Aston Villa and a glance back in time

Villa win at Everton and Dave Woodhall draws comparisons.

The olbligatory line about the most-played ficture aside, Villa and Everton have got a lot in common. We’ve both had times when we’ve dominated the domestic game and apart from that we’ve never really punched our weight for a lot of our respective histories. Our highs have been better than theirs but our lows have been a lot worse. That’s why travelling to Goodison, regardless of how they might be doing, is always a tough fixture and any sort of result there is worth celebrating.

Villa’s team more or less picked itself once the Watkins/Ings combination had been scrapped. I’d be interested to know which of the midfield three is, as the cliche goes, first on the teamsheet becauser while John McGinn is grabbing all the spurious transfer speculation headlines, Jacob Ramsey has become undroppable almost without anyone noticing. He put in another solid performance today, in a game where nobody particularly stood out.

In the circumstances the match was never going to be a classic. Everton marked the return of their prodigal as temporary manager and while you’d never expect any side managed by Duncan Ferguson to lack spirit, neither can you imagine him to be all that bothered about the niceties of the game. It was scrappy, bitty, any word you want to describe ninety minutes where nothing much happened and what did was at the right end.

Many’s the time that I’ve bemoaned Villa’s lack of a player with the ability to win a match with a moment of inspirational genius, and it’s now becoming apparant that we’ve got a couple in this line-up alone. Phillipe Coutinho faded as the game progressed, which is understandable, but Emiliano Buendia provided the flash of sublime skill that was the difference between the sides. And it was a header, a perfectly-placed glancing flick from a corner that flew over the Everton defence and into the corner of the net right on half-time. Sadly there were a few missiles thrown, because one thing Villa and Everton don’t have in common is that our supporters usually don’t get over-excited when something goes wrong.

There was plenty of opportunity for headers during the second half, mostly in Villa’s penalty area as the Ferguson tactics came into play – hit it high and hit it long. The team coped well enough, with no great worries apart from the usual tension that comes from having a one goal lead, and we saw something that as Villa supporters we’ve grown used to and have thankfully, hopefully, seen the last of – a losing side running out of ideas long before the final whistle. It was the sort of game that poor teams lose and slightly better teams win. Man for man we’re better than Everton and that was enough to counter any supposed new manager bounce even on an afternoon where a few players weren’t as good as they could have been.

The result was one of those that show a losing team just how much trouble they’re in, although I hope Everton stay up, more for our own benefit than anything else. One by one we’ve lost all our other great boasts – most trophies, most FA Cups, most England internationals (although we might get that back soon the way things are going). I’d like to keep hold of the most-played one.

As it stands we have a proud history to go with our bright future, while Everton are struggling to overcome the appointment of a manager who used to be in charge of their bitter rivals and the consequences of some appaling transfers overseen by an unpopular board. That last sentence sounds strangely familiar.