Something For The Weekend (307)
Seasiders bring relief for Villa Cnut, waiting for the tide to turn!
I was amused to read Jack Gaughan's interview on Vital Villa this week, as he complained about his beloved Blackpool being patronised by the smug egoists of the Premiership. Get used to it, I thought, as I remembered my feelings when I overheard some Gunners fan patronising Villa not so long ago.
The truth is that every Premiership club gets patronised by the followers of the Sky-4, as no other clubs have their Premiership status underwritten by UEFA rules, shed-loads of Champions League lucre and the media's assumption that they have a divine right to the grace and favour, of the deus ex machina. Or, Mark Clattenburg, as he is often called.
But it has to be said that when the likes of Villa are caught patronising the likes of Blackpool, its not meant in a nasty way, its about cheerful empathy and the knowledge of what its like to arrive at the top of the greasy pole, after years of dreams and struggle.
Or, as Ian Holloway might put it (ooh arrr): its like seeing an ugly girl go to her graduation dance, with a guy who is better looking than she is, which makes all her bitchy friends jealous. Its like seeing Susan Boyle hit a perfect note. Its like....this could take some time.
Of course, despite all this, its just not nice to contemplate the idea of your club being adopted as a sort of cuddly pet by other fans. Its a bit like being told you are 'nice' by a girl you fancy: a little word which precludes all libidinous ambitions. Its the casual dismissal of the unthreatening. I am sure that Blackpool fans would prefer it, if their admirers showed they cared by sending them money, not just giving them a pat on the head and saying, 'aaahh!'.
We must apologise for that; we don't mean to sound patronising we're only trying to revive some long-forgotten warm feelings, about a game which has been overtaken by money, greed and cynicism.
Of course, the one thing the Villa fans didn't expect was to get patronised by Blackpool themselves, who somehow concluded that the way the Villa team are playing these days, meant they could rest most of their players and send their second eleven instead. Even Man United only ever rest a couple of players, against us.
And it very nearly worked.
By the time Dudley Campbell had added to Marlon Harewood's superb goal, to make the score level, it looked like Villa had been undone late in a game once again, and counting up Blackpool's fouls and the mysteriously disallowed goal from Delfouneso, they couldn't have been blamed for thinking that the status of plucky underdog was well worth having.
Watching the MoTD highlights later, they might even have wondered why the pundits never examined that disallowed goal, or pointed out that the reason Villa scored their winner was because a Blackpool player was preoccupied with holding Ashley Young on the line.
But after all the talk about how cute Blackpool are, had finished, the relief for the Villa fans was palpable and the Premiership table was a delight to behold, as Villa's 10th position looked about par for their current form, while Blues sat one place above the relegation departure lounge.
They could live with that.
It was altogether a very satisfying night's work for Villa, which saw a much maligned Villa old-boy prove a point and Villa's Nathan Delfouneso (the Tyseley terrier) pass the strikers' ultimate test - the one-on-one, with the goalkeeper. A very nice finish, Nat old chap.
Only a dive, obviously perfected in Blackpool's water park, prevented him grabbing a brace.
So with 16 points to their credit and only a couple of goals-for away from perfect respectability, Villa can go into their lunchtime fixture with Man United on Saturday, in the knowledge that a loss would be disappointing rather than a total disaster.
United offer a perfect test of Villa's ability to defend for ninety minutes - something in doubt recently - and with Gabby back but not quite up to match-fitness, Gerard Houllier has at least got the option to keep Fergie's defenders occupied for all of the game. Its unlikely that United will afford the Fonze quite as much room as Blackpool did but it certainly provides an opportunity to test his progress against some of the meanest defenders in the Prem.
United, the only unbeaten side in the Premiership, will no doubt get a few more men forward than they did against Man City in the week, but hopefully without Rooney and Scholes, Villa can deny Berbatov and Hernandez enough space to prevent them adding to their goal-tally.
With Scholes suspended, at least I do not have to dread seeing the midfield maestro penetrating Villa's backline with one his trademark exocets from the edge of the area. He's one of the few players who is not obsessed with hitting across the ball and so his shots tend to go straight and true, rather than swerving into row-Z. And, as old fashioned coaches used to always tell us, if you hit across the ball, you lose power.
Although making any contact at all, was usually my own priority (just like my sex life).
Any old fart will tell you for nothing and more times than you'd probably prefer, that neither Stan Lynn or Bruce Rioch, ever hit across the ball. And certainly not Peter Lorimer, reputed to have the hardest shot, ever. I don't remember Stan but Rioch's power was simply awesome and he'd even use it as a weapon to punish a defender in a wall ....oh dear... getting carried away, sorry about that.
Now, where was I?
Oh yes, a nice competent draw would be a very satisfying result against United, a win would mark the start of a love affair with Gerard Houllier, for the Villa fans.
Are we ready for that?
I am not sure about that but a win would certainly stop those Man United fans and pundits from patronising us.
Keep the faith!