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We surrender without a fight!


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by John

It was not unexpected that we would lose yesterday as we have become accustomed to doing that against yesterday’s opponents in recent decades but it was the manner of our defeat that was so very hard to swallow!

There must have been very, very few games in the course of the history of both football clubs during which Manchester United has found it quite so easy to beat us at Villa Park.

In the past we have faced these games looking for a win with some confidence (occasionally), hoping to win or at worst to get a point (more frequently but less so of late), hoping to get a point but anticipating another defeat (as the realism of going 16 years without a home win has sunk in) and yesterday hoping what seemed an inevitable defeat would not be a heavy one. But always in the past even as a Third Division team facing the likes of Bobby Charlton and George Best we had expected at the very least to have given them a game, to give them some cause for concern and to get into them. That did not happen yesterday!

They did not get out of second gear and never needed to. The game was reminiscent of attack and defence in the school playground as we invited them to put pressure on our goal and then hoofed it clear only for it to come back time and time again as we had nobody up field to challenge for it and seemed incapable of trying to play the ball out of defence to set up an attacking move of our own.

It was not until the last half hour of the game that we began to apply some (although not much) pressure on our visitors’ defence. In the period up until then I had the feeling that a second goal could well lead to more for Manchester United but they coasted home and we escaped with a one goal defeat from a game we had contributed very little to.

Within a month we will be at the crossroads as a football club. We can follow the path we have taken during the past year and a half of balancing the books in the hope that there will be 3 teams in the league who will be worse than us this season and who will accept relegation meekly and make our survival target less than 40 points (which as things stand is I consider a points return we may struggle to get to). We may make a signing with the intention of putting some distance between us and a relegation battle we may by the end of the month have to accept we will be embroiled in or at the very least on the edge of as we did last time around. Or we may invest the money we have taken in recently from player sales because not doing so is to realistically accept that we have no real ambition to win things or to qualify for Europe and that our targets are merely survival and financial prudence.

My player ratings from a game that left us still in the top half and 6 points clear of the bottom 3 are:

Shay Given – 6 – Raced out of his area to beat Young to the ball and to put it into the stand but in the process of doing so sustained what looked like a hamstring injury that led to his being carried off on 38 minutes.

Alan Hutton - 5 – Steady enough at the back but Alan has yet to show signs of the sort of impact Big Eck would have been hoping for when he committed a fair proportion of our meagre transfer budget to securing his services in the summer window.

James Collins – 5 – His best game for us for a while but that is not saying a great deal given the level of his recent performances. Dunn had done well to get the ball back into the box on 76 minutes and his header on goal was helped over by Lindegaard who could have been sitting on the goal line in a deck chair up until then.

Richard Dunne – 6 – A solid enough display. Could not quite get his foot to Nani’s 20th minute cross that Jones pounced on to hit home their winner and his blushes were spared 5 minutes later by a fellow Irishman when Richard misjudged a looping Evra header which left Rooney in space behind him. He fed Valencia who crossed for Nani whose header was saved by our keeper. Headed a 70th minute corner on that reached Heskey at the far post but he could only head it out from a tight angle.

Stephen Warnock - 6 – Steady at the back and managed to move the ball forward out of defence once or twice. Got in an important block on a shot from a corner on 19 minutes.

Marc Albrighton – 4 – This was an opportunity for Marc to show our manager that he is worth a starting place, can get back to the level of performance he has produced in our shirt in the past and that he has not gone backwards since last season. It was an opportunity he did not take.

Chris Herd – 5 – Not a big impact on the game and was unable to produce a spark of creativity although he was not alone in that. Chris was replaced on 59 minutes by our captain.

Jermaine Jenas – 4 – Largely anonymous before he picked up a further injury by it has been suggested being brought down by a sprinkler on 63 minutes.

Barry Bannan – 6 – MOTM - One of the few who has emerged with any credit at all from what was a non-performance. He did not seem quite as willing to accept defeat as others around him seemed to.

Gabby Agbonlahor – 6 – Tried to make things happen on the rare occasions that the ball came anywhere near him.

Darren Bent – 5 – Darren was yet again starved of the sort of service that he thrives on and that he joined us to get. I just cannot believe he is happy about the impact that games like this may have on his chances of spending the summer in an England shirt.

Substitutes:

Brad Guzan – 6 – Kept a clean sheet and looked confident enough when he got a rare league outing as Shay’s replacement on 38 minutes. Forthcoming first team starts are likely to show whether his rehabilitation from his past wobbles (particularly on crosses and corners) is now complete.

Stiliyan Petrov – 6 – Surprisingly did not start this one nor did N’Zogbia for disciplinary reasons rather than through choice. Replaced Herd on 59 minutes with the intention of getting us moving forward and made a contribution towards what happened in the last half hour which was a vast improvement on what had happened (or had not happened) up until then.

Emile Heskey – 5 – Replaced Jenas for the last half hour and his introduction coincided with our realisation that the goal was in front of the Holte End and finding the net could give us an unlikely point. Played in a more forward role but found himself on the ground and embarrassed when he took a late opportunity to shoot from just outside the box that went so wide that it resulted in a throw in.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Having stated a couple of months ago that I was happy to give AM till January, I have to say he needs replacing now before he drags down the morale of the team too far.

These are the comparative league stats for Blues and Villa in the last 2 seasons, after 14 games:

Blues 2010-11 P14 W3 D7 L4 F15 A17 Gd-2 Pts16 Posn 13th

Villa 2011-12 P14 W3 D7 L4 F16 A18 Gd-2 Pts16 Posn 9th

Spot the difference!! (Villa 4 places higher for some magical reason).

But it's not just these stats but the sheer poor effort that is on display, even at home - "fortress Villa Park" that was.

AM out, I'm afraid. But the board has to sort out its own ideas as well.

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AM out, I'm afraid. But the board has to sort out its own ideas as well

It was not an appointment that most of us would have forecast John. But we would also not have anticipated a Wigan manager turning down the opportunity to manage us would we?

For me the reasons seem clear. Namely the club were not prepared to back their new manager so the list of candidates who were prepared to take us on became a short one as the job presented a major risk to any manager with a decent CV.

I would not have guessed that we would have appointed Big Eck given the appointment was unlikely to be a popular one, without being willing to back him. But making that appointment did give fans an obvious target on which to vent their frustration in anticipation of things going pear shaped and someone other than those who have pulled the purse strings shut and made the appointment to put the blame on. So for me the plan has worked as the manager who was appointed to take it is now facing the flak and those who made the decisions are hiding behind their scapegoat.

I think Big Eck has had his hands tied behind his back and should now he is our manager be given until the end of the season to turn things around along with some cash for the next window to help him in that task.

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If things continue as they are, John, Big Eck will be hounded out I'm sure.

And/or the fans just won't turn up - I know some who are of that mind, and plenty are writing about it.

John Barnes has declared that VP is not the place for AM's brand of football, so I bow to John Barnes' view! :-) I don't think AM has a chance of turning anything round. He might get Villa to avoid relegation, but that won't be any great achievement with the supposed quality of players that are on board.

As to AM coming in because of Martinez's refusal, well I would say what's wrong with Mark Hughes and a gaggle of other managers who would have done a fine job! It all seems to me that RL is trying to cut his cloth in all directions - his resources have become too widely distributed and devalued in the current state of the world economy. He can't manage Villa properly, especially through the CEO that's there.

He should sell either Villa or the Brown's i.m.o., and concentrate on one club.

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These are the comparative league stats for Blues and Villa in the last 2 seasons, after 14 games:

Blues 2010-11 P14 W3 D7 L4 F15 A17 Gd-2 Pts16 Posn 13th

Villa 2011-12 P14 W3 D7 L4 F16 A18 Gd-2 Pts16 Posn 9th

I didn't want to enjoy my Sunday evening anyway. :cry:

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I think Big Eck has had his hands tied behind his back and should now he is our manager be given until the end of the season to turn things around along with some cash for the next window to help him in that task.

The economic realities and FFP mean that all managers (outside of maybe Utd and Arsenal where they can generate profits) will soon have their hands tied behind their back and have to rely on being good managers. This has been the case this season as well as only QPR and possibly Stoke outside of the top 6 have really spent money net.

Pardew has done well by raising money for Carroll and deploying it on some good young (and cheap) French gems.

We have as good a shot as any with our youth set up but we need a manager that knows how to set up a balanced side and fill the gaps.

McLeish spent circa £17m and has little to show for it.

- Given is a good keeper but is injury prone and yesterday showed this. We could have had Westwood for free (he has been great since coming in for Sunderland) and spent that money (and wage capacity) elsewhere.

- Hutton for £4m. This was a joke and has helped out Spurs. We had Lichaj, Cuellar and Herd that could play that role but could have got somebody out of the championship like Clyne who would have been as good as Hutton and a lot cheaper. What's worse is that we have helped Spuds out by giving them both a space in their squad and transfer monies to spend on Parker.

- NZogbia was the one signing that I thought was exciting BUT Eck's great forward coaching seems to have driven the zip out of him as well as Albie.

- Jenas is a waste of a loan. Again known to be injury prone, it was hardly a great shock when he was helped off yesterday. When will our board learn that signing players that haven't played regularly over the last 12-18 months (Ireland, Sidwell etc.) is a real risk - better to buy players from lower teams on the up and playing regularly.

McLeish is just a very poor manager and hasn't got a clue how to buy front 6 players or balance a team.

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what's wrong with Mark Hughes and a gaggle of other managers who would have done a fine job!

Nothing John. But they were either not under consideration by those making the choice or were not prepared to come because of the constraints they were expected to work under.

He should sell either Villa or the Brown's i.m.o., and concentrate on one club

As we know from past experience owners will sell as, when and if it suits them.

NZogbia was the one signing that I thought was exciting BUT Eck's great forward coaching seems to have driven the zip out of him

Or is it the inflated salary that comes with the big money move BB?

hasn't got a clue how to buy front 6 players

Or the money to do it (we had both felt N'Zog was up to it before he put on our shirt I would suggest)? As things stand I share your opinion on the signings we have made but we are shopping at Aldi rather than Waitrose for the first time in a long time and it is therefore likely to be more hit and miss than before as a result.

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NZogbia was the one signing that I thought was exciting BUT Eck's great forward coaching seems to have driven the zip out of him

Or is it the inflated salary that comes with the big money move BB?

hasn't got a clue how to buy front 6 players

Or the money to do it (we had both felt N'Zog was up to it before he put on our shirt I would suggest)? As things stand I share your opinion on the signings we have made but we are shopping at Aldi rather than Waitrose for the first time in a long time and it is therefore likely to be more hit and miss than before as a result.

I can't imagine how you could begin to defend Eck after the last three performances.

I don't think we are shopping Aldi as you put it. I think we are at Sainsbury's or Tescos whereas the old Sky 4 are shopping at Waitrose or M&S - although we did pop in there last year for Benty - and Citeh are at Harrods food hall.

Swansea, Norwich, Wigan, Bolton, Everton to an extent etc. are all at Aldis and Lidl.

His gross spend in the summer was up there with most outside the big 5 it just wasn't very well thought through IMO and where it was he hasn't got the best out of the player (NZogbia).

Going forward we need a manager that can spot young, cheap talent -of course everyone wants this as this will become the way of the world for all but the biggest clubs - and I have seen nothing in McLeish's summer activity to suggest that he has any clue about this. Buying crocs who haven't played regularly for a year to 18 months is not very wise imo, I know buying young up and coming players can also be risky but I would prefer we went down this route as Spurs did a few years back - now have Dawson, Lennon, Walker, Bale, Huddlestone to a lesser extent - to show for this (I do recognise that they also bought young players that didn't make it like Andy Reid). I would have liked to see someone like Cline come in at RB instead of Hutton - the latter being a player that had tried it at PL level and had not really made a decent fist of it. Equally, as I said, I would have probably made an effort to bring in Westwood on a free in front of Given and used that transfer amount and wage capacity to address other gaps (that is not to say I don't rate Given, I just think he has a tendency to get injured - as he has shown - and there were other priorities for us e.g. a defensive CM'er).

As for Big money moves being an issue, it doesn't seem to have hurt Ashley Young and Phil Jones or the French lads that have come in to Newcastle.

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