Something For The Weekend (395)
Gabby is back!
It certainly was a week of extremes for Villa, what with the depressing evidence of incompetence revealed at lowly Southampton, being so quickly followed by the Roy Of The Rovers performance at the Etihad on Tuesday night. This left me rather confused, as to what conclusion I could reasonably reach about Villa's present quality or likely potential.
So, I took Paul Lambert's advice and didn't bother. I guess that I am all ranted out, after too many disappointments, and as we used to say last year: some you lose, some you draw.
The only thing I can say with total assurance, is that I was made less miserable by Villa's thrashing by the Saints, than I was made happy by Villa's shock result over Man City. So it seems that Lerner's medicine is definitely working and my expectations have been lowered to the point where I accept disappointment as something to be expected and success as something to celebrate with Gusto and her twin sister Delight.
The fact that Gabby had such a fantastic game was just a nice big cherry on my Villa cake.
It really has been frustrating to see him being messed around these past few seasons, as he has been pushed wide and further from goal, which hardly helped to re-establish him as the prolific striker he was under O'Neill. It always seemed a waste and when added to his injury problems and the carping criticism of the Villa faithful (he's not a 20-goal-a-season man, yada, yada), it seemed unfair. But that is what happens when you make public declarations about never wanting to leave the club; people take you for granted
So I was very happy for the lad, that he had one of those special nights on Tuesday, which he will no doubt be telling his grandchildren about in years to come; and if the rumours are correct, he will surely have a lot of grandchildren to tell.
The game also offered some long overdue reward for the travelling Villa fans, who surely must have suffered from bankruptcy of the spirit as well as their wallets, last season. I was particularly thinking of Vital's own Glensider (since estranged) who used to write those superb away reports before he suddenly disappeared. I was amused by the thought, that as a purveyor of drugs (his job) he might have wondered whether, when he had handed out the Tic Tacs in the darkness of his vehicle before the game, he had inadvertently handed out some of his drug samples by mistake and he and his mates had hallucinated the whole thing.
I think even the armchair viewers were checking their computers and televisions, for signs of malfunction.
Obviously, the guy who stood to win £151k in a fifteen result £12 accumulator, which depended upon a Man City victory to succeed, might have not been so happy with the result as the Villa fans, and may be taking his own antidepressants at this very moment.
Villa were a bit unlucky with the draw for the next round, as they have got a tough away trip to Swindon. If Villa tend to get slaughtered by the likes of Southampton and thrash the likes of Man City, surely they would have been better off with an away draw at Chelsea or Liverpool than an away trip to Swindon, if they wish to progress to the last eight. But Villa can't be lucky all the time I suppose.
In the meantime Villa have the visit of WBA to dispute whether they are the top team in the Midlands these days. There is little doubt, based upon last season's standings, that the Baggies are the current holders of that accolade, and what with Villa's midweek exertions and the possibility of a negative reaction to their unlikely success, we might have to face another reality-check.
Villa must do without the services of Stephen Ireland, of course, after he broke his wrist. No doubt his detractors will worry how this injury might affect his sex-life, but it seems certain that his contribution will be missed. His detractors need to be reminded that he won more man-of-the-match awards, as decided by Vital Villa's polls, than any other player, last season.
Ireland's detractors often accuse him of flattering to deceive (a traditional phrase used to damn with faint praise). This is exactly the opposite to the way most of the other players were perceived. Stephen Ireland always looked better than he actually was, while the fans hoped that most of the players, were actually better than they actually looked.
We'll know how the team looks without him, come Sunday night.
Assuming Villa's Christian Benteke gets to play, it will be interesting to compare Villa's Belgian striker with Chelsea's, who the Albion are very fortunate to have on loan. Romelo Lukaku will cost Chelsea in the region of £18m should he fulfil their hopes, and it seems unlikely that the Albion could afford such a player. The whole loan business does seem to tend towards making certain favoured clubs feeder-clubs for the big boys, which disadvantages their peers, and inflates the transfer market by allowing big clubs to remove their speculative buys and impulse purchases from their squads.
But have no fear, the FA are sure to regulate the issues surrounding the loan system. I mean, only this week they eradicated racism from football by fining a player £200k and banning him for two whole games. Or was it just an exercise in self-interest, where they publicly demonstrated their disapproval of the use of racist epithets, while protecting the image of their brand?
Joey Barton seems to thinks so. But as Joey and the rest of us know, no fine or suspension is going to change a racist, or stop Joey from reacting when someone cynically hits him on the back of the head.
Because, like the rest of us, we are what we is.
Keep the faith!