Something For The Weekend (213)
Jackson provided that indelible image) at the election of Barack Obama, as the president of the United States, Villa fans were standing around scratching their heads, expostulating 'Doh?', while looking typically unimpressed, as they told anyone who would listen, that a black man in the White House was nothing, as, after all, the great electoral college, known as the claret and blue army, had voted a black man unanimously, as God, over a decade ago.
That's right - God.
With no disrespect to President Obama, God trumps president any day of the week. And, without casting too many aspersions, on the man's credentials as leader of the free world: if he's that clever, how come when he was advised to receive a blessing at the shrine to claret and blue, he made the crass error of going to West Ham and not Villa? Although I suspect, had Sarah Palin attempted to do the same, she would have stayed on the train and ended up in Burnley, if she ever found the country on a map.
There were other non-surprises to deal with this week, too. Apart from
leaving it a bit late (that's showbiz) no one was really surprised that Lewis Hamilton won the F1 championship, except perhaps Felipe Massa and a few million of his fellow Brazilians. Even Villa losing to Newcastle wasn't that surprising, after they had made Blackburn look so uncharacteristically good, the week before. Even Begbie Barton, doing something controversial was so unsurprising that all bets were void. And, of course, the FA ignoring it
was as predictable as a Ronaldo dive, or Liverpool's late, late, midweek
Champions League penalty.
In fact, the only thing that really surprised me this week was the Indian
guy on the telly (Paul Merton in India) who holds the world record
for being kicked in the nuts. I kid you not. Forget Paddy Doyle and his press-ups and the rest of that stuff, this guy holds the record for being kicked in the family jewels. Which in case anyone wants to take up the challenge, stands at FORTY-THREE times in a row.
He also does a wonderful impression of Asha Bhosle.
Not quite so amazing or funny either, but pleasantly surprising, was Villa's first-half performance against Slavia Prague on Thursday.
Pleasantly surprising, because half the team were squad-players who, not only did not disappoint but actually were rather better than Villa's so-called key players, who faded badly in the second-half.
The back-four of Cuellar, Knight, Davies and Shorey, looked as good as any defensive unit, you will find outside the top three of the Premiership, and their understanding and ability to hold a line, really made it difficult for Slavia Prague's forwards, where Tomás Necid looked like a star of the future.
Special mention has to go to Brad Guzan, who was superb and his confidence and powerful performance were crucial. Everyone will tell you that he looks like Nigel Spink and I think its all in the shoulders. The first thing you could not fail to notice about big Nige, when you met him, was the size of his upper-body, and I always thought that he looked like he had a chest of drawers hidden under his jumper; he looked so solid. Guzan gives a similar impression and because of his breadth, he doesn't
look the 6ft 4in the profiles have him down as. Judging by his post-match interview, he sounds like one hell of guy: exuding confidence without arrogance and was generous to his colleagues, with a perfect impression of Ace Rimmer of Red Dwarf fame.
The second-half is probably best not dwelt upon, as Villa's inability to
keep possession, was shocking. Happily, they made up for this by an
astonishing work-rate and by the time Villa had survived long periods of
pressure from Prague, which Villa's inability to keep the ball, did little
to relieve, the Villa players looked totally knackered. It was hardly a performance to inspire complacency but several players put in performances, which challenge the established first choice eleven. Both Sidwell and Salifou impressed in midfield, and deserve a mention in anyone's dispatches.
It was not a performance that was easy on the eye, by any means, but seeing Villa's squad-players demonstrate their obvious progress, was very pleasing indeed.
It all left me with a very pleasant Villa glow and seeing my team sit at the top of the group table, made me feel rather proud, satisfied and safely short of smug.
With Villa's 'key players' rested and with quite a few staking a claim to a
place on Sunday, against Middlesbrough, most Villa fans are expecting normal Premier League service to resume. Anything other than a win will certainly come as a nasty shock, in the light of raised expectations, and lets be honest, Villa have not only got to prove they are worthy of a place in the top-four, they now have to prove they are as good as Hull.
There were poignant moments this week too, as well as a collection of surprises, non-surprises, and feelings of satisfaction.
As all locally based Villa fans will know, a family of six (Mon, Dad and
four children) were tragically killed in a pile-up, on the M6, back in
October. This week they were buried and amongst them was 13 year-old Reece a keen Villa fan. You never saw such a poignant sight as Reece's claret and blue coffin, next to his younger brother's Jay's Tardis being carried from the church.
It really was something and I think most Villa fans will join me in offering my deepest sympathies, to those who knew Reece and his family, and of course, to those who loved them.
Up the Villa, Reece, forever, up the Villa.