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Throwing Bones - Blackburn Away Report


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As Summer fades and Autumn approaches, time once again to make the short trek to Ewood for my local game against Blackburn.

What ensued wasn't at all encouraging for the long nights ahead.

The day started well enough with a short train ride to Blackburn, a pint of proper beer and a corned beef butty in a proper pub, and then a taxi to meet Drat and Chris at the Fernhurst, where more beer was consumed, and tales of Elephants in Nairobi and drudgery in Chelmsford were exchanged.

We saw one Villa fan have a near miss, when he walked behind a Police horse at just the wrong moment - the horse was perhaps passing advance judgement on the game to come later. Happily the Villan in question avoided the yellow jet of the Horse's scathing verdict.

Anyway, on entering the ground and clambering up to the top tier, for our over-priced £35 seats we were in place to see the Villa make a fine start to the game. Barely 2 minutes gone and Big John flicked on, Gabby was clean through, and his slightly scuffed shot trickled into the corner of Robinson's net down the far end. Excellent.

The team was pretty similar to last week's, but with Fabian Delph in for Sidwell, and NRC back on the bench, after his time on the naughty boy step.

For the next 20 minutes or so, Villa looked comfortable enough, without really excelling. Delph showed some nice touches, Milner was involved a lot and we were on top, but gradually Blackburn, with their big bones style started to exert some pressure, and defenders had to block and tackle - Steven Warnock in particular made one fine last ditch block.

We had some chanes, or half chances on the break, but nothing really to trouble Robinson. And then a c.ock up in the Villa defence. A corner not properly cleared, Blackburn chipping the ball back into the box, it bounced, bounced high, but Friedel didn't come and neither Collins nor Dunne dealt with it and in popped the giant Samba to tonk the ball into the net from about 7 yards. Messy.

The second half was poor, very poor. Delph was soon replaced by Heskey, for some reason - perhaps for fear of Blackburn's high balls into the box, which we weren't dealing with comfortably at all - but the resulting shake up with Milner going into the middle, Heskey to the left and Ash to the right didn't make us any better where we lacked in terms of control. Too often Stan was left isolated in the middle with players all running away from him. Ash was quiet, Gabby not particularly involved and we tended to lump the ball a bit towards Carew, for him to flick on hopefully. It was tedious and predicatable, and easily dealt with by the Rovers.

They were equally tedious and predictable - very similar to how Bolton used to be - hard working, big boned, hard in the tackle and in the ref's face a lot.

One of their players was sent off for a second yellow and no-one could argue - he chopped down Milner with a late tackle for his sending off.

You couldn't tell, though that Blackburn had a man less. Villa were not looking in the mood to make the advantage tell, and there was a real lack of quality in too much of the play.

In these circumstances there's always the risk of a mistake costing us, and so it did - a ball into our box, bouncing again and Dunne, I think it was, though it may have been Collins, seemed to misjudge the bounce and then handle the ball under pressure. Penalty, easily tucked away with maybe 2 minutes plus stoppage time of another 4 minutes to go. We didn't look like pulling the score back, and deservedly lost, not so much because Blackburn were better, but because Villa were so inept and so brain dead at times.

The pick of our players was probably James Milner, but to be frank none of them played all that well, the team lacks guile in midfield, and seemed to have just two tactics - hit it up in the air for big John, or knock it wide and hope, to quote an old cartoon, "[and then a miracle happens]".

I fear for our prospects based on recent performances - not so much because of the results, but because the team is lacking cohesion and imagination. We're solid, hard working, effective at times, but there's little entertainment or vision to my eyes at least.

This might all seem overly negative, and perhaps it is. There are causes for hope - Gabby scoring regularly, the talents of Ash and Milner, and Delph has definite promise, while the rest of the team is "solid", but I do feel that unless someone has a special game, up front, we're very much looking a mid table side in the way we play and perform.

Some marks, for fans of inaccurate assessment:-

Friedel - 6 - one excellent save in the second half

Carlos - 5 - looked like a centre half out of position

Collins - 5

Dunne - 5 - both he and Collins looked more discomfited that in previous games.

Warnock - 6

Milner - 7 and MotM for Villa

Stan - 6 - needed more help, especially when Delph was taken off

Delph - 6 - some promising play, but looks a bit lightweight, unsurprisingly given his age

Ash - 5 - not on song today

John Carew - 5

Gabby - 6

Sub Emille Heskey - came on, fell over, people laughed (Blackburn fans, that is) - he's not settled at all at VP, and the substitution didn't work out for MO'N.

Some work needed on patterns of play and such like, I'd say, in the week.

One last comment - ticket prices - this is starting to really hack me off now. £35 quid for this one, £38 for Wolves, £48 for small heath and so on. Even tickets at Villa are expensive, now, for much of the ground. It's too much, too many games are moved for TV and clubs are stretching loyalty to breaking point.

I know they "have" to do it, because of players' wages, because fans demand signings and all the rest, but dear me, I just can't square up what we get with what we pay.

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Superbly put. Exactly as I saw the game, we were very very poor. There was little movement and, very worrying I feel, not much effort from the players. I wonder if the off field activities are having an on field effect? Do they still want to work for MON?

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Can't argue with any of that excellent report. We were very poor and i have been saying for some time that we lack creativity, especially in midfield. O'Neill has spent a lot of money to make, what we are now, a mediocre team who won't win any siverware for some time to come!

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The tradegy is we say things that are simply not true

we are solid?

we are solid at times when it suits us.... we are solid when a certain team is assembled, that can win games.... and evidence to prove it.

but the manager has his own idea's

Its simply a game we should of got something out of and IMO the club has the personnel on the books to do it.

The manager never chose them, sorry.

PS sorry for picking up on points the post was good generally.

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Can't argue with any of that excellent report. We were very poor and i have been saying for some time that we lack creativity, especially in midfield. O'Neill has spent a lot of money to make, what we are now, a mediocre team who won't win any siverware for some time to come!

IMO ...The normal 3 in the middle get all the criticism, when the others get all the praise.....Misplaced in my view.

2 out of the 3 was missing yesterday as they were in the other defeat.

when are folk going to wake up and smell the coffee.

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An accurate report, but despite MON saying during the window, we don't need a striker, we can score goals, it's clear we can't score enough. We need at least two a game, as our goal difference is always inferior to the other top 8 sides. We might score 4 or 5 once a season, but mostly we seem to expect one to be enough which gives our defenders no room for mistakes.

We needed a regular striker in the window, and I know they are not readily available, but MON has to do somethong about this.

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Nice report Pete summed up a below par performance very well. That our central defenders were unable to cope with Blackburn's predictable threat came as a shock to me as I would have thought their attack was made for our defence to deal with. Another below par display from Ashley & Big John did for us & I think we missed Sidwell in the middle and dare I mentioned it Reo?

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I suspected a 4-4-2 with Petrov and Delph in the middle wouldn't work. And it didn't.

I hoped the early goal might give us an advantage. But it didn't.

On the substitution of Heskey for Delph the less said the better.

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