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Pattern Recognition - Manchester United Away Report


blandy
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A match report in which your correspondent fails to report almost anything of note.

Apologies, dear reader, but I'm lost for what to say, or what to make of it all today. There was a game played. Villa, as is the case and has been the case for a very long time now, lost to Manchester United at Old Trafford - I was a teenager last time I saw us win there, 25 years ago.

I've been to just about every game we've played there since that win in '83. The past decade or so, they've all been much the same, the games, with the odd exception. Managers have come and gone, many players too. The good, the bad, the indifferent.

And always it's the same. Sometimes, like today, it rains and it rains and it rains. Other times the sun's been out.

Always, as far as I can recollect, the end result is much the same. They win, we lose.

Today we started brightly, for 12 minutes or so looking sprightly. Then they scored from a badly defended corner - the ball missed by the zonally marking defenders, hitting one of them, Bouma, I think, and Ronaldo quick to the ball knocked it into the net. Game over, really.

Though it went on for much longer, of course, all that is to report is that United were bright, pacy, eager, talented and alert, and had plenty more chances, some scored, some saved, some missed - Rooney scored a couple, and Tevez the other - a header from a cracking cross by Rooney, with Nigel Reo-Coker dozing off on the wrong side of Tevez.

Rooney's two goals were well taken. He missed a sitter, Shaun Maloney missed a sitter for us, they then scored. Oh, I give up - you'll have seen it on the telly, anyway.

3 of the goals were due to defensive lapses, perhaps, but at other times we defended well, individually.

Look, who cares? It happened.

The struggle I have is quite what to make of it, quite what it tells us. And I just don't know.

I'm sure people will debate and discuss on the messageboard the significance of this that or the other for our prospects over the rest of the season, and into next even. But I just have no thoughts at all on the matter.

Perhaps people will discuss why we played a central midfielder at right back. He did quite well, Nigel. Should we be doing it though?

Perhaps people will look at the performances of individuals - why was Gabby so absolutely listless? was it his orange boots?

Why was Zat dropped? - well I think we know why, on that one.

Really I don't care. Not in a "I've had it with them" way. I just don't care in a "there's now't I can do about it" way. It's been going on for so long, it's so utterly predictable, whether it's Neil Cox or Earl Barrett, Paul McGrath or Olof Mellberg, Scot Carson or Tommy Sorensen...and so on. It's all just blended into one long repetitive pattern of them being better than us.

Today's little rays of hope were Shaun Maloney, Stillian Petrov, Martin Laursen and Daddy Cool, sorry, Salifou - just mildly resembling Ian Taylor, by the way.

Details details.

What is Aston Villa Football Club going to do, or able to do about, y'know, just always losing at Old Trafford? Anything? Nothing? It's a big question, and one I feel goes to the heart of where the club's headed - Man United are the benchmark, the most successful club in England over the past decade plus. What can Villa do to replace them, anything? nothing? will we try, should we try? should we settle for being a self sustaining club? Is going to the games enough - just to watch and enjoy the football, without really worrying about that troublesome trophy business?

That we lost this year, is neither here nor there, really. But equally, we can't just sit here, forever looking for a brighter future, can we?

We sort of had a go - we lost 4-0 in part because we didn't go there for a 0-0. That's a start in my eyes. That approach, however forlorn it turned out to be, at least we wanted to take the game to them. Sporadically we were successful too, though let down, as I mentioned, by the defending.

The playing staff is sort of partly geared towards the attacking approach, but let down by whatever lethargy got into Gabby in particular, and the complete lack of depth of the current squad. So perhaps we can improve the squad?

But I've thought all these things before, in past seasons. It's just pattern recognition.

So go on then Villa, shake me out of this sodden, soggy, rain drenched, 80 quid down the drain catatonia. Or maybe don't. You decide. I'll watch. I've shouted and sang, trekked all over the Country, sulked and celebrated, cursed and lauded - and nothing's changed.

I'll go to the pub before the game, chat with friends, meet old friends, by chance, on the train, get soaking wet and sunburnt. Life will just go on. It's not a bad one. In fact it's a darned fine one.

No marks this week. But Gabby wouldn't have scored highly.

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I rather agree, Shady. Believe me, it was harder to write than to read.

I did apologise at the start, but I'll do so again now, now I'm dried out from the rain. Sorry for wasting 2 minutes of your life.

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this is the worst article i have read on VT,

can't say I agree with you ..i thought it was a good article and probabaly sums up most peoples feelings perfectly ..

if you want to know what happened in the match then buy the NOTW or a TV ..

not sure I agree about Salifou , to me he doesn't look like a Prem player and Laursen of late has been playing too high up the pitch and not making the tackle , but that's not to say that Laursen is to blame with this , more the lack of quality midfielder to play that role (or the way the team is currently setup ?)

some players need a rest , some youngsters need blooding .. 2+2 = 4 maybe ?

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not sure I agree about Salifou , to me he doesn't look like a Prem player

He's not up to speed yet, not quite at the pace of the Premier League but his touch was clearly good yesterday, a few more appearances and we'll see a decent player imo. He probably still made more completed passes than NRC did in the whole game

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this is the worst article i have read on VT, it tells me nothing about a game i dont want to recollect

I thought it was rather good. Not being what you were expecting doesn't make it bad. And maybe you missed the heads-up in the first sentence.

There's any number of tedious blow-by-blow factual accounts on the web, but you won't find too many thoughtful pieces like this.

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this is the worst article i have read on VT, it tells me nothing about a game i dont want to recollect

I thought it was rather good. Not being what you were expecting doesn't make it bad. And maybe you missed the heads-up in the first sentence.

There's any number of tedious blow-by-blow factual accounts on the web, but you won't find too many thoughtful pieces like this.

I agree. The last thing I'm interested in reading after such a game is a blow by blow account of how they thrashed us.

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this is the worst article i have read on VT, it tells me nothing about a game i dont want to recollect

Is it any wonder why we don't bother writing articles for the front page as much anymore when we get moronic statements like this?

If it's a game you don't want to recollect, then why **** read it in the first place? This whole culture that seems to have developed which makes a post which you agree with crap, and one you do as great even if it has no actual content or discussion has to stop.

I enjoyed reading this actually, as it confirmed to me that I'm not the only one feeling this. When the window shut in January for me that was season over as I felt we'd fall apart and I kind of lost interest in it slightly, just waiting for us to dribble over the final line so we can start up the nonsense that is the Summer.

There seems to be an acceptance creeping into the players and a few of the fans now that mistakes have been made and that the end of the season couldn't come faster so everyone can just have a break from it now.

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The article retty much represents how I felt too, - about that match, not the season - although more emphasis on the rain sodden part wouldn't have been amiss - it was really really wet. Not at all sure he is saying the season has endeed tho' - more resignationabout our fate as regards MU.

Two points though, which in a way could lead to a slightly brighter mood.

1. Never forget most other clubs feel the same way - they may not all lose as often, but all wish for the depth of quality MU have built up - it will never change, half the kids round here already supporrt them.

2. I dont envy Man U - top of the league, 4-0 up, title Holders, great players, and yet their fans were totally non plussed by it, like a person who has eaten only banquets no longer relishing good food.

As I say to my son every time, one day we will beat them , and when we do we will enjoy it INFINITELY more than they do beating us .

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well i tend to agree with all that has been written. One thing i am very confused about and i suppose shouldn't be is why isnt anyone questioning the fact that we have to play Reo at right back when we had time last summer and January to buy a right back? this decision made the team very weak in Midfield, i feel we would have been better off playing 3 centre backs and a 3-5-2 formation. Im sorry but I am not convinced what is going at Villa at the moment is all good, we lost the CEO? no questions asked on that one? why???? we have been told there is a mega transfer kitty? no substantial signings of any note???? why???. Also why did we put all our eggs into one basket and try and buy this keeper from the states? we did of course leave it to the last minute only to find out he couldn't get a work permit? surely that is something that Manure or Arsenal or Chelski wouldn't have done. I feel that the season finished in January again when we were very quiet in the transfer market and could see this was going to happen. I am very much bemused by the questions that aren't being asked and afraid i am just accepting the usual again, same old promises same old nothing same old Villa.

Up the Villa

Mac

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One thing i am very confused about and i suppose shouldn't be is why isnt anyone questioning the fact that we have to play Reo at right back when we had time last summer and January to buy a right back?
That's a very good point.
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this is the worst article i have read on VT, it tells me nothing about a game i dont want to recollect

Is it any wonder why we don't bother writing articles for the front page as much anymore when we get moronic statements like this?

Thanks for "defending" the article, but really there's no need. If Shady didn't like it, I have no problem with him saying so. If we write stuff, then it's ok by me for people to comment on it, good or bad.

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Thought it was a good post. Summed up my feelings better than I could have put on paper (or on a computer screen - you know what i mean)

One thing to add that that really cheered me up was the 90 minutes it took me to get away from the place. Joy of joys

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i thought it was a good article and summed us up completly. When i saw that we were playing NRC at right back the game was kind of dead for me from the outset. I thought we played pretty well all things considered and Manure were different class, its not a mistake they are top of the table. team wise, i'm done with petrov, he needs to go in the summer, our defence looks like a leaky bucket, how many games have we gone now without a clean sheet? To be fair Manure were going to score against us but i didn't expect Sunderland to last week.

Gabby has run out of steam and needs a rest end of.

Maloney looks good when played up front and his form varies when played on the wing.

We seem to rely soley on Young to give us any hope of creativity.

the season is pretty much over for me, we should finish in the top half of the table but europe is gone for us unless we make the Intertoto.

We need a massive summer from MON and on previous form he doesn't look like the guy to bring in masses of players quickly.

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Yes Blandy Old Trafford is and always has been a tough nut to crack and I can appreciate how you felt after this latest defeat. Since the early 80s when we last won there thanks to goals from Withe we have seldom got any joy there even when we started games on a par with them or with the slight edge on them in the league. One game stands out for me under Big Ron when Stan hit a screamer and they were lucky to get a point as we both went for the title that year but generally our results up there have been too predictable. At least we tried to take the game to them again having recognised that by putting 11 men behind the ball up there damage limitation is mainly all that is achieved.

One day under Martin we will crack this nut but for now anything other than a hiding is a bit of a result for us up there and at the start of the season if someone had told me we would only lose 1 game away against the big 4 this season, I would have been more than happy and would have guessed this would be the one we lost.

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I rather agree, Shady. Believe me, it was harder to write than to read.

I did apologise at the start, but I'll do so again now, now I'm dried out from the rain. Sorry for wasting 2 minutes of your life.

I dont know if you were being sarcastic, but I dont like articles that are in essence negative as they are on the front page, especially with our recent form the forum has become very negative in the thread types that are up.

There were positives from this match, as weird as it seems to suggest, MON tried to be attacking in playing 4 forwards, 3 midfielders and 3 defenders and I think that most fans knew we would lose the game, but we learnt a few things and set up to "threaten" to attack, had we gone in 5-4-1 and still lost I would be fuming as we didnt even try to compete, we tried, we failed, but I do think that sometimes you need to lose a battle to win the war, this game was that... personally I would have played some youngsters, people say oh they might get scarred, but I think they would relish an opportunity to play at the Theatre of Dreams and if they did anything positive they would take that away and their confidence would be sky high too

We have overachieved and the lopsidedness we have was evident and hopefully it will kick MON into gear to begin searching for the missing ingredients for that right side, Man Utds movement was something to behold too.

Blandy was lucky enough to see the game live, newspapers are biased in what is written so I was hoping to hear more about how MONS formation faired, why he thought things went wrong, perhaps with suggestions on what he would feel might have worked with the personnel available.

People wanted to see Harewood start... What did they make of him getting his chance? these questions he mentioned are interesting -

Perhaps people will discuss why we played a central midfielder at right back. He did quite well, Nigel. Should we be doing it though?

Perhaps people will look at the performances of individuals - why was Gabby so absolutely listless? was it his orange boots?

Why was Zat dropped? - well I think we know why, on that one.

if you want to know what happened in the match then buy the NOTW or a TV ..

Some people are not lucky enough to be able to afford to see villa week in week out, much less pay for a TV and have sky too, I do however from reading some of Blandys comments elsewhere on this forum, know that he could (and has) written pieces in far more interesting manners. Fine we lost but there are positives and questions to be asked I think the article needed balance to it

With Gabby guaranteed a start he seems to just drift off and not work anywhere near as hard as he used to, I think he needs to be dropped to get him focussed mentally and to realise he's on the verge of the England team and shouldnt be letting Nike Adverts and the call ups get to his head.

All I ask of Villa is that every player works hard, seeing Carew Walk around the pitch waiting for the ball to come to him disappoints me, seeing a lack of off the ball movement when we have possesion is diabolical and this is illustrated from every throw in i have seen this season! People are just too comfortable in their roles, sending some kids out would have made the regulars think about their attitudes

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Some thoughts on the game,

- Manure were red hot, and would have beaten anyone on Sat.

- NRC is NOT a right back, and there always a slim chnace of him being able to contain the oik ronaldo

- We are paying the price of having a painfully small squad, with no cover.

- We over achieved up to the Arse. game, and while it was top to see us linked with a 4th place finish, we dont have the strength in depth to finish the season off.

- MON must have a big off season and spend at least 40m.

Finally,

- Trust in MON, for he will lead us on the righteous path

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Sure playing a team like that will always be difficult, even under the best of circumstances.

To be fair we played quite well at some stages, especially the beginning of each respective half, but our attack looked really lightweight, and we really had trouble keeping the ball whilst pressuring their defence, who had a very good game indeed.

Those commentators were creaming themselves........

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Firstly thanks Blandy for taking the time to write the article. Whether you agree/like what Blandy has written you should not slag himas he has taken the time to do it in the first place.

Secondly it sums it up for me perfectly and asks that really tough question that we would all like th answer to. Do we have the have what it takes to REALLY go and compete with Man Utd? I think we don;t but I also think you will never have that admitted by the board as they know deep down if they came out publicly that the crowds would invariably drop.

It is a sad indictment that we have fallen so far in the last 15 years. When the Prem started we were the equal of Man Utd.

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