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Something For The Weekend (156)

Something For The Weekend (156)
The whole Villa experience has been a bit up and down this season, like an whore's draws, and Monday's encounter with Spurs, seemed to encapsulate the whole Villa modus operandi in one game: scoring/winning without really dominating but which nevertheless sends me into cloud-cuckoo-land, quickly followed by a brutal return to earth, and miserable recriminations.

Following, as it did, Germany's victory in the Women's World Cup final, where efficiency overcame Brazilian flare, which had left me reeling and raging at the football fates, I was not really in the best sort of mood for stoic philosophising, slightly more than twenty-four hours later. So, to say I was pissed-off at those final few minutes at White Hart Lane, would be to understate it substantially.

Having offered some Pollyanna-ish support for Harlon Marewood, as a sympathetic counter-weight to the general chorus of dismay at his arrival, from the majority of fans, I didn't really expect him to prove the cynics right within two appearances and I felt like Atticus Finch finding his client was guilty. I am afraid Harlon copped it big-time.

I unfairly compared him with a cow's arse, which did the cow's arse little justice at all, as close observation has taught me that the said orifice is a triumph of evolutionary perfection and truly is a wonder to see in action (more observations on cows' arses on request), while Harlon doesn't quite produce such an awed response. It all got a bit childish, when I started to take issue with the shape of his head, and I realised at that point that I was probably out of control.

But happiness is a team called Villa.

If you are going to stage a collapse against a team, you couldn't really choose a better one than Spurs. Not like losing to Man United say (6th Jan 2002), with their nauseating sense of entitlement etc. etc. No the 'Yids' are different and I have long forgiven them for surpassing Villa's FA cup wins, as they too have long been totally eclipsed and rather agonisingly so by their North London rivals, amongst others. Their escape from relegation through legal challenge, others couldn't afford, is something else entirely, though.

After last year, the fates may have owed them something.

We may carp and I certainly did but without doubt Spurs' collapse against Seville in the home leg of the quarter-finals of the UEFA cup last year, when Steed Malbranque scored one of the craziest own-goals ever, must have been more painful than can really be put into words. When you start adding in defeats in the two domestic cups from London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea, you can see that while the television audience were being charmed by Tottenham's flowing football, last season really must have felt like a kick in the balls for the Spurs fans. The club's present uncertainty seems to arise from those times - not helped of course by Jol spending a record fee on Darren Bent, when their priorities seemed to lie elsewhere.

Besides, you can't get too upset, with a club known as the Lilywhites. What sort of name is that? It sounds like something you might find on a shelf marked Feminine Hygiene at the chemist. And when some club turns up on their birthday with a player (sic) signed from a club just down the road, and who then gives a stupid penalty away to turn the game, you just have to call it Karma.

I might seek consolation from ancient laws of cause and effect but what of Martin O'Neil? What does he do with Harlon Marewood now? Does he sell him to the nearest glue factory, as many fans are advocating, or does he wind him up and turn him loose on his old club? Its a tough call, and while the punters can give full vent to their disappointment, the manager must attempt to manage an asset, he hasn't the luxury to regret acquiring.

But whether its Mart Almighty or any football manager worth his salt he will put all that behind him and know that Villa at home to West Ham, on what promises to be a sparkling Autumn afternoon, is something else entirely. Buoyed by that special atmosphere of an expectant home crowd, as the shirts dazzle in the sunshine, no doubt Villa will be attacking in waves, as Young and Agbonlahor show off their pace. It should be a rather different game to Tottenham and hopefully will not be dependent on Marewood's ability to hold the ball up - not his strong suit, it seems.

O'Neill might even have concluded that, if he is going to get the best out of his asset, he needs to play to his strengths (sic) and not expect him to play like Carew. He might even admit that, he bears a modicum of responsibility for Monday's fiasco himself, for asking a player to do what he so patently could not do.

After all, O'Neill bought him and it his responsibility to get the best out of him, no matter what the punters think.

The Indian summer promises to make it a very special afternoon, with all the pretty Villa girls in their shirt-sleeves and the crowds soaking up the last of the years warming sunshine as they quaff their ale of choice. Its going to be one of those afternoons when every ex-pat and long-distance Villa fan, is going to rue he is not there to walk shoulder to shoulder on such a day. Its going to be a day that promises everything that a match-day needs. But to avoid the cheerful weather turning into a mockery, Villa desperately need a win.

But even if the sunshine fails to bring out the best in Villa, then I can only recommend the following:

Sometimes a little rain must fall - you tell 'em Bob -

Writer:Steve Wade
Date:Friday October 5 2007
Time: 5:41PM

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