Something For The Weekend (366)
All things considered, no one could really make a decent case as to why Villa fans might have been disappointed last Saturday night, after McLeish's men not only got what most people had predicted, they also got what they deserved, when they managed to earn a point in a game in which they produced an equal share of the good and the bad, against Moyes's Everton men.
There was a goal apiece, a bit of cheating from both sides, in the form of a blatant tug from Villa and an obvious dive from Everton. And, even though Warnock's memorable attempt at an own-goal went well beyond anything Everton managed, it seemed that no one could have much to complain about, except for McLeish apparently, who decided to place the responsibility for Everton's leveller exclusively around Marc Albrighton's neck.
This seemed a bit unfair because the whole Villa team switched off as they stood ball-watching, after Stephen Ireland had put his shot straight into the hands of Tim Howard. It was the whole team which seemed to be running through treacle as Landon Donovan charged down the pitch and set up Victor Anichebe, for the equaliser.
Whatever happened to, 'We win as a team and we lose as a team'?
No doubt Mark will just take this on the chin, and take it as a sign that now that he is twenty-two years old he is considered man enough to take the blame, while the rest of us wonder where the hell the left-back had got to.
Perhaps McLeish is wise enough to put the blame on someone likely to be forgiven, rather than someone who would not?
But here's a little sing-along for Mark to enjoy.
The general prejudice of the fans is that Marc should try and perfect his role as a winger, before he is expected to carry the burden of defensive responsibilities as well, especially as he has such an attack-minded manager.
Although Lionel Messi had secured his first Ballon d'Or by the time he was 21, it seems that for mortals, they don't really come good until they are over 25. It seems that Messi truly is the exceptional who proves the rule.
Some time between 25 and 27 usually sees the graphs of physical condition and experience meet, and the player reaches his peak. Even the early maturing Wayne Rooney didn't peak until he was 25, when he got his twin PFA and FWA awards.
So I think 22 is a bit too young to be publicly blaming a player, for a not untypical failure of your team.
Twenty-seven seems to have turned out to be the age that Villa OB Gary Cahill, has had his potential recognised by a nice juicy contract at Chelsea.
Whether it is a true reflection of his actual status as a defender, or whether the possibility of John Terry going to prison prompted the gamble, we cannot tell, but Bolton's 46 goals conceded this season must cast some doubt on Gary's recent form. Those goals can't all be the fault of Zat Knight, even if some Villa fans might suspect otherwise.
But joking aside, every Villa fan will wish Gary the best of luck, and hope that he can establish himself in the England squad, or otherwise offer us some vicarious success. But no one is doubting that his performances for Chelsea are likely to be examined rather more critically and microscopically than for those for Bolton, as David Luiz has found out this season, from the twittering of chuckle brother Gary Neville.
No doubt the reputed £80k a week will go along way to soothe away any criticism he might have to endure, and from what I saw of him, watching a game in the week, he is still struggling to get the grin off his face. Learning to live on £4m a year instead of £1m will be a challenge, I expect he'll gladly take in his stride.
With so much money being thrown about its impossible to see any romance in the game. For that you would have to have looked north to Darlington, this week, where the struggling club was plucked from oblivion by a last minute donation of £50k by a group of fans. Now that is proper romance.
The painful irony is that the amount needed to save the club, is less than a week's wages for many a Premiership player.
Darlington, as every Villa fan knows is probably the only other place in the UK, where people are likely to believe that Brian Little can actually walk on water, after he steered them through a previous financial crisis, and then got them promoted, two seasons in a row, in the early 1990s.
Brian Little was also manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers, when that club was in the then Fourth Division, and it seems ironic that this weekend when Villa make their way to Molineux, now that their traditional sense of natural supremacy is in serious doubt.
So its another make or break game for McLeish and his team, and should they lose, no matter who he might choose to blame, his arse will be toast as the relegation talk reaches fever pitch.
Watching Wolves lose to Blues in the cup this week, they certainly seemed to lack enough fire-power to score more goals than Villa but bearing in mind Villa's defensive weaknesses, setting out to score more than one, might seem the wiser choice, than settling for one and then trying to sit on it.
Its a miserable thought that Villa have been brought so low, and it looks like I'll probably need to call on my inner stoical Brummy again. If things go too badly wrong, I'll just lie back and smile, while thinking about the free beer and romance being served up at Darlington.
Keep the faith!
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