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Villa Outclassed by Wigan


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Villa Outclassed By Wigan

by PB

Roberto Martinez made his first appearance as a Premier League manager yesterday at Villa Park and showed that he is here to stay as his classy Wigan side played Villa off the park to rack up a deserved three points. It wont always be this easy Mr M.

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It is hard to take any positives out of that game really. Wigan came, weathered something of an early Villa storm and slowly grew in confidence until by the end their fans were cheering "ole" with every touch as their side sauntered to a very easy win over a disjointed and strangely dispirited Villa side who on this showing might be in for a long, hard campaign.

Villa started the game with new boy Habib Beye stepping in for the injured Luke Young at right back, and Petrov and Delph getting the nod in midfield. Up front Carew was apparently injured, and so benched, but then apparently got more injured in the warm up and so was replaced in the 18 altogether by Nathan Delfouneso. Heskey partnered Gabby in the starting line up.

Prior to this game Wigan were amongst the favourites to struggle after losing a raft of decent players (including our own Emile Heskey) and their manager in recent months, and yet on this showing they may well be looking forward to continental trips in twelve months time. They were technically very good, passing the ball accurately to feet, keeping it simple, keeping it moving forwards and they had enough bite in their midfield in the form of their hugely impressive debutant Hendry Thomas to dominate the extremely lightweight Villa pairing of Petrov and own debutant Fabian Delph.

In the Peace cup I thought Nigel Reo-Coker had done enough, more than enough really to warrant a start. He had shown that he can really play that holding role and that as a side we were so much stronger for having a player of his ilk in that slot in the team. His performances against Porto and Juventus in particular had been really impressive, and so I was really quite disappointed to see Petrov back in the team at the first possible opportunity. I dont think Petrov can really cut it as the holding player in a 4-4-2; last season too many teams walked through our central midfield and that was with an experienced international of quite some pedigree alongside Stan. Partnering him with a kid making his debut at this level was a curious decision by the manager, and one that badly backfired, a worrying little indication that one of last season's key lesson's hasnt been learnt.

Another of last season's key lessons surrounded the manager continuing to pick a clearly injured Curtis Davies from the Cup match at Everton onwards when the lad was clearly really suffering. In my opinion, this was one of the major reasons for our dramatic fall from grace. He badly needed an operation over the summer, and yet here he was, once again, strapped up, relatively immobile and asked to play at Premiership level and being found badly wanting. Personally I think its a disgrace that Curtis should be being asked to play on under such circumstances, and I cant for the life of me think what the manager hopes to achieve by this. We would be far better with Clark or Lowry for a few games, or, and here's a radical thought, maybe we can actually buy someone? Either way, take Curtis out of the team, now please, and get him patched up before permanent harm is done to both his fitness and his confidence.

Anyway, the match started pretty well for Villa and for about 10 minutes we looked well on top. We never really got close to scoring, a couple of shots wide or blocked being about all we could muster despite significant pressure. Then as Wigan began to get a grip the game started to swing from end to end with N'Zogbia firing against the post (TV replays suggested Brad may have got a touch) after running through our non existent midfield and at our immobile defence. Then impressive Colombian striker Rodallega had a header cleared from under the bar by Milner and Villa were clearly rattled.

On the half hour Rodallega got the goal that his team deserved. A long punt from Melchiot down the Wigan right was going nowhere until Shorey just got his head to it on the byeline, and the ball ballooned up and came down about twenty or so yards out on the edge of the box. Rodallega moved onto the ball and volleyed it superbly first time over and beyond Friedel into the net for as good a goal as you will see anywhere this season.

Villa were visibly shaken and the confidence just drained away. Ashley Young did strike a superb free kick over the wall that Kirkland did really well to palm away but that was a rare counter thrust from Villa who seemed glad just to get to the interval without conceding more goals.

More of the same really in the second half. A brightish opening five minutes from Villa was soon put into perspective by Wigan's brilliantly worked second goal. N'Zogbia once again driving past the Villa midfield and running at the back four before sliding a great little pass into Koumas coming in from the left, and the former Baggie slid the ball under Brad and into the net, and you felt Villa would have no answer.

O'Neill made some changes. Delph came off for Sidwell, who at least added some bite and passion, Beye went off for Albrighton meaning Milner went to right back again (another of those lessons from last term not learned Mr O'Neill?) although the young lad on his Premiership debut was soon moved to the left wing of course, presumably because he had had such a great Peace Cup on the right. Actually it was because Ashley Young, playing quite possibly the worst I have seen him play, was getting nowhere. He spent the entire ninety minutes trying to beat two or three defenders. They tell me he is worth £30m. Nonsense. A £30m player can get his head up and make a pass. By the end of the game I was really, really angry at Ashley, that is simply not acceptable. If it was me, I'd drop him for that performance. Pathetic.

Delfouneso also got a brief runout coming on for the totally invisible Agbonlahor (who should also get dropped), but by then it was all over. Friedel had to produce another top class save to keep it at 2-0, and despite Young and Sidwell both missing good chances in the last few minutes a Villa goal would have been harsh on Wigan who impressed me hugely.

And so, our bad run at the end of last season carries over into this campaign. It appears as if all the things that went wrong during that run, all the errors, are still being made by the manager. These arent issues that can be solved by going out and buying this player or that player (although we do need three or more in the next 2 weeks) they can only be solved by the manager accepting that he has made mistakes and rectifying them

So Martin, I humbly suggest the following:

Either play 4-5-1 (as Wigan showed us how to yesterday) or play with Reo-Coker as the holding player (or buy a better version of him). Petrov cannot do it. Being loyal to him is going to drag us down

Let Curtis have his operation. Either play one of the kids or buy a player you can trust. You are ruining his career, time to stop it please.

Give Ashley and Gabby a kick uo the backside. Their performances yesterday were disgraceful, and I use the word advisedly. You tell us that Ashley is World Class? he looked like a petulant pup, not good enough from either of them, not by a long way.

Either sell Shorey, or do something to pick him up. The lad has zero confidence, and shouldnt be playing in that frame of mind.

And so to Vienna and the Europa League, followed by a trip to Anfield on Monday. We could easily lose both of those games on this evidence. Personally, I think we are going to do well to match yesterdays visitors over the course of the season, regardless of our transfer activity over the next two weeks. Champions League? You're having a laugh. Right now if you offer me top half I'll take your arm off.

The manager wont get sacked, so there's no point in even secretly wishing for it. For better or for worse, Lerner will stick with O'Neill all the way.

Over to you Mr O'Neill,time to prove him right to give you such backing. You are really lucky to have an owner such as this, as we all are I suppose.

PB

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PB, there's a deal of your post that I don't disagree with, but this bit:-

Curtis Davies ....badly needed an operation over the summer, and yet here he was, once again, strapped up, relatively immobile and asked to play at Premiership level and being found badly wanting. Personally I think its a disgrace that Curtis should be being asked to play on under such circumstances, and I cant for the life of me think what the manager hopes to achieve by this.
I'm afraid I can't agree with. It is (for me) not credible that if Curtis needed an op, and with the summer to do it in, that he wouldn't have had one, because of some MO'N based reason. My reading is that what happened was that the medical advice (not MO'N's advice) was that rest would be the best cure. Whether this was right or wrong I am not qualified to say. Whatever, he "did" his shoulder again in pre-season, thus causing the current problem. He played yesterday because MO'N has failed to replace Laursen, and then sold Knight. That is MO'N's fault, but not the medical diignosis/treatment deemed best to fix it issue.

I agree with most of the rest, mind. It was woeful. Wigan were decent, but are not world beaters, and they did what they needed to do very well, we didn't do any part of anything well, or even half well.

I don't see thoughts of sacking the manager as anything other than knee jerk anger at this point, and I'd be appalled if the board (Randy) was even considering it at this point.

That said, MO'N does need to get a lot of things sorted out, and ruddy quickly, too.

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I don't see thoughts of sacking the manager as anything other than knee jerk anger at this point, and I'd be appalled if the board (Randy) was even considering it at this point.

I agree. was a reaction to what has been suggested by several people. I dont want him to be sacked, and I dont think he will be in any event, even if we lost our next five or ten in a row.

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Ashley Young did have a poor game but i don't think his lack of decent distribution was solely down to his lack of vision on the day. Every time he got the ball there were two or three wigan players around him and little support from his team mates. The rest of the midfield seems static when ashley has the ball and no one seems to be willing to give him an option other than to try to bundle his way through masses of opposition players. He played badly but i think our general performance highlights just how much we rely on him to pull off a bit of magic. Revert to a 5 man midfield and encourage some more movement from the players and we'll see a more dangerous Ashley Young.

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Funnily enough what PB says about Curtis Davies is what I most strongly agree with. I seem to remember that nearly 3 years ago a specialist advised that in future Laursen should play no more than one match a week. Somebody (Laursen, MON, Villa medical staff...?) decided to ignore that from the word go.

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A fantastic post PB and one which i wholly agree with. This is now O'Neill's team and we have went backwards. Our defence is one of the worst i have ever seen in my many years as a Villa supporter and no sign of it getting any better. Cuellar, Davies, Knight and Shorey a total waste of 25m and at least knight has been shown the goodbye door. We simply must purchase Hangeland, Upson and Warnock NOW! No more 'value for money' signings. What in the hell was wrong with Bassong? Just played a blinder helping Spurs to beat Liverpool 2-1.

Agree totally with your point about Reo-Coker and although i'm not one of his biggest fans, he gives us a more balanced midfield, until we get someone better! Why our manager has given Petrov a new 4 YEAR contract is quite beyond me. He is not a holding midfielder, not an out and out attacking midfielder, so what exactly is he? He is in my opinion a poor mans Ray Wilkins, not good.

Our forward line is also a joke without Carew. We need at least one new forward in who will give Gabby that boot up the backside that he so evidently needs and therefore i can't quite fathom why we didn't sign Bent?

Just waiting for the 4-4-2 system against Liverpool and that will top it all for me. O'Neill still hasn't learned the lessons from last season's fall from grace and he is repeating the same mistakes. We are a shocking team at the moment and i don't think our players are all that happy either. We need major investment on the right players and i again agree with you that we need at least five in before the transfer window closes.

If we don't invest heavily, then as i have been saying all summer, we are going to struggle, badly!

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spot on, all of that Bozzy.

didn't see the game, as was at a wedding, but erading the reports, seeing the highlights etc and seeing the team selection, i was left puzzled and saddened.

bizzare team selection, sh*t display. far more questions than answers.

time for MON to step up. Agree with all of your selection solutions too.

Worrying times indeed.

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Ashley Young did have a poor game but i don't think his lack of decent distribution was solely down to his lack of vision on the day. Every time he got the ball there were two or three wigan players around him and little support from his team mates. The rest of the midfield seems static when ashley has the ball and no one seems to be willing to give him an option other than to try to bundle his way through masses of opposition players. He played badly but i think our general performance highlights just how much we rely on him to pull off a bit of magic. Revert to a 5 man midfield and encourage some more movement from the players and we'll see a more dangerous Ashley Young.

I agree with this.

The problem is that we have only Ashley Young - as a creative play maker, there is no-one else. And Ashley knows it, too.

He has too much on his shoulders and he is probably trying too much.

It it doesn't help that opponents know this, too. Keep Ashley quiet and you keep the whole Villa team quiet. And there he is, against three opponents every time he get's the ball.

And there is no way of stopping this. Except one: We must sign TWO clever midfield dynamos.

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And there is no way of stopping this. Except one: We must sign TWO clever midfield dynamos.

Another way would be for Ash, when he gets the ball, to stop, look up, and see what is on. If the answer is "nothing" he should go backwards until something is on. His responsibility is to find the space

To just drop your shoulder and have a go at three defenders without even bothering to look up is rubbish. To then fall over EVERY SINGLE TIME whether fouled or not is even more rubbish. If there are three people marking him, then there are huge holes elsewhere, thats just a fact.

Not good enough, he needs someone to tell him that he's not world class, that even if he was he cant beat three defenders. On the bench we have a winger who was in his time genuinely world class. He needs to tell Ashley a thing or two about how to play the game.

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