Vital Football

Latest Aston Villa News

Something For The Weekend (157)

Something For The Weekend (157)
As England go east - will their chances go west?

England's patched-up millionaires take on Estonia this Saturday in a game which promises 90 minutes of shots-in for the nation's super-stars but might very well be listed under 'there are no easy games' come the final whistle.

As this is all about qualification and two-nil, looks like the minimum expectation, it should be just enough to justify an afternoon of dossing on the settee, while neglecting one's family responsibilities as grouchy wallet-bearer, in the muck and bullets on the retail front.

But England don't come with any guarantees and for those who would rather not forego an afternoon of pheromone immersion, outside the changing-rooms of their partner's High Street boutique of choice, they will be forgiven their absence. Some might even seek their football elsewhere, in the thud and blunder of the lower leagues.

Estonia are a nation of 1.3 million, which makes it about the size of Birmingham with a few of the larger satellites thrown in as make-weights and hopefully, they will stake their claim to world fame by following their relatives, the Finns, and reserve their flights of sporting fancy to events which involve ice, like rally driving and Slush Puppie slurping, rather than carve out a nil-niller against England and send dismay and panic through our ranks.

Even though England seem due one of those games, most Villa fans will be tuning in (or the digital equivalent), so they can sit and delight in the novelty of seeing a Villa player in an England shirt and no doubt sounding like the guy in Goodness Gracious Me!, but instead of yelling 'Indian' will be yelling 'Villan', every time he gets on the ball. Unless, that is, McClaren can think of a single reason not to play Barry, in the next twenty-four hours, which is not beyond possibility.

My advice would be to record it and then you can fully concentrate on watching every moment of Barry's performance without being distracted by any doubt or dread of the outcome. But assuming Owen's prosthetic truss functions okay, I don't think we need worry too much.

Its the game a few days later which promises to be the banana-skin, when England travel to Russia, who are not only slightly better than Estonia but will be laying down the green carpet rather than the red, too, in the form of a plastic pitch - not a welcoming sight for most professionals. Previous generations might have perfected their skills on bomb-sites and cobbled streets but these know the rest.

Funny enough, I immediately think of John Gregory when I think of plastic pitches, in his days at QPR under Venables. Back then, they seemed to be very conducive to the passing game (Gregory looked good - the posing git) but tended to produce more freakish bounces than Erica Roe on a pogo-stick.

They were a bit crap and gave the home team somewhat of an advantage I seem to remember but it is hard to refute Blatter's claim that allowing them will facilitate the development of the game in poorer nations, with harsh weather conditions, like Africa and presumably Scotland, (Dunfermline) where the row about the concession continues to blaze with some heat.

For those who like to see the odds tipped slightly in favour of the underdogs, it does seem like a welcome development and if the mega-rich clubs are not to be persuaded to redistribute the dosh a bit more generously, then the plastic pitch seems to provide a means of cutting costs and levelling things in another way, presuming of course that the big clubs continue their preference to play on grass. It seems likely that at some point high-tech will enable artificial pitches to be programmed to take on any characteristic required - City Ground or Plough Lane circa 1970's, say. Marvellous!

In the meantime, the emphasis has been placed, by the objectors, on the welfare of the players, which they say, are put at risk by playing on a carpet.

Here's what Keith Armstrong, boss of Finland's HJK Helsinki, says, on his club's conversion from grass: He says that their players abhor it. Their physiotherapists' opinions are that it could take four years off a player's career. We don't like it full stop. I think it's significant that no footballers like it. Nor do technical staff like it.

My own view would be that Wednesday's excursion onto the plastic pitch offers a fantastic opportunity for the England players, and the chance, by way of a bit of strategic body-surfing, for them to remove any embarrassing or unwanted tattoos from their bodies. As I seem to remember that a sliding-tackle on the carpet has the habit of removing skin faster than a mohel on overtime. Wags should watch with interest.

Rather more interesting is the turnaround of Scotland's fortunes. The transformation has been remarkable to say the least and is totally at odds with the acres of newsprint, which had all sorts of things to say about the systemic problems with the Scottish game. Suddenly the same players have started to pull up trees and nothing seems to have changed - same number of foreign players etc. This seems to prove that having good systems in place is all well and good but ultimately success on the pitch is dependent on the relationship between the players and manager, and their mutual ability to understand and inspire each other.

But the question which has bothered me the most these past couple of weeks, has been all about the pilot who got the sack for allowing Robbie Savage to sit on the flight deck of the plane he was flying. The question is whether, knowing what I know about Robbie, as seen on a football pitch, and having read the details of his infamous shit in the 'poogate' scandal, influences my opinion of the case.

I had to ask myself, whether the tale he used to negotiate his way onto the flight-deck, that he was trying to conquer his fear of flying, was true or not. Does the way a player behaves on a football pitch, offer any guide to how he will behave off it?

Its a tough question, so I'll say nothing.

But you tell him Big Mama:

Writer:Steve Wade
Date:Friday October 12 2007
Time: 5:17PM


What a day tomorrow is going to be. Get up late preferably in time for football focus, flick channels until the england match watch Barry put the estonians to shame. Then switch over for the 'other' sport and entertain myself with the super league final or whatever it is before seeing the rugby lads rip out chabals hair. Oh ye and top that off with a take away...
12/10/2007 21:54:00
A hat-trick of England victories tomorrow? We surely have to see off Estonia at Wembley, a victory for the Rugby lads over in Paris, and for our cricketers out in Sri Lanka, and we'll have every excuse to down a few cold un's in celebration Saturday night.
13/10/2007 02:42:00
Page 1/1
  1. 1

Login to post a comment

Recent Aston Villa Articles

Mixed AVFC Fans Views On Kozak Who Misses Lazio

Mixed views from fans on Libor Kozak and comments from the striker about his time at Lazio and how much he owes them.

Fascinating Interview Giving Insight Into Villa Owner Xia

A fascinating Tony Xia interview by Times reporter Henry Winter which I'm serialising this week so we can take it all in!

Highlights & Full Post Match Coverage - Leeds United Away

A new feature to Vital Villa. A full summary of all the coverage post match and match highlights. Aston Villa away to Leeds United.

The Vital Villa Player Of November. Your Thoughts?

The Vital Villa player of November? Please vote and let us know your opinion.

Archived Vital Villa Articles

Vital Villa articles from

Site Journalists

J P Fear
Editor email
Mike Field
Editor email
Steve Wade
no email
no email
Turkish Penguin
no email
no email
Chris Heath
no email
M Calucar
no email
JuanPablo Angel
no email

Current Poll (see more polls)

The Vital Villa Player Of November
Suggested By: JP Fear
Adomah 3%
ScoopDragon Publishing Entire League Network of Sites

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
1 Newcastle 19 13 1 5 40 21
2 Brighton 19 11 6 2 39 17
3 Reading 19 10 4 5 34 1
4 Leeds Utd 19 10 2 7 32 3
5 Birmingham 19 8 7 4 31 2
6 Sheff Wed 19 9 4 6 31 1
7 Norwich 19 9 3 7 30 4
8 Huddersfield 19 9 3 7 30 -3
9 Derby County 19 8 5 6 29 4
10 Fulham 19 7 7 5 28 9
11 Bristol City 19 8 3 8 27 4
12 Barnsley 19 7 4 8 25 3
13 Forest 19 7 4 8 25 1
14 Preston 19 7 4 8 25 1
15 Aston Villa 19 5 10 4 25 1
16 Ipswich 19 6 6 7 24 -2
17 Q.P.R. 19 6 5 8 23 -8
18 Brentford 19 6 4 9 22 -2
19 Burton 19 5 7 7 22 -4
20 Wolves 19 5 6 8 21 -3
21 Blackburn 19 5 5 9 20 -7
22 Cardiff 19 5 4 10 19 -12
23 Wigan 19 4 6 9 18 -5
24 Rotherham 19 1 4 14 7 -26
Write for Vital Football
Latest F1 News
Button philosophical following race retirement
Latest Vital Boxing News
Saunders Retains Middleweight Title
The Vital Football Members League

Recent Aston Villa Results (view all)

Aston Villa Fixtures (view all)

Dec 10 2016 3:00PM : Wigan Athletic (H)
Sky Bet Championship
Dec 13 2016 7:45PM : Norwich City (a)
Sky Bet Championship
Dec 18 2016 12:00PM : Queens Park Rangers (a)
Sky Bet Championship
Dec 26 2016 3:00PM : Burton Albion (H)
Sky Bet Championship
Dec 29 2016 7:45PM : Leeds United (H)
Sky Bet Championship
Jan 2 2017 3:00PM : Cardiff City (a)
Sky Bet Championship

Vital Members League Table

1.The Fear119
8.Melon Donkey27
9.Stephen Jay Hawkings27
Vital Football Comment