In Defeat, Defiance

Dave Woodhall finds plenty of positives from Villa’s game last night.

There’s defeats, and there’s gut-wrenching, frustrating, kick the cat when you get home, defeats. Wednesday night was definitely the latter variety.

Villa, with Carlos Cuellar and Ciaran Clark finally recalled to the side, not only matched the in-form Arsenal, they were the better team for the first hour. Even after going a goal down the kept their determination and were good value for Marc Albrighton’s equaliser. Unfortunately the big difference between the visitors and most other sides in the league was summed up by the PA announcement with ten minutes to go, “Substitute for Arsenal Andrey Arshavin.” When you have that sort of quality on the bench you’ll always cause problems for a tired opposition defence, and so it proved. Arsenal’s 15th corner of the game proved fatal;

But the fact that Villa were applauded off the pitch despite a third consecutive home defeat shows that this was a night when one more fact became obvious – most of our supporters  accept that for the present time at least, challenging for honours is out. But give us something enjoyable to watch, particularly if it features Academy graduates such as Clark, Albrighton and Barry Bannan, and we’ll be happy.

On another subject, the William McGregor service reflected well on all concerned, and especially on the club. Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner set the tone with a welcoming address that showed enormous pride in being able to boast the great man as one of our own. Author Peter Lupson earned my admiration and envy by being able to speak without notes for twenty minutes while Football League President Lord Malwhinney paid tribute to McGregor’s vision and role in the game’s history.

But as ever the star turn was Doug. 88 next month, he was still able to show an admirable turn of speed at the sight of a TV camera. I hope I’m that sharp at his age.