Something For The Weekend (279)
I found myself in a state of definite chuffedness this week, after a couple of accomplished victories washed away the misery of Wembley and Villa's spirit was found to be undaunted by either their failure to win refereeing justice from unlikely sources, or the accumulating rumours surrounding the future of Martin O'Neill.
The press might be expected to love the prospect of turning disappointment into a crisis and obviously in between soaking their bread in the gravy of misery which surrounded those sitting in the fug of their own rancid underwear, in various airports across Europe, they found time to try and transmute Villa disappointment into a vote of no confidence, by peddling rumours of their own invention.
Gladly the Villa players proved too professional to be distracted by such mischief-making and the fans who actually prefer their team to win to having their prejudices against Martin O'Neill confirmed, were treated to one of the great joys of supporting your local team - the first Premiership goal from a local lad from Tyseley. One Nathan Delfouneso.
Players may come from Timbuktu or Tblisi and we may love them but there's nothing like the bond between the fans and a local lad.
So, well done Nathan, a very nice goal to open your Premiership account with.
By the expression on his face as he ran away to do his celebration, he looked like a chap who was both relieved and amazed, that he at last had popped his Premiership cherry.
For the rest of us, old enough to remember the days when we used to make stuff in Brum, it brought back the memories of ancient days of apprenticeships, when you managed to complete a job without the least qualifying comment from some churlish adult. Nothing said about, you should have done that, or you might have done the other. Just a job done and no comment required. These are the rites of passage from youth to man.
My guess would be that it must feel about the same, even if you are scoring goals for a living, rather than knocking out widgets.
Okay, so its not going to win him a place in Capello's squad and he'll only have to do it another hundred times before he can be compared with his hero Thierry Henry but even the longest journey starts with a single step.
There was possibly an even greater sense of satisfaction from the fact that Delfouneso's colleague Agbonlahor has started to score again and perhaps might act as a reminder of the weight of expectation which accompanies the status of senior player.
Gabby has made steady progress since his early days and his then, almost one dimensional game, has developed into a multifaceted contribution, which does not always serve his goal-statistics as well as they might. But his overall contribution has increased substantially, especially where his hold-up and link-play are concerned.
For strikers it seems that even for the very best, the watershed arrives at around twenty-two years of age (see both Shearer and Henry) and sometimes can come even later for some (Ian Wright 28), so as
Gabby slowly creeps towards the magical twenty-goals-a-season mark, he is well on schedule to becoming an outstanding striker.
The other side of the coin was the sad news that Fabian Delph had twanged his knee. This is quite a blow for a twenty-year-old but if he knows anything about England's Captain Marvel, he will know that Bryan Robson broke his leg twice and then his ankle on his way to becoming one of the finest midfield players ever to wear an England shirt. Most Villa fans are pretty confident that Fabian has both the passion and ability to come back even stronger.
We all wish him a speedy recovery.
A little further up the slopes of Mount Olympus, the Champions League produced a predictable result when Inter stuck three past Barcelona and power and utility were seen to eclipse ethereal art, as it normally does. The year of the Messi seems to be now at serious risk, while Bayern overcame their own wastefulness and ankle-stomping foolishness to keep their chances alive for a place in the final. Frank Ribery finished off a bad week by getting himself sent-off, after he'd already demonstrated the pitfalls of having too many touches round the box before crossing the eighteen-year line.
In the other European competition both Liverpool and Fulham played out a couple of dull games, which gives us a good chance of seeing an all-English final. Liverpool looked very poor after their great train journey but should have enough to finish the job at Anfield.
The only competition the Villa faithful find themselves concerned about is the bragging-rights, which accrue from winning the local derby. Blues have had a tremendous season and the departure of the old owners (look out West Ham) seemed to raise their spirits and they became the surprise package of the season.
The pundits are saying they are looking tired but what with the local-rivalry and the likes of Gardner and Ridgewell looking to prove a point, I suspect it will a game of packed midfields and crunching tackles,
with no doubt Villa old boy Kevin Phillips dreaming of coming off the bench to score the winner.
Villa should have a little bit too much for them in terms of quality and a defeat is really unthinkable but I won't be counting my chickens until I am eating my Sunday dinner and so lets hope we all enjoy a good roast and not too much to beef about.
The strangest feeling come Sunday though, will be hoping that Man United beat Tottenham - now there's a novelty.
Two perfect results and I might even go surfing with the aliens.
Keep the faith!