Well, this shouldnâ€™t take long. We were half way back to out post-match pub along the High Road when my mate summed it perfectly: â€œWatching Villa is like watching Middlesboro. You go along thinking thereâ€™s going to be a game, and then…..nothing.â€
It really is quite amazing how Martin Oâ€™Neill has taken raw material like Ashley Young, Agbonlahor, Downing, Milner and Petrov, and forged a team as dull as this. We thought theyâ€™d sit back and play on the counter attack; thatâ€™s what Villa do, isnâ€™t it? But there wasnâ€™t even much counter attacking going on. I think Gomes had two saves of note to make, all day â€“ both in quick succession in the first half.
It was a cagey affair throughout really, especially in the first half. We were less cavalier than usual in that period, wary maybe of that pace on the break. Even so, we had the best of it, with Friedel saving well from Crouch and King. The intensity of our attacks grew the longer the second half went on. We were trying to win the game, but Villa defended impressively. At the other end, there was only the odd flicker of threat.
Twenty to minutes to go, youâ€™re thinking Harry must change it. Try something different: Kranjcar for Bentley, Gudjohnsen for Crouch? But no. The minutes trickled away and no substitutions. A few close scrapes, what looked like a penalty from where I was at the other end of the pitch; referee Foy had it down as a no-score draw on his coupon. It was one of several decisions where he made a big demonstration of pointing in the opposite direction to the one expected. What do we have to do get a homer?!
Anyway, weâ€™ve got to find a way of breaking down teams with as little ambition as this. Too many times this season weâ€™ve drawn a blank when faced with ranks of opponents that werenâ€™t too bothered about crossing the halfway line. We canâ€™t say itâ€™s because we missed Aaron Lennon, since he played in plenty of those earlier games.
I left thinking, thank God I donâ€™t have to watch Aston Villa play every week. Thanks for the memories â€“ er, Iâ€™ve forgotten this one already.
Star man: Gareth Bale â€“ getting better and more confident every match
Best moment: Any one of Baleâ€™s several strong surges along the left â€“ shame no-one managed to stick any of them in the onion bag
Tactics: 4-4-2 with Modric and Bentley wide; Defoe and Crouch up front
Chant of the game: â€œBoring, boring Villa….â€ It started as a joke, but by the end we meant it.
Opposition fans: They were having a good old sing song, but there werenâ€™t enough of them really
By Andy Knaggs
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