Something For The Weekend (235)
Villa's very own tower of power did enough to ensure his team got all three points against Hull on Monday and provided what was a desperately needed re-acquaintance with the delights and satisfactions of winning for the bank holiday Villans. And, despite an attack of some last-minute nerves, which had a few ring-pieces twittering, Villa's May Day became a pleasing victory rather than the distress-call, we all dreaded.
They say that winning raises testosterone levels and so not surprisingly I needed to shave three times on Tuesday and my ability to sing like a young Aled Jones, vanished overnight; while John Carew, no doubt, had some impressive Norwegian wood to celebrate his match-winning performance with.
I always wondered what that song was about. ;-)
Across the city the Bluenoses were in raptures as their successful rebound from the Championship was completed and the fans and the manager, if not the board, will no doubt be looking forward to a summer of big spending, as they cash in their Premiership windfall: Small Heath, Slumdog millionaires.
I salute McLeish for his triumph over difficult circumstances and wonder if the rumours of his imminent resignation are true or not. No doubt, things like parachute-payments and the quality of their rivals had something to do with their instant return but McLeish must take most of the credit.
Falling attendances suggest that the fans are not all that happy and while they still sing keep right on to the end of the road, the tired and weary have parked-up and are taking a breather, parked in a lay-by, or so it seems.
Blues fans are not in the habit of discussing the fact with snooty Villa fans but every bluenose is aware that their owners have a billion pounds between them and that despite protestations of love and the rest of it, they have not been in the habit of putting in the investment, which is the difference between survival and failure amongst the debt-ladened elite of the Premiership.
The brave and the beautiful over at the Albion, have contrived a mode of operation, which combines dignified joy on a budget through the moral superiority of the passing-game. As ever, Albion are a special case and as both Childs and Skinner share exactly the same head shape (spooky), it seems that they descend from some ancient happy race of hydrocephalic Bromwich Cuckoos, known for their sense of humour and an immunity to the miseries of defeat.
Birmingham are a million miles from making that kind of leap of faith.
I congratulate the couple of good decent Blues fans (there may be more) for their promotion but I can't take much joy in it, not because of mere churlishness, although I'm not beyond that, but because the relationship between Villa and City has been poisoned to such an extent, that all games are likely to end up as nightmarish throwbacks to the horrors of the 1970's.
Thanks, but no thanks!
Its impossible to win or lose with dignity, against the Blues.
Since the television audience now demands its goal-scorers to combine semi-nakedness with any amount of pelvic-thrusting and such like, the return of the muted dignified handshake of yore, does not look likely. And, as Chelsea demonstrated this week, it should be no surprise, that losing with dignity, is even more of an impossibility, judging by Wednesday's encounter with Barcelona and a dodgy referee. Sir Alf Ramsey, is probably spinning in his grave, at the knowledge that his beloved English game, now represents a poor example to his Argentinean "animals", rather than the other way round.
Sometimes you have to make do with a moral victory but you don't even get that if you act like a bunch of twunts.
Every football fan knows that the game is not quite as straight as they would like and it is no coincidence that all the 'mistakes' at the crucial end of the season, always go in favour of the big boys. The unaccountable penalty at Old Trafford (against Spurs), the failure to send the Arsenal player off when he was the last man, in that crucial game when it was make or break for Arsenal, when a loss would have given Villa the psychological edge for 4th place. The countless dodgy goals which favour the top four sides and rob the relegation candidates of relief and respite.
So it was no surprise that after the endless criticism of the top English clubs by Platini, that the European mafia perhaps didn't really want to see the same teams in the Champions League final for a second year running. And, it was no surprise that the referee denied at least two penalty claims, he could not have possibly missed. It was not even surprising that he added ten minutes to the game. It was all much of a muchness and the only real problem was that the team who were victims of the injustice was Chelsea.
The problem with Chelsea is that they are so used to it happening to other lesser teams. It is usually they who score the last minute goal, or benefit from that bad decision and it is usually a lesser team, who suffer and are expected to take it on the chin. Despite the millions of roubles, Chelsea are still tiddlers when comes to political clout in the game. Wednesday's game proved they are still well behind the historical giants of Europe and will never win games except by a total knockout.
And, every time it happens, the commentators and the reporters will dismiss the injustice, under the assumption, that the better team won and it didn't make any difference to the outcome. This is the big lie because as Spurs demonstrated, these things totally change games and the bigger the perceived injustice, the bigger the effect. Teams arriving at Old Trafford, with plenty of evidence that they can expect no justice, like Spurs' famously disallowed goal, which, at only four feet, was considered not quite far enough over United's goal-line, can't be realistically be expected to not be affected by yet another "mistake".
There is much pleasure to be had by having a go at referee Tom Henning Ovrebo but as the game is well known to be refereed arbitrarily and that the rules are obviously offered as a guide only, its hard to make a case against him. Anyone who has seen half a dozen top-level games, knows that if the rules were applied, a penalty would result from just about every set-piece. Countless instances of blocking, pushing and shirt-pulling are consistently ignored. Even last weekend, Liverpool were congratulated on Match Of The Day, for being so good at it.
I am sure that if the footage from Chelsea's game was examined, it's certain that any number of legitimate penalties were not given by the Norwegian. So who truly can make a reasonable case that one sort of penalty is more legitimate than so many others?
Like the vast majority of the lesser clubs, Chelsea will just have to learn to accept that sometimes you get justice and sometimes you don't and when you do get it, its because you are the bigger club not the hardest done by.