Something For The Weekend (178)
I see the Villa's travelling choir got into trouble again, as yet another of their witty ditties caused the sort of differences of artistic opinion, not seen since Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring was premiered. Okay, it was as tasteless as tasteless can be, but the outraged Gooners came it a bit rich, as they not only had the satisfaction of throwing a passing Villa fan down a stadium staircase but they then took it upon themselves to fall into a public faint, by way of demonstrating their sensitivity. Their feelings had obviously been outraged and as they marched themselves home, many thought that their singing of the Horst
Wessel lacked its usual gusto.
Naturally the press took their side.
Gladly, the Villa fan who was victim of the physical assault, said that she feels a bit better now and hopes to be able to pick up her own pension, in a few weeks time, when she is feeling more herself and her wheelchair has been repaired. She added, that she now knows what it means to fly Emirates.
Of course, if Villa are to journey into Europe, the fans will have to get used to this sort of treatment. As, from the television evidence, it seems that qualifying for Europe is actually a sort of extraordinary rendition, where citizens are persuaded to finance their own travel, so that the Spanish police can give them a good beating, beyond any appeal to the Police Complaints Commission.
What do you call a travel-supplement for English football fans, in Europe?
The baton charge.
For those fans for which, being wilfully offensiveness is a life-style choice, they will be relieved to know, that when it comes to Europe, no great effort is required. No songs need be sung and no gestures need be attempted. Just being there at all, is quite enough provocation, for your European plod.
And no doubt, our reputation goes before us.
Those contemplating taking up future offers of any extraordinary rendition trips, arranged for the benefit of Villa fans, should note that Form E111 is no longer valid and has been replaced with the European Health Insurance Certificate. This will cover any traveller for any amount of trampling, dog-bites and truncheon wounds, which might be included in the local's hospitality package. Travellers are also reminded that in certain countries (Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland etc.), that they may not be fully covered for the full number of stitches they may require.
But holiday planning apart, when Curtis Davies was being carried off, the old hippy in me couldn't help but think - bad karma man! And, I don't think even the least superstitious fan would think, that Villa were in too good a position to deal with the worst kind of hand, the fates have been known to deal. Just, don't f**k with it man, it ain't worth it.
Seeing Scott Carson being interviewed on the telly on Saturday was very revealing and as he swallowed hard after every answer, I couldn't help but feel for him. He is not one of those fast-talking flash boys you associate with the modern game, he's just a big galute, trying to recover from what must feel like an indelible black mark, he infamously suffered in an England shirt.
He said all the right things but no one could be in any doubt, that they were looking at a young man who had been robbed of his innocence. He specifically thanked the Villa fans for their support - yes those same fans who had upset the Gooners. It was only just and right that he should be Villa's man of the match against the Arse, which was quite an accolade, being that it was such a fine all round team performance.
He's not been quite so convincing since his England mistake and I suppose it must have shaken his confidence. I even think you could easily make the case that he was left psychologically injured by that night against Croatia and he has been trying to get his mental fitness back ever since. So, I ask myself, why is it that the stick that he has taken at every away ground he's visited since that shattering fluff, has not been met with the same condemnation, as the taunting of the Arsenal fans provoked? What's the difference between taunting a man with career-threatening shattered self-belief and taunting a guy with a career-threatening shattered leg?
I think it is what they call a double-standard.
When it comes to goalkeepers, they all make mistakes and they all get better as they mature. It seems like an age away since James was being touted as a future England goalkeeper, when he was at Watford and similarly, Seaman was heralded as a future great, when he was in a Birmingham City shirt. It seems from this that the trick is to pick the right material and allow it to fulfil its potential.
Leading up to his England call, Carson certainly seemed to have convinced most people he was the right material. And, I have little doubt, that that is still the case. Who would have thought that James would have worn the England shirt again after his mistakes?
The claim to England's number-one shirt has become a bit of a merrygoround. Seaman made a mistake (Macedonia 2002) and was replaced by James. James was reduced to number two after conceding four goals against Denmark (2005). Robinson (Croatia 2006, Germany 2007) has been dropped and now James looks like first choice again, even though recent evidence suggests he is still prone to the odd howler. There is no reason to believe that the merrygoround will not continue to turn, as no player can make a claim that is beyond reproach. Once Euro 2008 is out of the way, the Croatian howler will be confined to that long list of England howlers, along side such names as Shilton (v Poland 1974) who went on to be honoured by his fellow professionals, with a PFA award (1978).
So I see absolutely no reason why Scott can't become Villa's rock, for many years to come.
Blessed are the cheesemakers!