Dave Woodhall on Villa and the weekend.
There’s plenty you can talk about following Saturday’s match, although I’m tempted to say if the team couldn’t be bothered neither can I. That’s not strictly true – for the first half-hour they seemed very bothered, indeed so bothered they were the most up for it of the two teams and were worth the one goal lead.
Unfortunately, the Chris Herd incident came along and although the resultant penalty was missed, it changed the game. Some of the diabolical set-piece marking we were supposed to have got rid of gave Albion an equaliser and the second half is best forgotten.
I don’t know what was the worst thing about the match – the bizarre substitutions of Alex McLeish or the lack of leadership in the players on the pitch. I like Alex and I think he’s behaved with a lot of dignity since his arrival, but he doesn’t half make things difficult for himself at times. We need a driving force in midfield but his name is not, and never will be, Emile Heskey.
Anyway, Albion won at Villa Park in the league for the first time in 32 years, which made their supporters happy; I’d rather win somewhere for the first time since the last time we played there rather than have 31 years of failure, but there you go….
It’s Sunderland up next, which is now a more important match than it should be. Three points there and the panic will be over, at least until the next defeat.
On a wider scale, it was interesting to talk to a few Albion supporters before and after the match. A couple of things stuck in my mind – for all our complaints about ticket prices they regard Villa Park as one of the cheaper away grounds, and they seem as disenchanted with the Premier League as we are. If that’s what it’s like after two seasons, our mood after twenty-odd seems understandable.
And all this on what could prove to be the most significant weekend for English football since that Saturday afternoon in 1993 when time stood still at Old Trafford. Now THAT’s a derby win.