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Very Proud

Very Proud

By Steve Wade

You can get used to winning. Until, eventually the positive outcome becomes so routine, it's actually possible to start concerning yourself with how you win - a conclusion I reach, alas, based entirely on memory. But when you win when you need to win AND you win well, now that is putting jam on it and a big cherry on the top for a bonus. Add a hat-trick to the mix and you have a cross between a 99 and a knickerbocker glory. Add a little plastic windmill and a sprinkling of hundreds-and-thousands to taste - light the sparkler.

So it was for Villa last night as the jam came in dollops and the cherries were too many to count.

A hat-trick for Luke Moore and the sort of team performance, which had me thinking of consummate, cohesive and clinical, instead of the c-word, I tended to use earlier in the season. David O'Leary cleverly and concisely summed it all up, with the words: 'I am very proud'.

As ever, Villa never quite got the credit they deserved. Such was the ease and style of their performance; which when added to the disgusting theatrics of a home supporter, managed to convince just about everybody that
Middlesborough were particularly bad, but the statistics from the game tell a different story. The home team, only had one less shot on goal and only one less on target - they actually had more corners. And it says a lot about Villa's performance that no one actually noticed.

The real difference was Phillips' concise assists and brilliant goal, plus Luke Moore's clinical finishes. Villa's crossing was of the highest quality.

Anyone with any doubts about where Lee Hendrie's heart lies, had only to see his absolute joy, as he celebrated with his pal on the touchline, after Luke had calmly secured his right to the match-ball. In a moment, you could see the importance of having squad of players who have grown up together and local boys like Hendrie and Moore are obviously mates. Friendships forged through the ups and downs and the rough and smooth of life in the
Premiership, are still intact. It bodes well.

Everyone concerned with Villa can give themselves a pat on the back and the Middlesborough supporters even made Villa's fans look good - which is not something I ever expected to even think let alone write.

Middlesborough's problems are almost exactly the same as Villa's were earlier in the season and may yet be again. Too many injuries and a few flayed egos and too much too soon for players, taking their first steps in the Premiership. As Luke immediately confessed, even while floating in cloud-cuckoo-land, after his goal-fest: 'The Premiership is so hard'.

It is impossible to believe that with standards rising all the time, as the Rouble raises the bar, that the Central league and its equivalent, can provide any real preparation for the Premier League and the step-up for
youngsters must be both immense and incredibly daunting.

We all get carried away sometimes and some even make it a personality trait but if I am disgusted by the treatment meted out by fans to certain Villa players, I am at a total loss for words, to describe my feelings about the actions of the Middlesborough fan who had his Big Brother moment, in front of the cameras. Okay, it got the guy his fifteen minutes of fame but when Lee Cattermole burst into tears, you could see that it was a gesture too far. To me, it was a horrible moment of betrayal and a revolting gesture. The problem at Middlesbrough does not lie with the junior players and it was just totally wrong that such a young kid, who was doing his best, should take such a crass gesture personally. And it did nothing, except break the heart of their own player.

Fans are always demanding that players should show some bottle but sometimes the fans need to show some too.

But I won't be letting this detract from the absolute joy this result produced. Now in possession of 30 points and having a 10 point advantage over third-from-bottom (they have 50% more points), Villa's survival looks
almost assured. More importantly, it provided grounds for optimism, that Villa are only a couple of players away from being a decent team and that Luke Moore can start scoring for fun.

Hi, hi, hi, beautiful Sunday
This is my, my, my, beautiful day!

Writer:J P Fear
Date:Monday February 6 2006
Time: 8:40PM

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