Date: 13th December 2008 at 12:17pm
Written by:

After a variety of incidents involving computer issues, a Xmas do, a subsequent hangover and attending hospital, last weeks diary got delayed to the point where Sheriff Kimbo felt a fortnight edition would make more sense…

Friday, 28th November

Preparation for Fulham games sees us with good and bad news. The bad news is it looks like John Carew could be out for a couple of months; the good news is that Gareth Barry has committed to the end of the season, which should put to bed the constant rumours about him. Until about April, at least…

Saturday, 29th November

It was a frustrating day at Villa Park. Again. We need to sort this out, as it has been a constant problem since… well… since Paul Merson left! We have not had someone who can really come up with that bit of magic when teams come to Villa Park to defend, and for all of our (absolutely justified) claims for a striker, I think our second most important requirement is very much someone who can unlock these dastardly keys.

That said, it wasn`t an awful performance, we did create a few chances and on another day may have had a comfortable win and no-one would have moaned. Speaking of moaning, I thought the booing at full-time was pretty harsh. However, I do feel MON deserves some of the criticism, as his decision not to use any of the subs left me and many others feeling absolutely baffled.

Sunday, 30th November

To make the previous day even more frustrating, Arsenal go and win at Chelsea when they really didn`t deserve to. Oh well.

In the FA Cup we once again drew Manch… what? We didn`t? MAD! Apparently the FA forgot the annual 3rd round fix and gave us a potentially tricky away day at either Gillingham or Stockport instead.

Monday, 1st December

The Emile Heskey link returns. £4m is the quoted fee this time.

Tuesday, 2nd December

Luke Young says he prefers playing on the right to the left, which is obviously understandable. In his defence, I don`t think he could do a much better job than what he is doing. Still, I think we are all looking forward to him getting back to the right where he can both defend and attack far more naturally.

The club reveal that John Carew is undergoing a course of treatment to correct his back problem which hopefully will not require surgery.

Curtis Davies says we can not afford to sell Gareth Barry. Seems like a moot point for now, but still, I concur.

Wednesday, 3rd December

As we`re linked with Antonio Valencia (who I think is a very good player, based on what I have seen) Martin O`Neill expresses concern about Man Citeh and their spending power in January.

Looking forward to tomorrow night`s game, MON confirms that Nathan Delfounso will play some part against MSK Zilina.

Thursday, 4th December

Further Villa Park frustration!

It was generally a reserve team, with Carlos Cuellar and Ashley Young looking head and shoulders above everyone else. That said, Ashley Young was frustratingly poor with his set-piece delivery.

The biggest problem was that the two central midfielders, Moustapha Salifou and Isaiah Osborne, had very poor games. Personally, I think that is forgivable. What I don`t think is forgivable is the booing of Osborne and the loud cheering when he was replaced.

To the fans that did it: if you are reading this, then yes, it is your right to express your opinion anyway you like. It is also my right to express my opinion of you doing it, and my opinion is that booing a Villa player is not only incredibly stupid, short-sighted and 100% absolutely deconstructive, but also makes you the kind of idiotic scum that would be better suited to our neighbours in Small Heath.

Anyway, back to the game. The changes should probably have come at half-time, as the players that come on did not have much time to make an impact. Nathan Delfounso scored a cracking goal and showed glimpses of why he is largely believed to be a very exciting prospect. Zat Knight showed glimpses of why he is largely believed to be a liability, as he made silly mistakes for both goals. Luke Young was also caught out for the second goal in a way that would not have happened had he been at right-back, which I suppose backs up what he said previously.

At the end of it all, as irritating as the defeat was, we have qualified for the next round with Hamburg winning against Prague. Still, a win would have not far off guaranteed us top place, so we await to see what happens in Hamburg – and what Ajax do – to see where we finish.

Friday, 5th December

Attentions turn to Sunday`s game, and rumours are spread that Nathan Delfounso may play a part against Everton. I understand why, but I would be surprised if it came to pass that he was involved as anything other than an unused sub.

Saturday, 6th December

On a quiet news day, MON says Ashley Young needs more protection and Stewart Downing denies he will be leaving Middlesborough in January, which ironically is the first time I have heard us ‘linked` with him! Finally, the Mail seem pretty convinced that we will sign Henrik Larsson. They have also said that the last couple of transfer windows.

Sunday, 7th December

How exciting was that! We will play – and have played – worse than that and not win, so my sympathies for Everton are very minimal! They play very little football, and make it difficult for the opposition. To be honest, their fans will take offence to this but I find them to be a glorified version of the old Wimbledon team. That said, they are effective at what they do and I am amazed at how some of the Villa fans have gone on about our lucky win – I am sorry, but not expecting to be under pressure for large parts of a game at Goodison is pretty damn arrogant. Do I think we are better than Everton? Yes. However, do I think the gap is very small? Yes. At the end of the day it was a top win against a very good team who have been ‘the best of the rest` more often than not in the last few years. Sometimes I think football fans are just impossible to please!

After the game, MON dismissed any link with us to Henrik Larsson.

Monday, 8th December

The Academy lads win 3-0 against MK Dons. James Collins, Richard Blythe and Andreas Stieber did the biz. That`s about all, other than Ashley Young makes noises about us needing the mental strength to challenge the elite and making Villa Park a fortress. Hopefully we can start that on Saturday.

Tuesday, 9th December

On another quiet news day, Gillingham win 2-1 away at Stockport to set up our 3rd round FA Cup game.

Wednesday, 10th December

The youngsters go out of the FA Youth Cup, losing 3-2 at home to Arsenal. James Collins got both goals. He`s doing very well, that lad.

Transfer rumours include Crystal Palace`s Sean Scannell (who we were linked with in the summer) and Inter Milan`s David Suazo, who is currently on loan at Benfica. Both relatively exciting rumours for different reasons, although it`s hard to take both overly seriously.

Thursday, 11th December

Attentions start to turn to Bolton, and James Milner is a doubt. If he is out, it raises the question of what we do. In a 4-5-1, I certainly would not want to see NRC out on the right. If we go to 4-4-2, do we play Sidwell on the right? Or Barry on the left with Young on the right? I am sure it will all become more clear over the next 48 hours.