Villa lose 3-0 at Manchester City with the usual help, as Dave Woodhall reports.
I don’t watch much football on TV, but I did have half an eye on the Southampton v Leicester game on Friday night and I wondered what would have been worse at the Ethihad – conceding a stoppage-time penalty to be on the wrong side of a historic defeat history, or to concede a gut-wrenching last-gasp winner.
Defeatist, maybe, but football at the top of the Premier League has become so skewed during Villa’s absence that any scoreline can happen when top plays the rest. There are managers who would have gone into the game with Manchester City intent on keeping the scoreline respectable. That never has been Dean Smith’s style and in the first half Villa did at least compete with the sort of talent that a billion pounds plus can buy.
Villa could have had a first half penalty, but the decision went to VAR so you know the answer to that one. Nil-nil at half-time and although Villa had been stretched and City could have scored a couple, the longer the game went on the more the home side’s uncertainty might have grown. Unfortunately, the second half gameplan was shredded within seconds of the re-start as another mistake by Tyrone Mings let City in for their opener. Tyrone’s ability is unquestioned but he does seem to have an error a game in him and more than enough of them are fatal ones.
Still, there’s only the one goal in it and you never know. And then came the inevitable controversy, from the inevitable source. The debate centred on whether David Silva had touched a shot from Kevin De Bruyne. If he had, and that’s what he said happened, the goal should have been ruled out for offside. The VAR official said Silva hadn’t touched the ball, so it stood.
Two hours later and take a wild guess at who the goal was credited to? Is it paranoia, or are they really out to get us? If these things do even themselves out over the course of a season then before long we’re going to go on the sort of run that would emulate last season’s record-breaker.
I accept that there was only a remote chance of Villa recovering from a goal down, and that on another day City could have scored four or five, but yet again we were undone by a wrong decision and you can perhaps excuse the team for still being stunned when the third went in five minutes later.
There were no more goals, Villa showed once more than they can’t beat a team down to ten men and both sides hit the woodwork in stoppage time. It was a fairly routine defeat that was never in much doubt once the most expensively-assembled team in history stepped up a gear and yet again it was part of a learning curve.
Villa were a long way from being humiliated, they never gave up and it was another dose of experience on the sort of stage that we’re still getting used to again. There are many definitions of success, and another one now must be that you know you’re a big club when you open a supporters club at Stockley Park.
Next up is Wolves in the League Cup, a game where the biggest lesson learned will probably be which club has the strongest squad. It can’t happen again, can it?