The end of an era went out with a whimper. Or should I say with another winks and hardly a nod. Bye Bye Harry. Bye Bye Europe. Bye Bye this pathetic excuse for a football club. Assuming Kane is gone—and surely Levy knows now he must sell him in order to finance the total rebuild which is coming—there were only two of the starting XI that I would want on my team going forward—Lloris and Bergwijn.
The rest are all expendable, and god knows we should be begging for teams to come take some of them off our hands. And it was so fitting that the 10,000 fans who were finally able to go to the new palace and see their team play were a) shuffled off to the upper reaches, as if Sir Daniel didn’t want them closer than that knowing it might get ugly, and b) treated to this woeful spectacle of crap for 90 minutes. We will finish 9th—that’s right, THEY are going to pip us Sunday after Leicester dismantles us worse than Villa did yesterday.
So I have to begin with this pathetic but obviously overmatched excuse for an interim manager. Of course it is not Ryan Mason’s fault—he is a rather unwilling accomplice to the shit storm his club has become. But when you decide—based on whatever perverse logic is running around your brain—to start Harry Winks over Tanguy Ndembele, well you deserve all the criticism that will come your way. That was criminal, as Winks proved again and again—bullied off the ball, making poor decisions, poor passes, not getting back to help his beleaguered left back who was having the nightmare first half of all nightmare first halves.
The best example came just after the middle of the first period—Winks received the ball five yards or so in Villa’s half of the field—with at least ten yards open ahead of him before the nearest defender—and stopped. Looked around—and then passed weakly and horizontally over to Reguilon. Pathetic. When Ndembele finally came on—73 minutes late—he instantly showed his nous by shedding defenders, causing fouls and turning the ball upfield where something good could have occurred. It wouldn’t of course because outside of one brilliant piece of effort by Steven Bergwijn our attackers were largely clueless, as is their wont. Dele comes under the most serious microscope—all chummy with Grealish in the first half and standing so still. Is he truly that slow or does he just not give a fig? in the second half, when everyone’s intensity ramped up, there he was in the box and the cross from bale came for what should have been a simple tap-in and he was flatfooted, watching it sail by. I don’t want him anymore, I’m sorry. He either doesn’t care or can’t muster the skill set from three or four years ago.
Son, Mister Anonymous is disappearing before our very eyes. Kane playing too deep and a lot of wayward passing, and then, to be brutally honest, on one of the best sequences we had in the second half he was too selfish and chose a tight angle shot when a pass might have actually yielded a goal. But I can’t be too harsh—look what he has given us over the past seven years. Hojbjerg reverted to easily outrun version of Hojbjerg and he too made a couple curious decisions and poor passes. And Bergwijn was active and fully deserved the goal. As for our back line, Tanganga had a poor game in both directions. Alderweireld was mostly limited to making desperate tackles in the box and pinging long balls over their defence in what was clearly Mason’s idea of a tactic tonight. Dier had one horrendous giveaway and was spared the embarrassment of a goal which could have come. They are all not good enough. And sadly the one of the four we think could be good enough had an absolute mare—from the unfortunate own goal to several giveaways, two of which in quick succession led to Watkins’ winner.
Be gone with them. I can count on one hand the ones I’d like to keep, again assuming that City or United will come close enough on Levy’s price to produce the sale of Kane. At this point, with all ambition shot for this season, I’d rather it be done quickly. At least allow Kane to play relatively stress-free for England this summer. But give me Lloris, Bergwijn, Lo Celso, Ndombele and perhaps Reguilon. They might be keepers. The rest—and yes that includes Bale, Dele and Son—can head elsewhere, either this summer or by next at the latest. We need a new squad. This one stinks. The stench wafted up to the highest reaches of a stadium that seems utterly out of character with the humdrum average at best team it hosts. Season tickets are going to be a problem, no matter who the manager is. This could and probably will get a lot worse before it gets better. So fare thee well, Harry. You were, and are, and always will be…. One of Our Own.
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