Date: 29th November 2008 at 7:58pm
Written by:

Sometimes you come out of a 0-0 cursing the lack of effort from players but today, despite the boos from some of the Villa fans (what the hell was that all about?!) I don’t think you can level that accusation at any of the players today.

Fine, we wanted the 3 points, but no win is a given in the Premiership and Fulham came and did what we often do, get men behind the ball (at times they forgot there was another half to the pitch and had ten men back frustrating our chances) and then try to score on the break.

Ok, it was a freezing day, the fans were expecting a home win and we did squander a good few chances, but as the Rolling Stones once said, ‘You can’t always get what you want’

So I’m not totally sure why the team had to listen to boos at the end? Maybe it was aimed at the manager, that might have been slightly fairer because one up front at home is really negative in my opinion and especially in the second half it should have been clear that changes were needed and a more conventional 4-4-2 might just have freshened things up in the last half hour. That said, if we’d taken a few of our very good chances, all would have been so very different.

Are the options on the bench so bad that we couldn’t throw in a sub or two to shake things up? Makes you wonder why Marlon Harewood was bought, I hope he is allowed to leave in January because it is pretty clear he has no chance at Villa. To be fair there were a good few of us saying he shouldn’t have had a chance in the first place (no offence as I think his attitude is bang on but….) What today did illustrate is if we truly are going for fourth this season, we HAVE to buy a striker, or even two, in January. Easier said by a fan than done by a manager maybe but we missed out on a top class on last January (Jermain Defoe) and have to move heaven and earth this year not to make the same mistake. If we don’t do that, then games like this will continue to bring 1 point instead of 3.

The first half was slow to get going, Villa were on the top from the very start without totally dominating and chances were at a premium. It was also clear that the white shirts of Fulham weren’t exactly going to be adventurous. They came for a draw, they got a draw, job done and no criticism of them, they shut up shop and it was up to us to break them down and although we got through a few times, the chances presented weren’t taken.

The worst misses were from Steve Sidwell who seemed slightly off today, his passing was awry and his shooting boots had been left in the dressing room. I bet he couldn’t miss an open goal by a header again if he tried! Schwarzer who made a number of good reflex saves in the second half especially to deny us, was left stranded on his right hand post and the rest of the goal was there for Steve to direct the ball into the back of the net but instead it went flying over. In the second half he had another chance, probably not quite so easy, this time with his feet whilst one on one but again it went high, or wide.. or wherever it went, where it didn’t go was the back of the net. To be fair the ball didn’t sit that nicely for him and I’d reserve judgement until I see some highlights as to whether that was a truly missed chance or just bad luck!

All in all a frustrating afternoon, the manager will be frustrated as will the players as those extra points could have really served us well and put us to third (with the others playing tomorrow) but I don’t feel let down by the effort of who was on the pitch. Maybe slightly by the tactics but then, I’m not a million pound a year manager, maybe he has his reasons and with John ‘sick note’ Carew unavailable, the options up front were limited, suppose it is down to each individual to decide who is to blame for that!

Not sure some of the heckles of ‘this is rubbish’ etc around and about the bench were correct, it was far from rubbish, just freezing and frustrating and the odd sub to give a fresh challenge to Fulham might have been the order of the day.

Player Ratings

Brad Friedel 167
Made one fantastic reflex save with very strong wrists to save a certain goal and also tipped another over the bar which was dipping in. Congrats on setting the new Premier League record for consecutive games.

Curtis Davies 7
Looked solid

Luke Young 7
Fitting in very nicely but why is he having to play at left back?!

Martin Laursen 7
Does he ever miss a header?

Carlos Cuellar 7
Far more comfortable in defence than going forward so a bit out of place at right back but a clean sheet says it all

Gareth Barry 9
Don’t care what anyone says, some of his passes today were world class, the one instinctive pass to Young deserved a goal at the end of the move, yeah go on, flame away, I love Bazza!!!!

Ashley Young 7
Worked hard but at times seem to telegraph what he is doing.

Stiliyan Petrov 6.5
A hard working performance but had a couple of great opportunities to shoot but instead made another pass, shame really because when he has his shooting boots on, we all know what he is capable of.

Steve Sidwell 5.5
An average performance from a good player. Still say he’ll end up a very important player for us.

James Milner 6
Not on top form today but he never gives up and keeps trying.

Gabby Agbonlahor 7
I do think he is now putting in the effort but one up front at home (not his fault) isn’t ideal and he was often isolated as he is too quick for the rest of the team + he would end up on the wing with the ball but no one to pass to.

Manager Rating
Martin O’Neill 5 hero when you win, not so much when you don’t and don’t try some tactical changes. 1 up front at home is a bit negative against a team like Fulham surely? Looked very agitated on the touchline today.

Opponent Rating
Roy Hodgson – At least someone on the crowd got him to smile, he always looks so sad and down! lol

Poor Me
I am thinking of changing my after shave a I got ‘stood up’ before the game at The Holte and then to add insult to injury, after the game as well…! Is it something I said!

Was good to bump into Mutt_Mann and his two lovely daughters, Villabrownie and Mr VB, James06, Lee Barnett who had THE best hat on and the ever young meyouldy!