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Black is the Colour - Chelsea Away Report


blandy
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This was a game I wasn't originally going to go to, but the best laid plans of mice and men can sometimes not work out as you'd hope. My ticket was going to go to a friend, but in the end he couldn't make it, so I thought "why not?"

Yet another early start for a train down to that London. I'm not a train spotter, but seeing a huge steam locomotive at Preston station chugging away, full to it's many carriages with people about to breakfast in style while puffing their way up the West Coast did perk me up. My journey was on an equally packed Pendolino at presumably much higher speed, which did at least leave me time for several beers and a sausage sandwich in the "Oligarch & Congestion charge" Pub (I may have misremembered the detail, as MPs say) in Earls Court. Just as well really as a relaxed outlook was needed to deal with what was to follow.

Unfortunately the shock of paying £48 blinking quid for a ticket was not the end of the day's surprises, as no doubt people will know by the time they read this. That said, I'd gone to the game expecting a heavy defeat.

Now that you've read this far, let me let you into a dirty secret. I enjoyed the game. I saw more positives than negatives. First of all, let's be fair Chelsea were excellent and clearly deserved to win by a distance. That said, I'm a Villa fan, so why the positive vibe after a gubbing? Well, despite the score, the thing is that all week I've been getting electricity letters, portable telephone typings and Internet writings about how everything's wheels are unravelling. But they are not. I got to see with my own eyes that all is well ( ish).

Now I expect that only mental health professionals will still be reading this far in, so give me a chance to explain before carting me off to the electrode room.

We got beaten heavily by a very good, motivated, side. But despite that, at no point did Villa "lose it:. There were no hissy fits, no tantrums, we just lost. And we actually played quite well first half.

With the team being changed around a bit - Luke in at left back, Sidwell in the middle and Gabby restored there was some freshness and the ability to pass the ball down the right hand side. Though Gabby seemed to spend most of his time at right back, often behind Luke Young. He was stopping things, but his pace, I felt would be needed up front if we were to get anything out of the game.

Chelsea scored first, after about 15 mins. Lampard tapping in at the far post after Warnock got caught napping with a difficult ball to deal with, low across the box.

We deservedly equalised when sidwell then Ash did well and Big John had a simple finish from a delicious cross.

30 minutes gone, all square. It stayed that way until just before half time, when Collins brought down their full back for a "continental" penalty ( those ones where the defender doesn't get the ball, and the attacker goes down to "help" the ref make his decision). No complaints, we/they all do it. Lampard scored again.

Second half Villa stated brightly, but the seeds of our eventual undoing were there to see. Despite the general flow in the first 8 minutes or so being towards us Villa fans, Warnock nearly gifted them a bonus by passing straight to Anelka from a Chelsea clearance. As it was they opened us up with a sublime goal shortly afterwards. Deco the key man in making it.

That was game lost. What then followed was Chelsea with the confidence high, Villa out of it and with first Carew, then Stan, then Gabby all going off injured, or just knackered, and the team therefore rejigged & unable to cope with the pace and movement.

We ended up with Warnock in midfield, Ash at centre forward alongside Nathan D, Beye at right back, Luke at left back.....The defensive sloppiness and lack of ability to deal with the movement of Chelsea was clear to see.

Chelsea got another pen for 4-1 and eventually another 3.

We defended poorly as a team, the midfield was out manoeuvred and what threat we did manage was dealt with by Chelsea. But there was threat, from Ash, from Nathan and from James Milner. Unfortunately while our shots were blocked and deflected for corners, or players were brought down for free kicks from range, their attacks were not closed down the same.

We kept singing, MO'N sort of apologised with a gesture at the end of the game and then I legged it for the undertube back to the pub and train back north.

I'm typing this on a tiny iPod, being buffeted by the undulations of a Pendolino and to be honest if I wasn't then I'd have forgotten all about the game by now. I think that's the best tactic in the circs.

It's not a cause for panic, it's just the way things go occasionally.

Some marks

Brad - 6

Luke - 6

James Collins - 4

Dunney - 5

Steve Warnock - 5

Ash - 7

Stan - 6

Siddy - 5

James Milner - 7

Gabby - 4

Carew - 6

Subs - Downing 6. Nathan 6. Beye 5

The important thing is not this game, it's the one for a chance to win the cup. Palace lost 9-0 at Anfield and then beat them in the FA Cup semi, famously, and we can do the same with Chelsea...If we learn some lessons.

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Wow, that certainly is positive when most people are slashing their wrists! I can't really see what you are positive about, but I'll have some of whatever you're taking ;) Villa for the Cup :D

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I applaud your positive attitude to the worst defeat we have had since 1964. But, I think we now face a real mountain to climb if we are going to dust ourselves down and try to end the season with our heads held high rather than red faced as we did last season. MOTD offered us a positive to take out of this for the semi. Palace lost 9 at Liverpool and then went onto beat them in the semi-final. Could we do the same?

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I haven't see any TV of it at all, nor read any papers, nor heard any radio. I'm not in the mood. But I really don't think things are so bad. We got gubbed, stuff happens, move on. There are lessons, learn them. Next game.

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I'm sorry, but to lose 7-1 and give players a rating of 6?! You don't lose 7-1 by playing 'OK', Chelsea knew our game plan (which is solely based around pace) and once they nullified that, we have absolutely nothing else to offer. We've been lucky through the form of Carew that we've even been able to get 16 points this year. Some of our performances have been totally unacceptable. Top four teams do not get beaten 7-1.

We need new options, a plan B. Yes, we have a few injuries, but beyond our first choice XI there is no depth, no-one who can really come on and change the game for us. I fear there won't be a great deal of money available this summer so Martin has really got his work cut out. And for God's sake man, look abroad. Sidwell has been very ineffective for 5.5 million quid. Delph never plays and for the life of me i can't see why not - he's looked one of our better players this season. A little off the pace at times, but you can only catch up to the pace of the premier league by playing. An absolute drubbing like this was inevitable, and 4th place is long gone. It's been long gone ever since we refused to build upon our fine start to the season by buying anyone in January.

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I'm sorry, but to lose 7-1 and give players a rating of 6?! You don't lose 7-1 by playing 'OK', Chelsea knew our game plan (which is solely based around pace) and once they nullified that, we have absolutely nothing else to offer.
I think that OK was how a number of them did play. In the vital areas several were below par, and a very good side exposed it, massively. Like I said I've seen no TV or papers, so maybe I'm well out, but I thought that as much of a mismatch as the second half was, it wasn't just down to bad Villa, it was also good Chelsea players. Plus a lot of other things, some of which were MO'N's fault.
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General Krulak here:

1. Since I wasn't able to see the game nor any highlights, this is the first full game report I have seen. Thank you. I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist at this point in time...I am a realist. There is no question that we were outplayed although it does sound like our lads played hard and did not quit...which in my "old business" counted for a great deal. Still, 7-1 is 7-1 and we are going to have to live with it. On any given day, we can take any of them...but it has to be "our" day and we need an "our" day at the semi final. I NEVER give up so all I can say is Up the Villa!!!

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I haven't see any TV of it at all, nor read any papers, nor heard any radio. I'm not in the mood. But I really don't think things are so bad. We got gubbed, stuff happens, move on. There are lessons, learn them. Next game.

If we learn the lessons your post will have merit as it was quite accurate.

There is a danger, that we can keep saying the same things and despite the lessons clearly not being learn't.... we keep saying there are lessons to be learned.

if you get my drift.

I have to say the way you have handled this annilation is commendable to some and naive to others....After the Manager described the capitulation as the worst he had been associated with in his career, I would suspect you may be suffering with a dose of denial.

only time will tell.

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General Krulak here:

1. Since I wasn't able to see the game nor any highlights, this is the first full game report I have seen. Thank you. I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist at this point in time...I am a realist. There is no question that we were outplayed although it does sound like our lads played hard and did not quit...which in my "old business" counted for a great deal. Still, 7-1 is 7-1 and we are going to have to live with it. On any given day, we can take any of them...but it has to be "our" day and we need an "our" day at the semi final. I NEVER give up so all I can say is Up the Villa!!!

General, in your old business, if lessons were not learnt lives would be lost so it was pretty important that they were learnt and I guess ( because I don't Know) that reports would be raised to ensure all and sundry were sure that lessons were learnt.

Football, so to speak is a bit of fun, except yesterday and the comparisons are dubious, but I am unsure from previous incidents that any lessons will be learnt and moreover will be communicated.

This was by no means a one off, its been coming and the team we played yesterday were well equipped to exploit our recent slump. Some of us were predicting a poor result yesterday i said 4-0 my one pal a season ticket holder for over 40 years was more bullish he said 6-0 those were pretty emphatic predictions when most games in the Prem measure up to 4-0 max by and large.

some of us can see a (more than a bad day at the office)problem, can we bounce back? I don't know, I hope so.

I recognise only too well, that this is a time to stick together, like no other time, but I also think it is a time for the lessons that we speak about to be "on the table".

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I very much admire your upbeat assessment but we lost 7-1 and were outclassed and out thought. Its our worst defeat in a generation or more so I find it very difficult to take anything positive from the game. I have not watched the highlights on either Football First or MotD and worse still I had to endure my wife (an avid Chelsea fan) watching Football First in the other room purring at Chelsea's performance whilst I poured my angst into posts on VT! Her assessment was that Villa did not play badly, they were simply outclassed - cold comfort indeed.

What yesterday cruelly exposed were our one dimensional tactics, our lack of stamina (perhaps the most worrying) and the absence of any players on the bench who could come on and change the game. The latter point is partly a function of having signed too many 'stocking filler' players (BTW I love that expression, sadly not original from me) and not giving our better players, developed or bought in, any game time.

The key for me is how we go forward from this and it has to be three points at Bolton. I'm a MON supporter but he has lost a lot of credibility with me in the last few games.

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...After the Manager described the capitulation as the worst he had been associated with in his career, I would suspect you may be suffering with a dose of denial....
I really don't think so TRO, (though I would say that). It's hard to deny what's there in front of your eyes. I think my outlook is that I've been to quite a lot of games, over quite a lot of years - 3 decades worth, plus a few more. So, as Chris said in the pub after, we've seen it before - it's not like we're 10 and the impact a defeat has is not the same for us as it would be for a bright-eyed nipper. In other words, after a few minutes, or hours, the hurt is gone. I can handle it, hopefully with some equanimity. Looking forwards however, to next week, I'll be at the Reebok, and if they do it again, I'll be mad as anything.

I sort of look at the Chelsea game as the coming together of a number of rare factors - Chelsea seriously motivated following Euro league exit, and on the back of a confidence boosting tonking of Pompey, Villa sapped after recent games and a number of injured players, or half fit players. Then a bit of luck that turned a 3 or 4 goal win into a complete gubbing. And Villa kept attacking, rather than going for damage limitation - commendable in my eyes, though I know a lot would say that they should have just sat back, but not me.

Anyway, Bolton next week, the players and manager owe us a performance of steel. Though from time to time (more at home games) us fans perhaps could do better for the players.

And in reply to Gen. Krulak, thanks for the thanks, and to everyone who's responded - it's nice when anyone reads or responds - the last couple I've written have had next to no comment, and I was thinking of not bothering to do them any more.

God help any of you, mind, if your view is shaped more than a sliver by what I think.

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...After the Manager described the capitulation as the worst he had been associated with in his career, I would suspect you may be suffering with a dose of denial....
I really don't think so TRO, (though I would say that). It's hard to deny what's there in front of your eyes. I think my outlook is that I've been to quite a lot of games, over quite a lot of years - 3 decades worth, plus a few more. So, as Chris said in the pub after, we've seen it before - it's not like we're 10 and the impact a defeat has is not the same for us as it would be for a bright-eyed nipper. In other words, after a few minutes, or hours, the hurt is gone. I can handle it, hopefully with some equanimity. Looking forwards however, to next week, I'll be at the Reebok, and if they do it again, I'll be mad as anything.

I sort of look at the Chelsea game as the coming together of a number of rare factors - Chelsea seriously motivated following Euro league exit, and on the back of a confidence boosting tonking of Pompey, Villa sapped after recent games and a number of injured players, or half fit players. Then a bit of luck that turned a 3 or 4 goal win into a complete gubbing. And Villa kept attacking, rather than going for damage limitation - commendable in my eyes, though I know a lot would say that they should have just sat back, but not me.

Anyway, Bolton next week, the players and manager owe us a performance of steel. Though from time to time (more at home games) us fans perhaps could do better for the players.

And in reply to Gen. Krulak, thanks for the thanks, and to everyone who's responded - it's nice when anyone reads or responds - the last couple I've written have had next to no comment, and I was thinking of not bothering to do them any more.

God help any of you, mind, if your view is shaped more than a sliver by what I think.

Thanks for that, no keep them coming I always enjoy your posts.

you are clearly better equipped than me at handling disappointment and more patient in waiting for repair.

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it's nice when anyone reads or responds - the last couple I've written have had next to no comment, and I was thinking of not bothering to do them any more

I always take the no comments or few of them to mean that in general those who have looked at what I have said are mostly in agreement with much of my report (of course I might be wrong :winkold: on making that assumption). A very good or as in this case a very bad result tends to get more reads and a debatable player rating will often lead to a challenge on the marking given. Each read and response is welcome as you have indicated and you have had one from the General himself! Keep up the good work and I for one look forward to reading your take on our away games.

On a side issue, I wonder if Martin has thought about asking The General to give a motivational speech to the team before the semi final? Although our second half performance at Reading demonstrated he is able to get a performance turned around in the space of 15 minutes himself the General's comments above suggest to me that his words delivered with such conviction would maximise the chances of the semi-final being "our day".

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And in reply to Gen. Krulak, thanks for the thanks, and to everyone who's responded - it's nice when anyone reads or responds - the last couple I've written have had next to no comment, and I was thinking of not bothering to do them any more.

God help any of you, mind, if your view is shaped more than a sliver by what I think.

It's probably becuase 99.9% of the time pete you speak absolute sense, so you tend not to get people respondiong as they agree, but don't want to simply post, "I agree".

If you really want loads of responses, you've got to be more contentious .... :winkold:

a bit like this one and your positive take on a 7-1 mauling. It was always going to hook a few people in ... :mrgreen:

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The funny thing about this report is that we all saw it coming, months and months ago.

Glad you can still look on the bright side. Me? I stopped caring a long time ago, around the time you trashed my last article on here. Blandy, an article in which I said I'd take 6th and a Carling Cup as a good season. To be frank, right now I'd take 7th and no Cup as a good season, and to be honest this kind of clutching at straws is less than i would expect of a proper analysis of our season from a writer of your undoubted pedigree. 7-1 mate. Sorry, thats bloody embarrassing. You want to deny that? Got much of an agenda?

Football in 2001, is, imo, a mugs game. Lets hope the rumours are true.

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Hello Pete. I don't recall trashing an article, but please point me to it and I'll review what I wrote. [edit]- is it this one? If so, then I'll say I have nothing to apologise for, in terms of "trashing". Re-reading the whole thread again, I'm not sure what I said that was "trashing". I disagreed with you on some of what you said, and you may turn out, at the end of the season to have been right on some things (and not so right on others). That's what I'd expect. Same with most people. However, I apologise for upset I have obviously unintentionally caused you. [/edit]

What else is there to do than clutch at straws when you've just been gubbed - Immediately afterwards, I mean - I wrote the article on the train back. Sure there's time later for reflection on all kinds of things. Lessons to be learnt. Changes to make.

I agree it was embarrassing, absolutely. I've had the mickey taken endlessly at work and my mates.

Sorry I wasn't in the mood for analysis, when I wrote it, but there you go, that's me. I had an otherwise good day and wasn't going to let it ruin my weekend.

Agenda - how do you mean, Pete? As far as I am aware my only agenda is wanting the team and club to prosper, and for me to enjoy the games I go to, and be cheered by performances and results even when I can't go. If there are signs of something else, be my guest, tell me, here or in private.

I'm sorry that whatever I said to "trash" something you wrote still rankles. I'll gladly apologise if I've done something bad.

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That was indeed one of the more controversial and polarising threads on here :mrgreen:

without wanting to get too far up Trickie's backside, this just seems an incredibly wise post for pre Xmas time:

I absolutely agree with the article.

I also think the January window will be crucial for us, crucial to see if we are prepared to compete. We need serious strengthening in the striking department and not the James Beatties of this worldbut serious top class striking ability to come in and score 10 or so goals between Jan and May to give us that chance.

Can't see that happening and for that reason I do not think we will stay the course.

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