Something For The Weekend (118)
By Steve Wade
What went wrong? Just as I was getting comfortably complacent about Villa's ability to win when they are on-song and to draw when they are not (excepting the billion-dollar elite) they get stuffed by a Man City side who look from crap to ordinary, cuddly-toy or no cuddly-toy, most weeks. City are the team which made the Gallaghers miserable enough to spawn the dirge which is Oasis. More results like this might get the blokes writing hits for Kylie, or the late release of an album of Christmas carols - its not supposed to happen. Staying in the Premiership and beating United, is all they really want. So what happened?
As Jim Royle might say: 'Wonderwall - my arse!'
(2 miserable million for England striker Darius - what were we thinking?)
Has Martin's magic run out? Or, was it always on the cards, with so many recent results (non-losses) rather dependent on the good fortune of being handed the sort of penalty, which invites a blush and a humble genuflection to the football gods?
Yeah, Villa have had better luck with decisions since O'Neill took over but perhaps the team have made a better case for being worthy beneficiaries this season, than hitherto. I have always thought, that if you have a winning mentality, the referee has a tendency to agree you deserve at least something. It's a pity Malcolm Christie's blatantly off-side goal, the other week, maybe casts doubt on my cosy argument and puts the kibosh on the wishful-thinking..or maybe the opposition sometimes deserve something too, even....its likely Villa's luck is fading with their form. Losing their best goal-keeper, through injury, though, is hardly a sign of brilliant luck.
Wednesday's result was so very typical and perhaps was predictable, given the build-up, which included comments from the manager about the fans suffering too many false dawns (I remember her) to expect them to turn up in droves after a decent, yet unspectacular, start to the season. As it happened quite a few did desert their fire-sides to watch the game, in a show of solidarity with their new peripatetic owner and in the hope of a neat treat of a home win. They alas, made the return journey home, with the same old, 'why did I bother' feeling, just as they did the last time they bothered. The club needs to feed on something more than sentiment, if it is to progress to the next level. Presently they are sharing the middle-order with clubs who labour under the dead-weight of substantial debt and Man City are one of them.
But perhaps it was all part of Martin's subtle and crafty plan and getting a decent crowd and a lethargic performance, could only produce the thought in the Lerner head, 'If this many turn up to watch this rubbish, then how many will turn up if I improve the team?'. So at a single bound (read prat-fall), Martin made a very decent case for getting a few bob to spend in January and there was a fair sized crowd of bystanders there to witness, the need of it.
All hopes rest on Mr Lerner being different. With the last incumbent, it always seemed likely that there was no such thing as an acceptable demonstration of a lack of appropriate resources. It always seemed the case, that if they were hanging on with their finger-nails the team was good enough, and if they were obviously hopeless, then he wouldn't trust the manager with the money. I think it is what they call a no-win situation.
Last Christmas I gave you my heart...........the very next day.........
In the meantime, the fans are counting down the days, as they wait to see if Father Christmas really does exist and each has their own list of players they would love to see arrive on Santa's sleigh; from the sublime to the ridiculous. It seems obvious that the players will just not be available to O'Neill to build the team he wants straight away but there really needs to be a hint of the sort of promised ambition to excite the kids'pester-power and get old grumpy-bollocks out of his armchair, in the new year. There's much talk amongst the old farts about getting that catalyst, who will take the whole team a step forward and will provide that bit of class, which will remind the players that they are playing in a class team for a top top club.
We all wait with baited breath.
Nice story about the deadly one last week, when he accidentally brought the house down, at some dinner thrown in his honour, at his local Berni Inns. He was talking of his negotiations to sell the club, when he said that Randy Lerner gave him a Browns football helmet, as a souvenir. He went on the say that, rival bidders for the club knew they had little chance when they arrived to find Randy's helmet lying on his desk. The well-lubricated audience fell about and the night was memorialised in rib-tickling hysteria.
He always was a tough negotiator!