Dave Woodhall watches Villa fail to win again.
It’s all about context. Looking at the fixtures at the start of the season you’d have said a draw at Ipswich would be a decent result and anything more than that a bonus. They’ve finished in the top ten of this division for the past three years (yes, I did have to look that up) so it’s safe to say they know what this level is all about and every point gained at Portman Road has to be earned.
And if football matches ended after 85 minutes then a draw would indeed have been a good result. It would have rounded off a successful week following two wins at Villa Park that had left us in the top six and brimming with confidence. You know the rest…
Because of Villa’s insistence on thinking they play rugby rather than the new-fangled Association rules, Saturday’s draw, and in particular the performance that ‘earned’ it, won’t go down as a particularly good one. A new-look 352 formation smacked of the first signs of panic from Roberto Di Matteo, and none of the team came out of the match with any glory. Another first for the season was that it was the first game when we couldn’t say at any point that we should have won.
There was the usual last ten minute fade out but this time resolute defending and a bit of luck going our way for a change kept the ball from crossing the line. If only that had happened in the two previous games everyone concerned would be alot happier. On the bright side, after enduring our sieve-like defence for so long a clean sheet away from home is at least a (very) small cause for celebration but there has to be an immediate improvement in performance if such a minor achievement is to mean anything.
Just to round off the worst week of the season so far Ritchie de Laet is out for what Di Matteo calls “a while”, which is usually Villa-speak for see you next August. One of these days we’ll get an injury that isn’t as serious as first feared but at least this one is in a position where we have some reasonable cover.
We’ve got Newcastle coming up next, in a game that will be hyped up by Sky and even more so by the rest of the media. Expect to see Rafa Benitez giving an emotional press conference this week where he talks about how distraught he was to see Villa fans celebrating Newcastle’s relegation six years ago. It’s ridiculous to think the whole episode is still getting column inches and if someone gets hurt as a result either at Villa Park on Saturday or up at St James in the return I wonder if those who’ve blown this fixture up into something approaching a blood feud will stop to think that they might bear some of the responsibility.