Date: 28th March 2008 at 4:06pm
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There is probably one man that any side going through what can safely be described as a “slump” would not wish to face as they look to bounce back from a number of disappointing performances.

For those who don’t already know who I am on about (the article photograph may serve as a further hint) here are some clues. He once winked during a World Cup match and enraged an entire nation, he’s from Portugal, and his Brazilian name-sake is a somewhat overweight, buck-toothed striker currently contemplating his retirement slippers, pipe and 5 XL Bacon-Double Cheeseburgers, complete with fries.

Yes, the AVFC Claret & Blues have the unfortunate task of dealing with 34-goal attacking midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo as Martin O’Neill’s men look to avoid embarrassment on Setanta Sports this weekend.

A somewhat dejected, but hopeful preview upcoming and right here sports fans, from Vital Villa!

Vital Quotes:

As so cynically put within the Vital Villa forums this week it must be ‘season ticket renewal time already’ as manager Martin O’Neill or MON to some has been talking of a summer spending spree that has been promised a number of times only to be forgotten, lost down the sofa, or perhaps was stolen by one President Emeritus when he departed his office at Villa Park.

Speaking in the Birmingham Mail, MON the Messiah said:

“It does take time and this is what drives me on. Whatever we do this season, my job is to improve the side again and there’s so much scope to do that. It’s disappointing that we’re not up there challenging higher but it’s something I’m very aware of.”

“As has been proved in the Premier League, this isn’t something that takes 10 minutes – you can’t come in and change things overnight.

“You have to change the side around, get players in and change the whole mentality of the place.

“Sir Alex Ferguson showed that takes time – he was at Manchester United for a few years before things started turning around there.”

A good point perhaps as Wikipedia confirms, in 1989 (I would have been 3 years old and probably still a better goalkeeper than Scott Carson) a banner was shown at Old Trafford saying “Three years of excuses and it’s still crap. Ta ra Fergie!” Perhaps had the Villans banner-making faithful been a bit more inventive and forceful with their prose than “We’re not fickle we just don’t like you” David O’Leary may have led us to cup glory and onwards to dominate the top English division for years to come.

Or perhaps, not.

Looking (no doubt somewhat enviously) towards Manchester United, and their playmaker who has managed to score 3.7 times more goals than our current goal scorer, Jon Carew, the manager believes that Villa may just have what it takes to overcome a Manchester United side that hasn’t been beaten by Aston Villa in a league match since the 1995/96 season, famously complaining that that year’s away kit left their players invisible to the naked eye!

Speaking with, el Messiah said:

“We’ve got to get that belief back again that we can do it. That’s the thing that’s gone missing. If you don’t pass it as well as you should during a game, of course the confidence oozes away.

“But we have to put the last few games behind us and really go for it. If we play to the levels we did at Arsenal, we’re capable of winning this game.”

On danger man Ronaldo, who has now scored more league goals than Villa fans have seen their team score at Villa Park this season, O’Neill was smart enough to realise that he may be the ‘go to guy’ for the Ded Revils.

”I think that at the moment he probably is the finest player in the world.

“We get a chance to see a lot of global football nowadays on TV and it’s very difficult to see anyone who’s playing better in the world at the moment.

“I’ve yet to see anyone scale those heights for the consistent length of time in a season as Ronaldo. He’s absolutely brilliant.”

How to stop that damn ‘winker?’ Well it’s somewhat simple (are you listening Zatiyah?)

“Obviously it’s a big ask for us to do something about him, but we’re capable of doing it and we’ve got to stay focussed for the whole 90 minutes.”

One alternative, whilst not particularly ethical, morally correct nor within the rules, is that a Villa player risks the wrath of the top-4 loving world of the media, and gives him a right good kick within the first 5 minutes, or preferably, in the tunnel before the match.

Just a thought.


Sir Alex Ferguson it could be said has had one of the greatest careers as a manager in the history of English football. He may even have reached the point where we can completely ignore his usual whinges about referees, time added on, the weather and just how Paul McGrath wasn’t good enough for Man Yoo (thanks Alex!)

A fresh entry for the bible according to Sir Alex has come regarding his opinions on his top scorer, and all-round wonder man Ronaldo. With the Portuguese playmaker homing in on Dennis Law’s Manchester United record for most goals in a single season (46 in the 63/64 season) Sir Alex pointed out that to reach that level, he would have to surpass his own bosses goalscoring exploits in what he forgot was an inferior Scottish League:

“Denis was a fantastic player — he was my hero — but I didn’t know about that record.

“That even beats my record! I scored 45 in 51 games for Dunfermline back in 1965/66.”

“Ronaldo’s speed with the ball is the real asset he has. He’s probably just as quick running the ball as he is without it.

“There have been a few players like that in the past. Maradona, for example, ran at great speed with the ball at his feet.

“Ronaldo is similar in that way. That’s the thing that bemuses defenders, when a player like him is running at them at such speed; it makes life very difficult for them.”

It’s a Ronaldo love-fest from Manchester United, but what team wouldn’t want him in their side right now!

Manchester Red Devils Team News:

Darren Fletcher has knackered his ligaments in Scotland’s 1-1 friendly draw with Croatia, a team that England failed to overcome thanks to our on-loan goalkeeper (whoops!)

Thankfully it appears that Ben Foster won’t be playing against us.

Nani and Ronaldo both pulled out of the Portugal squad and will likely be fully fit to face Villa.

Player to watch: Cristiano Ronaldo

34 goals, dangerous from free kicks, roams around the pitch, can score from headers, with his left foot, with his right foot, from set pieces, in open play, takes penalties, is quick with and without the ball, skilful with the ball at his feet, makes intelligent off the ball runs, AND has ‘had’ Gemma Atkinson.

Ronaldo is the one to watch.

AVFC Claret& Blues Team News:

According to the BBC Martin O’Neill must “choose” whether he is to stick with goalkeeper Scott Carson as the on-loan stopper has apparently looked “short of confidence in recent games.”

To think they could have condensed 6 words into just one…


Craig Gardner picked up an injury whilst on England U21 duty, so Olof ‘I’m Off’ Mellberg will step back in at right back.

Forum user AVFC48 expects to see Stiliyan Petrov at some point.

I hope to see more of Moustapha Salifou who allegedly has kicked a football in recent weeks.

The former FC Wil striker may be set for a bigger role
As injuries start to take their toll.
We all no doubt hope that he’ll give his all,
And remembers what to do, when given the football.

Player to watch: Gabriel Agbonlahor

There’s no problem with Gabby not scoring according to Martin O’Neill.

Well that would be ok, if he wasn’t trotting around the pitch in a manner that would even make Luke Moore look the epitome of modesty.


Useless Facts:

Time for the preview musical interlude once more, with it’s topical themes. This week it is the turn of a Manchester United supporter who must be the only person ever to attempt ginger dreadlocks!

  • In the words of Neil Baker, “Odd, very odd.”

  • Manchester United are unbeaten in 22 home league games against Villa.

  • The last time Villa won a league match at Old Trafford, Peter Withe scored both goals in Villa’s 2-1 win in November 1983.

  • Wilfred Bouma and Martin Laursen have been ever present starters for Aston Villa this season, an amazing feat in Laursen’s case given his dodgy knees.

  • Laursen is however some distance away from joining Paul McGrath in the “god” stakes.

  • When Manchester United were first sold to the Glazier family, FC United was formed in an AFC Wimbledon style team for “real” supporters of a Manchester team.

  • It is likely that upon noticing that the Glazier’s aren’t that bad, the majority went flooding back.

  • Fickle sugarbags.

    Ref Watch:

    The referee for the match is Mr Mark Halsey who once played a game for Barnet.

    Mr Halsey has managed a respectable 75 yellow and 5 red cards in his 35 matches this season.

    Match Prediction:

    I was going to predict a loss, now I think 2-1 Villa COME ON!

    Next Up:

    Villa face Bolton Wanderers on the 5th of April.

    For those interested and perhaps some who aren’t, the 5th April will be my 22nd birthday, and would have been my late mothers 45th.

    So Villa better sodding win else General K will hear about it!

    Thanks for taking the time to read the preview! All comments welcome!