Dave Woodhall on Saturday Bloody Saturday. Yes, he is plagiarising Partridge.
It seems to be the law now that every few weeks, no sooner has football got going again after an international week than everything grinds to a halt once more so that England can play another round of meaningless friendlies or pointless qualifiers against countries with a population the size of Dudley. A few watch the match on TV, others mope around the house or the shops, or else find a non-league club to give a few quid to.
For Villa this break has come at an opportune time for once, after three straight defeats and a series of niggling injuries. It’s given, hopefully, Ron Vlaar an opportunity to get fit and the rest of the squad the chance to forget those losses. Of course, it wouldn’t be Villa if we didn’t operate a strict one in, one out policy where the treatment room is concerned, and it was no surprise when Phliipe Senderos limped off the pitch during Switzerland’s game with Slovenia.
He’s doubtful for Saturday, which in reality means he’ll be out for God knows how long. Villa’s injury estimates tend to be on the same lines as a garage menchanic’s time to fix your car – halve the number and move it to the next unit of time so that four days become two weeks and a month should see us through to the end of the season. It’s always been the way.
Fabian Delph missed England’s game at home to San Marino, but started against Estonia. Victories against these two mean that qualification is virtually assured for the Euros, although that was a certainty from the moment the number of finalists went up to 24. After all, we can’t have any of the biggest nations missing out.
There’ll be plenty of blank weekends between now and summer 2018, while such epic contests as Kazakhstan v Latvia and Moldova v Lichtenstein are played. UEFA claim that having the minnow nations in the qualifies with everyone else helps them improve their playing standards and I for one believe them. I certainly don’t think it’s because no matter who the opposition might be, UEFA will still be able to sell the TV rights to England, Germany and Spain’s internationals around the world while a game at even a half-full Wembley pays off more of the FA’s mountainous debts than no game at all.
Villa are at Everton on Sunday; it’s compulsory when previewing this fixture to say that it’s the most-played in English top-flight football. Despite Villa having slipped below our hosts in the past few years we more often than not come away with at least a point from Goodison, a proper football ground in a proper football area, even if the view from the away seats does leave something to be desired. Everton have started slowly this season, and if Paul Lambert sets the default switch to ‘attack’ we might do well again.