Date: 16th September 2011 at 5:41pm
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Evertonians groaned with despair, Villans sighed with relief.

Draw your own conclusions.

I am not sure those who sat through the first hour of Villa’s game at Everton, in which Moyes’s men put the Villans thoroughly under the cosh, would agree, but a draw at Goodison seemed like a very satisfying result, come Saturday night.

Everton, the better team, were disadvantaged by their lack of strikers and relied upon some poor defending by Villa for their opening goal, and a rather generous-looking penalty for what they thought was their match-winner. Villa relied upon two goals of the highest quality to get a share of the points, with Stiliyan Petrov adding to his handful of goals for Villa, with a superb curling shot from distance. Gabby scored the equaliser with a solid header from a perfect cross supplied by substitute Marc Albrighton.

Evertonians groaned with despair, Villans sighed with relief.

In the final analysis, predictably, Darren Bent never got the service he needs, as also predictably, Jermaine Jenas, presumably brought in to provide that service, was out injured. So it was yet another game where Villa’s manager was left looking for consolations, from a less than convincing performance.

The fans were left to do the same, and as Everton are predicted to finish rather higher than Villa by the statisticians, there was not much else to do but to accept that Villa had once again done better than the number-crunchers had computed.

For McLeish doubters, it was just more confirmation that just like the Blues, Villa’s season is going to suffer from too many draws, when winning is what produces both glory and safety.

For those looking for evidence to enable a fair assessment of Villa’s status, it was a European week, which always provides the opportunity to compare your own team’s football with the quality of the Champions League and Europa League participants.

The news was a mixture of good and bad.

Once again the Champions League proved to be the sublime football product, while the Europa League took up air-time, which would probably be better utilised for showing repeats of Crossroads or Love Boat. For the fans of the clubs participating, it must represent some kind of thrill to see their team on the telly, surrounded by the ‘glamour’ of Europe, but despite anything Gordon Strachan might say to earn his fee, it was torture for the rest of the viewing public.

After seeing Benfica out-pass Man United, Stoke City were always going to be hard to enjoy as a football spectacle. And the game had the same sense of a comedown, as when the finesse of a crêpe is followed by a stolid lump of Staffordshire oat-cake.

For Birmingham City fans, their game against Braga must have been a sickening spectacle, to have their rivals witness, as the sheer sparsity of their dismantled squad was paraded before the watching nation. It was a double reminder of the consequences of relegation and financial meltdown.

Europe still has an unaccountable allure for teams not equipped to compete but the Europa League is definitely pinchbeck, to the Champions League’s gold.

And just to prove the point Harry Redknapp sent his second team to Greece, and if the locals hadn’t missed a penalty, Daniel Levy would surely be adding a cell to his accounting spreadsheet, right now, so he could fit in the cost of so many hundred Happy Meals, he would have surely been required to purchase for travelling fans, O’Neill à la mode.

Meanwhile back in the second-city, where the Greeks are the undisputed kings of the chip shops, Newcastle are the visitors to Villa Park this Saturday. Amazingly, the magpies never got round to spending the £35m they have in stacks of neat scouser ingots, which they received for the sale of their erstwhile striking-phenomenon Andy Carroll.

This careless act of uncharacteristic thrift has allowed the journos to conclude that frugality is the new trend amongst the no-hopers in the Premiership, as they conspire to avoid participating in an internecine battle for nothing worth having, except the Europa League and bankruptcy.

What with the sale of Kevin Nolan, the heartbeat of their promotion season, and their release of Joey ‘Begbie’ Barton, Newcastle hardly seems to be quite the brand it used to be. So hopefully Villa can avoid the demonstration of shock and awe, which proved to be the writing on the wall for them last season.

The owners of the two clubs couldn’t be any different, even if their vision for their individual clubs seems similar. While Randy Lerner looks like the double of Russell Dalrymple out of Seinfeld, according to the newspaper evidence Mike Ashley has modelled himself entirely on the Hoffmeister bear of 1970s fame. And presumably, owning a football club is the one way to guarantee an audience, should you be suddenly struck by an overwhelming desire to dance publicly in your shreddies.

What ever turns you on but here’s hoping Randy doesn’t try emulating that particular stunt.

But despite this contrast, the biggest brand in the North-East and the biggest brand in the West Midlands have both reached the same conclusion, that the law of diminishing returns, is just too diminishing by far. What Juventus achieved concretely by knocking down the Stadio delle Alpi, capacity 69 000, and building the Juventus Stadium, capacity 41 000, the English clubs have implemented figuratively, by cutting their budgets.

Realism seems to be the new reality.

And like the Newcastle fans, we’ll just have to bear it.

Keep the faith!


3 Replies to “Something For The Weekend (349)”

  • The Hofmeister bear… now that does bring back memories! Agree about the Everton game as well Mr W… Evertonians groaned with despair, Villans sighed with relief. We got massive luck in that one, luck is important but we can’t rely on that every

  • Nice article, but, Mr Fear, why does the current Poll hark back to last week and the Villa Everton Match? Even i could predict that with some degree of certainty. UTV

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