Something For The Weekend (301)
The cognoscenti of the attacking-header were left to drool over Emile Heskey's superb winner at Wolves this week, and drone on to captive audiences across the city, about the great headers of a football who have worn the Villa shirt. Arguments were inevitable, as the different generations compared Andy Gray and Andy Lochhead, while the oldies piped up names like Tony Hateley and romantics wept into their beer, as they told tales of how good Keith Leonard could have been.
Buccaneering was used to describe Andy Gray. Deft and majestic to celebrate Andy Lochhead.
Oh, yeah, and Sammy Morgan had lots of character.
Emile's splendid winner, was straight out of the Tony Hateley book of headed goals (Tony was a specialist), what with the power and the mid-air jack-knife, and all. And praise does not come much higher than that.
When it comes to these conversations, you can usually get decent odds from a bookie of your choice, that some old scrote will start going on about how, in the old days, the ball had the consistency of a sack of wet cement, and that the players of today are all wusses, for playing with a beach ball with no sharp laces to give them a manly cut on the forehead, like in their day.
Sack of concrete or beach ball, Heskey's goal was a cracker, and his celebration seemed to suggest that he was on the chuffed side of pleased, at his moment of sublime excellence.
Mick McCarthy was not so happy and it was amusing to hear him talking about how Stephen Warnock should have been sent off, only a few weeks after he justified his team's collective GBH on Joey Barton. I am sure Mick could not see the irony himself however, even as he wrote his belated get-well-soon card to Bobby Zamora.
Villa's win leaves them nicely placed with ten points and only their embarrassment at Newcastle prevents them from enjoying a positive goal-difference.
The ironic thing is that while Villa sit comfortably in fifth place, David Moyes's Everton sit in bottom spot with three points. The irony is that a good proportion of Villa fans, including myself, would have - given a vote - chosen Everton's snarling disciplinarian over Villa's eventual final choice.
Obviously, David Moyes is still a great manager, and those in the game know that the present predicament of any manager is no measure of his ability. Unfortunately, the fans do not think that way, and a manager who is brilliant one week, will be branded as hopeless the next and often by the very same people.
Given similar luck as Moyes with injuries, and the Villa regime could have found themselves up shit creak, without a paddle, with the morale meter dipping into the red.
Gladly, Gerard Houllier and the Villa management have enjoyed a bit of good luck in their period of transition and no one can doubt that the fixture list has been kind to Villa, and has not made things too difficult for them, as they sought to negotiate their way through the complications of a hand-over from one manager to another.
The players can take credit for their focus and Kevin MacDonald can take credit for keeping them focused.
It is some relief that Villa have managed to get their manager and coach in place, in time, as they face their first real challenge against big-spending and Champions League participants, Spurs.
It is some measure of the way the state of the two clubs is perceived, these days, that even though Spurs have had a rash of injuries and are reported to be short of defenders, that the pundits are still giving Villa no chance.
While 'appy 'arry's name appears daily in the transfer-rumour columns, and is linked with some of the biggest names, Villa are assumed to be waiting for their coterie of top-paid players to run out their contracts before they are replaced with rather less well-rewarded players of Houllier's choosing.
Only Villa's chief accountant can decide whether a transfer-fee plus lower wages, adds up to a better deal for the club than high wages alone. No doubt Gerard will take a look and make his choice but presumably if he swapped
Carew for Baros, when he was at Lyon, he can't be much of a fan.
Armchair fans got to see a quick flash of a young John Carew on the telly this week, as they showed him picking up his Champions League loser's medal for Valencia in 2001. I vaguely remember that he was pretty bloody good, on
his way to that final. Its a pity we can't get to watch a game from back then and see how he was used tactically by the fancy-pants of Spain. I always associate Valencia with a passing-game, and not the hoof and hope, we have learned to associate with playing a big'n up front.
Seeing Zlatan Ibrahimovic's goal for Milan this week, it seems that even the Italians are not above that sort of thing, though. Needs must and all that.
But hoof and hope, or total football, a win for Villa this Saturday would be a fantastic confidence booster for the Lions and would go a long way to convincing the fans and rather too many doubting pundits, that Villa still have themselves a team, even without James Milner.
Man City did fine without him in their game against Juventus this week, and his absence was hardly noticeable - lets hope the Villains are saying the same thing come Saturday night.
There have been some crazy results against Spurs over the years and a high-scoring draw, would not be much of a surprise.
We call upon Ivanhoe to produce another match-winning performance, to win the points and kudos for Villa and give the finger to the doubters.
Arise Sir Knight!
Keep the faith!
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