Dave Woodhall expands his vocabulary while talking about goings-on at Villa Park.
I was once told that I didn’t have a good word for the Villa. Well I’ve got lots of good words for them this week. Shameful, that’s one. Embarrassing is another. Gutless, spineless, disgraceful, appalling, humiliating, inexcusable, disgusting, I could continue but you’ve probably got a thesaurus so there’s no need.
Tuesday night against Bradford was the perfect opportunity to put the last few weeks and in particular the embarrassment of the first leg behind us. Two goals against a fourth division team shouldn’t have been too hard – after all, if we’d been drawn against them in a one-off tie we’d have expected to win by that margin without much difficulty. For 45 minutes things were fine, The team were playing well, gone a goal up and had Christian Benteke put in a straightforward chance just before half-time the game would have been as good as over. Ten minutes after the re-start it was.
A Bradford corner and you know the rest. It should have been a setback but not a fatal one. After all, the team had 35 minutes left to put matters right, against a side they’d already dominated and who should have been less fit than their Premier League foes. A bit of motivation, inspiration, call it what you like, and all would be well. Instead we had what can only be described as panic. Lump the ball up – that’ll work against a team from the fourth division won’t it? They only have to deal with those sort of tactics twice a week. Four forwards stuck together – how about leaving someone on who can give them the ball? It’s the sort of stuff you do in the last, desperate seconds when you’ve run out of other options. I don’t expect it for 35 minutes plus stoppages.
Team and management had a quick chance to show what effect the abuse and general derision they’d endured since Tuesday’s debacle had had on them, courtesy of an FA Cup tie at Millwall on Friday night. They went a goal up, the lead lasted for as long as it took their opponents to put over a decent corner and they needn’t have bothered coming out for the second half. Last two minutes, a replay on the cards but we don’t want the bother of another midweek game do we? Here you go lower division team, have a free shot. Hit the bar? Never mind, try again.
Paul Lambert then decided to do his bit for club/press relations by churlishly ignoring Mail reporter Mat Kendrick at the post-match press conference. This followed on from a couple of Mail stories, the first of which appeared on Wednesday in the aftermath of the semi-final, when they devoted five pages (more than when we won the European Cup) to the result. This was followed by the sort of open letter-type piece that usually helps the writer more than their target. They put six questions to Randy Lerner that won’t be answered, the Mail know it, but they also know that such a line will sell papers.
And so we move into the last days of the transfer window. Even after the tribulations of the last few weeks there still isn’t a massive amount that needs to be spent to give the team a good chance of Premier League survival. Whether it will be spent is a moot point and whose fault it will be if it isn’t, is another. I can’t believe that the manager wouldn’t want to buy someone if the money was available. Neither can I believe that the club wouldn’t make the money available bearing in mind the riches that all Premier League clubs will receive next season. Argue out who should take the blame amongst yourselves
We’ve got that other potential crisis club Newcastle at home on Tuesday then Everton away on Saturday. I wonder what words we’ll be using after these two.