What on Earth can I possibly say about that? Not much to be honest, which is why this report is going to be comparatively shorter than the rest of the ones I`ve done. If the players can`t be bothered to at least try and justify the ticket prices I have to pay, then I`m not going to be bothered giving up lots of my free time to write about them.
I always try and be as positive as I can when I`m talking about Villa, after all, I don`t believe there`s any point in watching the team regularly if you can`t just enjoy the 90 minutes, but I really am struggling after that snooze-fest. The only player I really felt sorry for tonight was Shay Given, he had absolutely no chance with any of the goals and a quality, seasoned pro like him really deserved a better show from his defence.
It was just plain terrible, from the first minute right up until the last. It seemed like there was no passion or desire, and it just didn`t look like the players even had the ability or belief to get anything out of the game, worrying stuff, all things considered. McLeish`s defensive-mindedness didn`t help things either, with Gabby looking like a completely lost soul up front and Delfouneso not looking much more spritely on the wing, to put it lightly.
Things could get worse too, if what I heard on the journey home was true, that Darren Bent requires surgery on his injury. Imagine that, we`ll have Gabby up front on his own struggling to make headway past burly Premier League defenders who all know the way he tries to get past his opponents.
Taking all this into account, it seems like there could only be one possible positive to come out of tonight. Remember when McLeish stubbornly stuck with the 4-5-1 formation when he was at Blues, only to change to 4-4-2 when injuries and form gave him no other choice? This is something that well have (hopefully) occurred to McLeish at some point during the 90 minutes tonight. He surely must have seen by now that he can not persist with this formation at Villa, mustn`t he? We just don`t have the personnel to get the best results with 5 in midfield anymore.
What makes yesterday night so harrowing is that it was a massive chance to actually get some silverware, considering what McLeish achieved in this cup during his last season with Blues. Maybe last year was just their year? The jammy bastards. I really can`t blame the portion of the 22,000 who were brave enough to show up and watch that performance who started to leave early after Bolton scored their second goal. I wish I did.
So, the game started and it wasn`t too catastrophic initially, although it was quite clear to all early on in the game that we were going to have to retain the ball a lot better and in more dangerous positions if we really were going to hurt Bolton. Villa had one or two speculative shots that generally sailed miles wide, including Villa`s best chance, Gabby`s header that deflected off the corner of the 50 pence, otherwise known as his head.
I genuinely thought (and hoped) at half time that things would turn around in the second half. In what was yet another completely nondescript second 45 minutes as our magnanimous exit from the Carling Cup was confirmed, Man Utd reject Chris Eagles scored an absolute piledriver to give Bolton a goal`s lead and that was doubled as their Chelsea loanee Gael Kakuta made it 2.
And that was pretty much it. The performance was met with a deserving chorus of boos at the final whistle and all of a sudden the 5 game unbeaten run in the league becomes 1 win in 5, and things don`t look so rosy. Still, at least we can concentrate on the ‘bread and butter` of the Premier League now, or can we? It could be our year for the FA Cup
Shay Given 6
Our best player, just because he didn’t actually do anything wrong.
Alan Hutton 5
A second crap defensive performance. We might have to get used to this.
Stephen Warnock 5
Didn’t seem to exist at left-back.
Richard Dunne 5
Won about 4 headers.
James Collins 5
Made 1 good block that I could remember.
Stephen Ireland 5
At least he put himself about a bit.
Marc Albrighton 3
Didn’t beat his man very often and the final ball was crap.
Stiliyan Petrov 5
Barry Bannan 5
Worked hard but didn’t do much else.
Nathan Delfouneso 4
Is not a winger, end of.
Gabby Agbonlahor 4
Wasn’t great up against the centre backs.
Charles N’Zogbia 5
Can only remember him making one pass.