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We lose again!


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by John

So where is the next win at Villa Park coming from and when or will we get those 12 points we are still looking for to secure our safety?

We went into this game in the hope of keeping a clean sheet rather than going for a win. We did that because of a fear factor that our run of abysmal home results that stretches over months rather than weeks has fed. But, what chance really was there that our porous defence could sit back and invite the league leaders to come at them for 90 minutes without conceding a goal? It was slim and none for me.

I think our team selection was very negative and although I can appreciate that Big Eck may have wanted to make a point to Ireland and N’Zogbia after their reactions at Newcastle can we really afford to leave them out in a game such as this when doing so denies us of most of our creative ideas?

This was all too easy for Manchester City who coasted through the game knowing a goal would surely come and who were put under no real pressure until the last few minutes of the game when we showed what might have been had we started with Ireland and N’Zogbia.

We once went into games like these at Villa Park at worst with hope but now seem content with mere damage limitation. That will not bring us the points we need at Villa Park to secure safety for ourselves rather than to rely on there being 3 clubs in the places below us in the bottom 6 that will be unable to overhaul the minimum 7 points advantage and double figure goal difference that we have over them.

But how sad it is that we have now come to flirt with the bottom 6 when we had so recently grown accustomed to a top 6 finish and having taken umbrage to our last manager referring to us a mid table team on his appointment we now see that as acceptable and along with profitable player trading and wage bill reduction among our key objectives as a football club.

My player ratings from a game that has left us languishing in the bottom six are:

Shay Given – 6 – Beaten on 27 minutes by a Johnson shot and had the post to thank for us not going a goal down earlier than we did. Stopped a fierce Zabaleta effort on 55 minutes and blocked a close range effort at his near post 9 minutes later.

Alan Hutton - 5 – Cuellar looked the better of our full backs today and he is a central defender who when played as a full back usually plays on the other side of the field. Failed to get forward enough but so did everyone else.

James Collins – 5 – Followed the ball rather than his man for their winner and how wildly that supposed Villa fan celebrated scoring yet another goal against us.

Richard Dunne – 7 – Got a header in from a corner that Hart saved on his near post on 80 minutes and he will be a loss to our defence in the coming weeks as he recovers from the brave challenge he made on Hart particularly with Clark having an injury that ruled him out of starting this one.

Carlos Cuellar – 7 – MOTM – Made a makeshift position one that he looked comfortable and experienced in. Did well to get a foot onto a Johnson cross on 83 minutes before his opponent and might just have popped up with an equalizer when he got nicely in position only to put a header well over the bar on 88 minutes.

Emile Heskey – 4 – Did all that could be expected of him in this particular midfield role which was not nearly enough although the blame is not his that he is asked to perform there for us at this stage of his career.

Stiliyan Petrov – 6 –Steady but unable to make much of an impression without one of the young injured enforcers he has had playing alongside him for much of this season and he like the rest of our midfield were easily bettered by the likes of Barry and Milner who he found himself facing rather than playing alongside.

Gary Gardner - 6 – Asked to do a big job and showed some nice touches particularly early on.

Marc Albrighton – 5 – Worked hard enough in his own half before being replaced by Ireland on 78 minutes but he rarely got forward and it is doing that which can make him worth a starting place rather than what it seems he was asked to do today namely to harass opponents as they walked through our midfield.

Robbie Keane – 7 – He will be much missed at Villa Park. A player who I had not anticipated ever actually seeing in a Villa shirt but who has showed us what we have missed up until now with his hard work and by setting an example of the winning approach he expects of those around him. Worked hard throughout looking for space and the sort of service that arrived only fleetingly at the end of the game. Thanks for the memories and the 3 points at Wolves Robbie!

Darren Bent – 5 – Lacked any service and without it he poses no threat but he came so close to giving us a point on 90 minutes when he turned on a Collins header from a corner that Hart did exceptionally well to keep out with one hand.

Substitutes:

Charles N’Zogbia – 6 - Replaced Heskey on 69 minutes and immediately gave us some threat from the wing that we had been so lacking up to then.

Stephen Ireland – Replaced Marc on 78 minutes and showed some nice touches in what time that was made available to him which was not enough to gather a rating.

Stay Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Well reported, John.

But let's not forget the record that we would prefer to forget (!)... 7 successive home matches without a win.

Turner - in the season before relegation (1985-86) - also obtained 7 matches at home without a win.

McLeish's record is worse in that in this run there have been 5 defeats against Turner's 4.

There was also a 7 game run without a win in the 1973-74 (Div 2) days, but that consisted of just 2 defeats.

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Turner - in the season before relegation (1985-86) - also obtained 7 matches at home without a win

& then won the next 5 John so that is Big Eck's target to make us safe for this season at least then... :winkold:

There was also a 7 game run without a win in the 1973-74 (Div 2) days, but that consisted of just 2 defeats

Just 2 defeats I accept but they were in the lower division and we are still one game short of reaching our record number of home games without a win which we have done twice in 1987 (Sheff Wed 1-2, Small Heath 0-2, Manchester City 1-1, Boro 0-1, Barnsley 0-0, Sheff Utd 1-1, Blackburn 1-1 & Bournemouth 1-1) & in 1920 (Newcastle 0-0, Manchester Utd 3-4, Liverpool 0-2, Everton 1-3, Burnley 0-0, Sunderland 1-5, Bradford City 1-2 & Huddersfield 0-0).

But it sure is grim watching us at home at the moment John and although we face 2 games against sides who we should even now start games as favourites against I am not over confident that we will not equal or beat our 8 game home record. :oops:

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I have to admit I overlooked the 1920-21 season (and 1987-88 - Div 2 - actually 7 matches within the season under a different manager), and I suppose you could say they were also accomplished in periods of re-building, but the very fact that every home match now seems to be approached from the point of view of simply trying not to lose rather than trying to win it, it does not give much hope. It's certainly not a faire I expected to be provided under the 'new' ownership.

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Good match report that I would find hard to disagree with any aspect of.

I still find it amazing that, when people talk about clearing out deadwood and high wage earners at the end of the season, Carlos is often one of the two or three names referred to. He showed again on Sunday that he is our best defender by far and we should be fighting tooth and nail to extend his contract.

Clearly, the match report did not cover our disgrace of a manager. His negativity and inability to motivate our two most creative players, one of whom he actually signed, is staggeringly poor. And his inability to show any humility is beyond belief. He should take a leaf out of his mate McCarthy's book on both scores. Please do the decent thing Alex and step down before it is too late for our club.

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It's certainly not a faire I expected to be provided under the 'new' ownership.

Agreed John. Things have changed to the extent that the bright future and 5 year plan seem to have been replaced with the very limited aims of our previous administration.

I still find it amazing that, when people talk about clearing out deadwood and high wage earners at the end of the season, Carlos is often one of the two or three names referred to.

Agreed barry'sboots. I doubt that Rangers will be in for him now :winkold: and he has shown his flexibility in several roles in his time with us without being given a real run in his best position as a central defender. The money we had talked of getting for him was far less than his worth to us and I think that fans just began to accept that we were looking to let him go and so included him in their list of players who were likely to leave for that reason.

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