AT LAST - An Apology To David Gold
Attendance: 25 196
At last, an apology to David Gold.
Sorry David that the Villa boys beat you.... AGAIN! :o)
A full match report by Glensider will appear later... these are my views from the armchair.
Well, it wasn't a pretty local derby, they seldom are and it certainly wasn't a humiliation for the Blues today who for 75 minutes were more than a match for the Villa. In the forum thread the disappointment was in the style of play and the fact that the Villa boys weren't shooting ... AT ALL.
The pressure wasn't really on either end in fairness, I can't think of many saves required by Friedel and certainly not by Hart either, not until the 76th minute when James Milner, who'd been off form all game really, clicked with a great cross straight to Sidwell for his header to be well parried away from the on loan Man City keeper.
That seemed to wake our lads up a little and the fact that Martin O'Neill AT LAST had the guts to make a change - and what an important change it turned out to be.
Villa started with the 4-5-1, which was fine, the Blues were coming forward strong and fast and I thought that was going to play into our hands as we are - especially away from home - far better on the break. However as the game progressed it was obvious that this time it wasn't working and all it was going to bring about was a draw. That might have proved to be enough for O'Neill BUT NO, what is this? A tactical change!
Off came Nigel Reo-Coker, it could just as easily have been an off key Petrov or Sidwell in fairness, and on came big John Carew and we reverted to 4-4-2. It didn't take long for Carew to get a header I think from an Ashley Young ball (?) which was directed to Gabby who headed the ball in.
1-0 up and that was that I thought!
Blimey, it could have been 2 within minutes as Gabby went one on one with Joe Hart only to shoot high wide and not so handsome. The commentators were asking if Gabby can force his way back into the England set up, the fact he didn't get that at least on target and to be fair, it should have been buried, suggests not at the moment. He HAS to start taking those, hopefully he will and when he does, he could be one hell of a player for us.
Double blimey... it could have been 3! Blues had to push forward and as they did, we were able to get forward quickly on the break and this time it ended up 2 v Harte. Carew had the ball and should really have been selfish and shot, that is what top strikers do and to be fair, he doesn't often look to give the ball when in sight of goal... but this time he passed to Milner, but the pass was rubbish and the chance was gone.
Blues came forward late on and threatened from a corner - injury time sickener again? Not a bit of it, Villa had this and came away with yet another derby day victory. Hopefully fans of both colours will be able to travel home safely now and we'll see none of the 'other side' of these derby games.
Minus points? The style of play wasn't great today, is it ever in derby games? They looked a match for our expensively assembled team for 75 mins and that wasn't good + Milner up until the end had an off day + Ashley Young was seldom in the match, he's not started the season so brightly this year but he'll come good. There was a fair bit of hoof ball losing us possession a great deal, ok to hoof if there is someone there and as a variation, but not all the time.
Positive points? Well, a win is a win especially in a local derby, it doesn't have to be pretty football as long as you come away with those 3 points, we did, job done. MON made the crucial change, he so often won't or won't until late on, today he did it with plenty of time to go and that change paid off. He gets slated when he doesn't do that sort of thing, he needs the plaudits today for making the change and bringing on Carew. The defense. Risky to start with an all new set up (Cuellar back to right back but for this season it was a new place as he's been central so far) and Dunne with Collins in the centre and Warnock at left back. Not one of them let us down, in fact I'm quite excited at how solid they looked, if that continues we could be VERY difficult to beat. Now the strikers and midfield need to take the pressure off the defence and bang in a few more goals. That is four wins on the trot with Pompey and Blackburn coming up, another six points 'should' be taken from them and we'll have turned a woeful starting day game into a great start to the season.
Well done to the lads, all that matters in any game really is the result and especially in the local derbies, the 3 points are crucial. If they'd lost they'd have been slated, they didn't, they brought back the 3 points and boasting rights and each of them has to be thanked, including the manager, love or hate him, he made the changes that won us the game.
Will leave the player ratings to Glensider in his match report to follow.