Date: 28th November 2009 at 10:01am
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One way or another the cat is about to be let out of the bag: but will the Villa screams be of ecstasy or pain?.

Tötterdämmerung – the twilight of the clods.

No thanks, its not what I want to see.

While the pundits confidently predicted that seeing Spurs beat Wigan 9-1 would delight the neutrals, my experience was, that they couldn’t have got it more wrong. No football fan wants to see a team they don’t actually hate, lose by such a score, or professional footballers in the highest tier, doing such a convincing imitation of headless-chickens doing and an impression of the Keystone Cops.

It was just too miserable to watch and too painful to think about.

The performance was either an insult to the Premiership, or yet another symptom that the balance of power has shifted towards an expanding elite and away from the gallant minnows.

I just hope that it is the former rather than the latter and the freak result can be put down to a freakish off-day for Athletic, who have been seen to look a pretty decent side, at times, over the last few seasons.

I just can’t believe that they miss Emile Heskey that much.

The result certainly brought the worst out of the Villa moaners and by way of unhealthy and illogical comparisons, they assumed that any team which could beat Wigan, who brought Villa down a peg on the opening day of the season, could, by their logic, beat Villa twenty-nil. All rational thought was set aside and suddenly they all wanted a team like Tottenham – £43m in strikers and no defenders. The green-eyed monster was at large.

Plus a bit of dread too.

My conclusion was that any team who fielded a team with a back-four consisted of Mr Bean, Mr Pastry, Norman Wisdom and Titus Bramble, would get hammered by any team in the Premiership, let alone Spurs.

For Villa naysayers, depressives and the-grass-is-always-greener types, its mainly just a case of taking last season’s whinges and just replacing the word Everton with Spurs. Last year it was Everton this and Moyes that and now it is Redknapp this and Spurs that. Last year David ‘Yoda’ Moyes was the paragon of the top-six triers and now it is Harry ‘Bagpuss’ Redknapp.

Anyone witnessing the performance of Everton in the first half at Hull in midweek, might have questioned the assumption that there is no better motivator of players than Moyes but it would have been just as knee-jerk as to have made him a paragon in the first place. Equally, one day everyone is writing off Phil Brown and the next thing, we see Jimmy Bullard return from injury and suddenly they look like a side with belief who have a half-decent manager.

There are no paragons, only guys struggling or succeeding according to their luck and their resources; not even Wenger, the sage of Strasbourg.

There are many superb managers in the Premiership and Villa just happen to have one of them and the only thing you can say against Redknapp, is that he does tend to swap jobs a little too often for the health of the clubs he manages. He’s been to nearly as many clubs as John Carew and sometimes with equally bad timing.

If there are plenty of outstanding managers in the Premiership, then there are many more talented players and as the clubs spend more and more money, on proven talent, there is an increasing number of potentially great players who look destined to never fulfil their promise.

Villa have their own examples, of course, but watching Man United this week, in the hope to see them get beat in the Champions League (which was fulfilled – big grin), I just could not fail to lament that the bunch of kids they sent out to take on the Turks, was just chock-full of players born to blush unseen and waste their talent on second team football.

They have a two-footed Irish midfield maestro called Darron Gibson who is a fantastic passer of the ball and looks quite good enough to be a star in any number of teams up and down the land. But he is already twenty-two and that is a little bit too old to be playing second-team football. Its taken Darren Fletcher well over a hundred games to go from being a bit cack, to the player he is today (looking good at the moment), so how can someone like Gibson, who has only five first team appearances, expect to notch up the hundred games needed to make the grade?

At Villa, the likes of Cahill and Steven Davis both had to make the difficult decision to move on to get more games. The likes of Albrighton and Clarke (both 20) have a couple of years to establish themselves as first team players. Players like Delfouneso (18) have a bit longer to prove that they are as good as Martin O’Neill tells us they are. And the cruel reality is that the better and bigger Villa’s squad becomes, the fewer opportunities will arise.

But is does seem a sad waste of talent.

Talking of Gary Cahill; someone was telling me last week, just before Villa were about to kick-off at Turf Moor, that the lad can be considered just as much a Burnley player as a Villa player because he made almost exactly the same amount of appearances for both clubs (28&29). Obviously, I won the argument because the one goal he scored for Villa, goes without saying, must be far better than the one goal he scored for Burnley.

No contest.

But who am I kidding? The only thing Villa fans were talking about this week, was whether their team would prove to be as much easy meat for Tottenham, as Wigan proved to be. Will the midfield power of Huddleston, the pace and movement of Lennon and the finishing of Defoe, prove as much of a lethal combination for Villa as it was for Wigan?

Or will Carew have his one brilliant game in seven and will Villa’s new defensive unit, snuff out the threat of the Lilywhite boys? Will Stewart Downing make the sort of impact he did in the last fifteen minutes at Turf Moor? Will Emile Heskey stretch every sinew and add to his goal last week?

Its a very tough call and a genuine six-pointer, as Villa and Spurs both vie for the coveted title of best of the rest.

I can’t see it being another 9-1 but I can’t see Villa keeping a clean-sheet either. So the result will depend on whether Villa can score or not. 2-2 would seem a reasonable bet but nothing less than a win will prevent a week of self-flagellation for the Villa fans.

For myself, the thought of beating Spurs is a bit too delightful.

One way or another the cat is about to be let out of the bag: but will the Villa screams be of ecstasy or pain?.


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