Date: 21st January 2007 at 12:04pm
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Something had to give yesterday.

My son George had only ever seen Aston Villa win. Whenever I go to a game with the Fear we draw, and generally play very average football. So what would it be; a draw or a victory; a defeat according to the averages was an impossibility, so on the long drive up I was sure that we would turn up and give Watford a footballing lesson. Yet we all know when things aren’t going Villa’s way, we are very laboured in beating much lesser teams. It doesn’t actually seem to matter if
the manager is Gregory, Taylor, the Irish Glenn Hoddle or Martin O’Neill. I had seen the Charlton game and it summed up how Villa just can‘t grab a game by the throat.

The first little managerial trick O’Neill played on us was bidding for the oppositions star player and even if the price might be too high, it was a neat trick to play. I fully expect a bid to made for Martins and Given in the mid week. The team of course almost always picks itself for Villa, so new boy Phil Bardsley got his debut, one outcast Hendrie wasn’t on the bench, whilst another was with the Czech Berger. Clearly we were going to for jugular with Angel, Baros and Agbonlahor on the pitch.

Watford, who were well supported, had looked at our form, and knew that the best course was to frustrate us; and they were pretty successful at doing it. We had a couple of chances in the first half, which we dominated but failed to force the issue. Baros was perhaps unlucky not to win a penalty, and MON was beginning to look frustrated. This was nothing compared to George who had at this point decided to turn his back on the action and talk to the Fear. To be fair the Fear seemed to find his young companion more interesting than the game.

Bardsley look decent; determined and enthusiastic but is he better than Hughes? I am not sure, but he seemed to have more confidence than Hughes has shown for a long time. I am still unconvinced by Bouma; he played pretty well for 80% of the time, but he made one mistake towards the end of the first half, which makes me think that sometimes the pace of the game is too much for him. It was this mistake that led to two decent Watford shots towards the end of the first half, and I was glad when the first half ended. But as the whistle blew, the moment of the match occurred. A few boos could be heard; MON looked up as he walked down the touch line and gave them what can only be described as the evil eye.

The second half can be neatly summed up; how can you solve a problem like Milan Baros? Baros has always been a frustrating player for me; at times he looks world class, at times the words average to poor come to mind. His mindset seems to be all wrong, and whilst Angel may be poor, he seems to listen and respond to MON. For Baros it washes over him. He had so many great chances but managed to fluff them all. To get into the positions suggests something is right. To fail to convert them; that’s more than annoying. When it happens once, you get frustrated. Multiple times and you have the car outside to drive him to Lyon.

When your subs bench consists of three defenders, a goalie and an ageing attacking midfielder with things not going well, what can you do? First on came Berger and then came Samuel, leaving only Gabby as a recognised striker by the end. In the 20 minutes Berger was on he showed the kind of class we all know he has; a beautiful pass to Baros should have resulted in the first goal, but didn’t. Samuel’s appearance probably confused you as much as me. This game was a must win, and you have one striker on?

By this point George had well and truly given up on the game, more interested in provenance of one of the Fears book from his childhood. And then suddenly we had scored. George’s lucky winning streak continued and the curse of sitting with the Fear had gone. Like the sensible father I vet become, we headed for the exit early, and of course only heard and not saw our second goal.

For all there endeavor Watford are a decidedly average and poor side. We struggled and struggled to get this result and only when luck came down on our side did we get the points. We lacked that extra confidence, skill and finish, but that has been true for most of the season. That’s why we are where we are. Will this game turn it around? Will the addition of Young help? Probably, but not by as much as some would hope. More additions will help; the question now must be who else can we pull out of the hat?

Player ratings:

I have to say no one stood out for me; our defence was pretty solid, bar Boumas old mistake. The midfield failed to get a grip, and Barry and McCann were below par. The attack was frustrating. Overall most of them were 6/10. Baros of course gets something lower than that. I will let you decide. Berger gets a nice cameo 7/10.


MON looks as frustrated as we do. He works hard all week and the players turn and play like that? He knows we can do better. 7/10.
Still can’t believe he’s our manager!


When the team play like, the fans react as would be expected 6/10. George gets a 5/10. He lost interest, but then again who can blame him.
Fear gets a 7 (I have to be nice to him).

By Paul Barnes who I’m emailing later to see why I only rated as a 7, I thought I was at least a 9 😉


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