Something For The Weekend (230)
What a lovely week it's been, as I've luxuriated in two wins by England and have not had to bother racking my brains to say something positive about Villa, which I have to confess, has been a bit desperate these past few weeks.
I have removed my optimist's badge from my bright new shell-suit (it works for scousers, so why not me?) and I will await the arrival of a positive Villa result before I retrieve it from my sock-draw and resume my taunting of the local blue-noses once again.
In the meantime, I have set my sights on pretty realistic levels of expectations for the rest of the season, and concluded after much thought, that if James Milner grew a big old-fashioned moustache, I would consider it a memorable and successful campaign. If he could add a centre-parting I would be as happy as Larry. I am certain that he his actually the reincarnation of winger Charlie Athersmith, thus his natural affinity for Villa.
No one can deny it. There is not a top-lip in the land which begs for a moustache, like Jimmy's, except maybe, Sir John Major's and Margaret Beckett's. So Jimmy, are you going to help me out here, or not ?
Watching England win two games was a rare delight which provided more pleasure than I have been used to. They weren't stunning but they weren't too bad either, which is as good as it gets when it comes to the three lions on the shirt brigade. And talking of new shirts and new kits, their new gear reminded me of a jacket I used to wear in Ibiza, back in the Eighties, but mine had a subtle grey stripe, which avoided the risk of being confused with an ice-cream salesman, which England's new apparel suggests. Tooty fruity, naturally.
Its well known that Italians are very astute when it comes to style, so we can only assume that Capello thought the England players shouldn't dress more stylishly, than they were able to play; and on that score, I think he got it just about right.
As ever England were a bit of a curate's egg - the good bits were excellent, while the bad bits are best left at the side of the plate. Rooney was stunning but is obviously, every bit as bonkers as Gazza often was and definitely needs to, Eh! Eh! Alright! Alright! Calm down! Calm down!
Or as the Italian put it, 'Aya youa, youa crazya man'.
It was great to see old Golden-globes get his record number of caps and despite his many doubters, he's still more likely to produce an end-product from his endeavours, than any of the young pretenders. With Wright-Phillips likely to be unavailable, having been adopted by Madonna, and Lennon producing speed but not the quality, there seems no natural successor to Beckham. At least not until moustachioed Jimmy 'Athersmith' Milner gets his place, anyway.
In the game that mattered, Beckham was more like the puppy's parts than Gerrard proved himself to be, while Gareth Barry provided passes which ranged from the sublime to the ridiculed. Emil Heskey seemed to follow the striker's manual to the letter, made his move as soon as the cross was made, got in front of the defender and scored a scruffy but excellent goal. Lacking the correctly shaped head, as possessed by the likes of Tony Hateley or Miroslav Klose, he naturally headed his other chance into row-Z, before limping off to spend the next few weeks on Villa's treatment table. But I was still rather chuffed.
By the time Beckham had provided the quality cross which led to Terry's winner, I was even more chuffed, despite my usual dread that James would do something daft and my despair that Ashley Cole is supposed to be the best left-back available.
But I definitely took consolation from the news that Gabby got called into the squad and I am sure he got the mixture of piss-taking and reassurance, from the senior players for him suffering the boos, of his own fans. I am sure Frank Lampard would have told what its like to be really booed, as he is one who truly knows. And didn't Ashley Cole get booed? So he simultaneously found himself in the best of company, while being reassured that he is still pencilled in Capello's notebook, ahead of Owen, while the England stalwart is not quite fit enough to be considered.
As well as the jingoistic pleasure of seeing England notch their fifth victory in a row, there was favourable news from elsewhere, as it was revealed that the Germans are not beyond demonstrating their disapproval of a player by whistling, as misfiring striker was serenaded from start to finish of Germany's game against Liechtenstein. I failed to find the German for 'Couldn't hit a cow's arse, with a banjo' in my German phrase-book but it seems likely, that it more or less sums up the German fans' assessment of the player. Bearing in mind that Gomez was voted German Player Of The Year, only a couple of years ago, their attitude seems both harsh and unforgiving.
But hey, that's football.
So as my R&R comes to a close, I must brace myself for the harsh realities of the Premiership, which starts with Villa's visit to Old Trafford, where despite Hansen's wishful-thinking, I don't expect many surprises. Villa definitely owe the fans a decent performance and need to restore their own self-belief for their crucial encounter with close rivals Everton.
With the weight of the doubt which is beginning to hang about their necks these past few weeks, Villa and Martin O'Neill have a lot to prove. After a two week lay-off, I don't think excuses about being tired are going to wash with the fans. At this late stage of the season it is more about bottle and the ability to perform under pressure.
The fans are just trying to work out, whether their team is quite as good as they previously thought they were. The game at Old Trafford will offer a few clues but the game against Everton, who provide the ultimate confirmation, or not.
In the meantime I'll be doing the Tooty Fruity.
Even fat men can dance.