Villa An 'Off Side' v Wolves
Attendance: 37 562
I've had a little bit of time to clear my mind from today's game. I'm sure for the neutral it was a decent game, a decent local derby and I would think, despite our two goals being off side (thought so at the game, now know so having watched the sky end of game summary that I'd recorded) Wolves should be fairly pleased with a draw? They are relegation threatened and we are in the mix - albeit maybe just outside (?) - for a top four place.
You can look at this any way you want but I said to my mates before kick off nothing but a win for all our remaining home games will be enough if we are seriously looking at 4th. Today we started so brightly and really appeared to be ready to give the Wolves a proper Lions mauling. It took John Carew just 16 minutes to convert from a nice forward flowing attack - now as said, it was marginally offside but hey, we weren't complaining and we had had other chances before and after to put the game out of sight within 20 odd minutes.
We always do it really, we just don't kill off teams and as one caller said in the Tom Ross phone in on the way home, 'this is why we aren't talked about seriously for the top four'. Today's game was never going to be easy, it is a local derby, Wolves have local pride to fight for, let alone their Premiership status, but we should have won. We should expect the quality in our team to shine through and we should be shooting more and scoring more.
Should and could don't equal points sadly and as MON said in his post match reaction (see front page index for that) a draw was about the right result. Mick McCarthy might feel slightly differently but him and Wolves aren't my concern, with no disrespect meant.
Ashley Young was great today, he was whipping in the ball left, right and centre. Carew got on the end of the one for his first goal. Heskey on the other hand? No, I'm not going to bother being ultra negi or going down that road, I've tried to so hard to support him and see the 'other' stuff he brings to the game but today I thought he was a liability, despite playing a part in the second goal. His ball control - sorry, his lack of ball control for an England international is a joke. He lost the ball leading to Wolves second goal and also miss-controlled pathetically by where I sit (touchline by the Villa bench) and we just sat there baffled as to why he was still on the pitch.
The most telling part of the game really was when our benched right-back (yes, we do have a proper right back, you might remember him, he was one of our players of the season last year) Luke Young ran to the Holte to warm up. The cheer was amazingly loud. Then Nathan Delfouneso ran towards them and got a similar very loud cheer. Villa fans even started singing to bring on The Fonz. Hint hint to MON?
MON brought on Marc Albrighton (what a future he has) to be .... right back, yes, that is right back and Steve Sidwell. Sidders put in the effort but that was hardly a game changing 'risk' was it?
Luke Young was standing by the bench looking totally fed up. What has gone on there? Surely this is more than just football? Carlos Cuellar, who I love in the centre, is simply not a right-back as many fans were heckling through the game. I feel sorry for him as he looks so out of position there and his distribution is sadly lacking. The stubbornness to make changes and use different players is costing us and costing us dear.
We have 14 points from the last 30, just three wins in 10. That is pushing us out of what could have been a strong challenge to the top four, or even the top three. It is a shame to see but this season is going the same way as last season, fizzling out. Now we could still salvage this if other results are kind to us but I did feel today we were starting the slow wave bye bye to 4th. The FA Cup semi will keep things alive, hopefully after it even more so and if we can get a swift win on Wednesday v Sunderland (Bent on fire again today I see) and get something from Stamford Bridge, then who knows?
We are unbeaten this year. You can look at it that way as well and also, we didn't lose today either!
Opti's? Negi's? On the fencers?
I'm in some ways so happy with what is going on and in others (substitutions, lack of rotation etc) I'm baffled.
Think I'll just keep doing what I do, shout myself hoarse, bang the boarding's (my hands are bruised after today, my one finger is blue, I get the feeling it is going to hurt come the morning! LOL) and carry on along for the ride.
The bigger picture? I just can't find the energy to over think it, what will be will be.
Brad Friedel 5
Stephen Warnock 6
Richard Dunne 6
James Collins 6
Carlos Cueller 5
Ashley Young 8
James Milner 6
Stiliyan Petrov 5
Stewart Downing 5
John Carew 8
Emile Heskey 5
Marc Albrighton (on for Dunne 70th min) 7
Steve Sidwell (on for Downing 77th) 6