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Mission Accomplished!


John
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Odense BK were unable to stop us becoming the ninth club to win the Intertoto Cup twice and the first and only British club to achieve this feat!

So onwards and upwards to our rightful place in the UEFA Cup. This was not a great game although it was settled by a great goal from Ashley Young and our victory came at a heavy price as we lost our ever popular left back Freddy Bouma to what appeared to be a horrific injury.

So it seems that Martin now needs to search urgently for a left as well as a right back. That search might take him to Reading before next Saturday and see us consider rescuing Shorey from a season where he might otherwise be facing the likes of Small Heath’s finest in the league below us. It was great to see us bring in a second new face at half time when Brad Freidel made a first appearance at Villa Park as a Villa player. He represents great value, commands his box and has the first name Brad which will make our other new Brad feel at home when as seems likely he eventually joins us after the Olympic Games.

Oh and what of Gareth? What a difference a few days makes. The hostile reception he received at Walsall became something that even Gareth could not have hoped for in his wildest dreams. He received a very warm welcome from thirty one thousand Villa fans who appeared to tell him that they are prepared to let bygones be bygones and to give him an escape route from a protracted and acrimonious transfer that seems less likely with each day that passes to happen. Liverpool claim they want him in the press but find money for other signings and turn their priorities to Keane at a higher price than the one we are asking of them for our captain. The conclusion? They really don’t want him that much and only want him at a price that is below his market value. The remedy? Gareth is offered a new contract over the weekend at something near the wage he would have picked up at Anfield. He signs a new deal and commits himself to our bright future. It’s a win, win situation for club and player. We keep an England regular, make what would be our most important signing of this transfer window and fill one of the key vacant places in our squad that seems so hard for us to do in transfer windows. The loss of Bouma saw Gareth slot into his role and without him, who else could have done a job there? We just can’t afford to let him go now and hopefully yesterday will show him that he really has only one ground where he will receive such a warm welcome and feel so at home. So will he toss all of that aside or will it be “Barry for Villa”?

My player ratings from a game that set up the potential for some entertaining European nights at Villa Park this season are:

Stuart Taylor - 6 – A good one handed stop on 8 minutes to prevent an early goal that could have put undue pressure upon us, did a solid enough job when tested as he always does but will have been relieved to see Fall hit the foot of the post with a shot on 28 minutes when left with just him to beat.

Craig Gardner – 6 – Much less exposed than in the first leg and did a solid enough job in what needs to become a position someone else will soon fill on a regular basis thus freeing him up to move into midfield contention and to fill in at full back only in an emergency.

Zat Knight – 6 – A solid enough display.

Martin Laursen – 7 – Solid at the back and a regular threat up front.

Wilfred Bouma – 7 – We will miss him. All the very best for a speedy recovery Freddy.

Stiliyan Petrov – 6 – Not up to the level of performance he had shown towards the end of last season yet.

Nigel Reo Coker – 7 – Our best midfield player by some way yesterday.

Steve Sidwell – 6 – No longer a big fish in a small pond as he was at Reading or a small fish in a big one as he was at Chelsea. He gets into some good positions but is not up to speed yet. Can only improve as he gets a run of games.

Ashley Young – 8 – MOTM – Had a good free kick deflected just wide on 10 minutes and then cut inside and pulled the trigger on 50 minutes to clinch our win with a tremendous shot that was always bound for the top corner of the net. Showed some nice touches before and particularly after that.

John Carew – 6 – Hit the under side of the bar on 66 minutes but not quite at his best as yet.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6 – Picked his spot on 77 minutes but unfortunately that spot was just wide of the post. Will need to develop that killer instinct this season.

Substitutes:

Gareth Barry - Replaced Freddy on 15 minutes. Came on to a terrific reception and earned ripples of applause with his every touch. Performed as you would expect a player who is worth £18m to do.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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The winner of the Intertoto won't be determined until the UEFA Cup is nearly complete: "it" is awarded to the Intertoto club that advances furthest in the UEFA Cup.

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I stand corrected both. I had understood there would not be a cup presented to anyone this time as this was the last competition and as with last time we won it more than one club would qualify as Intertoto winners and there had therefore been more than one Intertoto Cup. But, if it is to be the team that advances the furthest in the UEFA Cup then I would not want to bet against us being that club and if so, as double winners, I guess we would get to keep it? :winkold:

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