Date: 26th August 2011 at 5:46pm
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Fab and Gab, smash and grab!

Fab and Gab, smash and grab!

It was relief all round this week as Villa opened their Villa Park campaign with a goodly amount of decent play and enough goals to dispel the dread that Big ‘eck’s Villa team were going to be clones of his former charges across the city.

Two more goals on Tuesday night, from the Lee-hi and the Fonz, were enough to see off a battling Hereford side, in the League Cup, on a night when the quality of many a Premiership second-string was found wanting. Albrighton looked like a class above, and it was good to see Andreas Weimann back in a senior shirt again, after last season was wrecked by injury. Alas, we still await a performance from Stephen Ireland which might substantiate both his reputation and fee – a goal would definitely help.

Keep practising with a cow’s arse and the banjo, Stephen old love!

So God bless old ‘eck’s grizzled ginger-nuts for being lucky enough to start his Villa career with such a favourable opening fixture. God bless the thirty-odd thousand Villa fans who turned up to give him a cheer; and God bless the Villa players for playing well enough to erase a substantial amount of doubt from the faithful’s minds.

For the time being, at least.

Obviously Blackburn have huge problems but given even the slightest encouragement, as they showed when they scored their goal, I am sure they could have embarrassed Villa, had Villa’s soldiers not set about their task with such determined professionalism.

Gabby settled the nerves with a goal John Barnes might have been pleased with, and then his physical presence was essential in setting up Ivanhoe for his precise finish from the edge of the box. In doing so Gabby proved that he can still have a big influence on a game, even when he’s playing on the wing. And, then Darren proved the predator, when he took Villa to the safety of a two goal cushion, with Villa’s third.

So with four points in the bag, Villa now have 10% of their first points-target. And, considering the penurious nature of the local populous these days, an increase in ticket prices, the opposition, and Villa’s fire-sale, an attendance of 75% of capacity, stood as a measure of the fans’ continued devotion to the club. Even the 20 000 who turned up against Hereford, was pretty good.

Using the law of diminishing returns, Lerner’s rethink on Villa’s finances looked to be vindicated.

Liverpool who finished ten points ahead of Villa last term, felt the need to spend £100m to close the ten point gap between themselves and Arsenal; so how much more would Villa need to spend to close a twenty point gap?

No wonder Randy hauled down his colours and sent up a white flag.

But even King Kenny and John Henry know they can only spend that sort of money once, and spending £100m for the possible prize of Champions League qualification, which promises extra income of £25m, is a gamble, even for Liverpool. Sooner or later JH’s ingratiating generosity is bound to run out.

Meanwhile Manchester United are trying to raise £600m through a share issue in Singapore, to hopefully deal with their massive enervating debts and provide enough dough to rebuild the United squad, as they see their aging squad going south, in the manner of Arsenal.

With both Arsenal and Man United seemingly more reliant on youth, than you would expect from such rich clubs, Villa’s chosen route seems rather less freakish, than we might have once thought.

But I did take King Kenny’s words to heart, when he said, you are only as good as your squad, not just your best eleven. Too true, la, too true!

However, it was not all good news this week, as Alex Ferguson announced that he is to end his boycott of the BBC. This is terrible news for all those who find him unbearable, and more likely inspired by concerns about maximising the promotion of the brand, rather than mutual love and admiration breaking out between the Beeb and Sir Chewalot.

If ever his red face makes it onto Football Focus’s egregiously garish new set, its going to look positively psychedelic. Gladly, it seems unlikely that his cave-in will go that far.

No doubt the Villa fans’ language might be a tad colourful, should their team fail to beat high-fliers Wolves this Saturday lunch time. Wolves find themselves in dreamland after insinuating themselves amongst the few remaining clubs with a 100% record, in this new season, and after their surprise win in last season’s corresponding fixture, they will surely fancy their chances.

Villa definitely need to get something out of the game, or see a total collapse of the belief of the fans. Wolves will be better organised and rather more combative than Blackburn were shown to be and with confidence riding high, will offer a substantial test of Villa’s mettle.

With such a lot at stake, the game promises high drama and strong emotions for both sets of fans. The local bragging rights will be supplemented by the promise of a place in the top-four for a little while longer, for the victors, a sight no fan will ever get tired of contemplating.

For Villa it certainly is a high-pressure and high-stakes game, which risks unleashing the crisis the media crave, should the worst happen. For Wolves, a defeat will be just back to business as usual, as Mick McCarthy reiterates the plain truth, that the club’s primary ambition, is to avoid the drop.

Depending on disposition it promises to be either a very scary or very exciting afternoon out, at Villa Park.

Should Villa lose, it seems likely that attendances at the Aston Lower Grounds will drop to around 70%, or lower, which might require Randy and his minions to start offering inducements to get the fans back. Sadly, James Milner is playing far too well for City, for a loan to be a possibility and Kaka seems reluctant to play in the Premiership.

So, all things considered, it looks like a free programme and a pie, is the best we can hope for.

And as Randy must know – you can always get a guy with a pie.

Keep the faith!


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