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One point to Wigan and two more dropped by us!


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by John

Wigan stretched their unbeaten league record at Villa Park to six games yesterday as we failed to take an opportunity to be mathematically safe of the relegation trap door before those last two games with Arsenal and the revitalised Liverpool.

Points have been too easily gained by visitors to Villa Park this season (we have now dropped 26) and that Wigan left with a point is no of real surprise as they always make life difficult for us at Villa Park and they might reasonably reflect that on the day not taking all three points represented a missed opportunity for them.

Too many of our players had an off day yesterday and we appeared to lack the desire to win this game having allowed it to drift away in a second half during which we seemed devoid of ideas both on the pitch and on the side of it. McAllister really needed to look at making changes in the last half hour and the team have now gathered just 2 points from a possible 9 since GH became incapacitated and these games have seen us hit relegation form rather than pull away from the bottom dwellers with some long awaited style.

The fact we ended the game with eleven men to increase the chances of getting something from it also owed everthing to the leniancy of the referee and McAllister really needed to grab the bull by the horns and take the wildly angry Heskey off before half time to minimise the increasing chances that the decision would be taken from his hands before the half time whistle was blown.

So we stand on 42 points and Wolves would need to take maximum points from their remaining three games as would Blackpool and Wigan need to make up a goal difference deficit of 9 and 10 respectively in the course of winning their two remaining matches for any of these three to end the season above us and threaten our status. So barring this sort of unlikely run of results and Blackburn and Small Heath making up a 3 point difference and goal differences of 1 and 5 respectively we are now safe. But I would prefer to have secured our status through results we have achieved ourselves rather than by relying on the inability of two other teams to gather the results they would now need to relegate us. Of course we might yet get the point we need to banish any threat at Arsenal or on the last day of the season (if we still have a need to do so). But, for us not to be safe so late in this season of 2 managers and 2 temporary managers is unacceptable.

My player ratings from a game that has left us lying in fourteenth place and waiting for the teams that are below us to try to play catch up are:

Brad Friedel – 6 – Played an important role in trying to calm down Heskey but had no chance with their goal which was threaded past him and into the far corner by N’Zogbia. Gathered Moses shot well on 55 minutes after he had been left in space in the box but not tested too often.

Kyle Walker - 6 – Tried to move us forward and make things happen with his runs but lost possession on one of these near the centre circle which led to their goal from his vacant side. McAllister suggested we need 2 or 3 players for next season and Kyle should be one of them as should 2 or 3 more than has been suggested.

James Collins – 5 – Both he and Dunne were left for dead by Moses before he put the ball through to N’Zogbia on 10 minutes for their goal. He was also beaten in the air by Di Santo on 77 minutes and his flick on found Rodallega whose shot flashed past Dunn and inches wide of the far post with Friedel just a spectator. James had a weak header on 90 minutes which a defender cleared before his keeper could gather it himself.

Richard Dunne – 5 –The better of our two central defenders yesterday and made an important challenge at the end of the first half when our goal was under threat during a goalmouth melee.

Luke Young - 6 – Tried to move us forward down his flank and was solid enough at the back.

Stewart Downing – 8 – Hit one of two second half shots over on 48 minutes when he hit a first time effort that he could not quite keep down after Luke Young’s air shot. Worked hard throughout and on the few occasions he lost the ball fought hard to win it back.

Nigel Reo Coker – 8 – MOTM – Gave 110% throughout and produced a totally committed performance on a day when some teamates did not quite follow his example.

Stiliyan Petrov – 6 – Gave a decent display alongside Reo and tried a shot from the edge of the box on 41 minutes that the keeper gathered easily enough.

Ashley Young - 7 – Scored what has now become a rare goal for him from a free kick on the edge of the box giving the watching Fabio a reminder and us a timely equalizer just 7 minutes after we had gone a goal down. His free kick was well placed and although Al Habsi got a hand to it he was unable to keep it out of the corner of the net. Unlucky not to get a penalty when tripped in the box on 36 minutes but that came too soon after the Heskey incident to get a positive reaction from the official.

Emile Heskey – 3 – Could easily have cost us the game on 32 minutes when he reacted wildly to the referee Mike Jones’ decision to play advantage after he had been felled by Alcaraz. Whether his angry reaction was to an elbow, a lack of protection or to something that was said only Emile will know but it was unprofessional and he was very fortunate that he was only shown a yellow after he barged into the referee and then confronted him face to face angrily even after colleagues had tried to calm him down. McAllister really should have taken him off then or at least when the referee gave him a final warning a few moments later to minimise the likelihood of our playing the last hour of the game with just 10 men. He had earlier (before his ongoing moments of madness which I understand had continued in the tunnel at the end of the first half) juggled a loose ball that came off the head of a defender to him goal side of the penalty spot on 23 minutes before hitting a shot on the turn which Al Habsi’s arm kept out.

Darren Bent – 6 – Starved of service but spurned a late opportunity to hit a winner on 83 minutes that there would have been no coming back from. Reo had won the ball in his own half and passed it to Albrighton who in turn found Ash who threaded the ball through to Darren who having been put clear and looking destined to give us a winner instead hit a shot that clipped the outstretched leg of Al Habsi. Darren had earlier won the ball in his own half on 63 minutes which Downing pushed through to an unmarked Ash whose cross was intercepted by Al Habsi’s feet with Darren waiting to apply a finish to a nice flowing move he had himself begun.

Substitutes:

Marc Albrighton – 6 - Replaced Heskey at half time but did not make the difference he had made to games earlier in the season when he had proved such a handful for defences. This might show why he has been rested lately as he may have shown signs of not being quite able to maintain the form he had showed at the start of the season through to the later stages of it. Marc will need to step up to the plate throughout next season as it appears he will be a first choice with what looks the inevitable departure of Ash and I back him to do so with the games and experience he has had this season under his belt.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Thanks for the review, John - but:

But, for us not to be safe so late in this season of 2 managers and 2 temporary managers is unacceptable.

I find that statement quite simply hilarious.

In one sentence, you have managed to isolate the main reason for our poor season and then dismissed it in an unfounded belief that results should have reflected something near the results of previous years under managerial stability.

Surely our position is nothing more than expected after the managerial merry-go-round we have had.

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A reasonable review John of a poor game from Villa's perspective.

I was of the opinion when GMc took over the reins, we'd could expect 2 points from the remaining games, (possibly 4 if we could overcome Wigan as a bogey team). He seems unable to motivate the players and they look like they are just going through the motions as they think the clubs safe from relegation. The quotes from Luke Young today make it seem like all is not well at the club from the dressing rooms view of things and this needs to be addressed as a serious issue.

No dithering from the Board, grasp the nettle and move the club forward.

If the NotW is to be believed, Riise is on GH's radar and if this is a sign of GH's thinking, lord help us. This pre-occupation with all things Red Scouse is bewildering and would seem set to continue if the FSW is GH's replacement. :cry:

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In one sentence, you have managed to isolate the main reason for our poor season and then dismissed it in an unfounded belief that results should have reflected something near the results of previous years under managerial stability. Surely our position is nothing more than expected after the managerial merry-go-round we have had

I think Luke Young answered this one for me ozvillafan when he said:

'As players, we can't make excuses. It's not ideal. We know, as a group, that where we are in the league isn't good enough".

I can appreciate that the lack of stability will have been difficult and that our players did not known who their boss was likely to be at the start of the season and that they are now unsure who will be their boss at the start of next season (assuming they will still be with us) but we have some well paid pros who are better than they have shown on the field at times this season (particularly when playing for either KM or GM) and they have us and the shirts they wear to play for whoever sends them out to play. I had not expected sixth in these circumstances ozvillafan but I had not anticipated the fall from grace that we have seen and for us still to be looking over our shoulders with 2 tough games to go is not acceptable for me having had full regard to the circumstances and managerial merry-go-round.

I was of the opinion when GMc took over the reins, we'd could expect 2 points from the remaining games, (possibly 4 if we could overcome Wigan as a bogey team).

I know we have a history of finding wins hard to come by against both Stoke and Wigan at Villa Park but I had hoped that we would have taken 4 from the possible 6 points available from these 2 teams alone AVFCinSpain and having been given a goal start against a WBA team that ended the game with 10 men we really should not have lost that one either. As Luke has said things are in a mess and I agree that a decision needs to be made on who is to take us forward next season sooner rather than later to end this further instability as soon as it is reasonably possible to do so given our manager's ability to continue is currently open to question for both the players and I guess for GH and his family.

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