Right, so how do you do a match report after crashing out of Europe?
I was going to talk about my journey in, nice journey, I enjoy driving, we set out early and were surprised at the lack of traffic …. we got there in record time, parked up fairly closely and walked… well in my case hobbled… down to get our pies.
Oh right, so that is an idea, I could talk about the pies…! The move to Pukka Pies… good or bad? Well, first impressions at the Wigan game, thumbs up. Last night, because I am consumer minded, I decided to re-test… first steak and kidney pie, spot on… so spot on that after a trip for a gypsies kiss, I decided to re-test just to make sure. Two pies and one Cadbury’s boost bar down me…. interestingly I’ve never had a Cadbury’s boost before, I had a blue one, don’t know what the difference is but despite being served like red wine at room temperature, I’m a chilled chocolate man myself, very nice.
Down to my seat, damn I wished at that stage I’d brought an ibuprofen, the Rapid Vienna fans were in fine voice and that was 40 minutes before the game. Total nutters and what great fun, very entertaining from start to finish.
Or I could talk about my journey home…? The radio was interesting, we had to search for Radio WM for a phone in and to be fair, people weren’t happy. Strange that after a defeat, after again not really being prepared for Europe and having gone out to a team most thought would be easy? Great idea for Birmingham City council to close Queensway and the other tunnels on a match night, wouldn’t have crossed their minds to look at the fixtures to prevent the major tailbacks I guess? Still, at least it meant we had more time to listen to the radio…!
Or I guess I could talk about the game?!
Got to be honest, over the two legs, the right team won. We had our chances in both matches but on reflection and trying not to be biased, they had more and in the first leg especially, could really have put the game out of sight. I must admit I have never really understood the away goal rule…. well, I understand that they say it makes the away team push for goals and hence make games more exciting, but in Europe games aren’t often that exciting and do become chess games instead… I am not sure Villa did that much wrong, just Rapid ‘did us’ and that is football.
Against Wigan there was no effort, as a fan I can’t accept that. Last night, I was happy to clap them off, they put in the effort, they didn’t give up and you could see they were trying, well all but one anyway! Never been about results for me, obviously I go home happier with a win but the minimum requirement for this baldy head is 110% effort. We won the game, we lost the play offs and there you go. Due to the fact like last year we aren’t prepared… and I hate to say this (as others have already said in article comments etc) … but it might be a blessing that we are out. With the injuries to the likes of John Carew (back and fit last night) and Curtis Davies who put his shoulder out again last night, which might hasten his need for surgery (get well soon Mr D) we are obviously not going to be able to compete on all fronts and so, despite the cost to the club, it might mean we can battle on in the Premier League and maybe not stretch ourselves to the point of danger?
I must admit, after 7 transfer windows I’m a bit incredulous about our squad but if you dare mention anything like that, you get called negative, I refute that, I just think I’m realistic, we might have a better chance now of pushing top 8 in the league and a cup run in the League Cup maybe.
The debate will rumble whether MON should have changed a winning team from the Liverpool game, whether Sidwell and NRC should have been dropped and what formation we should have played, thing is, despite it being interesting to debate, only one man’s opinion matters, same for all clubs, it is the manager who makes the decisions and it is his job that is on the line. Get it right and you get the plaudits, get it wrong and you are out.
I thought James Milner was our bright spark last night, also Brad Guzan pulled off a couple of super saves. Also having watched the end of the Channel 5 coverage when I got home (yes, I am that sad, I’m sure there are others also!?) it was pointed out how well Carlos Cueller had played and how exposed he had been by other players positioning.
So, all in all, it wasn’t a bad match last night, it wasn’t a bad performance, Rapid could have had more especially the open goal miss but then, so could we and Ashley Young obviously missed a penalty which didn’t help. The ref was woeful but no way did that affect the result, he was as bad both ways and it seems most European game refs are similar, we can’t blame him anyway, he did give two penalties (and the one did look a little bit like a dive having watched replays!)
We won at home, that must be used to give the lads confidence and now we must do the same against Fulham. And I mean WE MUST. I think at the end there were a few boo’s but that was soon turned round to fans singing Aston Villa…. long may the boo’s be drowned out by our songs!
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MON verdict: Click Here
Villa fans to be rewarded: Click Here
Brad Guzan 7
pulled off some very important saves, don’t think he can be blamed for their goal. Looks like a good prospect, lets hope he is our Number One for many years and he does as well as some of the other American keeper imports have in the PL
Nicky Shorey 6
looks good at times, looks a bit shaky in defence at times. Still don’t think he deserves the poor reputation he has with some!
Carlos Cuellar 7
solid … even more solid having watched the end of match highlight summary!
Curtis Davis 6.5
was playing well, horrible to see him coming off with his shoulder at a different angle, bless him he still clapped the Trinity crowd who had stood up to clap him off as we could see what had happened.
Habib Beye 6
looked ok, settling in nicely, got a fair bit of pestering from MON shouting this, that and the other to him, JG used to do similar putting the players off their stride!
James Milner 7
solid, well taken penalty, some great first touches, did miss a fairly easy chance in open play which is a shame but I like Milner!
Stiliyan Petrov 5.5
we lost the battle in midfield, Stan wasn’t at his best.
Fabian Delph 5.5
same as Stan, we did lose the midfield battle BUT this guy will be a star, he made a few great runs, weaving in and out, just wasn’t able to make the final ball count. Very promising.
Ashley Young 5.5
glimpses of his great ability, got us a pen but then, also missed it and didn’t take the second one. He isn’t on tip top form at the moment and the touches that were working so well last season have – temporarily – evaded him. He’ll bounce back, they do say form is temporary, class is permanent.
John Carew 7
quiet at times but he is a threat and his goal was simply fab!
Emile Heskey 5
wasn’t in the game, it is a bit confusing really having him at Villa, he was never prolific and is nearing the end of his career so not sure that will change, certainly won’t if he won’t shoot. I think Harewood is better! Still want him to prove us wrong though, as did the Liverpool and Blues fans I’m sure. Wigan fans loved him though!
Agbonlahor on for Heskey 82
Not on long enough to rate.
Lowry on for Davies 83
Not on long enough to rate.
Not on long enough to rate.
Got the plaudits for doing everything right v Liverpool, changed it so was always going to get some moans, it is the nature of football. Surprised subs weren’t used quicker after the Rapid goal, Heskey had been a passenger again but then, I couldn’t do MON’s job for all the money in the world, I’d be dead from stress within a week!
Well he looked happy!