Date: 23rd March 2009 at 8:12am
Written by:

Five of us piled into the car on Mothering Sunday, yours truly the unfortunate designated driver today, as we headed off on the 90 plus mile trip to merseyside, destination Anfield. Not a happy hunting ground over the years for the claret and blue boys, in fact in all the trips we’ve made there since the mid-late sixties, we’ve only returned home to Brummagem celebrating a victory on two occasions.

No worries or concerns today though. Secret weapon Mike has joined our away-day brigade, my brother in law over visiting from the good old U.S. of A., who has accompanied us on three previous trips to Anfield, and has yet to see us lose (one victory, two draws). He was also sporting his ‘America’s No1 Villan’ sweat shirt, and he alone out of the five of us, was confident that his unbeaten little streak would continue, and we’d be making the return trip back down the M6 singing and in celebration. I voiced the opinion that our lucky omen was going to be one very unhappy colonial cousin later this evening, but he’d hear none of it. 2-0 to us he confidently predicted. Yanks! You have to love ’em.

Neil Young was serenading us loud and proud as we journeyed to the north-west, while the discussions and debates in the car centred around ‘what’s gone wrong, why its gone wrong, and how we’re going to get ourselves back on track’.

As always we’ve all got differing views, about the players, the tactics, the manager, the board even, and we all thought that we could pick a team to go out and roll over Liverpool later this afternoon.

If the club had only listened to us over the years, our trophy room would be packed to the ceiling with World Club Championship trophies, european and domestic honours just too many to recall, and playing staffs throughout the last few decades, the envy of every major club out there.

Plenty of Villans headed north, plus the odd few ‘Liverpool vehicles’, which were receiving plenty of banter and abuse, but it certainly seemed as though our travelling following would once again be heavy in numbers, while loud and vocal in support.

So all we needed now was for Mart to select a starting line up, capable of testing The ‘Pool to the limit, hopefully picking up a point or three, and also putting some belief and pride back into the club following the recent set-backs and reversals.

Starting line-up:-Friedel, Reo-Coker, Davies, Cuellar, L. Young, Milner, Petrov, Barry, A. Young, Heskey, Carew.

Guzan, Shorey, Knight, Gardner, Salifou, Delefouneso, Agbonlahor on the bench.

So in came Curtis Davies and John Carew, replacing Zat Knight and Gabby Agbonlahor respectively. Carew starting alongside Heskey, interesting one that. A partnership probably worth looking at, although the general consensus amongst ourselves and the supporters in our vicinity, was that today probably wasn’t the right time to check it out. With few attacking options or alternatives open to us though, there really weren’t many routes open to O’Neill, as he attempted to give us that finishing ability that has been so lacking in recent weeks.

Latecomers were still making their way into their seats in the Villa section as we fell behind to a seventh minute strike.

Reina hammered a long ball downfieldfield, where Nigel Reo-Coker, chasing towards his own area hesitated, allowing Riera to get goal-side of him. Nigel upended the winger, giving Rafa’s boys a free kick, just outside the box, to the left of goal. Gerrard whipped the ball in towards the far post, Alonso, I think it was (others said it came off a Villa defender), flicked a header onto the crossbar – and with no Villan alert enough to react, Kuyt thumped home the rebound to leave us with an uphill task. If only we’d have all known that 1-0 down was as good as it was going to get all afternoon, we could have vacated our seats and the stadium, jumped back in the car, and headed back home there and then. Saving ourselves the humiliation that was about to unfold before our eyes.

We were under the cosh for the opening twenty minutes, lucky not to fall further behind, but then Ashley Young sent a low hard cross into the six yard box, a cross that Big JC was close to sliding home. Less than sixty seconds later Petrov and Milner worked the ball well down the left, Carew getting on the end of the resultant cross, only for the Pool keeper to palm the ball wide of goal. Nice bit of football though, and we started to think that we might just be working our way back into the game.

Gerrard was booked for a bad challenge on Davies, before JC again brought a fine save out of Reina, the keeper at full stretch to keep out Carew’s header that looked destined to bring the scores level.

On 32 minutes though we fell further behind. Reina setting up Riera to send a crashing volley past Friedel and into the roof of the net. 2-0. Head in hands time.

Friedel them almost gifted the home side a third, giving the ball straight to Arbeloa when attempting to find Luke Young. Fortunately the pass to Torres was misplaced, a certain goal averted, and we were able to breathe again.

Not for long though. A couple of minutes later, Reo-Coker upended Riera in the box, up steps Gerrard, its 3-0. Game well and truly beyond us. Damage limitation time.

Luke and Gareth added to the misery of the first half by both getting themselves booked, and by the time the half time whistle sounded, it had turned into a thoroughly miserable afternoon for all connected with AVFC.

I think though that its fair to say that probably for twenty minutes or so of the first forty-five, we’d actually looked the better team, yet there’s no argument to defend going in at the break 3-0 down.

Shortly after the restart it was 4-0, Gerrard sidefooting home an Alonso free kick, rolled a yard or so to the Reds skipper, following a challenge by Cuellar on Kuyt on the edge of the ‘D’.

On the hour Heskey was replaced by Gabby, the latter given a warm reception by the travelling Villans, but a couple of minutes or so later it`s the home fans who are cheering again as Liverpool go 5-0 up from another Gerrard penalty, a spot kick awarded for Brad Friedel bringing down Torres as the Spaniard attempted to round him. Red card for Brad Snr, Brad Jnr on, Nigel Reo-Coker hauled off.

Poor Brad Jnr. His first premier league action see’s him beaten by Gerrards well placed spot-kick. He hadn’t even enjoyed the experience of handling the ball in open play.

We tried to rouse the lads with a rendition of ‘We’re gonna win 6-5’. Well we had to do something to take our mind off the surrender on the pitch, and singing seemed as good as anything.

Craig Gardener replaced Carew on 90 minutes, yet still found the time to get himself booked, but I think that everyone was past caring by then.

As we left the stadium and headed back to the car, one scouser had the nerve to request of us, ‘For F***’* sake play your reserves at Old Trafford next weekend. That lot you had out there today have no chance of doing us any favours’. You had to laugh. Crying was the only alternative.

Right, my marks out of 10, on an afternoon to forget:-

Player Ratings

Friedel – 5

Cuellar – 5

Reo-Coker – 4

Davies – 5

Luke Young – 6

Milner – 5

Petrov – 6

Barry – 5

Ashley Young – 4

Carew – 7

Heskey – 4

Guzan – 6

Agbonlahor – 5
not on long enough


20 Replies to “Glensider At Anfield”

  • Stig of the Dump O’Neil brigade? Sorry could not resist that. But seriously I agree with everything he says, especially the fact that 3 years on we have no settled right back. Someone in football told me earlier in the season that Villa would blow up. Why? Because MON is a motivational manager- he gets results by motivating his team. However as the season wears on, this wears off and then the lack of tactical nous shows. Interesting thought. Comments anyone?

  • Good match report, Glen. I doff my hat to any Villan who drives to a game listening to Neil Young! I think Stig has said it all, really. This current malaise goes back to missed opportunities in the January window and the ridiculous decision to throw in the UEFA Cup towel which has clearly had an adverse effect on the players as well as the fans. MON’s tactical nous – or lack of it – began to seriously worry me against Chelsea. The game was crying out for a 4-5-1 set-up to stifle the Chelsea midfield…then came the naive inability to shut up shop against Stoke…it’s been downhill ever since…Ok, we can live with Mart’s eccentric square peg theories when things are holding up, but serious questions need to be asked not only about his handling of Shorey but also his blinkered reliance on Gabby for 90 mins of every match when we have Harewood sitting on the bench…as for the shocking inability in this, his third season in charge, to find a competent right-back, well, don’t get me started…Don’t get me wrong, I think O’Neil has been tremendous so far but there needs to be some serious re-building in the summer when Barry goes so Mart has to get it right…otherwise it’ll be a case of the needle and the damage done!

  • I am a massive fan of MON, but imo he has made some poor decisions recently. Not to go 4-5-1 at Anfield was surprising at least! I also agree about Shorey. Give him a chance, the balance to have a left footer at left back will give better attacking options as well. I still believe 100% that MON is the man to take us forward, but perhaps he is on a ‘learning curve’ as well because he hasn’t managed a big club (in England) before and been under this sort of pressure to achieve. (Celtic completely different). Can’t go without having a moan about Liverpool though. What a dump the ground and local pubs are. Toilets locked, don’t want to serve non locals, no food in pub and runs out in the ground. No wonder they want to move stadium. Makes us realise just how good Villa Park is!

  • i don’t think anybody is calling for MONs’ head, but some of the decisions he is making are strange. no settled right back in 3 years is a joke. we should have two! the player out of position thing is also a joke. its the premier league isn’t it??does MON think his amazing man management skills will magically transform someone from an out and out midfielder to a backman?? nobody is that good a manager. what is strange is that all this is persisting week in week out. even the use of Heskey which is blatantly not working.

  • I am not calling for his head, he has been brilliant for us, and want him to be backed, but I think the buck stops with him totally for our demise. he knew how many games we had to play when he went into the intertoto, fa cup, carling cup, league etc. 3 or 4 players in jan would have helped us no end. pay over the odds but it would have helped cement our chances in the champs league and no doubt helped securing barry. plus a whole array of strange/inept tactical decisions has shown him up recently. One thing I will never forgive him for is giving up on the UEFA Cup.

  • the way liverpool are playing at the moment it needs something special to beat them! chin up lads at least your not going down!

  • gappy 65, I’ve read my comment again and cannot see a call to sack the manager. Realism is called for I think. MON has done very well so far, aided of course by Randy’s cash. But we have clearly hit the ceiling for this side. How many who played on Sunday would get into the Liverpool or United team on a regular basis and for me that is the answer. Interesting that most of our England players are out of the squad again. Some in the team are on the way up, others are at their peak and will get no better. Development is an evolving process and to date we have relied on motivation, maybe to the point where we have achieved more than the talent available deserved. The question now is how committed are those who count to taking the next step forward and recruit even better players. The greatest coaches have great players.

  • Gordon; Sacking managers is never the answer! And I never said you wanted the head of MON. I was just simply asking the question what next sack yet another manager? I feel sure MON knows full well he made a mistake forfeiting eufa Cup, FA Cup and league cup for fourth place. However we have a small squad, we simply can not fight four campaigns. IMO it is simply fatigue, aided by MON changing strategy. Do you not think MON wanted Champions league to drew the better players you talk about? I do! As for the I blame the fans comment! The fans have some roll to play with this dip in form. The iroic cheers that rang out when Gabby was subed, is niether helpful nor nessersary. I agree you pay your money you have a right to voice your opinion. But when that choice to voice an opinion has an effect of heaping more pressure on a player that is already carrying a huge amount of pressure does not help.

  • The current appalling run can’t be due to fatigue as MON’s Villa teams have done the same every March. There wouldn’t have been so much pressure and ironic cheers if MON had managed his squad properly in the first place so I reserve the right to voice my thoughts gappy. Ashley Young got a 4, I didn’t realise he was playing.

  • Great read (apart from the result) and a good insight as to how a travelling fan sees match day.

  • The point that I was trying to make is that MON has used so few players this season and never makes a sub even if we are winning comfortably with 10 mins to go. All other managers do this even if to just give the youngsters some playing time/experience and to let the regulars have a rest. MON has brought the ironic cheering upon himself. I personally was cheering in response to a sub being made which was so suprising especially seeing that it was poor Gabby who clearly needed a rest after being played constantly for 2.5 years. So if MON had done this before, it wouldn’t have meant that Gabby was playing badly, just that he had done his bit and it was time for someone else to have a go as its a team game etc and Gabby would still be starting the following week but this would also have given the sub being brought on ( most likely Fonz) some confidence knowing that MON thinks that he’s worthy of a run out. So IMHO MON has brought this on himself and there was no need to mention it in press conferences. He could have kept it in house but he doesn’t want the players to think that he has lost the confidence of the fans and the same goes with Gabby. He is now reeping what he has sown by overplaying most of our players although I don’t think that its fatigue and just a severe loss of confidence in MON’s hype. I hope he can turn it round and he’s the best man for the job but our form is relegational so …..

  • It was a throwback to the bad old days. The first time, for a long time, that I felt the lads let themselves, the club, and the supporters down.

  • Always agree 100% with this Glensider chappie. He and I must watch the same game. He knows his stuff, thats for sure.

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