Something For The Weekend (266)
As the glaciers begin to retreat and thoughts and discussions on the subject of grit resume their more natural spiritual connotations, it looks like football might emerge from its frosty coating and give us a full Premiership programme this weekend.
Yippee, is what I say.
Last week's Match of The Day, provided a pleasant reminder that it was better in the old days when a couple of matches were considered enough football entertainment of a Saturday night, and no one was expected to stop up till the early hours, watching nil-nils in the Second Division, to prove their football fanaticism, or to ensure that they can name Peterborough's left-back, should the subject come up, down the pub.
Janet Street-Porter says she hates the sound of the MoTD theme-tune because she knows she isn't going to get any Saturday-night sex; its no wonder fertility rates are falling and battery sales are going up.
What the curtailment also proved is that the BBC could show more of a game if they so wished, or was it that seeing Blues draw with Man United seemed to go on for a bit longer than forever? As those of us with proper prejudices, tried to decide between the devils and the deep-blue hell, while discovering the logical impossibility of wanting both sides to lose.
As it turned out, it was an annoyingly decent performance by Blues (spit!), which kind of added to the misery of the weather and all that slipping and a sliding.
With hardly any football to dissect and an absence of opportunities to debate whether some brute of a forward was passive or not, we were left to reflect on the horrors of the Togo coach being machine-gunned and wonder whether the Millwall fans will see it as a new level of hostility they must now aspire to.
There were a couple of managerial departures; one surprising, the other not. Megson's weakness has always been apparent, as he has the nasty habit of making himself easily understood when he speaks. Everybody knows that all the great managers are impossible to understand and whether it was Shankly or our very own Martin O'Neill, no one has a clue what they are on about, most of the time. When the mortal Coyle shuffled off to Bolton, the Clarets were left with their pangs of despised love and with all his sins, no doubt, remembered. Its no coincidence that Coyle can't be understood either.
Anyone who can be understood is a pundit, not a manager and it shows why good English managers are so rare these days.
One English manager who is known to be understood on occasions but whose success is based on buying foreign players, who no doubt find his Dudley accent impenetrable, is Sam Allardyce, who was getting some serious stick from the Blackburn fans this week, as his side looked rather second best against Villa.
It was a very decent performance by Villa and another outstanding contribution from James Milner. This is always very satisfying because of all the football experts I know, and there are plenty, not one of them even came close to suggesting that their favourite Jimmy, might move into a central role and look so flipping good. Even those who are known for their specious jargon and football buzz-words, might have to admit that perhaps, the Villa manager possibly knows a bit more than they do, and has known it as long ago, as when he signed Stewart Downing.
But whether our Jimmy is great or merely good, Villa take a very slender margin into the second game at Villa Park and even with their own fans' boos still ringing in their ears, the Blackburn players will not see it beyond them to get a result, especially as it must be presumed that when Villa become the home side, they will likely dispense with their counter-attacking tactics.
No doubt O'Neill will be reminding the lads, that like putting on a pair of trousers, getting to Wembley for the final is best done, one leg at a time. There's still plenty of football to be played and if Blackburn are given the same number chances as they got in the first game, they may hit the back of the net and not just the post, come the second leg.
In the meantime as the thaw continues, it looks like Villa have put any transfers on ice and like the majority of Premiership sides, they seem to be keeping the Lerner wallet closed until the Summer. The conventional wisdom is that very few January signings really make much difference, unless you are Arsenal and you can buy someone like Arshavin, whose impact seemed to salvage the Gunners' season, this time last year, at the expense of Villa.
As Villa's strategy seems more organic than orgasmic, it seems unlikely such a signing is contemplated.
It has to be noted that this time last year I was gagging for Villa to sign Roque Santa Cruz. He subsequently went to Man City for an eye-watering fee and has not been seen to uproot any trees. So despite my substantial credentials as an all round football genius, I have to admit that perhaps Martin knows best.
But lets hope the old Maestro substantiates my faith in his genius, come Sunday, by beating West Ham in a convincing fashion, as it seems likely that Blues will bring back all the points from Portsmouth and be above Villa in the table by Saturday night.
Not a pretty sight by any stretch of the imagination.
Its going to be a lovely day on Sunday and a win is all I want.
Keep the faith!