation. I'm begining to suspect that Barry and Petrov lack the presence, energy and bite to hold centre mid and would love to see us either adopt 4-5-1 letting them get forward or else (and here I get accused of blastphemy) drop barry and bring in NRC to add balance to the side.
AVbornandbred
Just to play devils advocate here :o) How far we have come? We've been 1st before during the season, it is where we finish that matters and we've been 6th many times. I hope we are building, I do have my worries though. I agree he has to be given time, my guess is with the transfers, tactics, strange subs and old fashioned tactics that we'll possibly not end up being delivered into the holy land by MON but hey, might as well try to enjoy the ride whilst he tries...! Oh with a great infrastructure, superb owner and a great potential, I can't believe some Villa fans don't think there will be a list as long as your arm of quality managers willing to take on the job, hopefully they'll not be needed and MON will build an empire, at the moment I'm a little shaky on the dream though!
The Fear
The point is we have to give MON and the players support whilst they are on the pitch, to become a top 4 club it will take time possibley 6, 7 or 8 years, we can only attrackt the right quality players which we have moved up the league, thats why Mon had to go 4 players like Knight and Harewood cos in that season we had finished 11th, Mon then gets us up the table with those players then buys better ones etc etc, however he is human and does make mistakes like selling Cahill and bringing in Knight but what manager doesnt, There are other good managers out there but there is still no given right 4 us to be in the top 4. Lets get behind what we have and with the extra support you never know lets make Villa Park a really difficult place to come.
astonsteve
My only concern is how fast other clubs will develop (Everton,Spurs,Man city). We're still not the finished article and we may well lose 2 of our best players. If Barry goes i think Reo should get his chance. Ideal defensive midfielder with grit and a good engine. I just hope a the other clubs dont spend serious cash or we may get left behind (Spurs and citeh). I think Petrov needs competition from a playmaker
medzy
astonsteve - all good points. Does anyone remember when Man Utd visited Villa Park about three years into Fergie's reign? We hammered them and their fans were screaming for his head. Man Utd were 17th at that time. I remember joyfully singing sarcastically "Fergie must stay" from the Holte End.....oops! We are fifth at the same stage of MON's reign!!!
gmvillan
One small point astonsteve - Cahill was banging on the managers door to leave because he wasn't prepared to play second fiddle to Laursen/Mellberg. If the boy had been patient he'd have spent most of this season in the team... What we get with Knight is a local lad who is prepared to bide his time because he just loves being a Villa player.... he's the ideal squad player - except that Laursen's injuries have led to him playing more than just the odd game....
gmvillan
I agree gmvillan about Knight good squad player.
astonsteve
when I say how far we've come, consider firstly we have a young mostly english team that should improve with time (even the dodgy centre backs). When we've been here before we've had an ageing team that was only ever going to get one shot. We've had plaudits all season long about the attacking flair we have and our style of play (at our best this season I've seen some of the best football any Villa team has produced in my lifetime) aside from when we decide to go to a long ball game, one of the biggest criticsms of the Arse is that they only have one style and no plan B. Finally we have an infrastructure designed to nurture youth, look after and respect the fans, expand the fan base (the Acorns piece was a masterstroke) and attract good players, along with a manager who learnt from the best, is unproven but willing to improve and who values a happy dressing room and steady improvement above playing fantasy football in the transfer market and his own ego (look at Spuds, Pompey and Wet Spam for where I'd rather not be) times are good enjoy it
AVbornandbred
Villa will still squeak 5th..... Everton have the cup final on their minds now.
cropped
Couldnt have put it better myself AVbornandbred, i wish more villa fans were like you, i sit in the holte end and all the ***** behind me does is moan and boo, especially gabby, what a numpty, tempted to ***** him one.
astonsteve
 

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