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Claret & Blue Blood #28


ChrisVillan
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In his latest column, ChrisVillan looks back on defeat by Spurs, Stan and Reo, The Heskey Curse and...erm...Brian Clough.

Spurs hit-and-run

There's nothing that can quite match the pain of watching the Villa getting happy-slapped at home by Spurs, and unfortunately I experienced that for the first time last Saturday. Goals from Jermaine Jenas and Darren Bent capitalised on Villa's uncharacteristically weak left hand side and we had no answer until substitute John Carew thumped a header in off the crossbar.

The performance wasn't the worst of the season, but it was pretty flat. Ashley Young ran Didier Zokora ragged and we were unlucky that Zokora's time-wasting got him booked and he lost his head. Harry Redknapp took him off for that reason, not a tactical one. Taking the credit after Vedram Corluka performed well against Young just shows what a snidey old bastard Redknapp is.

Of course, the headlines were stolen by the supporters. You see, we booed Gabriel Agbonlahor (if you read the papers) or ironically cheered Martin O'Neill for finally substituting the golden boy (if you were there). But I've made my feeling on this incident known in a previous article, so I'm not going to go into it again.

Suffice to say the Spurs game was disappointing all round, the manager included. Luke Young put in a rare poor performance, Brad Friedel should have punched Aaron Lennon's cross rather than palm it meekly onto Jenas' head, and very few others came out with much credit. One who did, of course, was Stiliyan Petrov. Stan has been our player of the season by an absolute country mile, and this Spurs game was another example of him showing up and putting in a performance when all around him falter.

Another creditable performance was the contribution made by Nigel Reo-Coker. Cokes came in at right back and did rather well, showing some very positive signs. I personally think he's done a decent job out there when he's played there this season.

Emo takes a beating

Perhaps not surprisingly, much of the focus has fallen on the signing of Emile Heskey. Our downturn in form has kind of coincided with his arrival, and people have started to spot that in the media as well as in the stands.

Posters here at VillaTalk have reverted to the usual scapegoating and Rollerskates is the obvious target, but I don't really think you can blame the big man for a dip in form which has been so profound. Let's be honest, injuries have exposed our thin squad (yeah, it's Martin's fault but it's what gives us team spirit) and playing since July has done us no favours.

In hindsight, we shouldn't be shocked that our form has fallen away - it was always going to happen at some point. Similarly, Arsenal were always going to improve. This is when we see what Villa are made of.

Bricking it

Some friendly fixtures coming up, eh? Liverpool away is a guaranteed three points in the bag, especially when they're in their best form for 92 years. After that, I can't see anything other than a big victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford. With six points from those two, we'll be ahead of Everton when they come to visit.

Err...oh shit. On a serious note, I'd take a point from those two games. But then we must beat the Toffees. It really is as simple as that.

Coming up...

Some of you will be anxiously waiting for the film adaptation of David Peace's semi-fictional account of Brian Clough's 44 days at Leeds, "The Damned United". Next week sees a far more sympathetic documentary about Clough's career, featuring interviews with the people who knew him best - and I've seen it. Martin O'Neill features heavily, so keep an eye out for my write-up tomorrow.

Don't forget, you can follow yours truly and VillaTalk on Twitter. Have a bostin' weekend.

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Another creditable performance was the contribution made by Nigel Reo-Coker. Cokes came in at right back and did rather well, showing some very positive signs. I personally think he's done a decent job out there when he's played there this season.

I have been one of those who have ridiculed the signing of Reo-Coker and i still stand by that. For me he gives the ball away too much for a midfielder that cost 8million and he doesn't score enough goals!

Nevertheless, he is, less of a liability, at right back, than in midfield and does give us loads of energy from that position, but you couldn't exactly call him a cultured right back?

MON might however use Reo-Coker in a five man midfield against Liverpool and Man U, so i would hide behind the settee whenever he receives a pass!

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Reo-Coker ... gives the ball away too much ...

My observation is that he most definitely used to do that, but that this major flaw in his game has vanished this season (hopefully never to to return).

I also believe that he has pretty much eliminated the utterly stupid fouling that he used to do.

Between NRC himself and the coaches and manager some massive improvements have come about in his game. It's perhaps not the sort of thing that stands out like going on a goal-scoring run would, but nevertheless his game has improved a great deal.

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My observation is that he most definitely used to do that, but that this major flaw in his game has vanished this season (hopefully never to to return).

Just wonder Blandy if we are both watching the same player? However, if he becomes Zidane overnight, creates and scores enough goals to see us into fourth spot, then i will gladly agree with you, but i doubt it!

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My observation is that he most definitely used to do that, but that this major flaw in his game has vanished this season (hopefully never to to return).

Just wonder Blandy if we are both watching the same player? However, if he becomes Zidane overnight, creates and scores enough goals to see us into fourth spot, then i will gladly agree with you, but i doubt it!

HE will never be like Zinadine Zidane. But that's not the point is it?

I am 100 percent certain, from watching him play this season that his game has improved a great deal, in terms of his ball retention and his elimination (or big reduction) in needless fouls.

If you don't see or feel the same is true sting, then either you're watching a different player as you hint, or one of us is rather mistaken, and it ain't me.

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Reo-Coker ... gives the ball away too much ...

My observation is that he most definitely used to do that, but that this major flaw in his game has vanished this season (hopefully never to to return).

I also believe that he has pretty much eliminated the utterly stupid fouling that he used to do.

Between NRC himself and the coaches and manager some massive improvements have come about in his game. It's perhaps not the sort of thing that stands out like going on a goal-scoring run would, but nevertheless his game has improved a great deal.

I'll have some of "This."

I'm a huge Coker fan.

he brings great athleticism and comittment, agresssion and leadership to the team, and that IMO far outweighs the occassional misplaced pass or lack of killer ball.

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HE will never be like Zinadine Zidane. But that's not the point is it?

I am 100 percent certain, from watching him play this season that his game has improved a great deal, in terms of his ball retention and his elimination (or big reduction) in needless fouls.

If you don't see or feel the same is true sting, then either you're watching a different player as you hint, or one of us is rather mistaken, and it ain't me.

Hi Blandy. The quote about Zidane was rather tongue in cheek and i had hoped that it would be taken as such! My point about Reo-Coker is this. When you pay 8 million for any player you would expect that he would at least be able to pass the ball to one of his team mates from time to time and certainly look comfortable when he receives it. Watching Reo-Coker reminds me of a cartoon characterture, juggling with a time bomb. You state that his overall play has improved? Would like to see the stats on that. Played more for our second string in the UEFA Cup. Eh, why?

Martin preferring to play him now at right back, eh, why? How many goal assists, eh, few. How many goals scored, emm?

Lets just agree, to disagree Blandy and you can watch your Reo-Coker, while i continue to watch a midfielder bought by MON, who doesn't score regularly, can't pass, or keep the ball with any consistency, but on the positive side, can point and shout at his team mates all day. What a player!

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he brings great athleticism and comittment, agresssion and leadership to the team, and that IMO far outweighs the occassional misplaced pass or lack of killer ball.

Yep Jon, great for GB Athletics teams, but for Villa?

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he brings great athleticism and comittment, agresssion and leadership to the team, and that IMO far outweighs the occassional misplaced pass or lack of killer ball.

Yep Jon, great for GB Athletics teams, but for Villa?

he he.

I believe/hope that his comfort and awareness/skill on the ball will improve.

For me, that is his main drawback.

He's certainly a big plus in a tired team .....

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Hi Jon. Glad someone here doesn't take comments too seriously! Just posting this thread after the Liverpool game. I'm in total shock, not only at the system MON chose to play, but our overall performance! I guess both you, i and a million others will now be sitting in front of our computers, waiting on John's report tomorrow(Monday). I guess the knives will now be out. I sincerely regret to say that i told you so about Reo-Coker. I had hoped that he would somehow prove me wrong and that i could shake your hand and buy you a pint!

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