Last night Villa fans in their hundreds decided to get up, stand up on 74 minutes before exiting into the night. Our “custodian” obviously did not do so not least because he had as is usual not bothered to attend the game. No doubt as in the past his decision to stay away was influenced by his lack of interest in the club he once claimed to be the “custodian” of as well as by the likely welcome he would get and has so merited should he have done so.
Well done to those who organised, publicised and took part in the 74th minute protest last night. To those who stayed in their seats or who left when the third goal was conceded 14 minutes earlier I would ask that you to think again about joining us on the 74th minute in our next two home games http://outthedooron74.co.uk/
It is astounding that given our recent results we still stand only 8 points from safety. It makes me wonder what might have been had we rolled the dice from the start of the last transfer window with a little more intent and if our team was a little less inclined to accept being relegated without a fight.
Sadly with games at Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal as well as at home to Spurs and Chelsea among our remaining 10 games our relegation for the first time since 1987 is all but 99.9% sealed.
Even if we somehow won each and every one of the other 5 games we have left that would leave us with just 31 points. That would not be enough. To hit even that target let alone to get another 4 or more additional points which could set a point total that 3 clubs above us might struggle to reach looks well beyond us. Perhaps a 4-point target that would take us to 20 points by the end of the season would be a little more achievable.
Our “custodian” and board accepted our fate in January if not before then. They should hang their heads in shame about that. The players seemed to give up any lingering hope they may still have had in our last home game and that continued to be the case with last night’s performance albeit quite an improvement on our last home one. As fans I think we now reluctantly accept our fate but we are far from happy about the custodian, board and players being quite so ready to accept it earlier than most of us had been.
Some of us may still cling to the irrational hope of an unlikely miracle that will see us stay up against all of the odds but we all know that we are now holding on to the slippery edge of the abyss by the finger tips of just one hand.
Once again we looked likely to concede a goal every time our opponents attacked and any confidence we had evaporated as soon as we went a goal down. Everton were content with an all too comfortable win last night. Fortunately our visitors resisted the temptation to move out of second gear and help themselves to the further goals that had looked there for the taking. At times our midfield looked reasonable; on occasion our attack also caused Everton’s defence a little concern but we find scoring goals as hard as we find conceding them easy.
Everton fans deserve credit for applauding our fans singing during the second half when all was already lost and for doing the same to show support as we left the ground on the 74th minute. I have also been reliably informed that Baines and two of his team mates applauded the Holte End at the end of the game. Let us hope that this most played top-flight fixture is only briefly interrupted.
My player ratings from a game that finally turned our promised bright future into an embarrassingly bleak one are:
Brad Guzan – 4 – Got the nod over Bunn. Brad demonstrated that the susceptibilities that led to his losing his starting place have not gone away. He failed to get an outstretched hand to the cross from Funes Mori that led to their third goal on the hour having made a good save from a Lukaku header moments earlier. He had previously spilled a 33rd minute Mirallas shot but Lescott saved his blushes by clearing Oviedo’s shot off the line.
Alan Hutton – 4 – Worked hard and was a willing runner but he was unable to produce an end product. Alan looked a bit like a fish out of water playing in an unfamiliar wing back role.
Michah Richards – 5 – Put in a shift but failed to pick up Funes Mori choosing instead to run in front of him to leave him free to head home a 5th minute Mirallas cross. Connected acrobatically with a 26th minute corner but his effort flew a yard wide.
Joleon Lescott – 5 – Was in the right place at the right time to clear a 33rd minute close range shot off the line and had an effort in the first minute of first half stoppage time turned wide.
Ciaran Clark – 3 – Should have chosen to stay on Lennon but was distracted by Lukaku who was behind him and ended up on neither player when Lennon hit the ball past both Lescott and Guzan from another Mirallas cross for their second on the half hour mark. He also failed to pick up Lukaku who was therefore unmarked when he slotted the ball home when behind him for their third.
Aly Cissokho – 6 – MOTM – Did surprisingly well in a wing back role. Aly hit a 32nd minute shot that Robles saved at his near post. He also provided some good crosses such as the one after a good run on the 43rd minute that Gabby was unable to get his head to. He was also again solid at the back.
Leandro Bacuna – 3 – For a reason unknown to me Leo seems to be one of the first names on the team sheet. He again did very little to justify his selection last nigh other than when forcing a save from Robles with a 28th minute shot from outside of the box.
Ashley Westwood – 4 – Had a decent 24th minute shot from the edge of the box turned around the post by Robles and a 62nd minute shot blocked inside of the box.
Idrissa Gana – 5 – The best and hardest working of our midfield yesterday.
Jordan Ayew – 5 – A welcome return for Jordan after his three game suspension.
Gabriel Agbonlahor – 3 – Got a touch on the ball on 23 minutes that produced a save from Robles but although he did some running when they were in possession particularly early in the game he posed no threat to their defence.
Rudy Gestede – Replaced Gabby after 67 minutes and scored our consolation goal 12 minutes later which I have now seen on television. Rudy climbed well in front of Jagielka and hung in the air to get on the end of Veretout’s measured cross which he headed home with some aplomb. Other than this I did not see enough of him to be able to give a rating although his goal was well taken and suggested he might yet do a job next season given the right service.
Jordan Veretout – Replaced Westwood on 71 minutes and claimed an assist. I was also not there long enough to be able to decide on a rating for him having gone out the door 3 minutes after he came on.
Up the Villa!