Either Curtis Davies was an absolutely essential part of the mix, which made Villa look so good, running up to and including the Arsenal game, or seeing the carrot of qualifying for Europe via the league disappear, the Villa squad have lost that vital spring in their step, which inspired them to such pleasing heights of performance, quite often this season. Whatever it is, Villa have looked less than great lately.
And they certainly got some stick on Saturday.
Unlike Roy Keane, Martin O'Neill might have eschewed the services of a psychologist, to help his team, but as he fielded a few heart-felt acid comments from some rather disappointed fans, come quarter to five last Saturday, he might have wondered to himself how he might inspire his chaps to play their best game, when there seems little to play for, in what remains of this season, except that elusive thing, called professional pride.
I am not much taken with booing myself, as our blue neighbours take too much satisfaction from it but I have been known to offer a few hisses, squawks and whistles, from my Percy Edwards repertoire, when sufficiently provoked. But if I am honest, I am a bit more of a poo-pooer than a choruser of my disappointments and I tend to think that the pontification which a good poo-pooing usually entails, is rather more gratifying than your average pantomime boo-fest.
So, Zat Knight, I poo-pooed you, sir!
But as Sunderland are about as classy an outfit as might be found on a mackem barmaid and it was a particularly shitty afternoon to be witnessing, what looked like the final demise of Villa's hopes for the season, a boo, a hiss, or even a poo-poo, were probably earned by all concerned.
What was certain, is that Villa's season looks over.
I think you'll agree, that was Perfect.
Fortunately, Villa won't need much in the way of motivational guru-speak to get them up for the game against Man United. Should they not quite manage to get their blood up for the occasion, then they might have to face the lash of a severe bout of poo-pooing, from the mouths of rather more authoritive figures than my humble self.
Villa might not be ready just yet to wrestle the mantle of football-purists from Arsenal but surely they are well equipped to be the team to cock a snook at the champions elect. No one has a clue what happened to Liverpool last week but their desire to press the self-destruct button, was either a sign of an inferiority-complex, as they sought a good excuse for losing, or some spread-betting scam was looking for a certainty. Anyway, whatever it was, the Red scouse virtually handed the Championship to United, in thirty seconds of grinning nuttiness.
Ferguson said that United will probably lose a game before the end of the season, and lets hope it's Villa who inflict it. Such a result would not exactly ensure the recent slump is forgotten but it would ensure that Villa's feel-good factor would carry well into to the close-season. Like most Villa fans I am desperate to beat United and I just hope the Villa boys take their snooks along and are ready to cock them.
Then we'll all be cock-a-hoop.
But whether Villa are a load of cock, or not, the United players we saw playing for England in midweek, hardly looked like footballing demigods to be held in too much awe. England, against an under- strength France, looked more awful than they have looked for a long-time. Once again an England manager attempted to find a position to get the best out of Rooney and once again he struggled, and then showed the sort of frustration that will get him into trouble, if ever England qualify a for a proper tournament again. As yet he has done little to prove he's anything special in an England shirt. Pair him with a world-class player at United and he looks the business but for England he has done nothing.
As Beckham was handed his hundredth and possibly his last cap, it was hard to imagine, who, amongst those on display, would offer that little bit of quality, which earned Becks his special, if exaggerated, status.
It was such a flat performance by England, that I was left wondering whether despite his world-class credentials, Capello really has the insight into both English technical shortcomings or our nation's peculiar mentality. The Swede seemed to understand it but Italy with its tradition of fascist notions about authority and the strange slow-slow-quick-quick of Catenaccio, seems inspired by a philosophy, quite beyond us mixed-up northern Europeans.
At least Scott Carson must have woken up the next day with a lighter step, as James took back his badge, as being the last goalkeeper, to cock-up for England. Every football gossip column has Villa in the market for a goalkeeper, so a masterly display at Old Trafford, might not be a bad career move for the lad.
Every little helps, as they say.
The little which helped me through this chill week, was the rather pathetic thought, that Sunderland's win, did rather more ill to Birmingham City's chances of surviving the drop, than a draw for Villa would have helped improve their European hopes. Blues have a tough run-in which includes that ominous clash with Villa on the April 20th (Hitler's birthday).
It sounds rather mean-spirited but I feel relegation would be a blessing for the fans, as until their chairman puts his hand in his pocket and spends his own money, Birmingham are destined for an endless struggle at the bottom the Premiership, forever looking up, enviously, at the Lerner miracle. They really are better off winning most of their games in the Championship. But when you find yourself looking at the Blues for consolation, it probably means you've had a bad week.
I guess, I'll get by with a little help from my friends: