Something For The Weekend (306)
There is nothing like a bit of Latin to substantiate the claims of an aphorism even if it doesn't make them any more true, although, Illegitimus non carborundum est, can definitely get you through a lousy day.
As far as I am concerned, whether fortune does favour the brave is still in dispute, and if I was going to take any advice, at all, on the subject, I would probably choose Falstaff's 'the better part of valour, is discretion'.
The Villa fans were caught swapping various football adages prior to the kick-off against the blue-noses, but mostly in Anglo-Saxon, on the subject of their dismay at Villa manager Houllier, deciding to play five defenders, in a home game against a team they considered to be their inferiors.
Ciaran Clark was in and Stephen Ireland was out.
While the young bloods did their 'once more unto the breach dear friends', bit, the scrotes and the wrinklies smiled knowingly and concluded that Houllier really, really, did not want to lose this game, and the idea of losing and Villa finding themselves below Blues in the table, was something too horrific to even contemplate, this early in his Villa career.
He might be in the 'give him time' phase of his Villa career, but he hasn't much capital to draw upon, as things stand.
By the time the crowd had endured 90 minutes of some of the worst football ever seen in the Premiership, the Villa fans were left to try and untangle their feelings of disappointment and the fact that Ciaran Clark had probably been Villa's best player, even though the sponsors handed the MOTM award to James Collins, for making Zigic look like a slow and lumbering head on a big stick.
Suddenly Houllier's decision to give Clark the job of smothering the creativity of Alexander Hleb, looked like a good call, and the number of chances missed by Villa's 'attackers' looked more like the problem area of the team.
Disappointment has been unavoidable this week, as whether a fan expected more ambition from Villa, or they concluded that Houllier made the best of a less than ideal situation, it seems obvious that Villa are not the force they were and Blues will be the happier with the result.
Things didn't get any better when news came over that Emile Heskey had tweaked a cruciate ligament in training and will join Petrov in rehab. It may be just a coincidence but Houllier doubters will be wondering whether Villa's rash of long-term injuries has anything to do with the new fitness regime.
Why did Evra fall out with Robert Duverne, exactly?
The one accusation which is always being aimed at O'Neill by his knockers, is that he never used his squad. O'Neill supporters usually respond with the riposte, that he never needed to because his best players were mostly available. This seems to be no accident and just to prove that the knockers had fitted him up with a double-bind, when he did get round to using his squad because he didn't want to expose his key players to a frozen plastic pitch in Moscow, they didn't like that either.
The neutral might offer the opinion that the Moscow brouhaha, merely revealed O'Neill's understanding of how injuries occur: a point of view he shares with his old mentor Brian Clough, if I remember correctly.
He even allowed Gareth Barry to have the odd drink or two, and it has to be said that when he was allowed to pass a few across his tonsils, he was a much better player. When Mancini chose Vincent Kompany ahead of him, when he wanted to tighten up the midfield, in Europe this week, I could only wonder.
But obviously, when it comes to Gareth, the old warnings about a moment on the lips and a lifetime on the hips, seem to be coming true.
The rumours which circulate about Gerard Houllier, are that he is a right crafty git, and based on this it cannot be entirely excluded, that testing his squad to destruction, is part of a cunning plan by our new manager, to ensure he gets the resources he thinks he needs.
He too must be aware that the owners of football clubs are apt to assume that if a manager does not use playing resources, then he does not need them.
It did seem that O'Neill was condemned for buying players he never used, because he took the trouble to ensure his best eleven were always available. So having understood this to be the case, maybe Houllier is creating the circumstances, where the Villa owners have to provide a squad to cover for an average expectation of injuries, not well below average like O'Neill and his staff were able to achieve?
It would seem that it would be difficult for Villa to reduce the size of the squad, if three of the top players are out injured. Even selling John Carew would seem like a huge gamble, in the present circumstances.
It was largely assumed that Randy and Co delayed appointing a new manager until the transfer window had closed, and so maybe Houllier is using the same strategy, as the next transfer window approaches?
It seems likely that the Frenchman's cautious nature extends beyond his football strategies.
Villa have a couple of games they might be expected to get some points from before they take on Man United at home (on the13th of December). There is also the rather dismal prospect of another dull encounter with our neighbours in blue. The pundits are telling us that Houllier's caution is going to stop Villa from scoring enough goals to make for a happy Christmas.
But cautious or not, he's just run out of players.
Commentators' recent habit of constantly reminding the watching public, of how many minutes it is since Villa scored a Premiership goal, is getting more than irritating.
Now that the Villa trainers have managed to break Carew as well, who is expected to be out for a month with a torn calf, Villa are down to their last option of playing the Fonze as the lone striker, and Houllier's refusal to give the lad even a kick, since his arrival, seems like bad judgement on his part.
Let's hope Villa's Lone Ranger has got plenty of silver bullets and has his eye in. If not its Houllier who might be needing a mask.
Keep the faith!