Something For The Weekend (125)
Well, not quite, because hanging around car parks on Cannock Chase, dressed as Lara Croft, fooled no one (the beard I think), not even our Stan, but that night against Atletico Madrid in 1997, when he came on to score the winner, took me as close to an orgasm, as is possible without me actually soiling my Y-fronts. And for once, in my throws of ecstasy, I was not alone, there were thirty-nine thousand others (plus or minus the odd Spaniard) all writhing in the same breathless eye-popping spasm of pleasure, in the moments after his rocket hit the top corner.
I seem to remember from the days when I used to like to look these things up, that an orgasm is described as a paroxysm of pleasure, and truly that was what we experienced that night, as it seemed that no ball had ever been struck so true or so sweetly and at such an apposite moment in any match before. It almost seemed at the time that, the people who were sharing my jumping-up-and-down moment were experiencing a sort of quasi-religious damascene thing, which had us typically stand-offish Brummies, exchanging the sort of looks, usually reserved for extreme speaking-in-tongues-type religious occasions, or the male-bonding of salivating lechery.
It was typical Stan and fulfils the orthodoxy that he was always one for clearing out the Augean stables, rather than someone for the more workaday and mundane. It is the sort of narrative, which histories are made of and which travel down the generations for as long as youngsters are forced to listen to the witterings of old men, speak of their glory days. I am sure that his winner for Liverpool against Newcastle, in that epic encounter at Anfield in the days of Asprilla, equally stands out in the Red Scouse memory. Dalian Atkinson was another such and I suppose every generation must have their own.
I couldn't help but think about Stan this week when Villa signed John Carew. I found that I knew absolutely nothing about the guy, except that every time I have heard the name or have seen a clip of him on the telly, it has always been of him banging in the sort of goals which threaten to uproot the frame of the goal or produce a sonic-boom. I immediately thought that with him up front, Villa have not only got the pace, with Gabby, Young and Moore but they now have the power. Cue the Black Box track.
We've got the power!
I suspect the big fellah, will have a touch of the Dalian and Stan about him and on his day he'll provide the sort of moments to leave the crowd breathless but I suspect he will not be a prolific double-digit goal-getter. I even think Milan Baros is a better goal-scorer given the service but I suspect we will get a player who will make a bigger contribution to the way the whole team plays, and, as Savo found out, can sometimes go unappreciated. If the boy can link the play and head the ball, very much in the mould of Peter Withe, the whole team will benefit hugely, as the options multiply and the whole of Villa's midfield unit move into better attacking and supporting positions. Certainly the likes of Petrov should be able to benefit from better hold-up play in that vital area, where the play is linked from defence to attack. It seems that Baros's tendency to fall over and his lack of the right instincts to play this role, was what prompted O'Neill to make the swap. Seeing the two play together, would have been interesting but alas it was not to be.
Milan was not the sort of player that is ever going to get the crowd on his side but whatever his shortcomings are and his tendency to fall over is not the least of them, he seemed to offer that bit of class last season, which made all the difference, when it came to battling those extra points, which proved to be so decisive between O'Leary's team and Villa's fellow relegation candidates. So I won't be sprinkling too much piss and vinegar in his direction, which seems mandatory, these days, when any player departs, good or bad.
A big guy and Carew is definitely that, surrounded by pace, offers the tactical double-whammy against the opposition because if their defence moves high up the field to keep the big guy out of heading range, then Villa's pacy lads will exploit the space behind and scare the bejaysus out of them, and if they get too close to their goal-line the big fellah is well within range. This only applies if he can head the ball of course, which not all big guys can, alas.
The second half of the season looks to have slightly more promise than the first and hopefully, with Villa's long-term injured coming back in defence and some early adrenalin-driven performances from the new guys, they should creep back into those mid-table positions and start inspiring foolish talk of Europe once again.
So the foreplay shows a lot of promise but whether the earth moves for any of us, remains to be seen.
By Steve Wade