A certain Belgian lager might be reassuringly expensive and it may be the brew of choice for uber role-model Norm Peterson but it seems to have done very little for my powers of prognostication. So this week I will be testing out the more eupeptic soothsaying side-effects of Banks's mild, instead.
I only mention the above because it was after several fizzy litres of Stella Artois that, not so long ago, I made the prediction that Villa's rise to supremacy would be neat and incremental, and that the first thing they would win on their way to the Champions League and World Domination, would be the Carling Cup.
Anyhow, I got it wrong and whether it was entirely down to the antipathetic relationship between Carling and Stella I am not sure but O'Neill's first Villa silverware looks to be delayed a little while yet.
Obviously my choice of brew does not preclude my tendency to talk bollocks when I am in my cups but it was still a result of the totally crap variety. Even taking into account Leicester's decent history against us and O'Neill trying to keep his powder dry for more considerable foe, it was rather shite. If Davis played like a pub player then O'Neill, looked like the pub landlord by the end of the night. He got it badly wrong.
Shit happens - dreams are broken - the Bard has spoken:
These fixtures are usually reserved for hard-core supporters only and so what twenty-five thousand were doing down there is hard to imagine. Obviously the balti pies are addictive (The fire in those pies keep me alive - The Cult 1985) but you are just asking for disappointment when the team that looked so bad at Man City, is downgraded for rivals who not only want to beat you but are desperate to beat you. When your manager's face is on the juju and is the totem of the spirit of the opposing club, you better believe it, they want to f***ing beat you.
This was typical of the two steps forward and one back, which seems to be Villa's present mode of progress, but it is indeed progress. Only Gabby's sublime control and finish turned a scruffy performance against Everton, into a supremely satisfying win. But what a moment.
Harlon Marewood's little outburst was a bit discouraging and took the shine off the weekend's win, as it was not the sort of thing you expect from a player with total confidence in his own abilities. It was a bit too Duane Dibley for my liking: he who dwells in the city of the anti-cool. A simple, 'Hey superstar, gee us pass', would have sufficed. Such a public show of anger just paraded his personal self-doubt, which is not something you want your 'star' striker to advertise to the world.
With Carew out with a crocked knee it is all down to Harlon and he should get a good few games to show us what he can do. If only he could produce the sort of form which got him his hattrick against Villa for West Ham, he would be welcomed with open arms. But that, I am sure, happened at a very special time in his life, when everything was sweet and his demons were sleeping. Producing that form again needs to be his main aim. I bet he's looking everywhere for the mind-set which made him such a force. He obviously put it down somewhere but can't remember exactly where or quite what it felt like. Boredom is the enemy of consistency.
Other options include moving Gabby into the centre and adding Petrov to midfield (not much favoured with the fans) but it looks like coping with Carew's absence is going to be a considerable test for O'Neill. But I am hoping it is not too much of a test for me, or the powers of the piss to pacify.
Stuff about girls:
When it came to England's women they failed their World Cup quarter-final test but not by much, in the final analysis. With a vulnerability to free-kicks and no cutting-edge up front, the quarter-finals was probably the best they could have hoped for and several players can take a great deal of pride in their individual performances and their contribution to raising the profile of the women's game. Three-nil was disappointing, especially as the third was gifted the Americans with a fluff but as with the men, it looks like we are quarter-final nation in everything and no more.
There's a lot to be learnt from the women's game, especially about the importance of physical power when it comes to bossing the opposition, and I couldn't help but remember my own youthful struggles when I was the very definition of a streak of piss and the ball often felt like trying to kick a sack full of lead shot. There are no frigging size-zeros here and whether it is the statuesque Abby Wambach, or the powerhouse Cat Whitehill, football proved to be the ideal game to promote better female body images and fitness. As Matthew Le Tissier proved, having a big arse is no impediment, to playing football.
Football is still a working-class game and I still think it brings more social good, more pleasure and more pride, than any number of Wimbledon no-chancers. And, for this reason it should be financed as generously as the Lottery money will allow. It certainly would be money better spent than on the Olympic gravy-train, the snouts are all into, in Stratford, London right now.